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Taking Care of Business
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Old October 12th, 2006, 10:22 PM   #1
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Need Help with Pricing a Job - Please Chime In

I am somewhat new to this business (videography) although I have been "playing" with making short movies and event videos for at least 10 years. This seems to be a subject not openly discussed but I need some help. Just in case you are wondering I used Vegas Video since version 3 and switched to FCP this year after upgrading my camera and having so many difficulties with Vegas.

I started making commercials just recently because a neighbor complained that a local production company wanted $7000 to make a :30 spot for him and he really couldnt afford it. I had already begun advertising for video promos and events (got a dba and business license and a lot of equipment so I told him I can make the commercial and do it for free and if he likes it and it helps his business he can then pay me. I need to build my professional portfolio and I really didnt know if I could make a commercial. Long story short is I made the commercial, it got some very positive reviews on a professional showcase page at Digital Juice. My neighbor loves it and he landed a really big account now and attributes the success to the commercial. He asked me to invoice him $7000 and he would give me a check.

Isnt $7000 way beyond what is typically charged? I have a Pana HVX200, lights, good sound equipment a lot of Digital Juice software, I got someone to assist me with the commercial as an actor. I did some green screen compositing. The commercial took a few weeks to edit (mainly at night). I want to be fair with him and I also want to know for pricing future jobs. What is the going rate? I think the company that quoted $7000 was going to do something 3D, which I didnt do. My research on the web shows they go for about $1000.

I gave my neighbor about 35 DVDs of the commercial on an inkjet printed DVD-R that had a custom photo I shot of his product and framed in PS. He wanted these to send out to possible buyers of his product to show that he was going to be advertising on TV and already had the commercial ready to go. I also had the video transfered to a Beta SP tape as Time Warner requested. I allowed him to review the commercial and make several changes to the text at the end of the commercial.

If you read this whole post I really thank you. Any advice you can provide will be greatly appreciated.

Darrin
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Old October 12th, 2006, 10:48 PM   #2
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Darrin, budgets for commercials go from $500 to $500,000.

It sounds like you are a little inexperienced to be charging premium rates for your work, but by your own admission, you put weeks of work into it. Very middle of the road, professional rates for work are:

Shooting: $400-1000/day w/DV or HDV level camera. Can go up with lights and sound gear. This is for one person, and at least somewhat experienced, btw.

Editing: $200-300/day, for a very experienced editor. Maybe $120-$175 for less experienced, with edit rig.

So it sounds to me like you may have earned that $7000, but at a rate usually reserved for pretty experienced folk. If you have any idea how much money your work generated for the client, and it's much, much more than $7k, then maybe you should gratefully accept the $7k. If you anticipate that it wasn't THAT large a windfall for him, maybe you should just bill $4-5k-ish (which is more in line with your experience, I think).

Either way, don't discount how much work you put into it.
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Old October 12th, 2006, 11:17 PM   #3
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Thank you so much for the time you took to respond. And your thoughts are all well appreciated. For some reason this subject is taboo. My neighbor landed a huge account and will easily be able to pay the 7k. Great information you have provided!

Thank you again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate Weaver
Darrin, budgets for commercials go from $500 to $500,000.

It sounds like you are a little inexperienced to be charging premium rates for your work, but by your own admission, you put weeks of work into it. Very middle of the road, professional rates for work are:

Shooting: $400-1000/day w/DV or HDV level camera. Can go up with lights and sound gear. This is for one person, and at least somewhat experienced, btw.

Editing: $200-300/day, for a very experienced editor. Maybe $120-$175 for less experienced, with edit rig.

So it sounds to me like you may have earned that $7000, but at a rate usually reserved for pretty experienced folk. If you have any idea how much money your work generated for the client, and it's much, much more than $7k, then maybe you should gratefully accept the $7k. If you anticipate that it wasn't THAT large a windfall for him, maybe you should just bill $4-5k-ish (which is more in line with your experience, I think).

Either way, don't discount how much work you put into it.
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Old October 13th, 2006, 02:02 AM   #4
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Nate's message seems right on in the Southeast, too, though I charge more than that for editing per day.

One good rule in business is you are worth what you can get! There's no magic to pricing...if you can charge it and get it regularly, than that's a correct rate for your skill level and market.

If your neighbor says it was worth $7k, bill it! It will make up for the next 99 jobs that you have to fight for the money on. :-)

Kevin
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Old October 16th, 2006, 02:43 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Wild
If your neighbor says it was worth $7k, bill it! It will make up for the next 99 jobs that you have to fight for the money on. :-)
Listen to this advice! For every (rare) job where a client is willing to pay you more than you'd expected, there will be 12 clients with whom you have to fight to get a decent living wage, not to mention convince them to give it to you in something even vaguely like a timely manner. And then there are those times where there just isn't any work and you're begging the universe for a job.

At the end of the day, your client thinks your work was worth $7,000. That being the case, it is worth $7,000. If I could find just 5 jobs like that per year, I'd be all set. :)
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Old October 16th, 2006, 05:08 AM   #6
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After taxes, advertising, equipment, etc...you wouldn't live too well on 5 jobs like that...if you're doing it legal that's well under the poverty line :)

Paul

But that 20K goes a long way in Thailand ;)
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Old October 17th, 2006, 04:55 PM   #7
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I agree...if he thinks it's worth it, take it.

I was recently in a similar situation...trying to find work without being "known."

A non-profit near me was presenting a play and wanted it recorded, but had no $ to pay for it. An indie producer I work for from time to time suggested me, if I was willing. I took the job, expecting nothing more than maybe a few bucks from selling DVD copies to families of the performers. I used 2 cameras, poor sound, spent nearly a month editing, and did it all myself. I ended up with a 3-DVD set, including the performance, a slide-show of stills, the formal welcome to the event, between-scene entertainment, and even a "blooper reel" from tapes that were recorded during various rehearsals and provided by the "client" .

After seeing the final product, the folks who sponsor and fund the non-profit liked it so much, they ended up sending me a check for LOTs more than I would have made selling only copies of the DVDs. I was VERY thankful, but I didn't refuse it, even though the original understanding was that I'd do the job for free. The biggest drawback was deciding to entirely exclude my name from the final product because the production included recorded music and I don't know if they had permission for it. So, whoever sees the final production has no way of knowing it was me who did it. God only know if I'll miss any referrals because of that.

Count your blessings, but don't hold your breath until the next one comes along. Keep on good terms with your neighbor, as referrals and word-of-mouth seem to provide the best leads for more work.

Good luck.
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Old October 18th, 2006, 05:17 PM   #8
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Thank you all for the great advice with this and future jobs!

Darrin
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Old October 18th, 2006, 06:58 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Cypert
After taxes, advertising, equipment, etc...you wouldn't live too well on 5 jobs like that...if you're doing it legal that's well under the poverty line :)
I'm so far below the "poverty line" right now that I gaze up at it with unbridled lust. :)

I've never been able to afford advertising. So I don't get as many jobs as I would if I advertised, obviously. So I'd have to make more money to advertise, and I can't make more money without advertising. Catch-22. I'm sure there are other ways to get more business coming my way, but I'm one of these "creative types" who just doesn't have much of a mind for business. So I keep plugging away and hoping that word-of-mouth will eventually bring me more work. There is definitely some improvement as time goes on, but it's very slow.

One day, I hope to be able to afford things like food, clothes, shoes, and gasoline. Until I have reached such a place, which to me at this time seems like a ridiculous amount of wealth, $20k looks really damn good. :)

Sorry for going off-topic.
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