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The beloved fan-funded comedy returns for an epic third season! It's a journey... uh, a quest.. a JOURNEYQUEST!
The beloved fan-funded comedy returns for an epic third season! It's a journey... uh, a quest.. a JOURNEYQUEST!
5,602 backers pledged $425,474 to help bring this project to life.

Why $420,000? A dive into the JQ3 Budget.

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This is long update, so for those of us who are busy, but who still like information:

  • tl:dr Films cost money and we're spending as little as we can to do it right. See the bottom of this post for the Q&A.

WHY DOES JQ3 COST SO MUCH?

Several backers have asked for a more detailed explanation of how the JQ3 budget breaks down, as well as why it's more expensive than Season 2. We're happy to share!

A film budget is broken down by line item and category. Let's begin with pre-production, since many of the development expenses have already been paid.

ABOVE THE LINE

These are the people who get credited in the beginning of the film and receive flat rates. That includes director, executive producer, producer, line producer, and so on. They will work for months or years in advance of the project shooting, then for months or years afterward. For all the work, the total cost of this category is only around $21,000.

PRE-PRODUCTION CREW

Pre-production is where we plan the machine that goes into motion on day one. We build costumes and sets, scout locations, test gear, create special makeup and prosthetics, and employ the office team who keeps track of everything and creates the plan itself. Some of these people will work for two days of prep. Others will get as much as fifteen days.

  • Line Producer, designs the detailed financial plan
  • Director, creates and communicates the creative plan
  • Producer, oversees the entire process and merges the creative and technical plans
  • Director of Photography, makes shot lists and storyboards, chooses gear, chooses a team, runs camera tests, coordinates the look with the production designer, hair, makeup, and costuming
  • 1st Camera Assistant, assembles the gear, tests everything, makes sure all of the rental pieces work together and won't break or fail on set
  • Production Designer, designs and oversees the world of the film, which the art, wardrobe, and makeup departments will build
  • Art Director, runs the logistics and budget to implement the Production Designer's plan, plus builds a ton as well
  • Set Decorator/Props, builds and sources props, figures out rentals, finds or builds everything we need to bring the sets themselves to life
  • Gaffer, gathers enough lights to fill a 5-ton truck
  • Key grip, works with the gaffer to fill that 5-ton truck with the grip gear that will hold up the lights, support the camera's movement, and rig anything else that we ask for
  • Key makeup/Key Prosthetics, sculpts the molds for the fantasy characters, tests them on the cast members (this really takes months)
  • Wardrobe, creates dozens of fantasy costumes in ten days, sources armor, solves the fantasy shoe problem (it's always a challenge!)
  • Script supervisor, breaks down every scene in the script to be fully prepared to track continuity as we shoot
  • Location manage, travels the state to look for and negotiate to use all the locations we'll shoot at
  • Production assistant x 2, runs errands, works with the assistant director to plan on set operations, keeps the office moving smoothly
  • Craft service, buys the food and finds the supplies to keep the cast and crew fed in between meals (twelve hour shooting days 

Now, add all of those crew and days together and you'll find that we've already spent over $20,000 of our dollars on the crew and we haven't even started shooting. And every single one of these professionals would typically have much MORE time to build all of this. These are the absolute minimums necessary to prep a show of this size.

PRODUCTION CREW

We've covered many of these roles already, so we'll just run down the list of who we need on set in order to shoot what we need. We have a fifteen day shoot planned, which is about ten days less than a typical indie would ask for. Every one of these people is crucial for a production of this size and scope.

  • Director
  • Line Producer
  • 1st Assistant Director
  • Director of Photography
  • Media Manager
  • 1st Camera Assistant
  • Production Manager
  • Production Designer
  • Art Director
  • Art Coordinator/Props
  • Set Decorator
  • Gaffer
  • Best Boy Electric
  • Key Grip
  • Best Boy Grip
  • Sound Mixer
  • Key Makeup
  • Prosthetics
  • Makeup Assistant
  • Wardrobe
  • Wardrobe Assistant
  • Script Supervisor
  • Stunt Coordinator
  • Digital Effects Supervisor
  • Production Coordinator
  • Still Photographer
  • Location Manager
  • Production Assistants
  • 1st Aid/Medic
  • Craft Service
  • Extras Coordinator
  • 2nd Assistant Director

And with that, we've suddenly spent another $100,000, so that these professionals can receive a paycheck, pay their rent, buy groceries, and take the time out from much more lucrative commercial work to bring this series to life. Many of these crew members will lose money while on this production, because they are turning down commercials, corporate shoots, and Hollywood features.

