View Full Version : documentary rates

12-19-2005, 09:34 AM
hi, i have been asked to make monthly "docu-zines" for a *large* company's website. although i have been working on my own feature documentary, i have no idea what i should charge others. i have a lot of proficiency from years of editing and filming my own stuff, performing as VJ and producing my own visuals.

i have broken it down to
a) creative direction fee
b) equipment, location shoot, preparation
c) editing, post-production and compression for the web.

b & c seem easy to figure out based on industry rates. the so-called video-episodes will be about 3-5 minutes, require 2-4 hours of location shooting, and about 8 hrs of post. i myself can do sound design, editing in final cut pro and motion, as well as shooting the video, so there's no need for anyone else to be involved.

i would like to charge a respectable fee, but still be affordable.

can any of you more experienced film makers offer me some advice?


12-19-2005, 10:20 AM
Price this like any corporate work. I like hourly, because corporations want it the way they want it, will not plan ahead, may need endless meetings and revisions, and take lots of time to make decisions. If you do a fixed price with a new corp client, you are screwed. IMHO.

Give them a time-estimate as part of proposal, and then keep communications open.

I also charge 25% more for corporate work, because there will be project management time which will be hard to bill (like 5 phone calls to get thru to someone).

Once you ahve done a few of these for them, a "per project" price might be better for both of you. But by then you know you are on the same page as far as expectations and production values.

12-19-2005, 10:39 AM
hi galt - thx

the thing is, they have hired me before and know my hourly rate. so they are bound to try and estimate "hmm, it took two hours to film + 8 hrs to edit, so it should cost ___" such factoring tends to eliminate creative direction, which has a value on its own: the look design and feel of the thing. so i thought it would be good to base it on hourly PLUS the CD flat fee....


12-19-2005, 10:43 AM
I agree with all Galt's concerns. You can very quickly find yourself losing time and money on a corporate project that seemed easy before round after round of review and revision.

If you want to offer the client a flat rate, just make sure you set their expectations of what this fee includes (for example, up to 4 hours of location shooting, up to 8 hours of post, one client review, project management). You're happy to do more, but that will be billed hourly. And let them know that there will be a re-evaluation after a certain amount of time or a certain number of products. The price may go up, may go down. Unless you are unique, you will almost certainly UNDERestimate the amount of time this takes, especially in the beginning. No matter how much you wanted the job, you will come to hate it if you're not being adequately compensated.

Ultimately the balance between setting a "respectable" fee and an "affordable" fee is determined by how badly you want/need this work from this client. Just don't get yourself locked into the client expecting big things for little money.

Some other thoughts:

Set expectations up front about the turnaround time for approval (if a client approval is desired).

Think about whether you're going to have to add storage to your system to accommodate this client.

Are you going to have to maintain an archive?

Don't forget your expenses. I usually give a project rate and indicate that expenses will be billed separately.

12-19-2005, 11:00 AM
thx all for the good feedback!
in the price proposal i am formulating i am specifying the time, like each episode includes:
x hrs of location shooting, x hours of prep, x hoursd of editing, export for the web... plus the creative direction.

i like the idea of a re-evaluation after several episodes.

additional info: i won't likely be subject to review and revision meetings, these are sort of wham bam in and out, a quick edit and delivery in a space of 3 days. (i hope)

but from what you are suggesting it seems wise to add an additional time clause to factor in worse-case stuff and expenses. i don't think there will be archiving but i am investng in a new editing suite. (however that was planned anyway)