Loss And Damage


Since Valentine's Day just came and went, I thought it would be a great idea to talk about budgeting for loss and damage.

No matter what you do, something will go missing or get crushed.  Since you can't turn back time, you might as well budget for the inevitable.

Firstly, put a contingency in your budget, set ideally to 10% of your total costs.  Sometimes I'll exclude certain line items, such as insurance and development expenses.  If you don't have a contingency, you're just asking the gods to screw you.  But it's also good to have these items accounted for:


Each component - the antenna, belt clip, battery, and main unit - costs money when it's lost or destroyed.  Budget for at least one missing battery (about $100).  On some shoots, I ask the PAs to hand in their walkies at the end of each day.  This isn't practical if you have more than 8-10 walkies, but it keeps losses to a minimum.


If you'll be raiding the cast's wardrobe, be ready to get hit with a dry cleaning or replacement bill.  I usually budget $100-$500 in cleaning/replacement fees (the more cast members, the higher the figure).


If you're either using or clearing out the location owner's stuff, something will break.  I'll either add a percentage (2-10%) of the props and set dressing rentals/purchases, or the insurance deductible (see below).


If you have green PA drivers, count on at least one fender-bender or cracked mirror.  Get the collision damage waiver on all your production vehicle rentals.  It's $10-$15/day (weekly and monthly rates are available).  This will lower the damage deductible down to about $500.  Some vehicle rental companies include it by default, but most will ask you.  Also, put the collision deductible amount in a separate repair/damage line item.


Grip/electric gear is pretty solid.  But I keep losing sandbags (handy for propping up doors), flags (easily lost behind furniture), scrims and electric cords.  I usually put in something between $100 and the insurance deductible (see below).


If you have car shots/chase scenes/risky setups, budget the insurance deductible and add safety gear to the grip package costs.  If you have stunts or gunfire, add clear glass in your lens filter package.  This protects the lens from dirt, shrapnel and squib blood.  Budget for some golf umbrellas for keeping out the rain and snow.  If it's cold out, put the camera in the office every night instead of leaving it in the uninsulated truck.


Privacy screens can be arranged in various ways to create little rooms, so the actors can change and chill out.  But they always break.  I budget the replacement cost of at least one of these (between $100 and $125).  Whenever I can I rent wardrobe flats instead, which are bigger and sturdier.  But these are usually too big to fit into a cargo van, and only have two sides (privacy screens have up to four).


Insurance policies have a per-incident equipment deductible of $1500-$2500.  Note: if you have three separate accidents each costing $600, insurance won't kick in since each amount is less than the deductible.


The best way to keep things from getting destroyed is to insist on an orderly wrap-out at the end of the day.  Everyone wants to get to the bar, so they'll pack things badly and miss things.  People can get hurt.  Force people to calm down when they're wrapping out.  It won't take appreciably more time, and everyone and everything will get off set intact.