Budgeting & Scheduling: A Practical Guide for Documentary Producers

New dates TBC

Budgeting & Scheduling: A Practical Guide for Documentary Producers

Date: (awaiting dates)

Duration: 1 day
Capacity: Max. 8 participants
Fee: £150  10% Early Bird discount available until 6th August.

This one day course is designed to provide a detailed and practical step by step guide to managing the production of an independent documentary or a factual television project.   Starting with scheduling and budgeting, the day will cover cash flow, contracts, copyright and compliance issues as well as distribution and broadcaster deals.  

The course is suitable for anyone who wants to understand the nuts and bolts of producing, whether for broadcast or independent projects. Tutor Tracey Gardiner is a producer with more than twenty years' experience of developing, selling and making factual programmes and feature films.


Participants would benefit from bringing along an idea they would like to budget. For those without a specific idea, they can follow the course example.   

Each participant should bring along a PC or Mac laptop with Excel. (For those without Excel, LFS can provide a laptop with notice.) Those unfamiliar with Excel should not be deterred since a basic grounding will be provided at the outset of the class. The focus will be on the principles behind budgeting rather than the practicalities of manipulating a spreadsheet

As a guide, Tracey will create a budget for a project which will be projected onto a screen. By building up a budget line-by-line each participant will gain an insight into how to cost and schedule a production. Sample release forms and employment contracts will be discussed, as will copyright considerations. Post-production and different funding routes will be discussed, along with broadcaster and international sales.

This day’s course will provide the essential skills necessary to lay out a detailed plan to steer a project through the different stages of production to bring it in on budget and on time.


  • To learn how to build a budget from the bottom up.
  • To understand contractual and legal issues.
  • To explore different funding options, rights, the back end and distribution.

 Other workshops in this series:

Tutor profile: Tracey Gardiner, Producer

Tracey Gardiner entered television after a career as a stockbroker in the City, when she joined FulcrumTV. After more than fifteen years at Fulcrum she then set up her own production company, Iridescent Films, which made the three part BBC 2 series PILGRIMAGE with Simon Reeve (a co-production with Lion Television). She is currently the executive producer of a feature length documentary, 100 MEN, funded by the New Zealand Film Commission and MPI Distribution.

Tracey started out making programmes about business and current affairs over twenty years ago but then branched out into science, arts, history and observational documentaries, putting together international co-production deals and private finance to fund projects. Key award winners include: KEYS TO THE CASTLE (BBC) which won A Scottish BAFTA and RTS in 2015; THE WINNER LOSER (BBC), shortlisted at IDFA and winner of the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival Award in; HOW M&S LOST ITS BILLIONS (C5) Wincott, Best Documentary; SIGHTHILL STORIES (BBC) Scottish BAFTA; SEND ME SOMEWHERE SPECIAL (BBC) Grierson Newcomer Winner.

The Daily Mail said about PILGRIMAGE: “a truly miraculous journey”, TV Times: “a truly engaging first leg...4 stars”, Daily Mail: “The excellent Simon Reeve returns with a three-part series...illuminating, engaging and enjoyable viewing” and the Mail on Sunday said “a life - affirming new series...4 stars”

On BBC1 documentary TOO OLD TO BE A MUM? (2010) The Telegraph said: The film tiptoed through the ethical eggshells with an equanimity that did its makers proud. The bare facts spoke loudly enough...this was a perfect subject for a television documentary, because the pictures made their own argument."