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Old February 28th, 2007, 01:55 PM   #1
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What should I charge?

Video shooters...what are your typical day rates and hourly rates, both for shooting and editing. Do you charge more to shoot, or edit? Right now I am establishing my rates as $400 per day to shoot and 300 per day to edit.
Because of where I live, money is not abundant, but I do charge 65 an hour for shooting and 40 an hour for editing. Is this enough with 14 years exp?
I have the latest equipment and a lot of video exp. I own the Canon XHA1 and edit on a mac pro. Any thoughts, secrets in regards to how you charge your clients? Thanks.
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Old February 28th, 2007, 02:28 PM   #2
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Just to annoy everyone and start the debate here's my 2 cents.

I don't think you should *EVER* link time and money.

Yes, I know, clients will always want "day rates" and "hourly rates" - but I hate them all with a passion and avoid quoting "time based rates" like the plague.

Two reasons.

First, time based rates are fundamentally unfair. For this reason: if vendor A is "good and fast" they make LESS than vendor B who's lousy and slow? That's insane.

Second, time is uniquely irreplacable. Once an hour is gone, it's gone. So you're keying your success to selling an asset that's draining away with every click of the clock. That makes me uncomfortable.

So I don't sell time anymore. I sell my expertise. Period. The client shouldn't care - nor should they even necessarily KNOW how much time it's taking me to produce the results they require. They should only care that I GET them those results.

So I quote on projects only. If I estimate a project will take X hours and I will bill Z dollars for it - and it only takes HALF that time - then I STILL have a right to bill them Z dollars. Because they're not paying for the time. They're paying for the results. The REASON it's taking me half the time is my experience. That's taken MY effort to acquire and it's worth compensation.

Hourly or day rates are a somewhat useful metric for a person running a business since it helps them calculate and track productivity.

But that's all.

In another thread, someone asked what makes someone a "professional" - I think it's really stuff like this. Moving beyond the "learning" stage" to the "responsible for results" stage.

And the more responsibility you shoulder for results, the more you should be paid.

For what it's worth.
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Old February 28th, 2007, 03:16 PM   #3
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First, time based rates are fundamentally unfair. For this reason: if vendor A is "good and fast" they make LESS than vendor B who's lousy and slow? That's insane.
Bill that's a really really good point actually. I've never thought of it that way.

(*revises pricing structure*)

Thanks!
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Old February 28th, 2007, 04:07 PM   #4
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you can put yourself a monthly full time salary and then do the conversion, meaning if you are worth 10,000 US$ in a good agency then your daily for filming will be .... and so on ...
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Old February 28th, 2007, 09:38 PM   #5
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I agree with Bill 100%, but I'll add a little to it. If I am responsible for the finished product (meaning I shoot, edit, produce it), I always charge for the project, not by time because every project is different... some projects are very graphic intensive for example. I don't quote a price to anyone before we sit down, i ask A LOT of questions and I feel like I really know what they want/expect. After I know what they want and think about how I am going to deliver that (time, equipment, and expenses), then I quote a price with the understanding that the price could change if the client adds more along the way. Now, if I am "hired" to shoot something or edit someone else's project, then I charge and hourly or day rate. I mostly charge either a day rate or a 1/2 day rate. My usual day for shooting or editing is $600/day (up to 10 hrs.) or $300 for 1/2 day (3 to 5 hours).
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Old February 28th, 2007, 09:58 PM   #6
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does grass valley area support 400 day camera & 300 day editing ?
at some point ones experience could be more then their local area can support..
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Old March 1st, 2007, 01:50 AM   #7
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SNIP
Now, if I am "hired" to shoot something or edit someone else's project, then I charge and hourly or day rate. I mostly charge either a day rate or a 1/2 day rate. My usual day for shooting or editing is $600/day (up to 10 hrs.) or $300 for 1/2 day (3 to 5 hours).[/QUOTE]



So Scott, here's a question for you.

Have you EVER had a situation where you were able to SELL the other half-day that was left behind when you sold "half" a day to a client?

I haven't.

Thinking about that I realized that booking a job on a half-day rate was essentially IDENTICAL to cutting my "full day" rate down to the "half day" level.

Yeah, there's probably less physical work to do. But if that's the central billing paradigm - we should be building brick walls and charging by the linear foot.

In business terms, isn't our time our INVENTORY - and doesn't our ability to turn that whole day into income - disappear the moment you book the "half day" gig.

Don't get me wrong, I'll put a half-day on an invoice when I'm doing a quick pickup shot or whatever and never give it a second thought. I'm not auguing against the long-established concept. Just encouraging a discussion of what it REALLY means to someone trying to make a living at this.