LOCATION EXPENSES

Even with a cast and crew that knows how to treat locations well, that many people and that much gear cause wear and tear. We also have to get to and from the best locations. Expenses in this category include:

  • Location Fees
  • City Permits
  • Car Rentals
  • Parking, Tolls, and Gas (remember, we're driving around massive, gas-guzzling trucks that are full of gear, set pieces, wardrobe, lights, etc)
  • Truck Rentals
  • Daily Breakfast and Lunch for our cast and crew (these are twelve hour days, remember?)
  • Craft Service Food

Guess what? We just spent another $25,000!

ART & WARDROBE

We've paid for the labor, but materials still cost money. Here's where we cover:

  • Prop Rentals
  • Prop Purchases
  • Wardrobe Rentals
  • Wardrobe Purchases
  • Makeup and Prosthetic Materials

This is where we wish we could spend WAY MORE than the $21,000 in the budget. If our world ever doesn't look big enough, this is why.

SET DRESSING

Sometimes we need to build and dress (decorate) sets. Dwarven burlesque taverns are not easy to find in real life.

  • Studio rental for build days
  • Studio rental for shoot days
  • Carpenters
  • Materials (paint, lumber, hardware, textiles, etc)

We can squeeze this in for around $15,000. We wish we could spend $50,000.

EQUIPMENT RENTAL

We'll be renting equipment worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. We can get it for around $12,000, not counting the insurance premiums that we have to pay.

MISCELLANEOUS COSTS

Let's be honest. We're talking about having porta-potties delivered to sets so that our cast and crew can have some privacy when they poop in the woods. Also, batteries. Lots of batteries. You can never have enough batteries. And petty cash for when you need money now, on set, to send somebody to buy that thing that we forgot. $5000.

TALENT

We want to give our incredible cast all of the money. Sadly, we have a total of 104 shoot days, which is how we add up all of the cast and all of the days they're on set. And we have extras and an extras coordinator. Then we have fees for the talent agencies (10-20%), the Screen Actors Guild, and of course, Worker's Comp and so on. This will probably be around $40,000. They deserve so much more. Oh, and we need airfare and hotel rooms for the cast members who no longer live in the state.

POST PRODUCTION

We've shot the film. Now we have to pay more professionals to:

  • Edit
  • Color Grade (so it doesn't look washed out and ugly)
  • Visual Effects
  • Music
  • Sound Effects
  • Foley
  • Sound Mixing
  • Titles & Graphics
  • Plus somebody to manage all of these moving pieces, the Post-production Coordinator (just kidding, we can't afford one of those)

In the past, this is where we've saved ourselves tens of thousands of dollars, because we had a company member who could do half of these jobs for free. Yes, free. He's not available this time, so we have to pay. Even so, most of our post is still done in house and we like to undercut our pay when we're the ones working on things, so we can keep post to around $40,000. It should be over $80,000.

TOTALS

With fringes (payroll taxes and SAG fees are examples of fringes), payroll, and a 5% contingency fund (it should be 15%), our total current budget is $321,066.94. (As a reminder, the chart explaining the additional costs—like rewards fulfillment, design, and project fees—is available on the main campaign page.)

WHAT THIS MEANS

The good news is that we already paid for the script, the budget (cue laugh track), and the plan. And we'll only get paid for the months of building and running this Kickstarter if it succeeds. Literally three years of unpaid organizational labor has gone into figuring out how to bring this Season Three script to life.

So, why do we need $325,000 to make the show? Let's rephrase the question. Why don't we need $800,000?

The answer is important: because we believe in JourneyQuest. Because you believe in JourneyQuest. Because we are all taking huge pay cuts for a passion project that needs to exist in this world. Because we're committing to long, hard days, rain or shine, snow or sleet, to finish this show on time and on budget.

Q&A

Why can't you make the show for less?
See above.

Why can't you cut the script?
If we cut the script in half we could save maybe 20% of the budget. Would you rather spend 80% for a half season or 100% for a full season? And actually, we already cut many scenes, including much of the orcs, additional material with Perf, more character development, and so on. We're now at the bare bones in order to tell this part of the story.

