How to take charge with contingency planning to secure reserves


film contingency planning

Have you got your contingency plans in place for your film project? Do you have reserve funds if the unimaginable happens and it threatens to slow down or halt your dream film venture? If you don’t have them in place, you are taking a very big risk. On top of that, you will let down all the people who have invested in your film. Not to mention those who are working in them.

How can you, the filmmaker be in charge of your film troops in times of crisis and actually sail through one? Let me share some things I have advised and seen other smart filmmakers do.

  • Set aside reserves for your film: Financial reserves should typically be a third of the total budget, which includes your marketing budget. So, if your film’s total budget is £10,000 (which includes your film marketing budget), then your film reserves must be £3,000.


  • Secure the reserves: When soliciting film funding, make sure to specify and ask for reserves from your financial backers too. Don’t skip this!


  • Have a contingency team: You need a crisis team with you. At the very least, you should have a capable accountant, solicitor and banker who are kept in the loop. If you have a film business consultant in your corner who can offer trusted advice during the rough times, then it should be plain sailing for you.


  • What if your financial backer leaves or moves on? Prepare for it by not securing all the film’s investment from just one sole investor. That way you have more than one financial backer involved who can step up with more funds if needed.


  • When talent quits midway: If any of the main cast or crew members quit halfway through the filming, have backups ready and on hand. Also have a backup script in hand if you need to amend the story accordingly. Do the backups need to be paid if they are unused? It depends. If your budget allows it, definitely pay everyone. If you can’t pay then now, offer them good roles in your next project and credit them in someway in your present film.


  • Outdoor filming delays: If you are filming outdoors most of the time, make sure you have the relevant permissions beforehand and avoid disruptions. Always take the weather into consideration too.


  • Stick to your release date: Announce your film’s premiere date way in advance and stick to it. Hold everyone including yourself accountable to this – no slacking off. This shows you can get things done on time and on budget – a big plus when moving onto bigger projects. 


  • Get insurances and guarantees: I always advise having the relevant insurances and completion guarantees in place. This is part of behaving like a professional filmmaking team.


  • Always feed your cast and crew:  I can’t emphasise the importance of having a quality catering team on site. Never ever skimp on the food and beverages on offer to everyone involved in your film. When issues and rifts arise on a film set, it usually can be traced back to the rubbish fare on offer. Feed your cast and crew well and they will do great work for your film, even in a crisis- guaranteed!


Inordinate delays are the curse of a small to medium budget film. Your film cannot risk having these sorts of delays. Usually in difficult times like this, everyone looks up to the filmmaker – that’s you! If you come up short, you quickly erode respect and standing with investors and fans. So, be the leader and take charge from the front.