And I bet we've both had days where we spent 10 hours and due to a thousand circumstances, generated nothing but "so so" results. AND I bet we've both had occasions where - in the space of a few seconds, we've seen something - swung the camera around and caught MAGIC in less than a minute.

So again, why exactly is 6 hours of skilled effort worth LESS than 10 hours - if in those 6 hours you you can deliver as much or MORE real value to your client as can your competition?

Something to think about anyway.
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Old March 1st, 2007, 10:13 AM   #8
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Thanks for the discussion everyone. This thread has really raised some questions, and has helped me figure out where I should be in regards to how I charge and how much I charge. I hope this discussion continues, as this is the area I am least comfortable with when people ask me "how much do you charge?".

Bill, awesome response. Thanks a bunch. Great point on selling expertise vs. time.

Don, Grass Valley, Calif....home of the original Grass Valley Group, and now home of AJA Video, and Telestream, is becoming more video oriented and some cool things are happening here, and so I feel that $400 per day is more than fair, based on my experience and equipment. Does this sound fair to you all?

Scott and Bill,

I don't feel that a 1/2 day rate is something I will do right now (and I'm not sure why), but I will keep it in mind for the future. I am getting ready to produce an organic garden show in HD and it may turn out to be steady work for quite a while. This client wants to spend $1500-$2000 per show each month, for 3 years (48 shows). The goal is to go to dvd and air on television (PBS or the like). I don't have any specifics yet, but they are asking me what my day rate is and that is why I started this thread. When I get more specifics of what they want, then I may want to charge by the project instead of by the day or hour. Another thing...with a series of shows like this, the first show will be the most work- to get the format and look with graphics, music, etc...This will be a topic that I will be discussing with this client. Have any of you worked on a series of shows where the first show takes more time than the rest?

Thanks again everyone.
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Old March 1st, 2007, 10:28 AM   #9
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Invoicing/Managing income software on the mac...

This may deserve another thread, but on the mac platform, what software is good for invoicing, and keeping track of income from jobs etc? For an indipendent video dude like me, would Quicken work? I need to start keeping a record of the money I get from jobs so I don't have to dig through my bank statements to file my taxes. I also want to easily send invoices electronicly and by paper.
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Old March 1st, 2007, 10:52 AM   #10
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My wife does all the books on her PC while I edit on the mac... sorry not much help. As far as the half day thing goes... I don't use it often. If I go shoot something and it takes me 3 hours, I charge the full 1/2 day rate, same for 4, 5 hours. Anything at 6 or more hours I charge a full day rate. If its only 1 or 2 hours I charge $50/hour... but again, it kind of depends on what the job requires, so rates are not set in stone... I try and be flexible and fair with clients. If I only book a half day shooting, I can always edit with the other half of the day... there's always work to be done.
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Old March 1st, 2007, 12:35 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Scott Lancaster View Post
I don't quote a price to anyone before we sit down, i ask A LOT of questions and I feel like I really know what they want/expect. After I know what they want and think about how I am going to deliver that (time, equipment, and expenses), then I quote a price with the understanding that the price could change if the client adds more along the way.
If you wouldn't mind sharing, do you have a list of specific questions you ask clients? I was recently asked to shoot, edit, and produce a 5-7 min. promo piece for a local company. They've never done anything like this, and they really didn't give me a lot of information. Here are the questions I asked:
- Length?
- Timeline for completion?
- Will all of the required shooting be on your premises, or will offsite locations be needed?
- Will the piece require music?
- Will the piece require voice over?
- What is the intented final destination? DVD, TV, web?
- Will any versions of the final product be sold? If not, will any versions of the video be distributed (given away)?
- In addition to writing, directing, editing, and producing the piece, will you also need end-user production management i.e. DVD menu design, authoring, replication, etc.?
- If intended for DVD, will you need cover art created for the disc and case insert?

What else do you ask before quoting (or even agreeing to do ) a job?
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Old March 1st, 2007, 01:07 PM   #12
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those are all good questions and should help you determine what will be required. I also always ask things like: Who will be viewing this video... who is the audience? What is your message to the viewer? After someone watches the video, how do you want them to feel? What do you want the viewer to do after seeing it? I ask these questions right off the bat, because once I know the answer to these questions, I can then think through how i can pull it off, how much time and resources it will take, and thus what to charge. Your question about the legnth of the final product is a key point to agree on with the client. It's also good to know the shooting requirements (as you asked about)... such as # of locations, mic requirements, types of shots (jib/crane shots?) how much music/cost of music... 3D graphics? You might not actually ask the client about ALL of these things, but they need to be thought through to help you quote a price. Those are just off the top of my head, I'm sure others have more to add.
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Old March 1st, 2007, 02:15 PM   #13
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Here are the questions I asked:
- Length?
- Timeline for completion?
- Will all of the required shooting be on your premises, or will offsite locations be needed?
- Will the piece require music?
- Will the piece require voice over?
- What is the intented final destination? DVD, TV, web?
- Will any versions of the final product be sold? If not, will any versions of the video be distributed (given away)?
- In addition to writing, directing, editing, and producing the piece, will you also need end-user production management i.e. DVD menu design, authoring, replication, etc.?
- If intended for DVD, will you need cover art created for the disc and case insert?

