Photo: Jan Thijs / Lifetime

Versace's Polyester Collection

Cost-cutting on the set of House of Versace.

To: Various, House of Versace production team
From: Ben Dover*, VP Production
Re: HoV budget approval

I just finished reading the script for the Donatella biopic. I love it. You guys really made it edgy! Exactly what we wanted. As you know, we're really hoping this project helps us rebrand our movies. Everybody says we just make movies about battered women, but that's just not true -- we have taken on the edgiest and sexiest subjects. We were the first to make a The Bling Ring movie, but somehow Sofia Coppola got all the credit. House of Versace is going to change all that!

There are so many things in this script that really push the envelope. It's got Gianni Versace's (Enrico Colantoni) murder, copious drug use, and of course lots of yelling. But it is more than just a soap; it is so authentic. I loved how Italian words were occasionally inserted into the middle of English sentences -- it made me realize that these people are Italian and they have their own language! Such a rich culture.

Along with the script, I was sent a budget request. Some of the numbers were a liiiittle high, but I have some great ideas about where we can save money.


Models. I see that you have requested models for the runway scenes. I looked into it: models do not come cheap. We're talking at least a thousand dollars a day. Even if we shoot creatively, and reuse the same models over and over again in scenes that take place decades apart, we're looking at a pretty big bill.

Solution: cast really tall extras. Background actors cost $200 and a sandwich a day. I guarantee you nobody will be able to tell the difference. (Maybe don't give them the sandwich? Because they're models? Your call.)

Celebrity Cameos: It appears that you guys want to cast a few of Donatella Versace's (Gina Gershon) celebrity friends. I'm going to have to ixnay that. Adding those characters is just throwing money away.

Instead of casting a Princess Diana or an Elton John, let's just constantly refer to them in the script, and occasionally show newsreel footage of them to highlight their close relationship with Donatella. Much less expensive.


When I first saw the line item for costuming, I thought it was a typo. I know it's a movie about Versace, but do we really need to use Versace clothing for it? I spent some time online, and wow, Versace clothes are super-expensive. To be honest, I think we can get clothes that are just as good at Marshall's or Century 21 -- I bought a shirt there and people are always asking me where it's from. I had Alyssa do some research and Burbank Vinyl Markdown is having a sale right now; that's half the wardrobe right there.

Here's another trick: we can reuse the same pieces as long as we mix them up. We don't need a whole new outfit for every scene -- switch out a top, but keep the pants -- the audience will never notice.

As for the men's wardrobe, we get a corporate discount at Men's Wearhouse. If you get me the sizes of the cast, I'll have one suit sent over for each.


These are some of the most popular songs from the past three decades. Period-appropriate is great, I get it, but your choices are on the expensive side.

Let's look at creating a soundtrack that's just as good for a twentieth of the price. Did you know that a lot of mid-'80s hip-hop has incredibly inexpensive licensing fees? What says Italian fashion more than Technotronic's "Pump up the Jam," if you think about it? And hey, this is an Italian family; let's get some opera in there. (We can get such good deals on obscure opera recordings.)

And best for last, we have the licensing rights to CeCe Peniston's "Finally." (We bought it for a clothes-shopping montage in a movie we made based on a Garth Brooks song. We had to cut the scene, so it's Versace's for the taking! Serendipity!)


I was pleased to see nobody requested to shoot on location. Frankly, it's more of a headache than it's worth in my opinion. And who can ever tell the difference? But I know that you've had some trouble finding locations to stand in for Milan.

Well, stop your search. I'm surprised to be the first to mention such an obvious fix, but we still have the sets from the Lifetime original movie, The Bling Ring. We can reuse Paris Hilton's home as the Versace house. And for the Versace workshop, drape some cream fabric in a warehouse and place a few mannequins around. It's simple, it's easy, it's cheap.

Hair And Make-Up

The amount of money you guys plan to spend on bleaching Gina Gershon's hair and touching up her roots is ridiculous. Just buy a wig; it's perfect every time. Alyssa found a great one on Amazon for $14…

Questions, let me know! Great work, team.


*not a real person


Explore the Television forum or add a comment below.