Why is this season so much more expensive?
Because back when we committed to upgrade Season Two to a feature-length season, we didn't have a script. We were younger, dumber, and more dewy-eyed. For Season Two the Kickstarter raised around $114,000. Our production budget ended up being closer to $160,00. And we were paying minimum wage to professionals who typically make far more than that. And the shoot was sometimes hell on earth. (Go watch the behind-the-scenes material on the DVD. We'll wait.) But we powered through because we believe in the show and we believe in fulfilling our obligations to you, the fans.

This time, we took the time to get the script right. We took the time to budget properly. And when we realized how much it would cost, we took the time to run the RenewJQ campaign to see if there was enough fan interest to continue. We promised you that if 4200 fans signed up to become Kickstarter backers, we would launch the Kickstarter, we would make the show when it funded, we would make it amazing, and we would make it right.

And here we are!

As a fan supported company, we are unique in the world of television and film production. We don't sell out. We don't water our stories down. We promise that only you, the fans, can cancel a show. And only you, the fans, can renew it.

It would have been easy over the last three years to cancel JourneyQuest. It's too big. It's too expensive. It's too hard. But you kept the faith. You even stepped forward to pay Matt and Kate for their time and talents writing the script. And because of you, we would not give up on JourneyQuest. It's why we're here today, even though it seems like a massive, scary goal. You believed in us and now it's our turn to believe in you.

It's time to RenewJQ.

Thank you for your support and encouragement! ONWAAAAAARD!

Sincerely,
Team JourneyQuest

=============================================
A few technical notes for die-hard fans and inquisitive souls:

  • The numbers above are intentionally left rough and rounded. You can trust that our internal budget numbers are far more precise, which would we cover line-by-line if this were a film school master class.
  • Some shows require smaller crews and faster shoots. They don't have dwarves and orcs and ogres and fantasy villages.
  • Some roles may sound like they're the same and some may differ in our internal definition from what they are in Hollywood. Each one fulfills a very specific and necessary function for a show of this size.
  • The rabbit hole when budgeting always goes deeper. If you would like to learn more about the process, we recommend taking some film budgeting classes or becoming a production office assistant accountant.
  • No, we are not going to work for free, nor will we ask that of others. We would love to do this all the time, every day, but we all have a responsibility to ourselves and our families not to end up homeless. Just because it ends up available for free on YouTube doesn't mean that it costs nothing to produce. We're trying to build a better world here—and a better model for the indie film industry—and that includes sustainable practices and fair pay for our labors.
Amanda Cook, James Herbert, and 40 more people like this update.

Comments

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    1. Zombie Orpheus 10-time creator
      Superbacker
      on

      Madayar – You've been such a huge supporter of our work over the years. There's no need to back at a level higher than the one you've chosen. Thank you for everything you do!

    2. Madayar on

      I needed to read over this a couple of times. I see what you're trying here. I really do. I can't back any more than what I did. Sorry.

    3. Christine Peruski on

      I never once questioned the budget. I feel you only need to watch the first Gamers movie followed by Gamers: Hands of Fate to understand what the budget is about. Sure, the first movie was fun, and worth sharing with friends. But, only a crazy person like me would watch it as many times as I have! But, I've said many times that if Hands of Fate wasn't about such a niche subject, it would be theater release worthy. And I vibrate with excitement at the opportunity to share it with people.

      I was shocked and amazed to see someone like Fran Kranz, who I originally fell in love with on a Network show (Dollhouse on FOX), involved in season 2 of JourneyQuest. I couldn't imagine what was done to get someone like him on this project. I look at the budget for season 3 and wonder how someone who was in a movie with Thor (Cabin in the Woods) fits into that budget!

    4. Dead Gentlemen Productions on

      DutchUncleHAR has the right of it. Back in the day, DG, ZOE, we could afford to do a lot for free, for the fun of it. But the actors and the crew we're using now, this is what they do for a living. This is what some of US do for a living now. To put food on the table, pay rent, all that. We're beyond volunteer. If we stayed volunteer, keeping productions under $70k, both DG & ZOE would implode. Can't be done anymore because we refuse to not pay ourselves. So now, we estimate what we can reasonably do, we ask our professionals to work for a fraction of what their commercial work pays, and we aim to one day be sustainable to pay everyone at a commercial rate, or close to it anyway. Wow, wouldn't that be nice!
      And do you know WHY YOU as the fans and even YOU the skeptical backers out there should want that for us? It means not waiting 3-4 years for the next big production. It means more content. But to get there, the properties need to grow their audience, so that the burden is not set on a small few who fork over thousands each. This kickstarter will succeed by having well over 4400 backers. It's the numbers. More people just need to pledge.

