Price of Video: Narrative vs Videography

I recently organized two shoots, and realized later how different they were, and how these differences explain the cost of creative video production.  In this post I’ll describe the two shoots and what they would cost if done by freelance indie filmmakers.

Shoot 1: Business videography

To apply for a startup incubator, I needed to have a video.  I asked one of my crew members for his help, and he graciously donated his time and equipment (he wants CrewTide to take off as much as I do).  We spent about 5 hours shooting the content for a three minute final product — interviewing different people in different rooms and setting up equipment in each location.  He had an intern there as well, which was extremely helpful as it was a two-camera shoot.

For each location, we set up two cameras, one light, a lavalier mic and a boom mic.  My friend ran camera one and asked the interview questions, while the intern ran camera two and monitored sound levels on both mics.

Acting was free since it was real people I asked to be interviewed as themselves.  Editing took a day and a half, and we didn’t score it.

If this had been a 5-min piece, here is the breakdown of costs:

DP: $800/day
2nd camera: $600/day
Editing: $600/day x 2 days
Food: $20 ($10/person)
Total: $2,600

In my opinion, this is a very low price.  There is no equipment rental, no dedicated sound person, no music, and these rates are mid- to low-end for professional videographers who come with their own cameras.

Shoot 2: Narrative

My film crew is halfway through filming a 6-episode web series.  This is a labor of love, and everyone is working for free.  Most of the people on the crew are professionals in the industry who spend their day either doing videography or on a major motion picture set.  They do projects like this because it is more creative and they can have more responsibility in a small crew.

The script was for two actors and one location (very low budget).  We had a very small crew, combining roles like these: our assistant director was also our script supervisor and caterer; our assistant editor was also our makeup and costumes person.  The breakdown for shooting one five-minute episode is this:

Director: $800/day
AD/Script supervisor: $600/day
DP: $800/day
Gaffer(lights): $600/day
Sound: $600/day
2nd camera: $600/day
Sets/props person: $500/day
Assistant editor/Costumes & makeup: $500/day
2 Actors: $500/day each
Editing: $600/day x2
Sound editing: $600/day x1
Score: $600/day + $600 for a studio session with musicians
Total: $9,000

In my opinion, this is also a very low price.  Roles are doubled in some cases, all pay rates are mid- to low-end for professionals.  There is nothing budgeted for location, and nothing for special effects or stunts.  There are only two actors.

Narrative is by nature expensive.  But it is also that much more engaging for audiences.

If you are a filmmaker, let me know what you think of these breakdowns.  Do you do videography?  Narrative filmmaking?  Do these rates seem reasonable to you?  If you were doing a creative project of your own, would you be happy to get paid these rates?

Look forward to your thoughts!

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