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Old April 11th, 2007, 06:20 AM   #1
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Documentary on Discovery

Hello,

I have been contacted to plan out and film a documentary for a person, very well known. The wierd thing is he got my contact information from a previous client, from a wedding of all things.

This person wants a documentary about their life put together, in the style of VH1 Behind the music so to speak.

Starting off with filming at their actual house they grew up in, to the high school college dorm all of that.

Problem is, I have never shot a documentary in my life, I have NO idea how to quote this. I'm shooting with a HD110u with all the cool toys.

The person has ties to Discovery channel and has informed me that he has "bought" interest in discovery channel to air this documentary once it is done. I won't be doing the editing at all, just the actual filming, narattion will be by a different person.

I am in Charlotte NC, but this will literally take me all over the USA.

I don't even know how to quote something like this, I'm worried if I tell them something like $15,000 they'll walk away, but they already told me that after speaking with several other potential videographers that it would take at least a few months to get it all into a package.

This person wants me to include interviews with him, as well as filming at his house with his family, out in public and so on.

I can't say who it is, but I can give a hint.
He's a basketball player living in Charlotte NC, pretty damn famous too.
I would guess 95% of the world knows his name.
That makes me VERY nervous.


What do I want?

I want at least some kind of credits on the screen that advertise my company shown by itself for at least a few seconds.
This is the type job that will propel me into broadcast type work easily.
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Old April 11th, 2007, 06:21 AM   #2
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Also what would you film this in?

I'm going to use tape with a hard drive backup.


4:3, 16:9?
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Old April 11th, 2007, 06:43 AM   #3
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As far as what to charge, remember this is a business and you are in business to make money.
First figure out how many shooting days out of how many days. In other words will you be shooting 35 out of 60 days or would it be 35 out of 90 days or perhaps 35 out of 45 days. I'm just grabbing some numbers and tossing them out but you get the idea. REALISTICALLY how many shooting days? Who's paying for travel? You and then are you getting reimbursed or is the client making all the arrangements. Travel is Planes, trains and automobiles PLUS overnight stays (hotels) meals etc. Do you need to schlep aound any lighting equipment-how about audio-do you need a 2nd or 3rd crew person-gotta charge for them AND their travel and meals (if necessary) Do you need to RENT special gear for this job if so remember to charge for it.
Now the fun part. Remember when I ask how many shooting days in how many days? There's a reason. Sometimes I've had clients for corporate work pay me a % up front then additional monies at say 10 days or 15 or even once a while back it kicked in at 32 days (it was a very large 61 day shoot over a 90 day time frame) OR perhaps a % up front a % at X time and the balane when you finish the shoot BUT who's paying for reshoots later when the client says I like it but lets shoot it again.
These are all the kinds of things you need to get straight with BEFORE you sign anything to do this job and when you do finally get everything in order make sure you have an attorney draw up a legal agreement with ALL of the shooting parameters,schedule, who pays what when in writing and the client signs it BEFORE you shoot. If this client is what you say he shouldn't have any problem doing that. No one should do any job much less a job like this without a written agreement.
Oh yeah the important thing-what's your day rate-multiply that by the number of shooting days-add out of pocket expenses and THATS what you charge. Again if this client is what he says he is then he'll be used to a big number. If and how much you might reduce the rate (discount) or ADD to it to CYA is up to you.
I know I left stuff out but it's early and I think there's enough to get you started.

Don
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Old April 11th, 2007, 07:21 AM   #4
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Day rate?

Where I live there aren't many "professional" videographers, though half show up with their walmart mini dv $200 cam and profess they are.

I don't turn my camera on for less then $250 an hour and it's what I have gotten from the last 17 clients in the last month.

I'd figure a working day to be tops 10 hours at most.

That's the other thing, I am suppossed to be filming some NASCAR, as well as a backstage shot at a RUSH concert as well as several weddings and Demo reels (For mucisians.)

I'm actually missing out on at LEAST $15,000 and no that's not a joke.
RUSH has already sent me a check down payment for $4700 to film their show in tenessee.


I can make it to RUSH, it's only one night, but it would be no sleep for 3 days minimum.
I have to ask myself, this oppurtunity is GREAT, but am I killing myself in the long run?

As far as travel, they said they would pay me 34 cents per mile. That sounds great but that's just gas coverage, not covering anything on my car such as wear and tear.

The food Stipend is $40 per day.

Each tape to film costs me $30 , I use the sony hd tapes.
So figure maybe in an 8 hour day thats 8 tapes X 15

Well thats alot of tapes right there...

Realisticaly shooting days at minimum would probably be maybe 10-15 or so.
But to drive to almost every state in the USA to a specific location?

Be in Philadelphia today, pittsburg tomorrow, stop by hagerstown md, then go to baltimore, oops, get your ass to lousiana now...

ALOT of driving, I think my wife figured it close to 5,000 miles just driving.
These will be 12 hour days in the car, get out shoot for an hour, get back in the car type deal.


