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Old January 8th, 2008, 05:42 PM   #1
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National Commercial Director Rates?

Just my luck, I move from Los Angeles to Maine, and get offered my first national spot directing gig (here). Was directing/shooting/editing industrials in LA, and moved here to make a feature, but in the meantime, let's get commercial!

The company is a national food product manufacturer based in Maine, they are looking to produce one (or more?) 30 second spots (live action) for national release. The Maine-based design company that is doing their "branding" approached me with the job offer, and is producing the spots. They plan on hiring a local video production team to do the technical side, and I will direct.

What to quote?

In the past I've earned $35-$75/hr for editing, up to $1000/day for DP'ing (equip rental included), and about $1500/day for producing/directing industrials. All these are LA-based numbers... But I've yet to play in the national-spot game, so have no idea what the going rates are.

Checking Monster.com's salary cruncher gives me unsatisfactory numbers: just a "yearly salary" for a director in Maine, which I'm like, how d'you figure?

I welcome your thoughts!
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Old January 8th, 2008, 06:03 PM   #2
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It doesn't sound like you or the client are interested in negotiation. If that's the case, you only have one shot to get the right price, so it needs to be somewhere between your minimum and their maximum.

To find your minimum, don't look around at other people, look inside yourself. What will it cost you to provide this service? Think of all the time, expense, stress, intangible loss, desire for profit, etc. Count the cost.
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Old January 8th, 2008, 06:11 PM   #3
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Check the SAG/AFTRA and DGA rate cards for 30 second spots rate. Then find a cost of living calculator, and compare the two areas. (For instance, salaries tend to be wice as high in San Francisco as Houston, to meet the same standards) Makeup or discount the difference.

Quote them a single spot rate. If they flinch tell them theres a discount for multiples.

That's a good place to start
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Old January 8th, 2008, 07:49 PM   #4
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National commercial directing rates are around $12K a day (don't choke folks, it's true). Obviously this is a whole other animal. I would start at $2500/day and read their responses--choking, manic giggling or weeping would probably suggest that a quick turn to "I'm sure that's a bit steep for this market, what are you used to paying?" would keep you in the game.
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Old January 8th, 2008, 09:06 PM   #5
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In music videos, directors typically get 10% of the budget...but only for jobs that aren't budget-challenged (say, $75k and up).

Anyway, this is a long way to saying I think what you're going to get paid is going to be a function of the jobs budget. Maybe $30k is a lot of money to them if they haven't done broadcast before. Getting even $2-3k on a budget like that would be a trick.

Let's hope they've got at least a hundred k, eh?
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Old January 9th, 2008, 01:35 PM   #6
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Yes, tough to say what the budget will be in this neck of the woods, but it is a national company, locally based... Fingers crossed!

Thank you guys for all the pointers. The DGA site helped, and the numbers Charles quotes certainly sound intriguing! Fortunately (or unfortunately, we shall see), I got the job offer through a personal friend of my wife's -- he's the president of the branding company running this campaign -- so there may be some leeway in the discussion of budgets and fees. Perhaps less of an "offer-choke" scenario than a frank conversation of what they can afford... Wishful thinking perhaps.

But thanks again for drawing out the perimeters of the ballpark in question for me, guys. I don't know how I'd be able to live my life without dvinfo!
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Old March 3rd, 2008, 10:16 PM   #7
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Hey folks,

Just wanted to follow up on this posting, to give you guys a sense of how things panned out.

As it is a national commercial, I was able to talk the production company into paying 10% of the budget, which at first seemed like a great amount for one day of prep and 2 of shooting... But now I find I am basically line producing the spot for this company which has never worked in video production before, so the rate is thinning out over the several weeks of work I'm doing. Ah, well, I can't complain -- I'm finally getting decently paid to direct, and that's a great satisfaction. Plus it'll be broadcast on a TV near you, soon!

Thanks to you all for your advice, which definitely helped me broker this deal.

Sean
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Old March 4th, 2008, 12:26 AM   #8
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Sean, that's pretty consistent with what I have experienced and heard about--even at the fat director rate, you are expected to spend days prepping, having meetings, etc. without compensation, so it tends to even out somewhat!

Same thing with many of my commercial DP gigs--there's always hours/days of unpaid business.
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