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Old April 8th, 2015, 11:29 AM   #1
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if you only work by day rates/half day as opposed to hourly, can you explain WHY?

Hi. Like many in the video production field, I dont have an hourly rate, only working by the half day or full day. this is common practice around here (Houston) though I'm sure there are exceptions.

Clients often dont understand the half day/full day thing and reply with "well that seems really expensive for a 3-hour shoot", etc.

How do others explain the reasons for half day/full day as opposed to an hourly rate? My reasons would start with the fact that most clients are used to this type of billing, so what am I to do if someone wants just 3 hours at say $50/hour and another client later calls who pays a normal/much higher rate? Lose out on income just to be a nuce guy? Using half day/full day puts everyone on much more equal footing.

The other big reason is video production shoots are not like being a plumber, you dont simply pick up ten gigs in a day. Shoots tend to be highly organized affairs that need to happen at a specific day/time and may require a lot of people/resources to come together. A client's shoot may only be 3 hours, but that three hours is likely the only work I'll be able to pick up that day (the rare exception occurs of course but never count on those).

Thoughts?
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Old April 8th, 2015, 11:48 AM   #2
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Re: if you only work by day rates/half day as opposed to hourly, can you explain WHY?

I try not to use the term Half day anymore. Short day might be a better term. Also the definition of what a half day really means is not half of a full day rate. The only time I do hourly rates is for work at my office when they come to me. I will talk total dollars if someone has a budget issue and the length of the commitment might qualify for a discount. As an explanation I say I block out more time than anticipated as production often has variables which don't allow me to schedule anything afterwards until I have finished their production. Of course if you have to explain the caveats to the client it always feels awkward. Anyone asking for a discount and still wants to reserve your time has to realize that you might want to trade yourself out if a better offer comes along.
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Old April 8th, 2015, 12:05 PM   #3
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Re: if you only work by day rates/half day as opposed to hourly, can you explain WHY?

My mistake...half day here is 0-5 hours, full 5-10. half day/full day should really ONLY apply to labor and not gear fees (assuming you price that stuff separately), and so the difference may not be that great between the two depending on your personal/labor fee and what you bring with you.

practice here is that half day is 66-70% of full day (i do 66%). Im ASSUMING this is to offset the fact that its not a full day and, again, you likely cant pick up another gig that day.

yes if you had a studio/office i could see doing hourly--i dont have a studio/office, but do bill EDITING hourly since i do it at home and can work around other stuff with it.
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Old April 8th, 2015, 02:57 PM   #4
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Re: if you only work by day rates/half day as opposed to hourly, can you explain WHY?

I, very rarely even do half day rates anymore. If I am hired for a 'half day' and
then another potential client comes along who wants to hire me for that day,
it's not like I can fit them in around the 'half day' from the previous client. Basically
my day rate is what it is. I too will get the "That seems awful expensive for 3 hours
of shooting." quite a bit. And a doctor, lawyer, real estate agent, plumber, mechanic,
and many other people cost lots of money too. 'If I'm too expensive for you, maybe
you'd be better off hiring Uncle Bob to do it for $50.' I dunno, I'm kind of over the
'negotiating'. You can hire me or decide I'm too expensive but I'm not going to
'cut you a deal' and have you 'make it up to me next time' or with 'volume work'.
The rate is what it is so that I can actually stay in business and not have to close up
shop.
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Old April 8th, 2015, 03:10 PM   #5
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Re: if you only work by day rates/half day as opposed to hourly, can you explain WHY?

i still do half days cause i am not in demand enough to be one of those guys who doesnt do them.

i will still negotiate when i can--often unfeasible cause im renting much of the gear and THOSE folks wont negotiate so i cant either. most freelancers around here will "work with you on the rate" up to a point--some money better than no money.

what Im getting at more here is the WHY of us not doing hourly.
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Old April 8th, 2015, 03:17 PM   #6
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Re: if you only work by day rates/half day as opposed to hourly, can you explain WHY?

When people ask me about hourly for shooting I tell them "Frankly, I won't get out of bed for less than $xxx. This is what I do for a living and day rates and half day rates have worked for me for 17 years."