Hell, I don't know what to tell the guy. He wants me to film the actual house he grew up in and then go to his high school which was 4 states away, then his college which, I believe is right where you are, Chicago.
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Old April 11th, 2007, 08:24 AM   #5
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Well I'm just throwing some stuff out her-if it applies great if not skip by it.

First would you actually be shooting 8 hours in a day
Second would you really need to be in the locations from 1 day to the next
Third 34 cents a mile I think is less than what the IRS is allowing (I could be wrong as I let my accountant handle it)
Fourth do you really want to go for 3 day without sleep?

Since you've already got comittments for certain times can you adjust the shooting schedule with this client around those times?
In my opinion you can not bypass these previous comittments especially since you already have a retainer for 1 of them.

As for the rate I know in the greater Chicagoland area the typical rate is for a 10 hour day and will run from about $600 to about $3000 per day depending on the production house and the equipment needed for that particular shoot. Additional crew is of course extra. Many of the houses around here put it together as a package-all inclusive-sometimes it's better sometimes it's not. A daily of $40.00 for food could work but it's the travel and transportation that really bothers me, plus it seems like this might be more of an unscripted run and gun as opposed to some sort of actual shooting plan. Go here shoot this-go there shoot that take 2 days off then go to the next place. It sounds like he wants EVERYTHING documented and he'll figure it out later which is great EXCEPT I think it'd kill you.
If it were me I would sit with him and put together some sort of schedule that is both acceptable and workable to both of you THEN figure out even if it's feasible to do-remembering that you have other comittements at the same time.

I hope you can put something together it sounds like it could be a great gig once you get some of the details ironed out.

Good Luck,
Don
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Old April 11th, 2007, 08:33 AM   #6
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1st and foremost, you need to draw up a contract with this person, as said earlier, this is a money making business. From what you have posted you are getting certain stipends for things like food, and mileage, but you need a contract which specifically states all of these items that are to be covered while shooting this.

Hotels, mileage, food, tapes, airfare, extra baggage charges for equipment, and so on. These are just a few examples, only you know exactly what you need to do this shoot, so be specific in your conntract.

Also if you are driving from location to location, that is time working, you need to consider that in your total hours on the job, the same goes for air travel, you're on the clock. So don't just count hours shooting, Also if you have to make all the travel arrangements, that counts as time on this project.

So as you can see there are a lot of factors you have to consider when deciding how much to charge.

Is anything over 10 hours a day time and a half?

If you need more help you can email me, and I can help you with more specifics, I have been doing Docs for years.

Good luck,
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Old April 11th, 2007, 09:55 AM   #7
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Dave, you sound like a nice guy so I'm going to help you out. Just send the balance of the $4700 after your %15 finders fee to me and I'll shoot the Rush footage with my V1. It's form factor is probably better for tight backstage conditions. Just tell them you are bringing in an eccentric camera operator from Hawaii that is familiar with their work.

/EndSleazySalesGuy

:)
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Old April 11th, 2007, 06:17 PM   #8
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It all sounds a little fishy, I would proceed with caution. Sports and Discovery? Possible, but this style does not seem to fit. Also, Discovery has famously tough tech specs, they dont want anything but b-roll shot on 1/3" CCDs. There is no way you can meet their broadcast spec just going around shooting without a crew, etc.

I am not questioning you by the way, it is the gig that seems fishy. You would be surprised how many "famous" people have approached me about their life story, most are looking to stroke their own ego and have heard I am a doc guy with some TV ties.

$15K for acquisition on a Discovery doc is chump change, they deal in budget that go from $100k for an hour program to millions. If the gig is legit, there needs to be a director on board who knows the genre and can help guide the story from the start. You should not have to drive, you can fly and rent gear. If you are more than 200 miles between sites, you should fly.




ash =o)
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Old April 11th, 2007, 07:59 PM   #9
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Just because someone is "famous" does not mean they know what they are talking about outside their area of expertise. The person you mention may be just as likely as anyone else to have unrealistic expectations/ideas about how TV shows are created, made and marketed.

The whole situation sounds doubtful to me. DCI has a well-defined structure/process for projects and there should at least be a producer or production manager you can speak with (http://producers.discovery.com/pmd/PMDHandbook.nsf/. A quick call to the network is in order to see if the project you describe is legit. Then you can worry about what to charge.

Last edited by Peter Wiley; April 11th, 2007 at 08:56 PM.
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Old April 12th, 2007, 03:48 PM   #10
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that's it?

As far as travel, they said they would pay me 34 cents per mile. That sounds great but that's just gas coverage, not covering anything on my car such as wear and tear.

The food Stipend is $40 per day.

==========

They are cheaping you on both. Go to irs.gov for the mileage rate. 2007 rate is $0.485 / mile.


$40 / day for food is one meal. You won't be eating home cooked stuff so it will all be run and gun fast food, delis, etc.

jason
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Old April 25th, 2007, 08:17 PM   #11
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I've closed the deal, it will pay very nicely for a few new cameras I've wanted to get.

