In Features, Issues

THE PIECES OF &#PI;

Story rights: Normally, a screenwriter gets between two-and-one-half to three-and-one-half percent of the budget for their screenplay. For Pi, the only cost was a fee to register the screenplay with the Copyright Office in Washington, D.C. Other above-the-line personnel, like the producers and director, worked for points.

Cast: was produced under the SAG Limited Exhibition Agreement. Actors are paid $75 a day and the film can only be shown in limited art venues. When the film is sold for broader distribution, actors must be paid more. One actor, Aronofsky notes, refused to work for this rate; he was paid low-budget scale.

Set Operations: This category covers catering ($3,635) and various location expenses in addition to the grip department. "Every member of the crew was on deferment for $200 a day," says Aronofsky. These deferred personnel also split 45 profit points. But, Aronofsky says, "We couldn’t find a grip or gaffer to do it for free, so we paid those guys $50 a day."

Special Effects: "Designing the big drill at the end, the blood effects, the phylo substance that oozes out, etc."

Set Dressing: Computer stuff.

Property: Prop purchases and rentals.

Wardrobe: Most actors wore their own clothes. Gullette was the exception: "We went to Domsey’s [a huge thrift store] in Brooklyn and got his whole wardrobe there. The shoes we bought him were a big problem – Sean wound up spraining his ankle, and he had to try not to limp in the movie. We also bought a hat for Lenny Meyer, the lead Hassid. We bought him a fedora for $75, and I lent him an old trenchcoat."

Makeup and Hairdressing: The kit fee for makeup artist.

Electrical: The producers got a free lighting package. The costs here went towards the gaffer and the expendables.

Camera: An Aaton 16mm camera package. "We also borrowed a Bolex which we broke and had to fix," says Aronofsky.

Production Sound: Dialogue was recorded to Nagra. Most of this rental fee went towards "really good mikes."

Transportation: Hard to get for free. Truck rentals, passenger vans, etc.

Picture Vehicles: "There used to be a cab in the movie," says Aronofsky. "We hailed the cab off of Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn and paid the driver $100 to keep his car there. We probably gave some money to our consulting producer to rent his station wagon. And we had some traffic tickets."


Film and Lab:
The filmmakers shot 16mm black-and-white reversal stock and sent it to Bono Labs in Arlington, Virginia to be developed. "It was the only place that would develop the stock," says Aronofsky. "We had to wait a week for dailies." Raw stock cost $5,414; developing, $18,000.

Studio and Hall Rental: The filmmakers got free use of a warehouse where they built their main set, Max’s apartment. "But we had to pay for the bump in the electricity," says Aronofsky. That came to the figure here.

Set Photography: Stills, etc. (See photos in this article.)

Film Editing: Most of this cost ($9,915) went towards the negative cut, which was a matchback from an AVID cut-list. "Reversal does not have edge code so the negative cutter had to cut the negative by eye," says Aronofsky. "At least it’s a positive image but still it took four-and-half months to cut." Needless to say, the filmmakers scored a free AVID by hiring an editor from a commercial house willing to work nights on their equipment.

Music: Clint Mansell’s score was done on his equipment for a deferred fee. "It’s all samples so the whole thing was done on a keyboard," says Aronofsky. Most of the costs here went towards festival rights for the songs.

Post-production Sound: A professional, five-day mix at Sound One in New York.

Post-Production Film and Lab: The 35mm optical soundtrack ($3,000) and the blow-up release print ($25,571).

Titles: Titles were done digitally by Jeremy Dawson on an Apple computer using Adobe Aftereffects. The filmmakers output the titles digitally to film at 2K resolution.

Publicity: Miscellaneous press expenses.

Insurance: The filmmakers attached themselves to an existing policy, held by Drift Releasing and paid a smaller fee to get General Liability insurance. For those trying this, Workman’s Comp is also a good thing to get.

General Expense: Miscellaneous.

Budget
Story Rights and Copyrights$300
Cast3,644
Total Above the Line3,944
 
Set Construction3,594
Set Operations12,058
Special Effects1,926
Set Dressing850
Property545
Wardrobe344
Makeup and Hairdressing1,041
Electrical2,060
Camera4,218
Production Sound1,387
Transportation6,610
Picture Cars/Animals269
Film and Lab24,600
Studio and Hall Rentals850
Set Photography575
Total Production 60,927
 
Film Editing12,247
Music5,550
Post-Production Sound 20,465
Post-Production Film and Lab28,571
Titles1,350
Total Post-Production68,183
 
Publicity341
Insurance1,200
General Expenses220
Total Other1,761
 
Total Below the Line130,871
Total Above and
Below the Line134,818
 
Grand Total$134,815



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