If they insist on hourly, there are lots of options around here and I have no interest in a race to the bottom.
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Old April 8th, 2015, 03:31 PM   #7
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Re: if you only work by day rates/half day as opposed to hourly, can you explain WHY?

so far here Im seeing a lot of anger/annoyance, but no calm explanation that one might offer someone who doesnt know any better as to why we dont work hourly. there must be a reason the industry evolved to be this way.
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Old April 8th, 2015, 03:48 PM   #8
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Re: if you only work by day rates/half day as opposed to hourly, can you explain WHY?

Ha!

Had this very conversation (yet again...) today with a high-tech client in Cambridge that I'm currently producing a film for. They announced that they now want me to shoot an (additional) "short 5-minute interview" with a Professor who helped develop some of the technology that the film is about - and asked me what that would add to the (already agreed) schedule cost I've submitted. This would be in a different location and on a different day to the locations/days I'm already contracted to do.

The 1-day shooting day rate was my reply...."But it's only a quick 5-minute interview" came the instant response back...

Then followed a period of me explaining that nothing is ever just "5-minutes". I'd have to prep my gear (clear cards, battery charge/checks etc.), arrive on location (driving to and parking is a nightmare where the University department is in Cambridge's congested historical centre). Then, I know from bitter experience, we'll be no doubt waiting around for a while for this guy to become available/get off the phone/get out of some meeting (he's world class in his field - so being filmed by me will be very low down on his daily priorities...).

Once he's in my sights, I'll have to quickly shoot in some (likely) non-ideal, cramped, location whilst making sure I get him relaxed enough/looking good/sounding great to deliver what's needed before he has to rush off somewhere. Then break down all the kit, lug it to my (no doubt distantly parked) car and get back to the studio to off-load footage and back it up...and of course, critically, as I explained to my client, I cannot risk booking any other client filming that day as this could all take "a little longer than 5-minutes".

Realistic door to door for this "5-minute interview" is going to be several hours, assuming no hic-ups - but who knows, these things can take the best part of the day. I've had a CEO of a multinational keep me waiting six hours after the planned filming slot before I could film him. Frustrating, but knowing I'm getting paid for a full day makes it perfectly bearable :-)

Editing day rate time I'll split into half-days. I can instantly switch from one client project to another with a few mouse clicks. When I'm in my studio I'm in 100% control of what happens and when - well, usually! But filming is a completely different animal. I'm rarely in total control in the kind of corporate film environments I do. So, filming is 1-day minimum whether it's 5-minutes or 10 hours. Take it or leave it.

They have agreed my logic - even the sales guy in the meeting ended up on my side and helped persuade the Managing Director - once they understood the reasons as explained above - so now it's on the schedule/will be invoiced...enough said.

I don't normally comment on any details of my business practices/methods etc. on public forums - but I hope this anecdote is useful to you and the discussion.
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Old April 8th, 2015, 05:54 PM   #9
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Re: if you only work by day rates/half day as opposed to hourly, can you explain WHY?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh Bass View Post
so far here Im seeing a lot of anger/annoyance
No anger or annoyance in my response at all - I'm 17 years in as a working pro, have nothing to prove and don't need anything for my reel and would rather have the day off than not make enough money to compensate myself for a client who, if they are balking at my half day rate, is likely to turn into a miser.

In fact, I didn't work hourly even when I was starting out.

One doesn't ask their dentist to work at a discount, I expect the same respect. I went to school (granted, not anything as time consuming or expensive as dental college...) and I've spent 17 years updating my skills and putting them to use.

I may have an inflated sense of self but I'm good at what I do and I'd like to get compensated for it.
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Old April 8th, 2015, 07:28 PM   #10
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Re: if you only work by day rates/half day as opposed to hourly, can you explain WHY?

I agree with Shaun. However I would explain it to clients like this.

OK so you only need me for 2 hours, so first I have to drive there, then load-in gear, set up gear, shoot the 2 hours, strike and load-out gear and drive back to my office to edit so here's what I'll do for you. I'll charge you for a 1/2 day rate which is all inclusive and covers you for the entire time. That way you're covered just in case we add some interviews or some take longer or some don't get started on time, you're not being rushed or pressured.

