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Old September 15th, 2010, 04:44 AM   #1
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what to charge for editing?


I have an opportunity to be an editor for a short film. Naturally, their initial offer is far too low for what they expect and I would like to present them with a realistic offer.
I figure this forum will most likely yield the most appropriate answers as you guys charge for your services.

I would like to get opinions on what I should charge/criteria for determining what to charge for editing a film.

Here is what I know:

30-40 min film - not sure how much raw footage but they shot digital so I'm assuming 5-10 times that amount.

Need to sync audio and video - I hear the folders are all mixed up and it will be very time consuming, maybe up to a week to sync everything.

They are offering a flat rate, I would prefer hourly as it gets into a tricky area, where they can request more and more edits without any limit.
I don't want to still be editing this 6 months down the line.

Criteria for determining fee

The amount of raw footage
Syncing audio to video
Delivery Date

Anything else?

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Old September 15th, 2010, 06:15 AM   #2
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Shorts tend to be non commercial productions, so rates can vary from nothing to pretty near full rates if the funding is there. Getting paid is better than you get on many shorts, half your normal rate tends to keep people happy on many shorts, just so long as you manage to slip in doing something you haven't done before.

You really to need work out a realistic schedule, although things do tend to take longer and be more complex than you imagine. I don't think you'll get an hourly rate, the best you'll is x days editing to complete with a set number of recuts. These are important, so you need them, but the limit concentrates the minds of the director and producer to get the feedback that's needed and work out the problems without endless hours in the cutting room.

However, my first thought looking at the project is that for a short it's too long. It'll be difficult to get into the festivals if it's over about 15 mins. Long shorts tend to drag unless they're stunning. This sounds more like a one off TV drama running time.

I wouldn't bet on a 5 to 10 shooting ratio, that's more like what you'd find on a short shot on film rather a digital meduim.
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Old September 15th, 2010, 07:32 AM   #3
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Editing a good showreel short with a decent director may be worth it but I would be concerned about spending a boring week sorting out their sloppy logging doing audio sync.
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Old September 16th, 2010, 12:19 AM   #4
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From what I hear (crew member) the film is bad, it will be neither applicable for a show reel, nor something I would want my name on. However, I wouldn't mind giving it a shot if I could get a fair wage. Unfortunately, the individual I spoke to did not know how much raw footage they had and were apprehensive about the wage I requested. Oh well, I'm not about to work for $5/hr.


What do you think their shooting ratio is if they shot digital?
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Old September 16th, 2010, 01:38 AM   #5
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It could be a case of how long is a piece of string, but at guess 15 to 30 to one. It really depends how disciplined they were during the shoot. I've worked on digital productions which were tight, but usually the shooting ratio tends to be higher than film. Although, being such a long short, they could easily go the other direction if they were in a rush and under covered the scenes (unless they were John Ford).

That's not to say you can't have a 100 to 1 ratio on film, quite a few productions do. A typical UK TV drama is about 18 to one and a tightly shot low budget feature film tends to come out about 12 to one.

Bad films are only worth doing for the money or if they're having crazy parties and they're nice people. Although, the crew on Star Wars thought it was bad before they saw the end product. Have you read the script?
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Old September 16th, 2010, 01:46 AM   #6
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Whatever you think it is going to take to organize, double or triple it at least if you have already been told it's coming to you "in a basket".

I have one project going right now, 40 total submissions of 5-9 clips each from 4 locations. One location is non native speaking, so I have translations to deal with and merge in too. The composite videos are to be built out by submitter in order of the topics and then by topic in order of location and submitters from each location. As you can imagine, the suggested naming convention of the clips has been ignored by at least half.

When I am completed, I am afraid I will have spent 50% of the total time organizing, and 50% doing the meatball editing and gluing together. I originally guesstimated 10ish percent of the total.

As far as compensation, I am lucky. My client knew up front what a basket of jumbled mess this was going to be. I never thought Excel was ever going to become a primary tool for me for a video project !!!! This time around, it has been a godsend.

Good luck !!!!
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Old September 16th, 2010, 07:12 AM   #7
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Joe, although much of what's been suggested is useful I think I'd come at it from a slightly different angle.

First I'd separate out the syncing issue. That has to be an hourly rate until you see exactly what's required when you can, if you wish give them a firm quote.

Secondly as far as the programme's concerned, you have to have a script to edit to. You should also have a shot log - logged with either TC or clapper board+TC and which take is good to use so that you can related raw material to the script. Original material should be properly marked and identified. Sight of the script and the logs - and either sight of the material to verify it is as they say - or with a big caveat that it is so, ought to give you enough to decide what to charge.

It certainly sounds like a pig's ear though and I'd be concerned that if it's as bad as you've been told, do you really need the editing practice? Best of luck.
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