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Techniques for Independent Production
The challenges of creating Digital Cinema and other narrative forms.

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Old December 6th, 2011, 03:11 PM   #1
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Pricing/Fees Resources

Hey all!

Like a lot of people these days, I'm a professional, freelance photographer, who has started ding more and more video work. Im starting to get a lot of cients from my photography contacts who are also wanting video, but I've realized that I have a lot to learn as far as rates, fees and expenses goes. I was wondering what was out there for good resources; books, blogs, whatever. I've tried googling around, but haven't found much. Most of my work would either be editorial work for magazine's websites/blogs, or commercial work for brands in my niche (outdoor/adventure sports).

I want to charge what's fair to help uphold the value of video production, and also to not eat dirt by underbidding a job out of cluelessness.

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Old December 6th, 2011, 10:20 PM   #2
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Re: Pricing/Fees Resources

I have practically zero experience in this type of pricing . However being finance professional full time and doing planning, pricing, business modeling i may be able to offer 2 cents on this.

Probably lets try and arrive at a model that people can use and apply to their trade.

Base factors
1) Equipment cost - In this you need to see what it costs you, estimate what is a useful life of the equipment looking at the way technology gets superseded these days.( Equipment would have camera, editing studio , etc) all will have different replacement life
2) Cost of travel to and fro
3) your estimate of what is the amount of business you would be able to do on a monthly basis.
4) Amount of money you need to survive in a month.

your base charge out should be

a) Cost of Equipment written down over period / life , the equated to a month.
b) Amount you need to survive for a month.

Now the monthly hours of business you do or estimate to be done. Discount this amount by 25%
( Example if you feel that the business you will get s 100 hours shooting + editing for calculations you would take it as 75) this takes care of contingency

this way what you will arrive at your hourly charge out rate .
So now when you quote for your work you will have hours estimated multiplied by rate arrived above + margin you want to make ( this is amount that you have a negotiating power on) if this is zero you will still survive , if this % is higher you will have a bank balance that will grow.
Now add your travel part to this charge-out and quote the price.

This way you know , that you will be able to survive, provide for future to buy your upgrade equipment.

I know the above is not very straight forward, however this pricing question has been on many forums at many places and i thought that i will put a thought of how it can be worked out.

Others who are into this business may be able to comment on this more.
Kindly let me know if this suits the trade or you feel i am completely gone nuts :)
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Old December 8th, 2011, 02:58 PM   #3
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Re: Pricing/Fees Resources

That's always a challenge so I'll provide a view I use in my other businesses. What Vishal outlined very well is a cost-plus model. You absolutely have to know your costs. What I don't like about cost+ is it ignores what a market will pay. I prefer to figure out what my services are worth to a target market I can reach and shoot high. Lots of marketing ideas in there so I'll leave that for another time. Cheers
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Old December 13th, 2011, 02:14 PM   #4
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Re: Pricing/Fees Resources

Thanks for the replies, guys!

Good point about shooting high. I've not been in video long enough to see this yet, but as a photographer, I've often found that I actually get more work, whenI raise my prices. As long as the quality is ere to back it up, of course. And there certainly an upper limit to how many times that will work. But I've found that raising prices often puts you into a different market, one with people who both actually have money, and who actually appreciate a good product.
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Old December 14th, 2011, 07:58 PM   #5
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Re: Pricing/Fees Resources

Pricing depends on your equipment and level of skill. As a reference, a really good two man crew (Videographer/sound tech) with the highest end broadcast gear, gets between $2000-$2500 per day with $600 of that going to the sound guy with gear.

I own a Sony HXR-NX5U, lights, shotgun mic, wireless lavs, etc and charge $850 per day as a one man band or $1350 per day for a two man crew (with all pro audio gear including 4 channel mixer and three wireless lavs). Audio guy gets $500 if he supplies the audio gear.

When a client requests a camera I don't have, I rent it and adjust the rate accordingly. Now, keep in mind that there's no way you can get these rates if you are not a true professional who knows what you are doing. Furthermore, the production world is very small and people talk. If you oversell yourself and can't deliver, consider that the end of your time in the video world. Word will spread and you'll never get a good paying gig again.

Hope this helps.
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Old December 15th, 2011, 09:11 AM   #6
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Re: Pricing/Fees Resources


I've only been in business for 2 1/2 years, with about 2 years doing both video and stills. My on location base rate for either stills or video is the same. Doing both video and stills, it's more. I have a half day rate and a full day rate, with discount for extra days for shooting on location. It's easier to explain to clients. They seem to like the approach. Complicated pricing seems to spook people.

Whatever you decide to charge, and how you decide to charge, clear communication with a prospect helps avoid misunderstandings. I try to keep it simple. YMMV.

As for coming up with your base rate, it's an art. You need to calculate your cost of doing business, and consider what the market will bear. That's from the professor's mouth from a marketing course I took in college way back in the 70's. Don't know if he ever ran a business or not, but it seems to be true. And that's essentially the same as what Kawika said above. ; )
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