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Old August 30th, 2007, 07:09 PM   #1
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UWOL Rates

Hey all. I have been doing weddings and small commercials/marketing stuff for a while. Because of this and other previous experience, I was recently approached to do some UWOL-type work. The job consists of wildlife videography out in the boonies - where it can get superiorly dusty. It is the kind of stuff you see on the outdoor channel filming hunting crews. The client has requested that I shoot with my Z1 in HD (because of the 20x lens, I may also bring my XL2). I will be buying the tapes and bringing all the rest of the equipment (wireless, lights, batts, etc), pitching in with some snacks and probably some beer. They said they would include the meals.
What tends to be a good rate for something like this, taking into account that I know my equipment and I have hunted in the past but I've never combined the two before. This will be for a few days at a time (I don't know anyone that goes hunting for 3 hours and comes home) so I am looking at a daily rate. We're talking about sleeping in tents, shooting guns and drinking. I almost offered to do it for free :)
This is not a multi-million dollar production, though I wish it had the Planet Earth budget. Though it is much smaller, it is far beyond a few guys out for the weekend. This probably will not go to a series, but will be sold on DVD in places like Cabela's, Sportsman's Warehouse, or the like.
Any comments or direction would be helpful and appreciated.
Thanks guys.
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Old August 30th, 2007, 07:24 PM   #2
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Small fee upfront then percentage of the DVD sales for x amount of time? I did that deal before, not bad.
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Old August 31st, 2007, 12:53 AM   #3
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If you are staying out overnight, I'd charge double your regular day rate per each 24 hour period.

It's hard to say. If I was doing the job as a videographer only, I'd want at LEAST $800 a day, (not deffered) and that's only because it sounds like a lot of fun. I know a lot of people who would want $1200+ per full day.

On the flip side, if I was hiring a videographer to do it, I'd probably offer $500 a day for the gig.

Now... I'm not sure what your client expects from you or if they plan on paying you cash up front, but if they came to me, were talking deferred pay, wanted to make a DVD to sell, and asked me to basically produce it (all my gear, my time, shoot, edit, and effects), then no question, I would take 30-50% net. Maybe less if they had a brilliant marketing plan in place and guaranteed sales. But if you are rolling the dice, make it worth your while.

If they said no, they just wanted to hire someone to do it all, I'd charge $1500-$2000 a day to walk away from it at the end.
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Old August 31st, 2007, 12:54 AM   #4
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Colin,

No offense intended, but this sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. If you're mixing guns, camping and booze, it doesn't sound so good. And that's without throwing in the business aspect. Don't get me wrong, it may be fun... it just doesn't sound like a good business arrangement. Especially if your camera could get damaged (dust, etc.).

It's one thing to spend days shooting, and paying for tapes, but a half decent project is going to need money spent in post, duplication and distribution.
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Old August 31st, 2007, 07:47 AM   #5
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What would it cost them to rent all the gear you're providing? Add to that the expendables such as tape you're buying. Then add to that the costs of the trip out itself. Then add to that the daily wages you need to earn to cover your living expenses in the style to which you wish you were accustomed.
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Old August 31st, 2007, 06:57 PM   #6
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I appreciate the input. Please keep it coming. What I will say is that we are talking something like you see on the Outdoor channel. If you go to their web site and check out the Wingshooter clip (click on hunting and the clip list is on the right), that is about what the job is.

It will be overnight (2-5 days at a time) and the beer doesn't come out until the gear is all put away for the night. They have a production and editing team, so I am just timestamping and handing off the tapes. With the Kata rainbags (the CRC models) I just bought, I'm not as worried about the dust (I just wrap up the equipment really well between stands).
You know, there is money in this but I have a hard time believing that the camera guys for those kind of shows make $1200+ per day, but that wouldn't be the first time that I was shocked by pricing in this industry. $400-$500 sounds more like what I was thinking. Maybe a little less the first few until I get my feet wet (pun intended). :) Also, I would be traveling relatively light on these trips. The cranes, boom mics, stabilizers and big lighting are all staying at home. This is the epitome of 'run-n-gun.'

No offense taken at all Ken. I appreciate everyone's input. I can't always play on the 'what if's.' There's a level of risk every time that I pick up any of my equipment. Not to sound too callus (it's not like I'm made of money), but my equipment are all just tools. I don't want to abuse them, but I do want to take every advantage to have fun with them, especially if I can make some money while I'm at it. IMHO, when you stop having fun at your job, then it's time to find something else to do. Life is too short to hate 40-60 hrs/week of it.
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Old August 31st, 2007, 07:22 PM   #7
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Sorry, yes $1200 a day would be for something bigger than a Z1 for an independent shooter with his own gear, I'm thinking of something like an SDX900.
The guys who work full time on those shows don't make nearly as much, maybe $200 a day. But they probably don't own any of the gear either, and have the benefit of a steady paycheck.
Even for a Z1 and skilled operator, $500 would be very reasonable for something like a 10-12 hour day. If you like the camping side of it anyway, go for it.
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Old August 31st, 2007, 07:47 PM   #8
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It's good to see that maybe I wasn't too far off the mark then.

No sorry needed at all. I could see if I showed up with something like an HPX2000 or a SDX900 plus related equip, $1200+ would be more than reasonable. In fact, if I owned an HPX2000, I don't think I'd take it out of the box for less that $1500 per day.
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Old August 31st, 2007, 11:21 PM   #9
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Colin,

I just remember reading a similar thread here awhile back where a guy was in a similar situation but had all kinds of problems on the business end of the deal. I can't remember the specifics, but the guys had nothing in writing, and they all ended up pissed off at each other.

