Script + Outline = Budget!

Budget. In the world of video production, the budget is always a tough topic with no quick answer. I’ve been in video production for 15 years and every single estimate remains a journey. What I’ve learned from my many adventures is that if you’re looking for a unique video, the journey to the estimate will be equally unique. Fortunately, this journey has a roadmap and when complete, your one-of-a-kind video concept will have an accurate estimate.

This is the third installment of the the three-part series: How Much Does It Cost to Make A Video?”


As a recap to our past two installments and what’s to come:

  • FIRST – It’s always helpful to complete a basic treatment form. The treatment form is a high-level summary of the video’s background. This background includes things such as intended audience, overall purpose and messaging, and so on.
  • NEXT – Determining the style of the video lays the groundwork for the vision. The look, feel, length, pace and tone all lend a hand to stylizing the video and play a large role in how the final product looks and feels.
  • NOW – The style and vision can inspire the creation of the script or outline.  This is the last phase of our journey and from this document, we can establish the budget.

Done with that? Perfect! At this point, we know the audience, purpose, message, style and we have a vision and are off to a great start.

Now we can develop the script and/or outline.


“Screenwriting is the most prized of all the cinematic arts. Actually, it isn’t, but it should be.”-
– Hugh Laurie

The script is generally one of the hardest hills to climb. This is where, with ink and paper, you determine what your video is going to be. Whether it’s a heartfelt narrative, an informative explainer video, an in-depth promo video or even an animated teaser, the script is the essential element that encompasses your treatment, vision, message, style, and purpose.

Great – so who develops that?  In my opinion, the two ends of the spectrum are (1) an agency or (2) YOU.  Within this spectrum, there are a variety of options.  If you have a substantial budget, an agency is a good choice for you. For those who think they do not have a substantial budget, you can definitely do it yourself, but now enter the factors of everything else you are doing and your video initiative becomes that back-burner project that never seems to come to fruition.

There are some in-between options of course. For instance, p3 mediaworks offers a simple, comprehensive Creative Development Service that is exclusive to scripting and outlining for custom video projects. Another option is if you are working with an experienced video producer they can likely refer a solid script writer with experience in the given style. Finally, there is still the option of tackling it in-house and, hopefully, the prospect of doing so seems a bit less daunting with the aforementioned roadmap.

Regardless of where the scripting and outlining happens, all of the necessary creative and logistical information is born from those two items. This includes where the production will take place, how many production days will be required, how many actors or interview subjects are needed, how long the video be, and also any included animation, motion graphics, music, sound design and beyond! The polished script or outline gets transferred to a producer who will translate into specific line items, and yes, finally (drumroll, please)… crafted into an accurate estimate.


If the question of “How Much Does It Cost to Make A Video?” was easier to answer we all would be making more videos.  In a fantasy land, you could simply go to our website, scroll through a short list of straightforward choices, pick the video that fits your need and check-out through our online store. Technically, this type of service model exists, but you don’t want that video. That video comes pre-made in a box and doesn’t allow for much (if any) originality or imagination. You want a video that’s specifically yours – creative and thought-provoking, heartfelt and dignified, informative and inventive. These are videos are the ones that people watch, love, share, and connect with. These videos are the ones that make an impact.

From filling out treatment forms to developing a vision, to finally knocking out a script, there’s certainly some work that goes into defining the cost of a video. It’s a genuine craft to develop a creative concept and breathe life into it but there is a proven process and it all begins with the creation of a script and of course an accurate estimate.

Written By: Curtis Gilbert – Creative Producer/Owner, p3 mediaworks