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Old January 18th, 2008, 11:44 AM   #1
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Pricing For Making Promotional Film About a Ranch

Hi everybody,

So far, Iíve made one professional wildlife documentary as an independent production. Anyhow, I just got my first job offer for a video production. My question to you pros is what the pricing is like for these things. Iím not sure what quotes I should give out to a potential client. The video Iím thinking about doing would be a little promotional film profiling a ranch in rural California. Below is part of an e-mail my potential client sent to me.

"Would you be interested in doing a video of Frosty Acres? (Andy Albaugh's ranch) They need one done for a few different reasons. For promoting their grass fed beef, hunting and ag tourism. If so how much would you charge?

They have 4000 acres here with lots of wildlife. Antelope, deer, eagles, waterfowl, a mountain lion right now if you can find him, coyotes to name a few. I think they were thinking along the lines of showing the wildlife from a viewing and also hunting perspective as well as the cattle and the working operation. Maybe having his dad, Andy and his brother talk on the history of the ranch. Also showing some of the old barns built back in the 1800's.

They plan on doing some conventions and having the video for viewing."

Anyway, Iíve never done a video like this but I believe I could pull it of with my Canon XL-1S and Vegas software. I was thinking of charging at least a few thousand dollars. I mean, editing these things can take a long time and Iíd have to drive for about a half hour just to get to the ranch. I also know if I license music that will add on to the cost. Anyhow, I guess the price depends on how much time I put in and such. Right now, Iím guessing the video wouldnít be much longer than 15 or 20 minutes and I think I could probably get it done in about 2 months. Getting wildlife footage and post-production would be the most time-consuming elements. So, if anybody could give me some ideas on what the going rate is for this sort of thing or maybe a formula for pricing, Iíd appreciate it a lot.

Thanks,
Tristan
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Old February 1st, 2008, 10:25 PM   #2
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I would start at $1000.00 per finished min. and go from there. Videos are like cars all of them have 4 wheels, engine, etc and get you from here to there., but do they want a VW or Bentley or Rolls. The point is do they want a lot of graphics or a down and dirty promo video. Of course meet with them and see what they have in mind. I usually start with the $1000.00 per finished min and go up or down depending on the client and/or the project.
JM2C Good luck
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Old February 3rd, 2008, 07:03 PM   #3
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Thanks for the info. $1000.00 a minute seems pretty steep but I'll keep that in mind as a base point to go up or down from. Making videos sure can take a long time and the equipment's expensive, so I can understand why some of the pros charge so much. Shoot, just a good tripod can be about $500.
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Old February 4th, 2008, 08:55 AM   #4
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Agree with Allen. Start with a basic figure per finished minute. A project like this will need to be story boarded and some good pre-production.

As to a good tripod costing $500... move the decimal one place to the right. Because you would likely need good shots of wildlife, you're going to need a long lens so figure on the EF adapter and a 35mm SLR lens to get some good head shots. In post you could add a rifle scope graticule as a hunter's POV shot.

And don't forget audio. Good audio to accompany those close ups will require more than the standard on-camera mic will deliver.

You are right about the editing time, it takes awhile. A basic figure you can start with is 4X editing to shooting time. A lot depends on graphics or lack thereof and whether you'll be able to use canned elements or if they will be developed specifically for this project. Unless you're really good, consider hiring a motion graphic artist.

It's great that you have someone wanting to hire you, but don't do it on the cheap just to get work. Would you work any other job for .50/hour?

-gb-
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Old February 4th, 2008, 12:21 PM   #5
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This is all really helpful information; thanks for posing the question, Tristan.

Just to add recent experience to what these guys are saying, Iím just now finishing a recruiting video for a county Sheriffís office. It was a volunteer effort that took me over nine months (no complaining hereóI had a blast!). Itís seven minutes long, and I can tell you that with over ten hours of tape and extensive editing I should have charged at least $7000 if it was a paying deal.