I agree btw, if it's something you'd likely be doing anyways, it's sometimes not so much about the money (unless you're married with kids). And cameras are tools. I took mine down to Costa Rica, and was screaming down a zipline above the jungle canopy with my H1 strapped to the line in front of me, and nearly lost it once.

Assuming you're reasonably good at what you do, then 300-400 a day (plus tape cost) would be a reasonable minimum for the first time out to try it. That way neither of you has to worry about the hassle with percentages of DVD sales. Just make sure you get camera credits. It's kind of liberating to just turn over the tapes after a job.

Bear in mind that shooting in the 'boonies' can be challenging (but also incredibly rewarding, (though rarely financially)). Especially a hunting show because presumably they'll want footage of what you're shooting. You may want to pack a extra blind. Even the 20x doesn't reach that far. OK if you're hunting big things, but iffy if you're hunting birds or small game. Also just getting a clean shot through foliage can be tricky (I almost always have to use manual focus). Not to mention that wild animals don't take direction well.

Good luck, I hope it all works out
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Old September 1st, 2007, 05:55 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Colin Ard View Post
...wouldn't be the first time that I was shocked by pricing in this industry. $400-$500 sounds more like what I was thinking. Maybe a little less the first few until I get my feet wet (pun intended). :) ...

If you start with them at a lower figure it will be almost impossible to renegotiate to a higher rate after you get "the first few" under your belt. You will have established a precedent fopr your worth in their minds and it will be difficult to change it. You're either worth $500 a day or you're not and your skills won't mature from those of a $250 a day shooter into those of a $500 a day shooter in those first two or three trips. If you quote them $250 a day (or whatever), that's where you'll be for the duration of your relationship with them. What clients are buying when they hire an "experienced shooter" is a set of skills that take time to learn. But different people acquire skills at different rates for a variety of reasons and you may have acquired a skillset in 6 months that would have taken someone else 5 years to learn. So quote them what they'd have to pay any other shooter who would have what you can confidently say has a skill level that matches your own. Of course, make sure you can deliver on your promises as well, meaning do some research and study and self-imposed "training exercises" to firm up any skill areas you might feel unsure of.

That being said $500 a day does seem low for your time and expenses PLUS bringing along a camera package AND a lighting package AND a sound package and also including the expendables such as tape and batteries. $500 may be reasonable for a shooter including his camera but all that other gear is worth something too. How much the hardware is worth is hard to say since your didn't go into a lot of detail as to what you're providing but the client certainly should pay for expenses and expendables on top of your day rate - those things can cut into your revenue stream in a hurry if you use a lot. Add up what it would cost them to rent that gear from a rental house and you may find you're working for free.
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Old September 1st, 2007, 01:58 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Ken Diewert View Post
(unless you're married with kids).
Which I do :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Diewert View Post
...but the guys had nothing in writing, and they all ended up pissed off at each other. ...Just make sure you get camera credits. It's kind of liberating to just turn over the tapes after a job.
Before I do anything, I always get things in writing. Just a knee-jerk reaction from the military and other business engagements.


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If you start with them at a lower figure it will be almost impossible to renegotiate to a higher rate after you get "the first few" under your belt.
Good point.

So in short, it would seem that I was way too low on my initial thoughts for pricing. I was a little apprehensive about quoting too much but I do have limited time, so I have to make it worth my while.

Equipment list to go:
XL2, Z1, Senn Evo G2's, NRG Light and batt vest, Manfrotto tripod/503 head, ECM-678 shotgun, Firestore HDDs, and a few other little things.

Last edited by Colin Ard; September 1st, 2007 at 03:32 PM.
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Old September 1st, 2007, 02:09 PM   #12
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I think $500 a day wouldn't be bad if they are agreeing on multiple days, paying you up front (not deferred) and are providing all the beer.
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Old September 1st, 2007, 03:31 PM   #13
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That's the other thing. I am being paid up front and then they get the tapes from the shoot. The day the check bounces is the day they don't get their tapes :)

It's also a longer term project. We will supposedly be shooting 2-3x's per month until next May (or so).
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Old September 1st, 2007, 04:55 PM   #14
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That's the other thing. I am being paid up front and then they get the tapes from the shoot. The day the check bounces is the day they don't get their tapes :)

It's also a longer term project. We will supposedly be shooting 2-3x's per month until next May (or so).
And how many billable days does each of those "2-3 times a month" involve? If each of them is several days @ $500 a day, that ain't bad at all <grin>
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Old September 1st, 2007, 08:43 PM   #15
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Try to keep in mind too that Google is wonderful at finding your current conversations if they are doing any research on you... If any one of those folks on the other side of this is "googling" you, this will all be right in their face. Your name brings the first two results to this thread in google search...

It may not matter at all to you and that is ok. But...

I only say this because I had a similar incident where someone on the other side of the table was watching my whole conversation about how much I should charge them. It made for a sour situation.

So IMHO you should ask them up front what kind of budget they have alotted for a shooter (no pun intended), then try to negotiate between that amount per day and what you would actually like to get paid. Take also into consideration if being on these trips is going to cost you anywhere else, then add that in.

One way to come about it is "Hey I need to know what your cinematography budget is so I know what level of equipment we will be shooting with." That will start their side thinking quick.

OR "Hey, I'm not sure what to charge you guys, this sounds like it will be a lot of fun, but a guy has to pay his bills too. Do you have a budget or should I just throw some numbers at you?"

my $.02
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