The Bonus Army & the Film Development Learning Curve

One of the natural consequences of pulling apart the script for "The Bonus Army" is an increased familiarity with the internal logistics of the script. One of the script’s characteristics I've discovered is that the vast majority of scenes are exterior scenes, 52 out of 71 to be exact. That result was not intentional, but I think it may be providential. Of the 19 interior scenes, six take place in the Oval Office, four are in the home of Harry and Dorothy Moorefield, and three are in a fictional newspaper’s offices. What that means, obviously, is that very little will be required in terms of interior sets, and that’s a good thing. Anything that points to reduced overall expense is welcome.

As I get further into this initial development phase of determining the above-the-line budget for shooting the movie, it is becoming increasingly clear that the budget for simply shooting the movie will be easier to put together than either the pre- or post-production budgets. The content and scope of the script are, within certain parameters, known quantities which drive the shooting budget. What it will take to prepare to shoot, and what remains to be done once filming has been completed, seem to me to be less easily quantifiable. I imagine there are industry standards based upon the type of film and what the script envisions (i.e., locations, special effects, CGI, voiceovers, etc.). It also seems to me, from my experience to date, that determining what those industry standards are through my own research will not be terribly difficult. I am already astonished by the amount of development information that is readily available, particularly on the internet. For instance, I’ve already determined that I’ll be able to, with a modicum of effort, discover what I’ll need to budget for wages, props, costumes, and camera and lighting equipment. And I have no reason to believe that additional effort and research will unearth the information necessary to put together realistic budget figures for the hundreds of other items involved in all phases of production. In fact, just determining what those “hundreds of other items” are was a relatively simple process as there are a variety of budgeting templates available for little to no cost.

A thorough, professional, realistic, achievable budget and an honest, well-founded prospectus seem to be essential to attracting talent and capital. As I’ve indicated earlier, I anticipate being flexible and creative in terms of fleshing out the capital required for the film. In other words, a mix of traditional financing and more recent financing developments, such as crowdfunding, is a distinct possibility. I see no need to eschew one or more avenues of capital development in favor of one or more others. And it's my hope that the nature of the film, the story it tells about our nation’s veterans, and the fact that this important historic moment has never been brought to the big screen, will all attract both capital and talent in a way other films might not. Stay tuned.