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Taking Care of Business
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Old August 20th, 2008, 09:21 PM   #1
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Video Rates

Most of my video work is paid based on a per minute use. That is, I shoot a bunch of surfing footage and submit my work to a project and the finished product is added up and they pay each contributor a per min rate usually about $500.
I was just called up by a production manager working on a tv show called bondi rescue (think baywatch without pamela or any girls and real life doco style)
They need a cameraman to shoot some water sequences and got my details from a surf doco maker i worked with for a recent discovery channel project about big wave surfing.
I have no idea what kind of rate to offer up for a 10hr day shooting with MY EX1 in a custom waterhousing.
I need to consider this show is sold worldwide ($$$) they need a specialised set of shots and equipment to get those shots plus someone who has experience in the surf to shoot such a thing plus my gear.
I can see most of you are NOT from Australia so rates may vary however getting a couple of ballpark figures so i can atleast come back with something realistic and dont undercut or charge something laughable would be great.
Thanks in advance for any ideas.
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Old August 21st, 2008, 08:05 AM   #2
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Your gear, your time, specialist with specialized gear? In US Dollars (I'm Canadian but what the heck!), I'd suggest $1000 - 1500 for a 10 hour day is a starting point. More if there is significant risk of life or property or the market will bear it.
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Old August 21st, 2008, 08:23 AM   #3
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125 per hour minimum. for 10 hours make sure they provide food and drink

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Old August 21st, 2008, 05:39 PM   #4
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thanks guys. ive been advised $150 per hour is pretty fair and yes full catering is always provided.
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Old August 22nd, 2008, 10:01 AM   #5
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Old August 22nd, 2008, 11:06 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Lee Kelly View Post
thanks guys. ive been advised $150 per hour is pretty fair and yes full catering is always provided.
It all depends on your competition. If you are the ONLY guy shooting surf footage with an EX1... you can charge as much as you like, and $150/hr would be fair. (be flexible of course if they don't have the budget, nothing wrong with starting high!)

In Vancouver, most camera operators with mid range cameras get $250-$350 a day, as there is tons of competition... but you've got a good niche, so work it for all you can! I agree with the other guys, $1000-$1500 a day.
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Old August 22nd, 2008, 10:06 PM   #7
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WOW!!! $250-$350 per day???
Thats not cool at all!!!
The Australian film industry has gone through a stage over the past 3yrs where our dollar is doing well and alot of big overseas (US) productions cant justify coming here to shoot features when Canada and Mexico are close and cheap. The follow on of this trend is alot of people standing around scratching their balls waiting for that phone to ring about a big job. 4-6 weeks of no work and your wife starts giving you funny looks and you pretty much HAVE to take what you can get. Producers being the cheeky buggers that they are have noticed their chance to cash in and offer 1/2 what we would normally charge.
When youve got leases mortgages etc what can you do? You either tell them where to go and stand firm HOPING every one of your peers will do the same, keeping the rate what it should be OR you cave in to the new rate to pay off the house. The money is better in your pocket than someone else right?
WRONG!!!
Although its impossible to keep EVERYONE on the same page with rates if one person caves in then everyone is caving it and when EVERYTHING in your world is costing MORE how on earth can you justify charging LESS???
Its mad. But like i said, producers have you bent over a barrel because there is no solidarity between freelance crew members and a whole heap of people not working meaning people will do that limited work for alot less.
So anyway, this has happend here in Australia and even though our dollar is still doing well the work has started picking up some more meaning that rates and the power to charge them is back in our hands.
I have a film background, not so much tv and it amazes me when i speak to tv guys that they still do 1/2 day deals. People often ask me about half days and my response is always, "yeah i love working half a day, but ill be charging you a full day!" what am i expected to do? Work til lunch with one guy and then work an arvo with someone else? Pffft give me a break!! Minimum 8hr call.
I hope im not offending anyone who does half days but geez youre screwing yourself. Your gear costs a fortune and is already being lowballed on jobs and yet you go and do a half day rate? Crazy!!
It may be illegal to price fix HOWEVER these forums are a great tool for us crew to speak out and stay on the same page. At the end of the day, really, the job should goto the best person for the job not because you charge half what i do.
Think about it. People undercutting or accepting those kinds of rates are doing the whole industry no favours.
You are highly skilled technicians who deserve to charge more than $25 per hour!!
Next time a producer asks you to knock 30% off your rate, ask them if they asked their mechanic the same deal. Its rude to be asked that question and to be made to feel like a prick for standing firm on what YOU charge.
Stand strong people.
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Old August 23rd, 2008, 01:52 PM   #8
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In Winnipeg (the geographic centre of Canada), we see $200 - 1000 per day, depending on experience BUT typically $200 - 350 is WITHOUT gear. I DO half-days but only for my best clients and my half day rate is not THAT far off my full-day rate. If a guy gives me $10 - 20k a year, I'll do him the occasional favour of a half-day if I know his budget TRULY can't buoy a full day.