Greg is right about the audio and graphics artist, too. My audio is OK, but I struggled with graphics on my own and it is the weakest part of the video. One weak point drags the whole project down.
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Old February 5th, 2008, 11:09 AM   #6
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Hi everybody,

Thanks for the input. I already have an EF 100-400 mm zoom lens and an EF 28-300 mm zoom lens, so I'm pretty well set on getting equipment for getting good wildlife shots. I also have a gitzo carbon fiber tripod and a pretty good manfrotto bogen head. I know what you mean about audio. I've got what I think is an audio-technica AT-822 stereo mike that I use for recording ambience on a digital mini-disc recorder. The sounds from that are a lot clearer than the camera mike. Still, if I'm going to interview people or do live sounds, I was thinking I'd just use the camera mike. I don't have the technology to incorporate people into my videos well. I was thinking for interviewing people, it's good to have little clip-on microphones that you can hide or something like that. I actually wanted to convey most of the information in the video via narration by reading a script. As for graphics, I don't think I need many. My potential client hasn't been too specific. I can deal with text and title fly-ins and stuff like that pretty well in Vegas. Still, it would be nice to throw maps into my videos some day. I guess I could do that with photo files but it could be tricky. I've used photos in my videos before and they've sometimes flickered badly on old-style tube-based TVs.

Anyway, I haven't gotten a reply from my potential client since I last e-mailed her on January 18. So, I wouldn't be surprised if that possibility will fall through. But, I wouldn't have time to work on the video until my summer break from college this May. That leaves a lot of time for a response. Nevertheless, I'm glad I'm finally getting some input on how to actually apply my skills in the real world for clients. Once I get through grad school, I hope to do a few custom projects on sort of a "have camera--will travel" basis. I have to find some way to get video production to pay because it's my favorite thing ever that I could actually make a career out of. It sure beats sweeping sawdust for my dad's construction company.

Thanks,
Tristan
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Old February 5th, 2008, 04:29 PM   #7
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Hope it all works out!

As a quick side note, you might want to edit your post and take out the name of the ranch and the owner (if you can still edit it). You do a Google search on the owners name and the first thing that pops up is this thread... You'd hate the owner(s) reading all your "private" conversations about his project! :)
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Old February 5th, 2008, 04:36 PM   #8
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1-2k per finished minute is a fair rate for this sort of project.It will take much, MUCH more time than you are thinking it will.
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Old February 6th, 2008, 11:32 AM   #9
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Thanks for the additional input. Lloyd, I did a Google search and this thread was the first thing that showed up on the second page of results. Thanks for bring that point to my attention. But, it looks like it's too late for me to edit my post. Oh well. I guess the more mistakes I make, the more I learn.
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Old February 6th, 2008, 01:16 PM   #10
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Keeping careful records, you will find that you spend 15-25 hours per finished minute (depending on the shoot - obviously. A product that is 10 minutes long, but 5 of it is a talking head interview with no B roll is a different story.)

$1,000/finished minute factors in all the time you spend:
Discussing the project with the client
planning
packing gear
unpacking gear
traveling to location
shooting
traveling to next location
logging
uploading video
edits
printing a tape or DVD draft
corrections or changes to the draft
discussion with the client
finalizing the product and delivering it

PLUS
Your camera(s)
Lights
Sound equipment
gas
car

NOT TO MENTION
your creative talant
your experience

Plus all the hours you spend on your business (advertising, bookkeeping, networking, office set-up) that are not directly billable to a project!
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Old February 6th, 2008, 04:06 PM   #11
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I have looked at Tristan's trailer, and I think there is some awesome work involved. he is really talented, in my opinion.
my question is, is the $1000 dollar a minute rule of thumb for documentaries, wildlife, or video in general?
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Old February 6th, 2008, 07:52 PM   #12
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I purchased his DVD as I liked the trailer and I am most impressed with it. Tristan is truly talented and does outstanding work!
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