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Forums Field Production How to figure out rates?

  • How to figure out rates?

  • Anthony Sneed

    February 24, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    I recently got asked to shoot some political interview videos for a well known organization.

    I own all my own gear. Will also do my own sound. And I’ll be using two cameras.

    I don’t know what to do about a rate. They offered hourly and I think that may be the better choice.

    I use BlackMagic 4K production cameras,
    Zeiss cine primes
    Wireless lavs etc

    What do you think a good hourly rate is? They also might want me to edit the footage too.

  • Bill Davis

    March 5, 2016 at 1:50 am

    [Anthony Sneed] “I use BlackMagic 4K production cameras,
    Zeiss cine primes
    Wireless lavs etc

    What do you think a good hourly rate is? They also might want me to edit the footage too.”

    For decades, nobody would assemble gear like you list – and the skills to properly use it – without working hard enough for a while to LONG SINCE figure out how to run the business numbers. Today it’s gear first, business acumen later, if at all. It’s just weird.

    The best advice would be to take a small business class that demonstrates how to calculate your rates based on a sustainable business model – but that’s if you want to last in a sustainable business. If you’re just in it to impress your friends with your cool gear – charge whatever you need to make it worth going out the door. Even if that hurts the market and screws up the folks trying to run a sensible business so they can raise their families and retire with dignity.

    Today, everybody has gear – some know how to use it – but it’s astonishing that hardly anybody went through the discipline of understanding how to calculate pricing – which used to the a FIRST required lesson well in advance of going out to work for money.

    The answer is charge whatever you like.

    Do it for pin money. Or try to convince your clients you KNOW what the going rates are – even if you don’t. Today, pricing is a crapshoot. There’s ALWAYS somebody willing to do it for experience, or lunch money, or just so they can say “I’m a video expert.” And they’ll do it for HALF to ONE THIRD of whatever number you come up with – even if that number is insanely low.

    That’s the only thing for certain anymore.

    I know you’re just looking for a quick answer and I’m sorry to sound so pissy – but honestly, you’re coming into this at the WORST time in the history of video production. The competition is EVERYONE. And you don’t have to learn anything from a school or an apprenticeship – you can just look it up on your phone. And so can EVERYONE else.

    Experience has NO value anymore. Skill has NO value. Equipment has NO value. The only thing that has any value is the reputation you’ve earned for getting results and keeping prior clients happy. Hopefully, you can do that really well. Because that’s all that left to separate one of us from any other.

    Welcome to the modern video business.

    Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out – video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.

  • Nick Griffin

    March 5, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    There are numerous posts on the COW’s Business and Marketing section on the topic of calculating your base rate. More than one of the better ones come from Mark Susko. Research it there and go back a few years and you’re certain to find some excellent ideas.

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