I agree, it would be nice if we could all keep from slitting each other's throats. The problem in my market is there are 3 major educational entities turning/churning out the folks that are looking to break into the industry and take my/our jobs away from us for their demo reel. I would LOVE to see an industry apprenticeship model develop for video production but alas, I'm considered an irrelevant dinosaur at 37 by some of the 19 year olds that are passing through the doors because I use a tripod, lights, a shoulder camera and wired audio. Apparently EVERYTHING is supposed to be shot available light on a home-made Steadicam-styled product with either the on-camera mic or a cheap wireless. Ah, but I digress...
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Old August 23rd, 2008, 09:38 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Shaun Roemich View Post
Apparently EVERYTHING is supposed to be shot available light on a home-made Steadicam-styled product with either the on-camera mic or a cheap wireless. Ah, but I digress...
Right on brother...

I hate to admit it but we are in the same decline as the music world.

Rates are being challenged to the low side and clients are increasingly taking the "good enough" stance.

This with the thought of an HD upgrade has me really looking at how much I want to invest in the future.

It used to seem that the more camera you purchased the better your image, the better client you could get, the more you could charge.

I think this is all in question as we go forward.

Quite frankly, the cheap cameras are acceptable for a lot of people and talent is intangible...
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Old August 24th, 2008, 01:07 AM   #10
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i guess we can easily forget that it is YOU who determines what YOU charge. as for young new comers taking work for cheap or free to get a reel together thats kind of fair enough if its shit work but not cool if people are taking advantage of some keen new kid on the block and getting advertising work for nothing.
i also shoot alot of photos for magazines worldwide (surfing) and editorial rates are different depending on the publisher/magazine and we have come to accept those different rates however advertising is where we make decent money and charge what WE want for an image with varying usage rights etc. with digital photography every kid in town has a camera and decent bit of glass and can shoot a shot worthy of advertising. what happens is these young guys get soooo excited to be getting anything published theyll be fooled into being paid peanuts!!
the thing i try to do there is let EVERYONE know what im charging so they atleast know what they SHOULD and COULD be making off that same photo if they were to mimic my rates.
sure plenty of young guys want to shoot and get ahead and charge lower rates but as soon as they find out what they SHOULD be earning theyre going to feel pretty silly charging so much less right?
wouldnt you feel like an idiot if youre only getting $200 when someone else doing the exact same thing is getting $1000? try explaining that to the wife ha ha
please use forums such as this to communicate with eachother. we are in competition for the work sure but if everyone works as one collective industry then rates will remain where they should or even maybe go up with everything else in life!
there has always been some kind of secret type deal with regards to what people are getting paid and its time that shit stops. communication especially with the new guys is key. if they dont know what they should be charging theyre going to get taken for a ride by cunning producers everytime and your hard work and investments are going down the drain.
in the short term you may lose out by standing firm when being lowballed however as a collective if as many people stick to their guns as possible things can only move forward.
also remember if you act like a pro youre going to get treated like a pro.
if you act and accept bullshit then people will take full advantage of that. ofcourse always be friendly and polite but make it clear that yourenot going to shoot someones commercial for mcdonalds hourly rates!!!
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