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Old March 30th, 2010, 02:52 PM   #1
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Quote for a price producing a mini documentary?

I have been asked for a price quote on producing a 10-15 minute mini documentary for a local business. They are a public-service not-for-profit business and want to use the end product (DVD) in their annual fund raising mail solicitation. The DVD will be actually be mailed to about 4,000 people on their mailing list. It is a multi faceted company with a long history and many areas to spotlight. I anticipate many meetings composing the script, drawing the storyboard, etc. They are looking to me to provide close direction of the entire production from concept to completion. Although I have been in the video business for several years I have not done a project of this scope. My experience is mostly in event videography and 1 minute web commercials for businesses. My business is not a hobby. I do video work full time, but I need some opinions on this gig.

What do I need to think about on a project of this kind and how much should it cost them.

Thanks
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Old March 30th, 2010, 03:24 PM   #2
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Well, it's hard to say for a number of reasons.

First, what's the going rate in your area. I'ts probably different than in my area.
Second, how much time do you anticipate putting into the project PRE-Production? 5 hours, 15 hours, 60 hours? Then what's your per hour?

Thirdly a 15 minute finished product might take 8 hours (or even more) to shoot especially with non-pro talent.

Fourth, do you need to hire or pay a sound person, gaffer, PA etc to help out on the shoot. This kind of stuff is really hard to do by ones self.

Fifth, do you need to rent or buy any equipment to be able to shoot the job?

Sixth, how much time do you think you'll need in POST production? 5 hours, 15 hours, 60 hours? Then what's your rate per hour?

Seventh, do you need tohire anyone for post production, like a professional voice over?

Eight, how many DVDs do you need to produce? If you're thinking of doing 4000 1 at a time you need to re-think that and think about making a master then having an outside company replicate it, so how much will that cost.

So as you can see there are a number of factors that come into play which makes it kind of difficult to give you and exact number but here's a good one. Don't forget your profit!
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Old March 30th, 2010, 03:59 PM   #3
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All good points, Don. Thank you. I just can't find what the "going rate" is in my area.

Let me just ask you what it would cost in your area if you spent:

10 hours production planning
8 hours shooting (multiple shoots) can't get all the players on the same day
20 hours post production

and you:

hired a sound and gaffer
owned all your own equipment
and did not need pro voiceover.

I'm just trying to get some idea what the prices are out there for this type of project. Just give me a range that would pop into your head when someone mentioned this type of production.

Forget replication, I will outsource that and figure later

Thanks

Last edited by Jay Jelliff; March 30th, 2010 at 04:00 PM. Reason: forgot a point
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Old March 30th, 2010, 04:03 PM   #4
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THOSE numbers would yield about $4-5k in my former market (still feeling my new one out myself...) but I think you are WAY low on post production time.
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Old March 30th, 2010, 04:31 PM   #5
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Jay, isn't that an easy calculation? As Don mentioned, what's your hourly rate? Just multiply and add your ourside costs and profit.

If it's $50/hour, then:

pre production 500
sound and gaffer maybe 750/day of shooting
you shooting maybe 500/day (I don't know your rate)
post 1000 (for 20 hours)
profit?

So with two days shooting

4000 plus profit. $5000?

Then when you give them a quote and they freak out, you decide where you can cut. No gaffer?

By the way, you're dreaming if you think you can get a 15 minute piece done with 20 hours of post production. I would say minimum double that, probably triple.
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Old March 30th, 2010, 04:37 PM   #6
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Oops, Shaun posted while I was writing. Stole my thunder by being right as usual...
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Old March 30th, 2010, 04:44 PM   #7
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And as usual, Vito strokes my fragile ego...
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Old March 30th, 2010, 04:55 PM   #8
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Jay, I have done a couple of the type of mini-doc for non-profits you are talking about - 1 about 12 minutes in length and the other about 8 minutes.

On the 12 minute one: Pre-production was about 4 meetings at an hour or so each - at their location. I ended up finishing the script myself as they simply could not handle it - even though they thought they could. This means you have to research and be super creative and survive their edits.

None of the "talking heads" were pro talent so yes, it took a while....fun, but I would estimate I spent 20 hours on location shooting as I could not get everyone there at the same time and set up and tear down takes a lot of time.

I also had a couple volunteers to help with lugging equipment, lighting etc., plus my wife to help supervise them.

I spent about 40 hours in editing the first cut and another 6 in re-editing.

I handled the duplication and packaging of 250 disks.

On the 8 minute project I only handed them the master and they took care of duplication..thank goodness!

