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Old August 25th, 2009, 08:24 PM   #1
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How much should I charge for this project?

I was approached today by someone that owns a somewhat small business (he said he doesn't have a huge budget) to do a video project, something that when he goes to shows he can put on a TV and have it loop, and its going to be a demo of how to use his products, some actual use of his products by its designated customer, and maybe a few scenario scenes (like here comes a situation where brand A failed, but look how different the result is with our brand type of thing.

For this I will be driving about 4 hours total, and it will be a whole day of recording, and maybe 2-3 full days of editing/mastering.

All shot in HDV, most likely to be put on DVD.

I like doing work for this type of industry enough to charge almost nothing, but as my future wife keeps reminding me I'm not for sale and if I'm not spending time with her I better be getting paid.

So given the above what do you think would be a good price for this?

I appreciate any feedback!
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Old August 25th, 2009, 09:04 PM   #2
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You need to be a lot more specific. How good are you? Are you new at this or are you a legend in your own time? How much equipment do you have? What's the going rate in your area? Capice?
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Old August 25th, 2009, 09:28 PM   #3
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Ok this will be show with a Sony FX1, edited on Sony Vegas Pro 8. With this setup its my first year doing such projects, specifically this is my first project of this kind. Got wireless audio, (Rode NTG-2 oncamera)

I've done a few wedding videos this year and most of the stuff was just demos, videos w/ music for various "clients" (freebies...I love the work).

I have no idea how much other companies/people in the area charge for this (I'm sure it would be in the $x,xxx) range.

As far as experience, I have decent experience filming subjects in this industry, but in general I would say I'm past the noob stage and into the hobby stage hopefully moving into the part time professional stage.
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Old August 25th, 2009, 09:47 PM   #4
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Try to get your potential client to suggest a price first. You might express understanding of his budget limitation and then ask, "What do you have in mind?" If his idea of "limited budget" is $5,000, you don't want to cheat yourself by jumping the gun and asking for $1,000. On the other hand if he thinks he is being magnanimous by offering $400, you might suggest that he have a nice life and find something better to do with your time.
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Old August 25th, 2009, 10:35 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Snow View Post
Try to get your potential client to suggest a price first.
I agree with Jim. One of the first questions I ask for a corporate project is "what is your budget?" If they answer, you have a much better idea of what you can accomplish (or not).

If they don't answer, figure out how much you want to be paid per hour, and multiply by how many hours of work you think it will be. Add 10-20% to that total for the inevitable extra time it will take.

If they freak out at the number, move along unless you have compelling reasons to do it underpaid.
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Old August 26th, 2009, 02:38 AM   #6
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I'm afraid I disagree with Jim. Asking what the budget is, unless you're able to drop it in very conversationally shows transparently that either you don't know how much to charge (true) or you're trying to maximise the bill (given your enthusiasm, not true).

When I was in your position many years ago, I'd work out as you have how long the job will take, add a small contingency for reality, and multiply that by what you're worth daily. That isn't difficult to achieve and will hold for every job so it's worth doing.

Work out what a salaried job in your field gets and divide by 250. Alternatively work out the least you can live on per annum and divide by 250.

Then add what it would cost to rent your gear by the day, what it costs per day to heat/light your room/garage wherever you edit, add your car expenses, fuel, servicing, depreciation, add all your insurances (again all on a daily basis) total all that and then add 50%. That 50% is your profit and your tax.

I know that sounds lengthy and depressingly high but if you don't you'll do what I did 30 years ago - made wonderful, creative programmes, paid a staff their wages etc and earned nothing. Eventually a client went bust on me, I had to remortgage the house to stay afloat and went to work for a competitor. They were backed by an ad agency and were a pretty poor bunch.

At the end of 18 months with them I knew I was damned good at making programmes and useless at running a business. I followed their charging model (above) and never looked back.

My rule which I honestly recommend to you and anyone coming into the business is only undertake unprofitable work if either there is the genuine chance of very profitable work to follow or you really want the experience and can afford to take it as your holiday. It also helps if your wife understands the industry , even better is she has worked in it, because it puts a big strain on relationships.

Just my 2c. Good luck.
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Old August 26th, 2009, 07:20 AM   #7
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Philip gives great advice. I still believe in asking for their budget, however.

In my experience, they are expecting you to ask. If they give you a number, you have a great idea if you are able to deliver what they are asking. Otherwise, you're shooting in the dark with your quote.

If you deliver a quote of $5000 when they tell you "we need a 3 minute video of such and such" and their budget is $400, well, there's a problem. If they tell you up front what the budget is, you are able to tell them what you can achieve for around that amount.

If you are able to come in under budget, you look like a hero.
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Old August 26th, 2009, 08:27 AM   #8
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You still want (I think) an idea of a bottom line if I read your original post correctly. I would put it at not less than $1000.

John
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Old August 26th, 2009, 10:37 AM   #9
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Philip, Of course you need to have a clear idea of your costs as well as the minimum amount you will accept to do a job BUT you need to find out the amount the potential client has in mind - - first. If you don't, you run the risk of leaving money on the table. To do this smoothly and effectively, one needs to have at least a modicum of sales skill. But given that one does, there is no need to concern oneself about appearing "transparent".
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Old August 27th, 2009, 10:28 PM   #10
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I appreciate the advice and the input from the professionals here.

I talked to the person and I got it to a price for $800 which I think everyone is happy.

Thanks again.
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Old August 27th, 2009, 10:54 PM   #11
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Martin, I'm glad you were able to negotiate a budget that everyone was happy with. Best of luck with the job!
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Old August 28th, 2009, 12:16 AM   #12
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Thank you, I'm sure I will be coming back here to get some info on issues.

I talked to the guy and asked him about how much does he want to spend and he ran off a few numbers, and $800 was in the lower range...but $800 I can live with (so can my wife) and this customer has helped a lot in other events that I'm involved with (in directly)(that benefit a certain community) so I'd like to make it known that his efforts are appreciated.

In additions I will totally be in love with the work, so to get paid even slightly below cost (labor wise) to do what you love to do makes up for it!

Once again really appreciate the advice from the true professionals!
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Old August 28th, 2009, 03:36 PM   #13
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Martin,
There is a very big part of your production that you didn't include. Realize that preproduction is almost 80% of the entire production. Sit down with the owner and know what you need to shoot beforehand. Who's writing the script? Is there a narrator? On camera talent? Is there a shot list? All of this has to be figured out before you begin your shoot. The project is a big puzzle that needs to be pieced together seamlessly. Remember that it's much easier to correct shot lists on paper than it is to reshoot missing scenes.

One of the biggest mistakes a beginner makes is to arrive at the site unprepared, thinking he and the client can make up the script as they shoot. A lot of valuable time is wasted this way because the client will have ideas that are different from yours. Work everything out on paper first, and be prepared. Have a good one!
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