All the while I gave a big smile and made it sound like I was doing them a favor. Hell 5 hours was my half day time anyway so I wasn't losing anything and frankly neither were they. Unless you're shooting a stand up run N gun news interview which I know Shaun has done, NOTHING takes 5 minutes and if I'm going to drive 40 miles thru Chicago rush hour traffic, put out $40 or $50 to park (until I get reimbursed) haul my gear into a downtown Chicago hotel etc etc etc, I'm damn well gonna get paid and it won't be for 2 hours.

A logical reasonable explanation will work no matter what kind of work you're doing be it corp or social but keep it simple and halfway real!
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Old April 8th, 2015, 11:19 PM   #11
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Re: if you only work by day rates/half day as opposed to hourly, can you explain WHY?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh Bass View Post
so far here Im seeing a lot of anger/annoyance, but no calm explanation that one might offer someone who doesnt know any better as to why we dont work hourly. there must be a reason the industry evolved to be this way.
1) Don't become one of the angry/annoyed guys.

2) I do half day/full day because in my experience, drive time, unload time, setup time, shoot time, and strike time and more drive time can rarely be done such that it would be advantageous to do it by the hour. Furthermore, I like to do a good job for my clients, and have neither them nor I worrying about money. It's my experience that when we need to do a shot one more time and we're going to click over into another hour / half-hour / quarter-hour, the client is looking at their watch and thinking... is this *really* worth another $125? I don't want them thinking that. I want them (and me) thinking... is this the absolute best this shot can be? And if they are watching the dollars fall from their wallet, they won't be thinking that.

3) In 10 years of freelancing, I don't think I've ever had anyone really protest. I've had some people question it, and I've explained it, but... every industry has it's weird stuff, and this is ours. ;-)
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Old April 9th, 2015, 06:27 AM   #12
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Re: if you only work by day rates/half day as opposed to hourly, can you explain WHY?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh Bass View Post
i still do half days cause i am not in demand enough to be one of those guys who doesnt do them.

i will still negotiate when i can--often unfeasible cause im renting much of the gear and THOSE folks wont negotiate so i cant either. most freelancers around here will "work with you on the rate" up to a point--some money better than no money.

what Im getting at more here is the WHY of us not doing hourly.
Hi Josh.

I've been getting some quick and easy turn over the footage local shoots ( or a quick still photography session) lately that require minimal gear such as single camera, so I changed my website rates section to try to get more of them. Previously, I only had half day, full day, and multiple day rates. Now I have a cheap one hour and two hour option, but it is limited to jobs within 20 miles of my home.

Now these are just very basic jobs for documentation purposes mostly. The footage will probably never even be watched, but it's for "cover your butt" purposes. For instance, a property owner's association meeting where they want a record of who said what or a construction project wanting visual documentation that environmental regs are being met ( sewer openings and man holes covered to prevent run-off to lakes, warning signs in place etc.

If I need to bring field mixer, lights etc. then the 5 hour minimum would apply even for a local job because of the time (and effort) loading, lugging, set-up, pack-up of the gear.

But as I've gotten older, jobs that really are quick and easy, especially when it comes to getting paid decent money quick and easy, often on the spot, with no hassles have become my favorites. Good clients that give repeat work understand prices are based on the amount of gear plus the amount/difficulty of the job.

I've gotten a couple of larger jobs from clients who admitted they were testing the waters with a small job first.
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Old April 9th, 2015, 11:00 AM   #13
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Re: if you only work by day rates/half day as opposed to hourly, can you explain WHY?

Addendum: if I did the sort of work that Roger discusses above, I would consider a shorter timeframe, ESPECIALLY if I could control when in the day I was to go do the work - a good friend of mine is a professional photographer who photographs outdoor billboards for proof of performance for the ad company's clients. Within a time span, she can go when she can fit it in and they get a moderate break on what would be her "normal" pricing.

I only do full service work these days and 95% of what I do is talking head interviews for the past number of years. I would hate for a client to be watching the clock as we start to get someone who was stiff in the beginning of an interview to loosen up and become loquacious. I choose to control the type of work I do and I choose to work with people who respect what I bring to a production, not that I own a camera (which I no longer do... for now) and can point it in the right direction.
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Old April 10th, 2015, 01:16 AM   #14
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Re: if you only work by day rates/half day as opposed to hourly, can you explain WHY?