Thanks for all the input guys!
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Old May 2nd, 2007, 10:53 PM   #12
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Dave, I'm in Charlotte too. Do you need any weekend help? Video is my hobby, so I would like to watch and learn. Free of course, unless you make me pay you :)

I understand the principles in theory, such as lighting and properly mic'd subjects, I know what dollying, crane, and steadycam with body suits are, but haven't actually used them before... well, I have used my own steadycam 2000.

I've spent a lot of time editing a footage that was shot of my own wedding and realize how much it is lacking in audio quality, image quality, lighting interest, angles. I am going to be shooting my cousin's wedding in 2 months (free again), and would like to get experience in lighting setup, audio acquisition, camera control, and just be more comfortable around the subjects. To learn to interact with them and to direct them to what they need to do, especially when subjects are camera shy.

Anyhow, ping me if you have the bandwidth or actually need help.
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Old May 22nd, 2007, 03:50 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Carson View Post

I don't turn my camera on for less then $250 an hour and it's what I have gotten from the last 17 clients in the last month.
Wait just a minute! Am I missing something here? You have only shot weddings and command $250 an hour? That's $2500 per day for you and a camera?! Then you are shooting EPK for Rush? Finally, you claim to have 17 clients in a month!? That's almost one a day. I'm not saying that any of this is not possible but what I am saying is that it's HIGHLY unlikely. You don't seem to have a clue about much of anything so I don't believe any of it. You sound alot like the typical Craig's List employer. Can you please tell us what some of your resume items are? As far as you closing the deal, I just bet you did.

I totally agree with Ash and Peter and I'll tell you why. First of all, an athlete's life story is NOT the type of content you would see on a Discovery network. I have worked as a camera operator on Discovery Networks (Discovery, Discovery Health, TLC), MTV, FOX, Fine Living, CNN, Fox News Channel, NBC, Weather Channel, etc. shows and know and work with plenty of other shooters with much better resumes than mine. The average day rate for an experienced operator's labor starts at $400 / 10-12 hour day and can be more for more experienced operators and even more as a DP but rarely, if never, $2500 like you get. Do you know what a DP is?

Anyway, I know firsthand what the process is for submitting ideas to these and other networks with some not even accepting outside submissions. That also goes for the established production companies that currently provide content for the networks. I'll assure you that it's a long and comprehensive process and they don't just use some unknown person's video and make a show unless it's some type of very unique and compelling footage that is not able to be reproduced like true reality or a historical event. Depending on the size and needs of the show, usually small crews consisting of a field producer, DP/Camera Op, sound mixer, p.a. (if you're lucky) are usually hired for pro shoots and all of these are hired by a production manager if they are not full time with the production company producing the show. Furthermore, you will certainly NOT be getting $250 per hour if/when working on these shows. That is an absolute joke! I don't know what you're up to but this board is filled with working pros so you're outrageous claims are insulting to those that know the facts. Good luck!
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Old May 22nd, 2007, 06:05 AM   #14
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[QUOTE=James Emory;683566]Wait just a minute! Am I missing something here? You have only shot weddings and command $250 an hour? That's $2500 per day for you and a camera?! Then you are shooting EPK for Rush? Finally, you claim to have 17 clients in a month!? That's almost one a day. I'm not saying that any of this is not possible but what I am saying is that it's HIGHLY unlikely. You don't seem to have a clue about much of anything so I don't believe any of it. You sound alot like the typical Craig's List employer. Can you please tell us what some of your resume items are? As far as you closing the deal, I just bet you did.

I totally agree with Ash and Peter and I'll tell you why. First of all, an athlete's life story is NOT the type of content you would see on a Discovery network. I have worked as a camera operator on Discovery Networks (Discovery, Discovery Health, TLC), MTV, FOX, Fine Living, CNN, Fox News Channel, NBC, Weather Channel, etc. shows and know and work with plenty of other shooters with much better resumes than mine. The average day rate for an experienced operator's labor starts at $400 / 10-12 hour day and can be more for more experienced operators and even more as a DP but rarely, if never, $2500 like you get. Do you know what a DP is?
QUOTE]


Given what a friend of mind charges shooting stills for weddings, I can believe it. Mind you, he is higher end of the wedding market, but he's booked up for months in advance and charges a lot more photographing weddings than he did working as a cameraman for major broadcasters.

I'd assume the $250 per hour guy doesn't work a 10 to 12 hour day on a wedding, so if you work out the number of hours actually worked, the final daily rate makes sense. I'd also suspect the $250 includes the kit.
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Old June 2nd, 2007, 07:18 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by James Emory View Post
You don't seem to have a clue about much of anything so I don't believe any of it. You sound alot like the typical Craig's List employer.
The average day rate for an experienced operator's labor starts at $400 / 10-12 hour day and can be more for more experienced operators and even more as a DP but rarely, if never, $2500 like you get. Do you know what a DP is?
<b>I don't know what you're up to but this board is filled with working pros so you're outrageous claims are insulting to those that know the facts. </b> Good luck!


Judging from your reply, it sure sounds like your a professional!

Just fyi,

I just filmed Puddle of Mudd in NC for Speed Street.
$500 first hour, $250 hour after, I am not performing any editing.
You sound like your getting screwed, maybe it has something to do with your attitude.
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