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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 to the lab & return shipping to The University is another cost.  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.  This happens quite often because of the limited space & the filming restrictions on campus.  We have a Blanket policy that covers students for most projects for $5/student/class/semester; this cost is included in the $32.64/class/semester charge.  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.  The Department will work closely with the student to try and get this cost waived but often it is impossible to do.  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 & not let crew members leave the filming set, and the fact that all crew members are unpaid volunteers.  It is expected that the director/producer foot the cost of meals.  Again, the Department tries to help the students find donors or food but it can't happen on every shoot or every day of a longer shoot.  Just feeding a crew of 15 students pizza would run at least $50.

7.       Rental of costumes or props for the film set is yet another expense that is often unanticipated.  This cost is harder to guess and I won't even attempt it.  

8.       In some cases, there are added costs of required services that are dependent on the script being filmed.  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, jail, etc. -- and sometimes there is a fee involved.  This varies from place to place and again the Department tries to  help the student acquire their location without a cost but it doesn't always happen. 

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. You can, however, tell donors that you will submit their donation for consideration of a tax deductible gift.  The Department staff will determine if the gift qualifies and will consult the UT Development Office on anything that is not clear cut.

10.     Sometimes it's even necessary for the student to rent a truck (van or box truck) to transport the film equipment to their designated location.   Each class has an equipment "allotment" in our department and the students can use the equipment in that allotment for their project.  However, they have to be able to transport and keep secure the equipment.  If the student does not have access to a personal vehicle or if their equipment is more than their vehicle can handle, they must rent a vehicle.    You may find discounts but the out of pocket cost is borne by the student.

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 as RTF does not own any.   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. 

Example of class that often necessitates more expenses:  Undergraduate Thesis Class –

RTF course description:  For narrative writer/directors intent on creating a calling card film. From pre-production to sound mix, students complete a festival-worthy short film or video project (3 to 10 minutes) with the most advanced equipment available to undergraduates. Emphasis placed on storytelling, strong cinematic style, and production value. Students must enter the class with finished scripts. Not all students in the class will direct--producers, production designers, editors, sound designer/recordists and cinematographers may take the class for full credit. Informal meeting with instructor prior to semester is required.

I’m just starting out in RTF318.  How much will this class cost me?

In addition to the regular tuition costs to take RTF318, you should plan on equipment insurance costs and some production costs.  After polling a previous RTF318 class, the expenses to produce their class projects ranged from $15 - $305.  Including insurance, the average amount spent per student was $136.00.

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 to any student.   The cost of insurance per student is much less than the cost of replacing just one camera should there be a loss.  Maintaining “due diligence” to secure and keep safe all equipment as well as financial responsibility and insurance coverage are discussed in each production class at the beginning of each semester and each student must sign an understanding of the rules before being granted equipment access. 

We have an Equipment Replacement Insurance policy, a General Liability policy, and a Student Accident policy; these benefit only RTF students currently enrolled in an RTF Production class.

What is I am on Financial Aid but I 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, have tons of out-of-pocket expenses if they are serious about becoming a filmmaker.  You may want to consider adding these costs to your financial aid application.  Complete and submit to SFA a current SFA Appeal Form:


All related SFA forms can be found at: