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Old September 16th, 2008, 04:50 PM   #1
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Pitching a 90sec Web Ad Production

I was approached by a local remodeling company to provide them with a quote for filming an ad for their web site using a specific project that involved raising a house and putting a fully finished new floor under the house.

The project timeline is ~3 months for construction. The business owner wanted an ad to cover the project start to finish and for use on his web site as well as on DVD in trade shows & in person in their meeting room on their drop down projection screen system (quite nice).

Before the meeting with the business owner, I threw my wedding trailer, my Save the Date shoot, and another commercial production (which I have not posted here on DVInfo) onto a menu'ed DVD and printed off a nice lightscribe cover. I chose these three to indicate different styles of productions (high impact, story board narrative, and ad-hoc shoot first, edit second).

I discussed with the client that I have at my disposal my film music composer, two talented stage & VO actors, three different graphics artists, and an experienced sound tech to draw upon for this project.

I have no intention of paying these workers beans for their work because I wanted this to be strictly a professional job. I was going to get these people to do their part to raise the production value (mistake or not, you be the judge) so that I wasn't doing everything at my talent levels (which is minimal for graphics, nil for composing or acting).

After meeting with the client, I put the following bid together. I budgeted shooting a bit more than might be necessary in order to provide the ability to create multiple productions from this one remodel project and provide flexibility to the client to turn it into a TV spot or longer form production later. Also, the shoots might happen at the drop of a hat ("concrete guys are here get the camera over here in 30 minutes", etc).
  • 90 second high impact style ad (not a commentary driven narrative)
  • Video storyboard & script completed in consultation with Customer
  • One revision of the storyboard and script
  • Six on-site video shoots of 2hrs each (including setup, prep, and removal)
  • Before and after interviews with home owner & job site superintendent
  • Post-production editing including color correction, audio mastering, and special effects
  • Musical soundtrack composition, performance, and licensing
  • Pre-release video for Customer review will be delivered within two weeks of final shoot date, subject to soundtrack composition & licensing requirements.
  • One Customer revision of the pre-release video (see Flat Rate Sheet for additional revisions)
  • Final video rendered to web optimized resolution & file size in Flash® Video as well as standard definition 16:9 wide screen DVD.
  • One Customer revision of the DVD case design & Lightscribe printed top
  • Delivery of five Lightscribe® DVDs with color packaging
  • License to use Flash video on Customer's web site subject to soundtrack licensing agreement. Contractor retains exclusive license to reproduce & copy the DVD due to soundtrack licensing agreements.

My quoted price is $3100.

For the obvious and all too well known reasons the music licensing complicates things because it depends on if the music used is Cinescore generated, royalty free tracks, professional composed unique music, or licensed music from Magnatune (with a cost per DVD and cost per 1K hits to the web site).

I should note that the client is the owner who is stepping back from day to day operations because the business is largely functioning on its own. He is focusing more of his time on a charity event he is planning where he will donate 1% of the company gross to fund a charity remodel event similar in styl but smaller in scope to Extreme Makeover Home Edition for a local family (event held some time next year). The client mentioned to me that 1% of his gross is $10K. Most of his clients seemed to be upscale houses (who else pays a remodeling firm to come and redo their kitchen for $10K or back patio, etc).

So this is the part where you the reader come in. What would you think of this bid if you were to receive it or make it? Is it too high in cost? Attempting to be too broad in scope? is this not how pitching ads works (I am still new at this).

I have left one email and two voice mails for the client in the past week and have not heard back a single word.

I am may submit a second bid tomorrow for $1900 that scales everything back and specifically mentions that there would be no music composer, graphics artists, vo talent, or actors, but would have the following:
  • 90 Second Interviews & commentary based ad (ie not a high impact commercial)
  • 120 second visuals only ad for trade shows.
  • Shoot guidelines & rough plot direction in consultation with Customer
  • Four on-site video shoots of 2hrs each including interviews with home owner & job site superintendent
  • Post-production editing including color correction and use of Customer's logos (no new graphics)
  • Inclusion of musical underscore using generated music only
  • Pre-release video for Customer review delivered within two weeks of final shoot date
  • One Customer revision of the pre-release video
  • Final video available in web optimized resolution in Flash® Video & 16:9 wide screen SD-DVD.
  • One Customer revision of the DVD case design & Lightscribe printed top
  • Delivery of five Lightscribe® DVDs with color packaging (sales tax applicable for additional units)
  • Video license for Customer's web site & unlimited DVD reproduction license

Any thoughts on this alternate production proposal?
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Old September 17th, 2008, 06:02 AM   #2
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Can you scale it up a bit? Perhaps with 3-D engineering simulation showing how the work is accomplished?
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Old September 17th, 2008, 10:59 AM   #3
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Can you scale it up a bit? Perhaps with 3-D engineering simulation showing how the work is accomplished?
Heh, oddly enough, my roommate in college is now an animation lead at a studio down in LA (He worked on the latest Hulk, on Barnyard, on Aliens vs Predator, etc)......

so yes, depending on his schedule I could. :-)

But enough with the wise remarks, anything constructive to offer? Are you saying I'm offering too much for too little of cost? Or too much period regardless of cost?
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Old September 17th, 2008, 03:05 PM   #4
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Jason,

It's very difficult for me to guess what the different line items from your two proposals are worth to the client. The only hint I see in your post is that, apparently, the client has a very nice projection system in his meeting room, so he'll probably see value in high quality audio and video.

I would say that your first (larger) package seems underpriced, but maybe exceeds what I would suggest for this type of video. Music composed and performed for a trade-show video? I don't think that would be high on my priority list, not for this type of business. If your client was Ford or American Airlines or something like that, then sure, you don't want to use stock music, but in your case...

The smaller package sounds better aligned with what I would think are the real project needs (and again, I must stress that I don't know what this client would see as "must have" production items). Still a little on the cheap side, I would say, especially if the expection is that you are available pretty much anytime with no or little advance notice.

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Old September 17th, 2008, 04:32 PM   #5
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Martin,

That is exactly the kind of very general feedback I was looking for. I was also looking for a kind of feedback like "if I were to pitch a video production covering these kinds of requirements what would I offer, and what would I charge."

Some additional information is that the owner worked with a local media channel to produce & buy airtime for an ad a few years ago and was not too happy with the ad (said it was too cheesy) but the overall process wasn't bad. He couldn't remember how much it cost because the production costs were burried in the entire ad buy package.

The other clue I took was the 1% of gross equaling $10K. That and the owner being able to step away from day to day operations and devote his time to organizing this charity event tells me the company is big enough to support itself with out his help. That indicated to me he woudl want a hands off "make it happen" sort of approach, but I of course could be wrong.
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Old September 17th, 2008, 08:58 PM   #6
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Your first bid is more than reasonable given the 3 month production time and your opportunity costs.

I would not bid against myself, however.

It can take people a long time to make a decision, longer than you think it should in many circumstances
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Old September 18th, 2008, 07:22 PM   #7
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Your first bid is more than reasonable given the 3 month production time and your opportunity costs.

I would not bid against myself, however.

It can take people a long time to make a decision, longer than you think it should in many circumstances
Thanks for the input (and a bit of validation on my first bid).

I anticipated that the company simply ignored the proposal because it was far and above what they thought. The owner said they were going to ask other producers but I have not heard if they were able to get any bids, nor from whom (Travis, had any similar sounding contacts recently?)

I submitted a much simplified 3 tier production proposal with three options starting at $950 (45 sec web & 2min DVD, one day shoot, no script / storyboard, one rework of final edit, cinescore music), the second at $1900 (90sec web & 3min DVD, 3 shoots, two re-edits) , and the final at $3100 (90sec web & 3min DVD, 4-6 shoots, composer, gfx artists, interviews, multiple reworks).

I called the prospective client a few seconds after emailing the updated and simplified proposal and sure enough, the price tag of my first proposal carried a bit of sticker shock. No word on the updated options, but I'm doubtful he will act.

Is anyone else finding ad spending from small businesses coming to a screeching halt?
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Old September 19th, 2008, 02:18 AM   #8
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I think Peter brings up a VERY good point. Its one thing to start high and then work your way down, but I don't think it would be wise to come up with a revised quote with prices slashed by 40%. One approach that's worked in the past is to sit down with the client and talk about their budget. I'll let the client describe everything they want and ask as many questions as I can to get a clear picture of their idea, and then I'll come up with a number. If they get that "OH MY GOSH- That's SO expensive!" look on their face, I'll tell them I understand their concern and ask if they had a budget or a figure in their mind. If its a realistic number, I can usually figure out a way to cut a few corners or use a few shortcuts to get them what they want. If not, then I really have no choice but to decline the project and give them a few tips on what to realistically expect when dealing with this industry.

The problem I seem to run into a majority of the time is that some people in small businesses get sticker shock because they don't have an adequate understanding as to how our industry of video production works. This lack of knowledge can be dangerous, because it can potentially set up unrealistic expectations of cost and quality. Most average people out there don't comprehend everything that goes into different levels of video production. From audio gear to light kits, all the way to your NLE and post production setup, they just can't or won't understand why they're going to have to pay so much for a few minutes of video on a DVD when all is said and done. Case in point, I just quoted a client the sum of about $3000 for editing together a promotional video for his tourism-based business. He specializes in dealing with extremely wealthy people like Fortune 500 CEOs and big-name actors and the like. He dumps a small handful of MiniDV tapes of footage that he shot with his own little handicam and tells me that this video needs to be the highest quality imaginable- first class all the way. He needs it done ASAP (of course), and once again reiterates the importance of the level of quality. After hearing my initial quote, it looked like he was going to choke. So, I had to explain a little bit about all the work that goes into this sort of thing. Color Correction, editing, text and graphics, etc. all play a part and all take time. So, sometimes we just have to do what we can to educate the people that need the services we provide.

Anyway, I also agree that your first bid was pretty good- and maybe even a little on the low end. Especially if there's the possibility of adding 3D material in there.
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Old September 19th, 2008, 02:42 AM   #9
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Anyway, I also agree that your first bid was pretty good- and maybe even a little on the low end. Especially if there's the possibility of adding 3D material in there.
Unfortunately, I found out that my Maya / 3dsMax / Lightwave guy is booked solid so no real fancy stuff. I may have a few other alternate graphics guys for that work, but I know they won't be near the quality that Jonathan can get me (or as fast).
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Old September 19th, 2008, 03:21 AM   #10
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Jason
I don't know the individual circumstances but there seems to be a bit of negative thinking here.
Your original quote seemed very reasonable to me.
If he is a good negotiator and he gets a sense that you are anxious about your pricing he's bound to use that against you.
Or maybe he is a time-waster or maybe business is slowing down.
I had a similar situation except that I didn't produce such a detailed quote. I gave him a ballpark and then let him think about it.
Subsequent phone calls ie a couple of months later, revealed that he wanted to go for it but was having problems persuading his fellow directors (I realise this doesn't apply in your case).
In the end we did a quick and dirty job as a tryout. Six months after the initial discussion. He was delighted by the result and, more to the point, when I called the switchboard and gave my name somebody, who I don't know at all, said, completely unprompted, that he thought my film was fantastic.
The feedback was that everyone in the company felt that the short film/case study was a very effective marketing tool.
They say they want to do more. But it's credit crunch time on this side of the Atlantic too, so fingers crossed.
ps I stuck to my day rate and seems to be quite a bit higher than you have quoted for.
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Old September 19th, 2008, 06:37 PM   #11
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Shawn: You are a BRAVE man indeed if you agree to edit footage shot by a client! I gave that up YEARS ago. Too many drop outs, useless camera moves, focus hunting, no pre-roll etc etc etc for me. If I didn't shoot it and someone I know and trust didn't shoot it, I pass. Not saying my approach is right, just saying I sleep better at night these days <sly grin>
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Old September 19th, 2008, 08:58 PM   #12
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Shawn: You are a BRAVE man indeed if you agree to edit footage shot by a client! I gave that up YEARS ago. Too many drop outs, useless camera moves, focus hunting, no pre-roll etc etc etc for me. If I didn't shoot it and someone I know and trust didn't shoot it, I pass.
Well, since the boss-man is still signing my paychecks, I'm more or less obligated to take in anything. After all, ANY money is good money in his eyes. But boy, do I have stories of dealing with those sorts of projects! Oy...

That being said, if it's just me by myself, I'll adjust my rates to make it worth my while. I understand that a lot of people think they're saving SO much money by getting footage themselves, but it only makes my job as an editor that much harder when I'm handed those dreaded "mystery tapes". So while I won't be out there in the field shooting footage, I will be spending more time than I really want to sifting through horrible amateur footage. Oh, and there's always a client over my shoulder saying something like "Oh don't get rid of that shot! That's where little Mikey throws rocks at that bear! It's not THAT shaky or blurry."

Sigh. My favorites are when people ask about the settings I need to have in order to un-blur the picture. OR even better, the people that saw a Making Of... documentary and think that we all have automatic color-correctin', white-balancin', stabilizin' "footage magic" plug-ins or something.
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Old September 19th, 2008, 11:41 PM   #13
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...we all have automatic color-correctin', white-balancin', stabilizin' "footage magic" plug-ins or something.
As someone who just spent 6hrs today fiddling with chorus, noise gates, EQs, etc..... I can safely say that those magic plugins take a hellofalot of time. But they do work wonders.
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Old September 20th, 2008, 04:54 PM   #14
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But enough with the wise remarks, anything constructive to offer? Are you saying I'm offering too much for too little of cost? Or too much period regardless of cost?
Huh? Just suggesting a way to increase the sale.
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Old September 20th, 2008, 07:28 PM   #15
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Huh? Just suggesting a way to increase the sale.
Unfortunately, I don't think anything could have increased the sale value. The client had very little interest in paying (at least from my reading of his face and reactions) over $1K. Probably not even over $500.
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