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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...

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Old February 2nd, 2018, 09:28 AM   #1
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How To Price Event Coverage?

Like so many of us, I am struggling to price myself for covering events.

I've had a few queries recently, one for a 70th birthday party and one from a previous client who wants to book me for another dance show next month.

I quoted £200 for the birthday party, which covers the 3 hours at the hotel they asked for, and that includes approximately 2-3 hours of editing. Ultimately, they didn't book me because they didn't want to pay the full balance beforehand because they "heard stories about people paying first and getting poor quality and shaky footage" (from other videographers, not me) so I told them that I cannot budge on that as I require the full payment up-front.

With the children's dance performance next month, the performance itself is maybe only one hour long, very low-key event, maybe only 50-75 parents of the children attending, and they want me on-site for 4 hours. I charged £150. There won't really be any editing beyond some colour/highlights correction. It's just me attending, with one camera manned, and one unmanned.

I still feel that £150 is very low, even if it is a low-key event and it is only my second time filming a dance, but how can I price myself? I find it hard to charge people much more for a small amount of filming. Should I have an hourly rate or personalise it for each project? And how can I quote someone for a project if I'm unsure of the filming length? Would I just give an estimate?

Sorry this was a long post but thanks in advance for any help.

Last edited by Lewis Raymond; February 2nd, 2018 at 09:31 AM. Reason: Clarification
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Old February 2nd, 2018, 10:11 AM   #2
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Re: How To Price Event Coverage?

Many years ago when first starting in the business, I was always under-pricing my services and it took me a while to figure that out.

I can't tell you what to charge, but I might suggest a different payment model that clients will be more open to. When I used to film weddings, which might be booked a year in advance, I would ask for one-third down as a deposit to hold the date for them. I would get another third when I showed up and filmed the event, and the final payment was not due until the edited product was ready for delivery (never deliver without payment though!).

This would provide the client with some peace of mind while waiting for the edit that I did not have "all their money" already. I know a lot of wedding videographers might get the final payment the day of the event, but that again may put the client at unease, not knowing if or when they will get the final video or what the quality might be.

It's understandable for a customer paying for ANY kind of service to want to see some results before paying all of the money. I wouldn't want to pay completely for a video before the event even happens. If the videographer is owed some money, that gives them more reason to show up, and to complete the editing.

The deposit shows good faith on the customer's part that they are sincere about having you film their event. You have some leverage to get the final payment because you hold the video that they want to see. It works both ways. Maybe ask for half-down, half on completion?

Thanks

Jeff Pulera
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Old February 2nd, 2018, 10:38 PM   #3
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Re: How To Price Event Coverage?

Itís good that the post tells more rather than less otherwise one gets replies that arenít needed.

Jeff has several good points there. One of them I can relate to is when starting out itís a lot different than when one has an established reputation, and say, a web site with examples of oneís work. Without that one is pretty much an unknown quantity. In order to become established with a reputation one pretty much has to ďpay the duesĒ and that might even entail doing a couple gigs for gratis then work oneís way up the pay scale ladder.

Curious what the response was to their poor quality and shaky footage concern. Since the birthday party (potential) client had a concern about someone taking their money and providing shaky footage, some portfolio examples would help to dispel that concern. The world is replete with contractors and service people who take the money in advance and provide shoddy, or non-existent, work, be it with home remodeling, car repair, and other services arenít any different. Thatís where one could have whipped out the computer or iPad and show them some examples. Even so, Iíd be hard pressed, especially when trying to build a business, in asking someone for everything up front.

A birthday party, a wedding, or something like that is an event that canít be reproduced in the event the contractor (videographer) gets sick, has an accident, etc. so having someone who can fill your shoes if something happens is something else to consider. Stuff happens.

Part of it is marketing, and part is trust building. ďTakes two to tangoĒ and, as they say, your mileage may be different.

Good post questions.
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Old February 3rd, 2018, 01:28 AM   #4
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Re: How To Price Event Coverage?

Hi Lewis

Yes a sensible post and all your points are valid. If it helps any I find myself an acceptable hourly rate for my services overall and cost on that. I don't have any fancy costings that are different for shooting, travelling or editing ..just one rate ...Mine is AUS$75.00 per hour which keeps me competitive but I'm not working for nothing either ..so in your money around 40 quid an hour but you might have to change that!

Sure it would be great to do something like a 6 hour wedding and make 3K BUT that probably would put you way more than competition! The above example where we are middle of the road guys charge around $1500 ... If I cost 6 hours for the shoot, 10 hours to edit, an hour to consult with the bride and 3 hours travel it comes out at $1500 (20x75) That might help you with costing?

We also do livestream broadcasts of events which require no editing ( we edit live) and just a copy of the event on USB so that obviously comes out cheaper as travel is a mere hour, the shoot all of 20 minutes and so we can cost it at $250 (based on 3 hours) ... Based on my rate your kids gig for 4 hours would be 4 x 40 so 160 which is close enough to 150!!

Lastly you cannot cost a private event the same as a commercial one (I consider a wedding "commercial") ...I personally don't do them!! Birthdays and such seem to expect you to work double your normal time and half your normal rate ... best left to Uncle Bob and his camcorder!!!
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Old February 5th, 2018, 03:07 AM   #5
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Re: How To Price Event Coverage?

Hourly rates are bad news. In the UK, they also are very tax man unfriendly, as charging by the hour in the entertainment sector is not recommended, because in the IR35 test.

