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Old November 2nd, 2005, 10:24 PM   #1
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Questions for shooting commercials

Hello, comrades. I've come to the conclusion that I want to begin shooting commercials with my XL2. The equipment I have is: 3x wide lens, a glide cam, and an M80 microphone. The cheif question I have is this: how much do you charge to shoot a commerical, and how much is the standard cost to shoot one. In my town, (I live in a very small town, with many businesses), there are virtually no people who shoot comercials. So basically it would be a monopoly, which makes me wonder how much I really should charge. But first and formost, I want to shoot a few commercials to show businesses what I'm capable of, and what kind of quality the camera creates. I also plan on doing some research on how much sales increase for a business, when they have a commerical. That pretty much does it. Any input which can be given will be much appreciated. Basically, I'm just looking for some advice from you guys who have experience shooting comercials...

Thanks, in advance.
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Old November 3rd, 2005, 01:08 AM   #2
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Wedding and Event Commercials?

"Standard?" Depends on where your based.

Many local cable companies shoot spots at a loss just to sell the "air" time. Go to your local cable company and see if you can get a rate card. If the cable company really loses money on product, they may welcome you doing low budget spots and bringing them the client for the time buy. They may ask you your rights and hand some clients if you have a reel to show.

Shooting can often be done in a day. Post production depends on FX, Voice Over work etc but you I've done one day (4 hour shoot and 4 hour edit) and two day "wonders." Think low budget for a small town.

I don't think shooting for free for a client is ever good (others will disagree) or you'll get too many "low ball" referals. You might want to create a commercial for a ficticious client. Think in terms of what the local businesses are you want to targer (restaurants, car dealers, hardware stores) and do something similar. Sometimes using a real storefront can result in interest from that business when you show them the test. Consider that a test shoot and get them to pay for a "full" version.

If you have material from other types of shoots that might work too. Some wedding video you shot at the local "hall" might be fashioned in a way that can interest them in a spot.

Price. Can you do it all yourself or will you need a boom/audio person and/or lighting assistant. Are you going to spend time writing a script and getting it approved or have the client craft something? Factor that in. It's hard to pin a rate on something without knowing your region or your experience but maybe you can do spots that take 1-2 days and work solo for $500-$1000.
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Old November 3rd, 2005, 11:25 AM   #3
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Thanks, Craig. There's a local ballet teacher who just relocated to the mall. He wants to put a video out on display near the entrance, so people can see it when they walk by. I told him I'd shoot it for him for a low cost. However, at the very end of the video, I'm going to put something like: this video was shot by Douglas Joseph, and the link to my website. But I also plan on telling not to tell other people how much it cost him for me to shoot it. I have a friend who can operate the boom mic for me, so that isn't a problem.
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Old November 3rd, 2005, 12:28 PM   #4
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I inquired of my local cable company about commercial spots and here's my 2cents.

$500 - $1000 is fair for quick shooting and editing B U T now you have to pay the cable company. In the suburban Philadelphia area 30 second spots go for $25 - $125 each depending on the channel and time it airs and I was told that you should do a minimum of 14.

Next you'll probably have to get your DV tape converted to Beta which will cost from $50 - $200 I would imagine. Beta is the format my cable company uses.

So now a cheap commercial is will be a bare minimum of $2000. For a small business it may be more than they are willing to gamble on a new advertising campaign.

You need to ask yourself if it were your business would you do a commercial and if the answer is no then they most likely won't. For a small business like a ma and pa hardware store with a limited servicing area to lay out $2000+ dollars for a commercial would be a bad plan because people aren't going to come from 20 miles away if a major chain store is right up the road. I guess to sum this up, you have to know a little about marketing also.

hope this helps or atleast makes interesting reading.
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Old November 3rd, 2005, 07:35 PM   #5
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DOUglas, I would not call that a commercial, more of a marketing video. SO my thought is don't constrain yourself to a commercial format (30 seconds, heavy graphics, grab em quick, hi-energy music). You can show a LOT more in a 3-4 minute piece that will be more effective for your client. Several different age groups of students performing, parent testimonials, even student testimonials. Yes you need a script.

I think it is a whole different thing than a TV commercial. And to show business what you can create, it is not about camera quality but about getting them customers!!!!! !!! !!! !
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Old November 3rd, 2005, 09:28 PM   #6
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I agree with Bob that what you're doing is a marketing video. I wonder what the attention span of a viewer in a mall. It may not be 3-4 minutes but you shouldn't lock yourself into 30 seconds though.

Mike, the price I was talking about does not include the media buy. In NYC I've seen as low as $100 for a 30 second spot on NY1 News Time Warner cable mid day if you buy $500 of time for the day. Typical prices seem to be in the $175-$300. The Daily Show on Comedy Central would cost you $1500 for one (very targeted) but drops to $600 for additional buys on the same show. CNN and MTV during day and even peak can be around $250. Cablevision, which has a smaller portion of the market, can be $50 and RCN, even smaller, will do overnight spots at $1 each and often about $30 during peak.

BTW, a cable company might not want to foot the loss on a $1000 spot in which the client is only making an initial buy of $3000-$5000.

Clients do understand that the production cost is independent of the media buy.

The kind of clients I've gotten range from a tennis instructor starting a franchised school, a dating service, a 1-800 phone order product that was openning several store fronts as part of a business, a large hardware store advertising in an area where local cable buys were cheap and VERY TARGETED. I've also seen mobile emergency plumbing service ads, catering/wedding halls, restaurants that want to draw in clients for upscale neighborhoods outside their immediate area. Now I'm not talking about the corner drug store BUT there are many reasons why a business would spend $5000 on advertising on TV. Heck, the local community weekly newspapers here charge $1500 for a full page ad.

I always remind potential clients that they can also put their 30 second spot on their web page too. Much better than just reading a wall of text and still graphics.

In fact, a note to wedding folks who want to break into commercials, you might consider talking to a local "hall" or three to do a commercial promoting the hall. Given what they get for a wedding, bringing in just 3 or 4 wedding customers from a spot would be profitable. For those of you doing those excellent high light demos. Think of a high light you could do in 30 seconds, showing the glamour of a given location. Heck, you may even have the material to approach a place and show them what THEIR spot CAN look like.

You'd have to reshoot focusing on the location and maybe a bride/groom stand in. That's where you make your money. You have the demo to show them with one of your repurposed high light reel in 30 second format. You can talk to them about targeting the ad to cable channels that potential bride-to-bes might watch, WE (Women's Entertainment Channel), Oxygen, Lifetime, maybe channels that have fashion make over shows, local daytime talk shows, etc. Of course they can use the spot on the web page. Might be much more appealing than the stills they currently have. Of course more weddings for them may bring more weddings for you too.

And you maybe thought the Commercial idea was off topic in the Wedding Events forum!
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Old November 4th, 2005, 08:59 AM   #7
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I too am not sure if 3-4 minutes is longer than average attention span. But for someone interested in what they see, it is not too long at all. For everyone else, the variety of shots and testimonials in a 3-4 minute piece might grab them on the way out, when what they saw on the way in did not grab them. You just have to think about how it is cut for maximum variety within each 30-60 second segment.

Commercial pricing - 30 second spots on local cable weather channel here run $2 each. 30 seconds on prime time ESPN (WSOP) run $45.
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Old November 4th, 2005, 09:17 AM   #8
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I agree 100% with Bob. If you aren't interested in the pitch, you might only glance at it as you walk by. If it is something you have an interest in, 3-4 minutes isn't all that long. Just be sure to leave them wanting more. The goal here, is to bring them inside for more info. Then it is up to their sales people to do the rest.
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