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Old October 18th, 2007, 09:23 PM   #1
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How much to edit a 30 min short - details inside

It is a local film with a 'limited' budget. They have shot 7 hours of footage, none of it is logged. They want it edited down into a 30 minute short, color corrected, sound adjusted, music added (which i don`t do unless they have preselected tracks). Sounds like an awful lot of headache work and time...how much would one charge for this? I`ve edited a few 5-10 minute shorts, 1 wedding, some videos at work, and have been editing small stuff for about 6 years on my own. They want me to tell them a price and I`ve no idea what to charge.
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Old October 19th, 2007, 02:12 AM   #2
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Do you have a usual working rate? If so, tell them that but add that you know they have a limited budget so you'd be willing to work w/them on a rate. Also make it clear that "full paying" jobs get priority and, to put it nicely, that they can't expect to have you deliver a Benz if all they can afford is a Pontiac.

I know you said none of the footage was logged, but have you had a chance to take a look at any of it yet? How is the audio? Is anything slated? Any shoot notes? Do the actors do a decent of being consistent in varying takes and/or angles? If you look at the footage and go "ugh, what a mess" don't be afraid to decline the job. It's not worth the extra stress for a part time job.

A rule of thumb I've noticed is the less interested you are in a project (or the more of a PITA it looks like) the more you charge.

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Old October 19th, 2007, 07:57 AM   #3
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Well in the past the person has always offered moeny, and i`ll just say 'ok' if i`m free. I got $50 for a 2 minute intro for a state talent award opening, $75 fot a 6 minute short, $150 for the first wedding that was very last minute and a first helping my boss so I didn`t mind not getting paid alot. So no, I don`t have a rate since I haven't quite got into it yet. I`m not sure what to charge for my service.

I have not seen the footage, but I know its not slated and not logged at all.
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Old October 19th, 2007, 09:58 AM   #4
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That's a can of worms, just waiting to be opened. You don't state whether the director is working over your shoulder with you. You say that the footage isn't logged. So at the very least, you have to spend seven hours logging the footage, probably twice that just LOOKING at it, and selecting the best takes, weeding out the dead-ends... so already you've spent twenty one hours and you don't really have a timeline going.

Without knowing the nature of the short... (Is this a couple of talking heads sitting in a restaraunt? Is there a big action sequence/chase with hundreds of potential cuts inside a two minute sequence?) it's impossible to know how long it will take to assemble even a ROUGH cut. IF the story and the script is really tight, and you are free to make your own call regarding takes and scenes and construction, I'd say at least another twenty hours assembling the rough cut... not including any kind of coloring/audio/effects work.

So you're up to a forty hour week. What's your time worth per hour?

(And I'd say I'm being conservative... but again, no way to know without seeing the script or the footage.)
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Old October 19th, 2007, 10:45 AM   #5
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Just give them a day rate ($600 - $1,000) depending on your skill level and then let them decide if they want to log the footage, give you a rough cut timecode..etc.

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Old October 20th, 2007, 06:42 PM   #6
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At the very minimum, you're down eight hours before you even get started because you'll have to review seven hours' footage, plus whatever time it takes to actually log what they have. Don't make the mistake of thinking you can watch it for the first time and log it at the same time. You'll end up looking at it twice, once to get an idea of what they've handed you, then a second time to log it all. Your perceptions will change during the first view-through, so whatever logs you've made on the first pass will have to be redone because your "take" on the footage will be different.

Does the customer have a good idea of what they want? Is there a storyboard, rough outline, or some sort of shooting script they followed, or is this where they hand you video and want you to make something of it? If the customer isn't clear on what they want, then recutting will eat you alive. Are you dealing with one person who has the final say, or a committee? Committees will nickel-and-dime you to death with small changes, because everyone will want to put their own stamp on the finished work.

Best situation is only one person has the final say, and there was some sort of storyline that existed BEFORE shooting started, and was more or less adhered to.

Start by budgeting fifteen hours for the initial look and logging. If you don't like what you see on the initial viewing, bail out and cut your losses gracefully -- no matter how hard you polish it, a dead rat's still a dead rat (only glossier).

If they have a storyline to follow, then you can lowball your price for the first cut plus a second edit after they've seen the first cut. If they want YOU to come up with the storyline, charge twice your lowball, 'cause your hours on the first cut have tripled at the very least.

Make it clear in either case that your quote is for first cut plus one additional edit. Any further revisions should be charged by the hour to cut down on the back-seat directing impulse (could you hold that scene just a little longer, or I don't like the color of that guy's tie, can you change it?).

As for the dollar amounts, that depends on what you need to stay afloat. Develop a rough estimate of the hours you need to finish the job through a second cut, and multiply it by what you need to make an hour to survive. That's your minimum.

Martin
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Old October 22nd, 2007, 12:20 PM   #7
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What would it cost to rent your editing suite per hour? Take that amount and then add on what you think you deserve per hour for labor/skill.

But I have to agree with Richard, you're in for a minimum of 40 hours. It'll probably be more like 50 to 60 hours.

On the other hand, it sounds like you may gain some experience on this project. It may be worth it to do it on the cheap just for that. I'm not a big fan of working for free, but working at a SLIGHTLY reduced fee is occasionally worth it for some experience.
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Old October 22nd, 2007, 12:47 PM   #8
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$5,000, it sounds like a 50 hour project. That's $100 an hour, you may want to charge more or less, only you know for sure.

