Creative Accounting: The Puffy Chair

Most films cost millions of dollars. Like the film we profiled last April, they often entail multiple writers, dozens of sets, expensive lead actors, and, sometimes, professional squirrel handlers. These films start with a pitch and evolve—regardless of scale—with the financial backing of major production companies. However, to give our readers a more representative view of the full range of the creative industries, we also bring you smaller-scale productions.

Unlike big-budget films, some other films start with the “available materials”: What can we write a story about that doesn’t involve expensive effects? Which of our friends wants to help us with a movie? What clothes do they already have in their closets? Where can we shoot that will be film-friendly, i.e. not charge us location fees? The following budget, for Jay and Mark Duplass’s The Puffy Chair (2005), started with those principles.

One of the most expensive arts, film requires costly tools: quality cameras, microphones, and lighting. Thus, to embark on this movie there were a few prerequisites: a van, a digital video camera, a boom mic, and a light kit. To keep down costs, some gear, props, and wardrobe were purchased, but they were returned after shooting.

Keep in mind that the following numbers do not include the distribution or advertising costs, which for most films make up a significant portion of the budget. (Advertising alone often costs half of the total production budget.) Thus, once The Puffy Chair was selected for the Sundance Festival, the costs increased. But, because the production costs had been kept so low, at that point the filmmakers knew they would make a profit.

When comparing the budget below to the eighty-page, $18 million budget we showed you last year, there isn’t really much in common. This budget lacks insurance costs, producers, actors’ unions, set dressers, extras, grips, assistants, even directors. But perhaps its brevity is as revealing as the exhaustive major motion picture budget.

—M. Rebekah Otto

Grand Total $15,480




Wardrobe $100

Actors principally used clothes they already owned, or clothes were purchased for the shoot and then returned to the store, in order to minimize costs.

Puffy and Puffy Jr. $500

Two similar versions of a La-Z-Boy recliner had to be purchased for the film, as one of them was burned during the shoot.


Tape Stock $250

Lighting Pack $300

Chinese lanterns, light bulbs, and work lights from Home Depot

hard Drives $1,000

Film occupies a lot of drive space, and so to save and edit tape, large hard drives had to be purchased.


Gas $1,200

Flights for Actors $800

Bus Fare for Day Players $280

FEES $9,500

Cast and Crew $4,600

To keep costs low, the production crew consisted of six people: Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass, Kathryn Aselton, Jen Tracy, John Bryant, and Jay Deuby. The additional cast consisted of three friends, the Duplass’s parents, and three other day players. The policy was to pay the cast and crew the minimum they required in order not to go into debt while helping with the movie.

Location $750

For the most part, the film was shot in free public space, so this sum is from a few motel rooms that were rented, and electricity.

Food $4,200


Shipping $1,200

Miscellaneous $250


Megan Milks is the author of Margaret and the Mystery of the Missing Body (Feminist Press, 2021), a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in transgender fiction, as well as Slug and Other Stories and Remember the Internet: Tori Amos Bootleg Webring.

Read Full Biography
Back to previous

You May Also Like


Resident Evil 4 Remake: Gameplay Experience and PS5 Enhancements

The Resident Evil 4 remake is a thrilling experience for players with diverse play styles, resulting in varying completion times…….


Crash Team Rumble Set to Launch with Closed Beta and Pre-Orders

Activision and Toys For Bob have officially announced the release date for Crash Team Rumble, set to launch on June……


President Biden Honors Renowned Figures with 2021 National Medals of Arts and Humanities

In a ceremony held at the East Room on Tuesday, President Joe Biden presented the prestigious 2021 National Medals of……

related articles

The Compassion-Passion Machine

Black Socks and Wallace Stevens

Hotel: Adonis Palace

articles about Archive

Social Media’s Impact on Teen Mental Health and Brain Development

March 22, 2023

Elden Ring’s First Anniversary: Over 9 Billion Deaths, 20 Million Copies Sold, and Anticipation for Upcoming DLC

March 22, 2023


March 20, 2023

An Interview with Doseone Copy

January 27, 2023


January 27, 2023