No anger here either, it is what it is and it's not worth being angry over. I just politely
decline the 'hourly' jobs. I'm even polite enough to tell those who tell me they are sorry,
that they really like my work but they can get it from someone else MUCH cheaper.....
'I'm sure he (or she) will do a fine job. Good luck!'

A LOT of people have touched on it in the above answers. Just to really emphasize it though.....

People who have no clue about video production will ALWAY severely underestimate the
amount of time it will take you to do something.

They will say....'It's only a two hour shoot'. They don't take into account, the time it
takes you to pack up camera, tripods, lights, audio mixer, mics, batteries, memory cards,
green screen, sliders, C-stands or any other grip equipment, and get it into your car.
Then the drive to the location. Now you need to pack all the gear in, sometimes taking
multiple trips in and out from the car. Next you get to set up all the gear. And FINALLY
you are to the shoot time. After the shoot time you get to break all the gear down, and
then pack it safely and transport it back to your car. Next you drive home.
And finally you get to get it all back into your edit bay. Then, most likely, you need to back
up the footage (as most things are shot on memory cards these days.) And on edit jobs, we
also have all the ingest, editing, color correction, music scoring, compression and output to
multiple formats to deal with. But even assuming you are talking a straight shoot only job, I
have learned, that in about 0.001% of the cases, is the time the client gives you, the
actual time it takes to do a job. They of course want to sell how 'easy and quick' it will
be. It is never as easy or quick as they say. Can you tell a client this straight up?
Probably not. So instead you just charge your rate and some pay it and some don't.
The most I might do is tell the client:

"I know you think it will only take 2 hours, but I have done about 4000 of these shoots and
I have never once had one actually take 2 hours. So instead of charging you for the two hours,
and then leaving 5 minutes into the interview, I am actually protecting your investment and making
sure, that when the CEO makes us wait for 45 minutes, that you still get the video you are paying me for."

But honestly, I often don't even go that far unless I already have a good relationship with the client.
Because if it is a new client that is trying to negotiate with me on price, then he doesn't really value
video production all that much anyways. He sees it as a commodity that he is trying to get
for the lowest possible price, instead of looking at value. As others have said, I'm just not into
competing on price. Either my price is fair for what I offer, or it isn't. And I have learned that it is
usually better to not even work with certain types of clients. You know, the ones that expect a
Hollywood feature on a $500 budget and also expect you to report to a 10 person committee,
each of whom will have 2 rounds of edits for you to do (and at least four of the members will have
edits which will directly contradict another committee member's edits).

I hear you on how it's hard to stick to your guns when you aren't getting work.
When I started my business, it was from sheer panic as I had lost a staff job and
had no way to pay the bills. I was lucky to even make $500 the first month and
there were some months that were even worse. That's when I learned about
keeping expenses to a bare minimum in your life (lucky for me, I already leaned towards
this lifestyle and had never took out student loans or had any credit cards and I drove an old beater).
But it took quite a few years of struggling and even now there are some tough months.
I learned to not put all my eggs in one basket (I lost every single TV commercial client
when the economy crashed in 2009.) I learned to do anything and everything related to
video....weddings, TV spots, promo videos, graduations, dance performances, sports
highlights and game films, on air announcing for sports, even taught myself how to
make a basic website so I could offer clients without a site a place to put the nice
new video I made them. I don't think there is any easy way in this business. (if there
was, everyone would be successful at it) and frankly, a lot of it is probably luck.
But one thing I do know......there are times you need to stick to your price. Because
the logical conclusion of giving away more and more services, cheaper and cheaper
to the clients as they 'negotiate'.........is doing a ton of work for nothing.
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Old April 10th, 2015, 01:31 AM   #15
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Re: if you only work by day rates/half day as opposed to hourly, can you explain WHY?

Thanks guys. a slew of responses apparently came in at some point that I missed. I will try using these next time I have to gently educate someone as to why hourly is not the way I work.

One point of contention I have is that many here seem to include time loading gear into and out of car at the beginning of the day, driving to and from location, to billable time. Freelancers around here (and again, maybe it's a local custom) have told me you only charge "portal to portal" (i.e. clock starts when I leave home ends when I return) on commutes/drive times over a certain length (say an hour in regular traffic). Otherwise job clock starts at arrival time on location and "tail lights" from location.
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