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  • Help – Advice Needed

    Posted by David Scott on May 12, 2005 at 3:15 am

    I have a potential client who wants to put together a 1 hour video of their operations. The final output would formatted for both PAL and NTSC. Without delving into too much detail, this particular operation will last approx. 120 days. This client has informed me that filming would need to take place daily though specifics regarding how many hours per day are sparce. The operation itself will go on 24/7 throughout the 4 month period.

    While I have done some industrial videos in the past this one is obviously on a grand scale and I am trying to be cautious in my approach. I’m assuming I will need at least two cameras on site as well as 1 or 2 cameras locked down for capturing any necessary time laspe footage.

    I would greatly appreciate any advice regarding a price structure for this job. Additionally, if anyone sees any pitfalls or red-flags I’m all ears. As I mentioned, the details are pretty sparce as we’ve only had a preliminary meeting.

    Kind Regards,

    David Scott

    David Roth weiss replied 18 years, 9 months ago 3 Members · 2 Replies
  • 2 Replies
  • Laura Scott

    May 12, 2005 at 4:00 am

    Can you find the mutual benefit? He wants to know you’ll be there, but you need to know he’ll be there. Things happen. Funding disappears. People disappear. Bankruptcy happens. My advice is to make a detailed line-item budget of what you need to do, down to the gaffer tape rolls and practicals. Look at when you have to spend it. You don’t want to be caught holding the bag.

    Here are the payment points that are quite common:

    1/ Upon booking. If they want the shoot booked in pen, not pencil, they have to show their commitment. Else you might just take another job that happens along.

    2/ Upon start of shoot.

    3/ Upon start of post.

    4/ Upon approval.

    5/ Upon delivery.

    Most deals in my experience have been 50/50 or 34/33/33. If you have a lot of initial outlay — like having to rent a crane — you will want more up front.

    If they don’t want to pay until the end, that means they’re considering not paying. In that case, my advice would be to look for business elsewhere and leave that job to the recent graduate wanting to build his reel — because that’s all anyone will get out of a “well pay you at the end” deal.


  • David Roth weiss

    May 20, 2005 at 9:24 am


    Let’s look at this situation logically. Its a 60-minute video. The client wants you there everyday for 120 days. You’ll average just 30-seconds of usable footage each day at that rate. That makes absolutely no sense, is not at all efficient, and it is not how these types of films are made. More importantly, you’ll be in post forever if you shoot every day, and believe me, at some point the client will freak out and will undoubtedly quit paying.

    Keep in mind, clients know what it takes to do what they do, but they don’t understand filmmaking, and don’t realize that it is all about illusion. Part of your job is to educate them about that, and to tell them how you will convey everything they can possibly imagine, but that its all accomplished though the magic of filmmaking and your incredible planning and logistical genius.

    Make a timeline of the entire project on paper. Breakout all the essential stuff you absolutely, positively must tape in order to tell the story… Then, breakout the most visual stuff… Etc., etc., etc… If you are creative and selective, you’ll find that you can tell the entire story with only 20 or 30 shooting days, and you’ll still have far more material than you’ll ever need in order to show the entire process in incredible detail.

    Then make a shooting budget based on the number of days, add a 10% contingency fee. Bingo, you’re half way home, and the client will think you’re incredibly wonderful…

    Good luck,

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