Realistically, it may take more time with color correcting, rendering, and so on. These things usually take longer than anticipated. That being the case you may need to charge more.
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Old October 23rd, 2007, 09:18 AM   #9
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As I am still technically a beginner and was aware it is very low budget, I offered him a quote of 40-60 hours at $12 an hour. Haven`t heard back from him so it must have been too much. Oh well. Maybe next time. Thanks for all your input.
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Old October 25th, 2007, 04:13 PM   #10
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As I am still technically a beginner and was aware it is very low budget, I offered him a quote of 40-60 hours at $12 an hour. Haven`t heard back from him so it must have been too much. Oh well. Maybe next time. Thanks for all your input.
If they thought that was too much, they should either learn a NLE system or not produce 7 hrs of rough footage. I'm doing a year long documentary and I'm already at 12 hrs of footage and we've only done production for 2 weeks.

It baffles me that people would stretch their budget so thin and expect an editor to 'take one for the team' and produce the completed film for nearly nothing.

You didn't ask for to much. Thats how much you thought your time and talent was worth. They dropped the ball by either A.) over spending their budget or B.) lowballing their budget.
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Old October 25th, 2007, 04:54 PM   #11
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we've been doing post professionally for several years now, and there are a staggering amount of filmmakers who leave nothing in their budget for post. Most of them have literally no idea how much time is involved in editing. I point out that the editor is going to spend more time on the project than the writer and the director put together, and they're shocked.

That being said, you have to resolve yourself that most indie filmmakers (unlike most corporate projects) have very little money for post, and the less money they have, the more work the editor needs to do.
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Old October 25th, 2007, 05:37 PM   #12
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In terms of writing, there's no way you can state specifically that editing will take more time than writing. Writing a project can take a few hours, or a few years... it really depends on the project.

The fastest I've ever written a feature script was twenty one days... from start to finish of ROUGH DRAFT. I'm still polishing it every now and then, and will undoubtedly do a rewrite when it comes time to shoot. Total hours invested in it by now??? Probably three or four hundred. The LONGEST I've ever spent on a feature script... is going on ten years now. Write, re-write, polish... toss out, start again.

I don't think writing is a good comparison to editing in terms of skillset/time investment. Or rather, it is if you say "Like writing, it can take a very LONG time, or a very short time... depending on the concept and the person involved, and how many times it goes through 'refinements'.
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Old October 25th, 2007, 10:43 PM   #13
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In terms of writing, there's no way you can state specifically that editing will take more time than writing. Writing a project can take a few hours, or a few years... it really depends on the project.

The fastest I've ever written a feature script was twenty one days... from start to finish of ROUGH DRAFT. I'm still polishing it every now and then, and will undoubtedly do a rewrite when it comes time to shoot. Total hours invested in it by now??? Probably three or four hundred. The LONGEST I've ever spent on a feature script... is going on ten years now. Write, re-write, polish... toss out, start again.

I don't think writing is a good comparison to editing in terms of skillset/time investment. Or rather, it is if you say "Like writing, it can take a very LONG time, or a very short time... depending on the concept and the person involved, and how many times it goes through 'refinements'.

I don't know.
say for example it takes 6 months of 8hr day editing to do a feature film. I don't think you can tell me that a writer would spend 6 months of 8 hr days sitting at his desk. I'm pretty confident in saying not one writer does that, because if they did everything ever made would be the same as everyone else's. Don't get me wrong, writers put in a huge amount of time. but constant sit down 'working' hours would probably be equal to an editors, imo.
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Old October 29th, 2007, 10:27 AM   #14
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Honestly gentlemen, its not the amount of time that goes into ANY job involved in the process, it is the final product which matters. Fine wine versus cheap beer, theres someone out there that will enjoy it either way you look at it. We all work very hard, some take longer to create/develop a fantastic idea, etc. Agree to disagree and keep making good projects in your own way.

The conversation reminds me of my cousins at my grandfather's funeral, they were ALWAYS in competition...when they returned to their seats one leaned to the other and said "I was at the casket longer than you were..." Does it really matter who puts in more time? Or is it what you put in to it as a whole.
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Old November 18th, 2007, 07:50 PM   #15
 
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I don't know.
say for example it takes 6 months of 8hr day editing to do a feature film. I don't think you can tell me that a writer would spend 6 months of 8 hr days sitting at his desk. I'm pretty confident in saying not one writer does that, because if they did everything ever made would be the same as everyone else's. Don't get me wrong, writers put in a huge amount of time. but constant sit down 'working' hours would probably be equal to an editors, imo.
No disrespect meant here, but it's obvious you've never written a feature-length screenplay. The LAST thing the writer does is "sit down" and type the script. By that I mean there is far more to writing a script than typing. More often than not, a writer is writing even when he isn't at the keyboard.

The editor's job is pretty well defined by the script. The screenwriter, the majority of the time, has no such guide. He starts from nothing. Comparing hour-to-hour, having done both jobs, the screenwriter would, from start to finish, put in more hours that the editor alone. Granted, the total number of manhours put into any feature length film in post production will exceed the number of hours taken to complete the script from inception to completion. After all, more often than not, only one person writes the script. Whereas it may takes scores of people to bring it through post to the screen.

Having said all that, there are always the exceptions to the rule. The feature-length documentary "Into Great Since" took over two and a half years to edit. Then again, there was no script to follow, either.
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