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Taking Care of Business
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Old February 26th, 2006, 07:07 PM   #1
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Billing Details - yes or no?

When putting together an estimate or an invoice for client how detailed do you get? For example, for a television commerical would you list out the cost for renting equipment, shooting time, editing time, stock footage purchase, actor fees, voice talent fees, music fees . . . etc . . or would you just list the production cost of the spot and detail what it included?

My worries are:

Providing to much detail might lead the client to try and eliminate or reduce costs in certain areas, resulting in a less effective spot.

Providing very little detail might encourage the client to ask for details, in which case I'd have to do all the work of breaking it out for him anyways.

What do you guys usually do?
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Old February 27th, 2006, 08:03 AM   #2
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You should probably do both. What I mean is, it's a very good idea for you to list out every cost and need so that you don't lose money on the job.

Unless the client requires, it I wouldn't put the costs next to each item but I would list everything, this demonstrates to the client how involved the shoot is and how comprehensive you are.

By the way, don't forget to add to each item how much time/money it takes for you to organize and access these items.
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Old February 27th, 2006, 08:27 AM   #3
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I usually either provide a verbal proposal with the total including everything and/or a written itemized proposal. The categories are production labor, post labor (sometimes seperate), main production gear, expendables (tapes, slates, out of pocket, etc.) and travel if any. I agree that a list could present the opportunity for a client to start trying to cut something here and there to save what usually amounts to nothing which is due to their ignorance of our industry. A list can also seem to appear excessive to a client that doesn't understand what we do. I always make it clear when speaking with them that what is listed in the proposal and eventually the invoice is what is/was needed to get the job done and no more. Just be ready and open to explain and justify anything that is listed. I wouldn't hire anyone for anything with just a single amount. I want to know exactly what I'm paying for and I think it can be appreciated by clients that you're not trying to hide something. So far, I have had no problems with submitting itemized proposals or invoices.
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Old February 27th, 2006, 08:32 AM   #4
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Travis, I normally don't go into such detail when writing up a contract. Most clients want to know the total cost for the project, to many details can be confusing to them, and are usually not necessary. I only go into detail if they request a detailed breakdown. ie, gear rental, hmi rental, talent editing time and so on. I do however have for my own records what these particular items cost as part of the shoot and it is built into my pricing based on what the client wants. Hope that helps you.

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Old February 27th, 2006, 01:22 PM   #5
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Thanks guys. I think I just realized what I was fighting here. For myself, I want a record of what I charged for each item, but I don't really want to present that entire list to the client.

So, what I think I'll do, is break it down and keep in on record within my accounting software, but for the estimate that the client receives, I'll just list the production cost and then provide a list of what that includes.
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Old February 27th, 2006, 01:32 PM   #6
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Resist laundry listing if you can.

Itemizing with the client is just an excuse for the client to cut costs. Unless you get to somehow charge for the time spent in quoting or negotiating a contract doing so is just a waste of time.

The only time I start laundry listing is to break down the client (client is too ambitious for their time / budget), not the other way around.

Of course if the client brings up a cost then you must be prepared to meet it with your own information.
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Old February 28th, 2006, 10:53 AM   #7
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I base it on the client and project. If I think client will not understand why a quote is high, I think its important to give them some level of detail up front so they can understand. If they want to cut costs, it gives us a good basis for discussion. I treat them the way I want to be treated when hiring professionals. But I don't detail every single item, just groups (equipment rental, talent, pre-production, production, post-production, etc...). If it is a T&M job, I give them high and low estimates for each area, so we both can manage thr project better and they can see early on that my estimates are good or ask why we are running over. For a fixed price job, I would include a single number for each area.
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Old February 28th, 2006, 02:04 PM   #8
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Sorry, "T&M" job?
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Old February 28th, 2006, 02:40 PM   #9
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T&M = Time and Materials.
Hourly (or daily) + Expenses + Equipment Rentals + ...
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Old February 28th, 2006, 02:46 PM   #10
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Ahhh, thanks!
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