What else do you ask before quoting (or even agreeing to do ) a job?[/QUOTE]\


I've got a big project underway and my time will be short for a while, so this has gotta be my last post on this.

That said, I really appreciate this group and sharing solutions like this. The above list is a sensible place to start thinking about what the project (and more importantly THE CLIENT needs)

BUT...

When I read this list, a few things stand out.

First is that a good potential client could fairly look at this ENTIRE list of questions and (with the possible exception of the company's internal completion deadlines) simply respond "I don't know."

Second, the client could fairly look at you and say "Well, these are all things I want to pay YOU to tell me.

All too often, we get into a mindset where we treat our production businesses like a fast food restaurant. We want to put up a menu of "services" for our clients to pick. It forces us into "item pricing" thinking.

I'm suggesting that if you remain an "order taker" in your video business, you'll impose foolish limits on what you sell. If you move beyond that - to a place of selling expertise rather than services, you won't be asking the client how long the video should be. You'll be TELLING them how long it probably needs to be. Based on your EXPERIENCE.

Fundamentally, the questions above are pretty much designed around what YOU think YOU need.

Better questions are designed around finding out what THEY REALLY need.

My questions for potential new clients run along these lines....

_ So what's going on in your business that causes you to think a video would help?

_ Tell me about your business - how did it start - who runs it, stuff like that.

_ Imagine this video is done and it was sent out a month ago, tell me who's watching it - and what are they like - and what are they feeling about what they're watching?

I generally don't ask questions about the nuts and bolts of the video production itself. Why should I? Isn't that essentially what they're going to be paying ME to tell THEM?

Bottom line: They should know more about THEIR BUSINESS than you. YOU should know more about YOUR BUSINESS than them.

Something to think about anyway.
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Old March 1st, 2007, 04:40 PM   #14
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Scott and Bill. Thanks very much for your feedback. I hear what both of you are saying, and am going to work on a customized question list based on your suggestions. Thanks, and good luck with your projects.
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Old March 1st, 2007, 05:29 PM   #15
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Hey All,

I actually quote both by hours and by projects. For me, it all depends on what is required. I charge $150 an hour, $400/half day, and $800.00/ full day for typical shooting. For Jib work, its $600 and $1000.

For editing, I charge $80-125, depending on format and whats involved.

I also quote on projects, but it just depends what the client is looking for. for me, it can vary so much. Some of my crew that I'll use charge 300/half day, but I usually try to pay them $150/hour when I use them.

I guess it all depends on the market. here in OKC, my business is really picking up. I've got a 5 minute promo video that I am doing in Maine, it'll be shot on the HVX in 720p/24pn. they want a specifi look. I'm doing it for 4650, plus expenses.

In August, I'm taking a crew to Colorado to do a live multi camera event spanning a weekend. It went for $8650/plus expenses. My camera guys will walk with $1250 each.

I shot a dance recital a month ago, one camera at an hour and a half for $250.00, so it is all relative.

I think what it all comes down to is "you." You are selling yourself as much as anything. If they buy you, they will buy your services. I have a close friend who undercuts himself quite regularly. He is filming a series of cage fights at $650.00 per fight and he brings in 4 camera guys to help him shoot. He pays each one of them $50.00, but then he has to go home and edit 5 disticnt camera feeds. It takes him about 2 weeks to edit each one.

To me, this isn't worth it. He does really amazing work, but He doesn't see himself as one of the "big boys" so it affects his pricing.

I edited together some old VHS footage for a 17 minute promo video and it took me about 15 hours. I've cleared about $1100.00.

Now, I'm saying any of this to brag, because compared to many of the people on these forums, I AM an amatur. But, I know how to sell myself and I realized something a long time ago. The people that aren't willing to pay your rates are the ones that will be the most hassle to deal with. With that being said, I think only one person that has inquired with me thought my prices were too high. Everyone else seems to understand what goes into this work.

Of course, I don't do weddings, either....so that definately helps!

Hope this helps you!

Bryon <><

EDIT: I also have an 8 page contract that I go through with most of my clientsd, so that has really paid off for me and it answers a lot of the questions that need asked!
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