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Joss Whedon has been quoted as saying

Whatever you're thinking, it's less

but has anyone placed a specific dollar figure on the budget of his 'Much Ado About Nothing'?

If not, can someone here make a reasonable estimate, assuming actor's scale, food costs, costume & equipment rental, etc?

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No concrete figures have been released regarding the micro-budget film, largely (as far as I can tell) because most of the major expenses came directly out of Joss Whedon's own pocket and he simply isn't saying.

Based on this interview with Whedon, we learn that not only was he personally involved in the filming, editing, lighting and writing but that the principal actors were also on micro-salaries (e.g. either at the bottom of SAG Union Scale or just ignoring it entirely)

As well as shooting in their own house, they funded the production themselves. "I did everything they say don't do," Whedon grins. "Great idea to shoot next to a golf course, by the way. You know what they do on golf courses all day? Mow." His cast consisted of regulars from his TV shows, who gave their time "for what will ultimately be dozens of dollars".

Since Whedon already had access to much of the equipment, it's incredibly difficult to put an actual number on the budget but based on the "bythenumbers" leak of the budget of The Village (and with the help of the IMDB Cast/Crew breakdown) we can make a few educated guesses.

  • Casting - $0 - Whedon did most of this himself.
  • Food Charges - $? - Whedon's wife provided a daily buffet.
  • Writing - $0 - Shakespeare wrote most of the plot + dialogue, Whedon re-wrote it for production.
  • Cast Salaries - $? - According to this answer, background actors in the Los Angeles area had to be paid at least $142 per 8 hour work day, and speaking parts get more.
  • Music - $? (All music written and performed by Joss Whedon) - There were some players as well - Lets say $1000/day in total.
  • VFX - Almost nothing. Probably less than $100K.
  • Post-Production - $0 - Almost all the editing and post was apparently done by Whedon himself.

and

  • 14 x days makeup = $14K
  • 14 x days lighting and rigging = $100K

I'd guess that overall the film was made for substantially less than a million dollars, probably more like $500K if you discount the time that Whedon, his family and close friends put in.

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    The issue I have is that even though they didn't pay for a catering company, Whedon or his wife had to pay for the raw ingredients, even if she prepared the food herself. As someone who's catered for a project I've produced, it still costs $3-10 per person per meal to feed your cast and crew. Assuming (conservatively) 20 people/day with $16/day for three meals, that's at least $4500 in food costs, excluding feeding 30+ extras on the wedding/party days. In the grand scheme of things, this may not be much but it's certainly more than $0. – Catija Mar 22 '16 at 20:36
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    Also, as a note, the SAG Theatrical low budget weekly (5 day) rate for talent is about $2200. I know you're being generous but I thought I'd make a note of how generous the numbers are. Modified low is even less, about $1100/week but which rate you fall into depends on the quoted budget of the film. Even the full budget weekly SAG minimum rate is only $3000. – Catija Mar 22 '16 at 20:42
  • @Catija - The quote would suggest that the cast weren't on SAG rates. I've also multiplied all of the staff salaries together. – user7812 Mar 22 '16 at 21:01
  • I'm not arguing with that, mostly stating that even your "generous" numbers are more than full budget SAG minimum rates.... unless I'm misunderstanding and you're saying $1000/day for the entire cast not per person. Your answer isn't clear about that.... and when you say "Staff" do you mean "Cast"? The "principles" and "extras" would imply cast. Not trying to nitpick, looking for clarity. – Catija Mar 22 '16 at 21:04
  • @Catija - I've clarified. Any better? – user7812 Mar 22 '16 at 22:03

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