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Taking Care of Business
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Old April 17th, 2006, 03:04 AM   #1
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Shooting a commercial + Training DVD

Okay, so I'm just getting started in videography and it's been pretty easy finding information on how to shoot and price for weddings as you're starting out, but I haven't seen much in regards to commercials or other fields. So I'd like to get everybody's opinion on how much I should be looking to charge for a forthcoming project/s.

There's also a wildcard, I'm related to the 2nd in charge at the business looking for my services. I'm somewhat scared they'll be looking for me to do the work for extremely cheap. I know I'm just getting started, but I do want to be somewhat fairly compensated.

Anyway, on to the project; my cousin teaches Kung-Fu and he had asked me if I'd catalogue some of his forms for him, so I went and did that for him for nothing, just for the experience. His Sifu, or the head Teacher/Owner of the school expressed interest in having me shoot a commercial for them. He had one shot by the cable company a few years ago and was never happy with it.

Shooting the commercial would probably involve a combination of sitting in on classes and designing shots, so it could be somewhat time consuming, especially if I'm shooting multiple classes to show off the various age groups and skill levels they offer classes for. Well, I'd imagine it could be a two day shoot, one for the class footage where I'd be there all day and maybe a second day for the other shots. How much would be reasonable to charge for something like this?

There was also another project he brought up, they thought of having me catalogue "everything" with the intent of designing DVDs they could sell to their students that would include all of the form requirements necessary for passing their test to the next rank. I'm still not sure how much work this would require, but I got the impression it would be quite a large project and there would probably be a DVD for each rank, which I believe would mean around 10. What would be the best way to determine a price if they decided to go forward with this?
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Old April 17th, 2006, 03:14 AM   #2
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Oh, yeah, and any technical advice/suggestions on how to approach either the commercial or DVD set would be appreciated too. :)
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Old April 17th, 2006, 09:55 AM   #3
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Your rate is what you need to survive and grow with your business model.

Gather your total monthly expenses
Rent, food, utilities, insurance (health and gear), web page hosting, email service, cost of equipment, cost of maintenance, cost of software, cost of upgrading all that over 2 years or so (especially for computers, maybe 1 year for software, cameras it depends but 2 or 3 years is reasonable these days), car costs (and there are many), cost of consumables like video tape, office supplies, office furnature, living furnature, anything else you can think of.

Figure out what your yearly expenses are using the above (everything in your life!)

Assume about 20-25 paid hours of work a week.
You'll be spending the rest of the time maintaining gear, talking to prospective clients, maintaining web page, putting together demos, bookkeeping, billing, learning new gear and software, buying supplies and some time buying new software/gear. You may still find you're working 60 plus hours a week even with 20-25 billable hours.

You now can figure out what you need to charge to cover all your life expenses and maintain your business and replace software/gear when the time comes. At $50/hr working 20 paid hours a weeks (and probably 20-40 unpaid hours!) you'd be grossing about $1000 a week. Will that keep you going in Las Vegas?

Profit and life's enjoyment
Do you want 2-4weeks off during the year to enjoy life and prevent burnout or work on personal projects? Do you want to dine out, go to movies or sporting events? What about sick days or other life contigencies that will cut into your billable hours? There's money you'l want to go on vacation maybe. Buy some toys for yourself. Things that are fun but "non functional/live survival" purchases. Money to grow your business further rather than just maintain it. Cost of training classes for example? Gong to trade shows? Savings so you're not living from job to job. What about family expenses if/when you have kids? Factor all this in too.

Factor all the above in to what you should be charging for the 20-25 billable hours. To me, the difference between a "newbie" rate and an "experienced" rate is how one factors in the "profit" area. Newbies that charge below the base survival rate for their businesses hurt all of us . . . including themselves. They'll become hobbyists as they need to look for a "real job" to survive or they'll be "renting" their gear out on craigslist or selling it on Ebay.

Keep the above in mind and you should be able to figure out what your rate should be.

In simplified form
It's all your expenses both personal and business, desired profit for fun stuff, 20-25 billable hours a week for about 48 weeks or so a year (include sick days and other time off).
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Old April 17th, 2006, 01:08 PM   #4
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Thanks for the comprehensive reply Craig. I've had my personal (monthly) expenses figured up ever since I moved out on my own. I've planned to gather my business expenses when it came time to move forward, based on what I'd be doing, but I guess there's a good number of expenses that I can anticipate. From there I could develop packages like it appears most videographers do, it still seemed too soon for me to be doing this, which is why I haven't yet.

So I guess from there I just need to determine the amount of profit I want to shoot for.

P.S. I don't know if I said something somewhere to make you think I was in Vegas or it was just a broad question, but it made me notice I didn't have my location filled in. $1000 a week in LA would go pretty far, I'd be very happy with that. :)
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Old April 17th, 2006, 08:59 PM   #5
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Not sure why I thought Las Vegas either. Hmmm.

You might find this page fun.
http://www.bankrate.com/brm/movecalc.asp

I believe $50,000 a year in your area would have to be about $77,000 in my area. Neither is great money these days though. Interesting thing about cost of living is that while housing rent may be a major difference, the price of gear is about the same all over the country.

Maybe targeting about $35,000 a year would be ok in your area. You might be ok with $30 at 20-25 hours a week. How's that for a stab?
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Old April 18th, 2006, 12:01 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Craig Seeman
Maybe targeting about $35,000 a year would be ok in your area. You might be ok with $30 at 20-25 hours a week. How's that for a stab?
That would probably be more realistic, I had been making a little less than that at my prior job. I live so cheap I was actually saving a paycheck a month, which is how I was able to save up the money to get started in this field. With expenses to take care of and upgrade gear and such that's probably the amount I should shoot for at the least. I'd imagine it'd still be a little more than enough to cover me for whatever I'd want to do over the course of a year.
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Old April 22nd, 2006, 01:47 PM   #7
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commercial

I looked into cable commercials in my area. I'm in central PA, away from Philly or Pittsburgh so the cable rates are reasonable. Just to put a spot on cable for one month at various times is $2500. That doesn't include the filming or editing. So minus your part they still have to be willing to drop a few thousand dollars. That alone eliminates quite a few clients pondering the commercial deal.
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Old April 23rd, 2006, 11:18 AM   #8
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There's a very low budget but viable niche for cable spots. I've done some very low ones for about under $1000. I call 'em one day wonders. Do them with 1/3" 3 chip camera, no crew, no assistant, no lights. Half day shoot, half day edit. Clients do them just to have something to get out and on the air so their name is seen. One client spend $500 to have it air 5 times to air on local 24 cable news station. All 5 spots aired during the day. 2 were prime time. That works out to $100 per airing. This is NYC! Client then used the spot on their website to get more mileage out of it. They bring it back to Cable periodically.

Very low budget cable spots can be profitable for both you and the client if you keep the time and expectations to the budget (just a few hours for that price).
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