NON-UK folk skip this bit. There is a test on the HMRC site where it asks you questions, and as you cannot pick the start time, as it's an event, and you get instructions from the client, and charge by the hour - you can discover you are actually a temporary employee. Daft of course, but hourly charging can trigger enquiries. Rare, but they happen.

Hourly rates are also difficult to calculate. Sure - the event lasts 3 hours, but were you there an hour or two hours before setting up. Did the client see you in the cafe having food (because you'd been there ages without anything too eat) and want that deducted. If you shoot 2 hours of video with two cameras, thats' two hours of editing just doing simple cuts, plus the time to dump the cards into the computer, then the time rendering it out, then the time putting it on the end media? 2 hours, 2 cameras, must be 5 hours editing end too end, I would have thought. If you start properly editing, then it's a day, or two?

Price wise I can only tell you what we do. We run a venue and provide the sound and lighting. We can offer video, but we often suggest a different video firm, because adding video means extra costs of us that are difficult to recoup. The sound man for the event and the lighting guy get £180 each, and when it is over, they go home. They don't have to go away and edit it! The stage crew will be on around £120 each. If we do video too, then it's £180 for the show day, and editing in day or half day rates at around the same price. The pain of the audio clearances is also a real pain, so dance shows can just be trouble. Your £150 for the complete thing is too cheap (in my humble view). Hiring my venue is going to cost them around 4K, which is cheaper than another local theatre at 6K - so asking £250-300 seems to reflect the real job. The 90 mins my heating service took cost me £85. Watching what he did, I could easily have done that - but of course, I'm not gas safe!
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Old February 5th, 2018, 04:55 AM   #6
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Re: How To Price Event Coverage?

Quote:
Watching what he did, I could easily have done that - but of course, I'm not gas safe!
It's much the same situation Paul. The engineer was using his experience to see whether various things required adjustment or replacement, just as you use your experience to know whether things feel right at work. Just like you, he has expensive kit that needs skill to use, plus repairs and occasionally replacement. Annual calibration, as required by regulations, is not cheap either and nor is the 5-yearly renewal of his qualifications! By the way, I was gas safe before I retired.
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Old February 5th, 2018, 12:37 PM   #7
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Re: How To Price Event Coverage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Nantz View Post
Curious what the response was to their poor quality and shaky footage concern. Since the birthday party (potential) client had a concern about someone taking their money and providing shaky footage, some portfolio examples would help to dispel that concern.
I informed him that I had examples from weddings on my website, which was where he found my number, so I was a bit bewildered when he suggested to me he hadn't seen my work. The problem was that I hadn't filmed a birthday party before, but weddings are essentially the same, and I even offered to meet him in person (since this conversation was just on the phone) and said I could provide contact details of colleagues and previous clients if necessary. But he just wasn't convinced.

As for Paul's point about me being too cheap - remember that this gig is extremely low-key. The dance is taking place in a school hall with horrible stage lighting, there won't be any additional lighting provided, nor any staff apart from me. There will be one guy working the audio for the audience, but nothing apart from 2 cameras and 2 stereo mics from myself.
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Old February 5th, 2018, 01:21 PM   #8
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Re: How To Price Event Coverage?

I never let the event sway me, unless it's something I really want to do - for fun, or the experience.

Who is actually funding it? If it's the school hall with horrible lighting - is it the school, or a dance school hiring it? Nowadays, most people do know what things really cost - as in my plumber example, so when people offer less money for a job than it's worth, it's not right. It's obviously your choice - and I'm not trying to convince you, but whenever I do a job for less money than it is worth, lots of things happen. That client comes back again, and you have to do the same again for the same money, because with discounts, you can never remove them, or they tell other people and you get a reputation for being Mr cheap.

I did a recording job for a friend of a friend - she sent me sheet music, and I produced a backing track. My colleague who's a classical pianist played it for me as it was too hard for my own piano skills. It took him best part of an hour to do it justice.and an hour to faff around putting it together and sending it to me. I then had to add the bass, guitar and drums and some other odds and ends, another two hours and a bit. Four hours worth of work between us for a 3 minute 30 sec track.

My colleague gets around £30 and hour for music lessons. The lady sent me £20 by PayPal. I gave £15 to the pianist, because a tenner was an insult. He won't do any more for her, but it won't stop her asking and then probably being miffed if I refuse.

Realistically - we should have charged £120 to get what it's really worth. She thinks £20 is quite a lot for a 3 minute music track.
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Old February 5th, 2018, 06:33 PM   #9
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Re: How To Price Event Coverage?

Hi Paul

I think you got the wrong idea with my post totally. Yes hourly rates are very bad news! I use an hourly rate for COSTING only .. my clients are always quoted a total event price NEVER an hourly rate ...

Because we tend to have to cost jobs to include a shoot and an edit it tends to make an hourly rate look inflated. If you COST something like a wedding into 10 hours to shoot and 20 hours to edit and then quote the bride $3000 she would be happy as the rate is $100 an hour BUT they mostly would think $3000 for 10 hours is $300 an hour so that's a rip off!!

We always charge a total amount and relate that to what we will cover so hourly rates and actual work hours are never mentioned so they can never really "back calculate"
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Old February 5th, 2018, 09:00 PM   #10
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Re: How To Price Event Coverage?

One way is to charge for the recording and hand them the raw material with all recording rights (but you would remain the right to publish small cuts for promotional activities) and have a separate option for the editing.

Recording and editing are really two separate jobs.
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