1. Purchase of raw film stock - even with the educational discount given to film students by Kodak - a single roll of film costs $99.34 - $102.33 (depending on which film stock is used) plus sales tax of 8.25% plus $15 shipping. One roll could cost as much as $127.00. The ratio of film shot to film used (after editing) is about 5:1 so for an eleven minute film, a student can expect to buy at least 5 rolls (400 feet each) film stock. That would amount to $635.00. (If the film is intended to be longer, say 20 or 30 minutes as many are, the price would increase proportionally. All the prices are available on the Eastman Kodak website.)
2. Developing of motion picture film - the cheapest lab charges 14 cents per foot for black & white film and 22 cents per foot for color. Most labs charge more than this but going with the cheapest place (not always the best) around, the eleven minute film (5 rolls of film) would cost $70 (b/w) or $110 (color).
3. Transfer to tape (makes it easier to screen and easier to edit & duplicate): All labs have a setup (prep) fee of at least $22.50 (this is the educational discounted price). The actual transfer to a mini dv tape runs at least $175.00/hour with a minimum charge of half an hour. The cost of one mini dv tape is $12 - $18 if the student buys it from the lab. That would make an eleven minute film transfer cost at least $102.00.
4. Shipping There are no film processing labs in Austin that can process &/or transfer 16mm motion picture film. Shipping of five 400' rolls of film round-trip would cost between $20.00 and $65.00 depending on the carrier.
5. Acquiring General Liability Insurance if the shoot takes place off campus. We have a Blanket policy that covers students for most locations. However, there are a few exclusions; should a student need a separate policy to cover exclusions, this can cost anywhere from $100 to $5,000 depending on who/how the insurance is acquired. We are currently unable to assist you with insurance on feature films.
6. Feeding your film crew. This is essential because of short shooting schedules, the necessity to stay on-time, and the fact that all crew members are unpaid volunteers. It is expected that the director/producer foot the cost of meals. Just feeding a crew of 15 students pizza could run at least $50.
7. Rental of costumes or props for the film set is yet another expense that is often unanticipated.
8. In some cases, there are added costs of required services For instance, a car fire scene necessitates coordination with the Austin Fire Department to be on the scene with a fire truck; $300 or so for this service.
9. Rental of space for filming is sometimes an issue. Scenes take place everywhere -- film studio, office, apartment, rooftop, parking garage, parking lot, boutique, restaurant, etc. -- and sometimes there is a fee involved.
NOTE: If you have space or personnel provided at no cost or a reduced cost by anyone, please understand that these may not be eligible to the donor as a tax deductible gift. The IRS rules about donations to anyone, including The University of Texas, are very strict and you should never promise a tax deduction to anyone.
10. Sometimes it's even necessary for the student to rent a truck or van to transport the film equipment to their designated location. If the student does not have access to a personal vehicle or if their equipment is more than their car can handle, they must rent a vehicle.
11. Rental of additional equipment is sometimes needed by the student. This happens when everyone is filming at the same time or when a student feels they need access to a specific piece of equipment that either RTF does not own OR RTF simply ran out. For instance, most shoots are allocated one camera but if the student feels they need two cameras (maybe to get two different perspectives from a single scene), they may go rent the second one. Or if they are shooting in a location that does not have adequate electrical outlets for lights, they may rent a generator. Use of a generator must be reported to and approved by Equipment CheckOut before you use one. The RTF Department has limited resources and we use them as wisely as possible to benefit the greatest number of students possible.
I’m just starting out in RTF318. How much will this class cost me?
In addition to the regular tuition costs, you should plan on insurance costs and some production costs. After polling a previous RTF318 class, the expenses to produce their class projects ranged from $15 - $305.
Why do I have to pay for insurance?
The RTF Department owns a substantial amount of specialized film equipment. This equipment was purchased specifically for RTF students to use. It is in the best interest of the Department and the Production Students using the equipment that everything is insured. We insure anything and everything that leaves the building with a student. We handle the insurance as a pass-through charge, paid by the students that use the equipment. Students are still financially responsible for losses and damage but anything in excess of the insurance deductible could be a catastrophic charge. The cost of insurance per student is much less than the cost of replacing just one lost camera.
We have an Equipment Replacement Insurance policy, a General Liability policy, and a Student Accident policy; these benefit only RTF students currently enrolled in a RTF Production class.
I am on Financial Aid but need more financial support to help me with film related expenses?
When most students first apply for financial aid, they include the basic necessities of tuition, shelter, food, and books. Film students, however, can have many additional out-of-pocket expenses. You may want to consider adding these costs to your financial aid application.
All related SFA forms can be found at: