Script Or Budget, Which Comes First? by Producer John Paul Rice

Watch the video interview on Youtube here

Film Courage: What comes first, the budget or script?

John Paul Rice, movie producer: Script. The script dictates the budget. The script is your heart and soul, the spine of the whole thing that you’re going to build off of the foundation of everything that you’re going to lay on top of it. If you have money first and you’re writing to the budget of that, I think your creativity is paramount. 

Joey Burke as Tim in A CHILD’S VOICE – Photo courtesy of No Restrictions Entertainment

And the dealing within the realities of what resources are available to you and then you start talking about money and how you’re going to fulfill that vision. But if the vision is coming from a monetary…me personally…I’ve had more money on some of my other films, didn’t mean I did a better job producing.

In fact my third film MOTHER’S RED DRESS, I had more money than any of the other ones and it was my worst job producing.

Film Courage: Why?

John: Because I thought that by having more money to pay more money to each position and person that was working on it, I was just going to get better talent and therefore I took my better part of myself out of the equation just that it was going to be solved by money. And I learned a very valuable lesson on that.

We got the film done and everything was great and it worked out fine, but I saw dollars and that I could get this kind of DP and it didn’t translate into success for the project.

In fact the person that I brought on once that DP left the project for another project in the middle of shooting, I brought in somebody else that had less equipment, less experience and he did a fantastic job because his motivation was correct.


“The script dictates the budget. The script is your heart and soul, the spine of the whole thing that you’re going to build off of…”


So if you look at it from this standpoint, if you have money and you’re going to pay people right? We all want to get paid and we’ve got to work to live and all that. But if that is the focus first then I think that you’re doing the opposite. It’s like Okay we’ve got a marketing campaign, let’s find a script if that’s the kind of content that we want to sell as opposed to what comes from within.

Angela Mavropoulos as Kristy in A CHILD’S VOICE – Photo courtesy of No Restrictions Entertainment

Film Courage: Do you think you didn’t screen people properly because they were so ready to take the paycheck, you didn’t see the commitment in them?

John: I think it was a combination of that and just thinking that maybe I was trying to…I think I took my vigilance off and not qualifying people a level…I had a great time working with all of those individuals. But I could have avoided a lot of problems had I done better vetting of my cast and my crew. That’s not to say I regret any of it because it was a learning experience and we got a film done and we did a really good job with it and it impacted a lot of people. But in terms of my job as a producer, I stepped away from certain things and just figured they were going to take care of themselves because I had more money, that was a mistake I made. 


Question For The Viewers: Which comes first, the budget or the script?


A Child’s Voice from No Restrictions Entertainment on Vimeo.






About John Paul Rice:

John Paul Rice was born the youngest of four, in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. At the age of 7, in addition to baseball, he took up theater until his senior year of high school. Mr. Rice attended Georgia State University to pursue a degree in Business. While at college, Mr. Rice was given the opportunity to work on Jerry Bruckheimer’s Remember the Titans as a Titan football player. He enjoyed the experience and turned his focus toward film, working in production on a handful of low budget independent films before moving to Los Angeles a year later. 

In 2001, John landed a position at the Los Angeles division of the German distribution company Senator International (which later became Mandate Pictures) led by industry veteran Joseph Drake (The Hunger Games, Don’t Breathe, Juno, The Grudge). Under Joe’s mentoring, John developed an interest in producing independent feature films. 

In 2008, Mr. Rice formed No Restrictions Entertainment with filmmaker Edgar Michael Bravo. The duo has produced five films together. The critically acclaimed indie feature One Hour Fantasy Girl, written and directed by Mr. Bravo. The following year they produced the psychological drama The Magic Stone and shortly thereafter produced the dramatic and surreal thriller Mother’s Red Dress. One year later Bravo and Rice created a compelling supernatural thriller in Mark’s Secret to Eternal Life. Their latest film A Young Man’s Future is a heartbreaking yet inspiring story about love in the face of mental illness. All five films deal with challenging social issues while telling an entertaining and original narrative story. The team just released their 6th project in 9 years with A Child’s Voice, a supernatural thriller that takes on child trafficking. 

Some of Mr. Rice’s favorite films are Training Day, Chinatown, Midnight Cowboy, Being There and The King’s Speech.


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