Budget woes were a pervasive presence in my head throughout the movie-making process, almost like a fug of fear clouding my judgment. I expected some unforeseen expense cropping up that would end the whole enterprise because there were no deep pockets and no financier to turn to. So, I watched every expenditure every day, checking it against the budget. But it wasn’t the sudden big-ticket item that pounced unexpectedly on me; it was the pile up of little stuff. For the most part, all of the big-ticket items had been planned and accounted for, but the unexpected smaller things were adding up.
One of the problems was that others on the team had the sense that this was a well-financed movie—like a studio production—so they tended to be cavalier about spending. I knew, for example, that some of the people whose gasoline I had to pay for in order for them to do their jobs were cheating. And the wastefulness in the meals, drinks and snacks thrown away was unnerving. But I couldn’t afford the time and energy to solve these little problems in real time. I had to watch for difficulties with more costly issues. An example was muscle cars.
I noticed one day during production that one of the management team was spending a lot of time looking at images of cars on the computer. I had no idea what he was doing and was irritated at his wasting time this way. Before I could say anything to him, I was called away to handle some problem and forgot about it.
Later in the day, he came to me with some printouts of photos of three cars. He explained that he and a couple of other members of the team had selected these cars as “picture cars”—cars to rent for use in the movie. These flashy vehicles would cost several hundred dollars a day and would be required for multiple days. They definitely were not in the budget. I took him aside and told him that under no circumstances were we going to rent muscle cars. I was really surprised when he pushed back, saying that we needed to have cars that matched the personalities of the two cops and the woman who was stalked.
I decided that discussion was pointless. For some reason, he just didn’t have a true grip on budgetary constraints. I told him very firmly (resisting anger that wanted to creep into my voice) that there would be absolutely no more discussion of the issue. I had arranged to borrow friends’ cars and that was that.
Over and over money was an issue. It was lonely sometimes making the calls on where to spend. I wished I could have done a better job not only keeping waste down, but also conveying the limits of my finances to the management team.