Below the line (filmmaking)

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Below-the-line is a term derived from the top sheet of a budget (Motion Picture, Television, Commercial, Industrial, Student Film, Documentary). The 'line' in below-the-line is the one separating the Actors, Director, Producers, and Writers from the other crew.

The top sheet of the budget is the summary of the entire budget of the project – no matter what the size (cost).

The traditional delineations for the top-sheet are:

  • Total Above-the-line
  • Total Below-the-line (hence the term)
  • Total Above and Below the Line
  • Additional Coverage (Other)
  • Grand Total

In general, Above-the-line refers to Actors, Producers, Writers and Directors. For the most part, these are fixed costs. For example, if a scene is cut from the script, the writer is still paid the same amount.

Below-the-line crew refers to everybody else including (but not limited to):

Most of these crafts people are considered variable cost in the budget. Meaning, if you cut a scene from the script, potentially, you don't have to build that set, or paint it or dress it, etc.

Magazine[edit]

Below the Line is also the name of a Hollywood trade publication that bills itself as "The Voice of the Crew." It focuses on the production and postproduction crew working on film, TV and commercial projects.

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