    5. Missing avatar

      DutchUncleHAR on

      I think I know the name of the elephant in the room: We're all growing up.

      You did "The Gamers" as students, with all borrowed equipment and minimal expenses. (And some of the expenses, like eating, were parental pocket money to each person as "living expenses", rather than accounted to the project.) Through generations of projects, and making a living on the side, you're now involved with a real production company paying real rent and real salaries, and requiring real organization. Even volunteer labors of love cost money for supplies.

      Anyone who thinks the costs are high - go find articles on what the recent live-on-TV presentations of Sound of Music etc. have cost for the preparation and rehearsal for a ONE NIGHT SHOW. ZOE is trying to put together a TV episode for pocket change, and so far has a great track record doing it.

    6. Moritz Schubert on

      @Sascha: One didn't promise to pledge $100 by signing on to the JQ mailing list. One merely promised to pledge to the campaign (even if it's only $1). In ZOE's experience this averages out to $100 / per person.

    7. Morten Poulsen
      Superbacker
      on

      Thanks for the very detailed description of why you need what you need. This is openness is one of the things I really love about indie productions.

      Given that visibility is important in these types of productions, have you considered partnering with some paying non-exclusive streaming service? Or is income from youtube high enough for that to be more trouble than its worth?

    8. HdS
      Superbacker
      on

      @Sascha Koenig: As far as I renember nobody promised anything in the renew-JQ-campain aside from the hope of seeing JQ3 happen.

    9. Sascha on

      Thanks for the information! But I want to add, that the costs of 420.000,-$ were named in the renew JQ-campaign years ago. And more than 4.700 fans signed in - knowing about the costs. And at least 3.000 of them did not pledge yet and the most of the backers so far did not pledge 100,- (which was the amount of money all the subscribers of the renew-JQ-campain promised the pledge). The costs of 420.000,- can`t be the reason for not pledging after signing in renew JQ, because they all knew about the costs when they signed in. Starting to discuss about the costs, know when the kickstarter has started, is not fair!

    10. Jeremie Lariviere
      Superbacker
      on

      very detailed update; i'm hoping things get there and more!

    11. Steven Hambleton on

      Fabulous idea Empirimancer, but what about those of us who haven't backed anything else previously?

      I have Tweeted and shared this kickstarter on Facebook. I can try emailing YouTube staff in hopes they'll consider placing it on the popular list, but don't hold your breath.

      I'll see if I can get permission from my college's media director to advertise it on our college website (60,000+ students will see it)... normally that wouldn't happen because some would consider it not college related, but I work in PR and know all I have to do is explain to my colleagues that it applies to "student-life" via student entertainment, and supporting diversity considering the film reflects role playing gamers which are an unrepresented group when you compare them to other forms entertainment seekers. We HAVE to be inclusive in a college environment.

      In the mean time, what else can we do? How can we get this to pick its momentum back up?

      ALSO, what about asking Comic Con, Dragon Con, Fantasy Con representatives to share our goal with their own community since this form of entertainment is up a cosplayers ally? Cosplayers would support projects like filming JourneyQuest in a heartbeat; I mean look at what happened to the crew with KungFury. That was an independent film that had a kickstarter as well and cosplayers went nuts over it. Let's broaden our target market. We can do this!! Grab an energy drink and make your move!

    12. Rachel Bresler on

      I've given it a try Empirimancer :) I really wish the other people from the RenewJQ campaign come over here soon.

    13. Missing avatar

      Empirimancer on

      Thank you for the detailed explanation.

      @ everyone: Here's an idea to help this kickstarter achieve its goal: Send private messages using the Kickstarter interface to companies whose projects you've backed, and ask them to mention JourneyQuest and its kickstarter in an update to their backers. As a backer yourself you have some pull with these companies, and people who've already pledged for one project are likely to be ready to pledge again if they like JourneyQuest.

      Just go through your list of backed projects that have something to do with fantasy entertainment, click the Contact Me button, and write a short message with a link to the JourneyQuest Youtube playlist, a link to the JourneyQuest kickstarter, and a polite request for them to spread the word in an update.

      I've already done this for some of my own backed projects and so far I've gotten a "We'll look into it and let you know what we decide" reply from the guys making Torment: Tides of Numenera. Since they have more than 74k backers this could be a huge. Please do your part if you don't want JourneyQuest to be cancelled!