Last edited by Tom Dickerson; March 30th, 2010 at 07:45 PM.
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Old March 30th, 2010, 05:18 PM   #9
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Thanks, All and I KNOW the hours are unrealistic. I just wanted someone to start telling me how crazy I was and begin spitting out numbers.

Like Tom said I will have to do most of the creative work as they won't have a clue. Luckily, I retired from the exact same kind of company after 27 years so I know the message they need to send in their video.

Thank you gentlemen.
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Old March 30th, 2010, 05:21 PM   #10
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well the gang of 3 (lol) all said the same thing I would say but the replication pricing can't wait as it's a part of the estimate. Unless you talk to them and use that as a leveraging tool, meaning " I can replicate for you at $XX.XX OR you can do it". They'll say "oh we'll do it then once they get the pricing for doing it they'll probably come back to you. Heh.

Yeah whatevers hour you figure add at least 50% more to them. The last one of these similar to your description I figured X hours in my head, quoted them Y hours and it took me almost all of Y which was 50% more hours than X. Non pro talent, people that had a hard time reading cue cards (no prompter- shame on me) and relighting every new setup. PITA, thank goodness for my "gaffer". (my son who helped me out-yeah I had to pay him he wouldn't take babysitting for his 3 kids in trade).

Anyway, yeah, off the top of my head I'd say 4 to 5 thousand if I'm not renting any gear AND if the guys I might hire aren't trying to rob me ;-)

Like stated, whatever your hourly rate is where you start but personally I would seperate the various aspects in the agreement. Pre-production, Production, Post-production, replication etc. At least that's how I prefer to do it that way they know where the money is being spendt.
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Old March 30th, 2010, 05:53 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaun Roemich View Post
And as usual, Vito strokes my fragile ego...
Can't help it. You're just too easy to look up to.

*Blink * * blink.*
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Old March 30th, 2010, 06:50 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Jay Jelliff View Post
Thanks, All and I KNOW the hours are unrealistic. I just wanted someone to start telling me how crazy I was and begin spitting out numbers.
Darned Jedi Mind Tricks!

"These are NOT the droids you are looking for... THESE are not the droids you are... These are not the droids YOU are..." Never mind...
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Old March 31st, 2010, 07:16 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Jelliff View Post
I have been asked for a price quote on producing a 10-15 minute mini documentary for a local business. They are a public-service not-for-profit business
I had a project with those exact specs a year ago. I came in at just over $6k. It was completely interview-driven, so we only had a couple pre-production meetings but spent more time in post whittling down the footage.
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Old April 1st, 2010, 12:39 AM   #14
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I've done a couple of these exact type of things. First off, as everyone said, your hours
are way low. I quoted one of these at about $6500, which did NOT include replication
(that was extra) but DID include a professional VO. This estimate was based on x number
of hours billed at my hourly rate. One of my stipulations, was that I have a person
from the organization work closely with me as my as 'executive producer'.....the reason I gave
was that I needed someone with their organization's prospective when shooting the
interviews and such. In reality, it was so that these people who thought that my
quote was 'pretty high' could get a reality check on exactly how much work goes into
one of these projects. What happened of course, was that they kept asking for
more interviews.....interviewing 30 people when we only used maybe 5 or 6.
Then when I finished the spot and got it approved from the person in charge,
that person then showed their boss (who had NO involvement or say in the
project) and the boss 'just had a few areas we should change'. And then it was
shown to that person's boss and again 'a few changes'. These were people
who were NOT involved or SUPPOSED to be involved. However, because I had
INSISTED on having an 'executive producer'......that person totally 'went to bat'
for me when I told them that I was going to have to charge them more, as they
were adding a bunch of hours to what we had agreed on. When I say 35 hours
of shooting time, I don't really mean 75 hours of shooting time, and when I budget
for 80 hours of post production, and you keep adding 'revisions' I am not going to
keep doing extra revisions for free. My 'executive producer' told them that they
would 'not believe the amount of work' that I had done and that if anything
they were being undercharged by quite a few hours as she saw how much work
I was actually doing. It was a good decision on my part, and I think opened some
eyes in their organization.
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Old April 1st, 2010, 09:19 AM   #15
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Good point - I strongly agree with the "executive producer" suggestion. When you get into these organizational projects, quite often they will convene a committee in which everyone gets to make "suggestions". In my experience, these committee members feel the need to justify their participation by making suggestions even when they don't understand the project or the goals - and no matter how silly the suggestions are, all are treated equally. It's nice to have a single person within the organization act as a filter so you only have to work on the important stuff.
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