Rates-contracts-etc.

Film/video production is expensive; it’s a time consuming and capital intensive business. There is no “volume discount” unless you are producing episodic television, everything is a custom, one-off production.  So if you think having a film made about your company or organization is expensive, you are right; if you are thinking like a consumer.  If you think like a business-owner, it’s “affordable” because a film works for you when you sleep! People will watch your film during the day or in the evening when your staff has gone home.  With the cost of an in person sales call over $300, it does not take too many “views” for the film to amortize itself quickly, promoting your company day after day, year after year.

When I was a “freelancer” back in NYC I had “day rates” but as I produce and direct now, all “rates” are estimates for specific work, after a conversation with you, and perhaps and in-person interview to determine the specific needs for your company.  Though, if you have taken a few minuets to look at the productions on this website (Film/Video Portfolio) and think you are going to get a film like those for a few hundred $$, think again, my initial project fee is in the thousands for even a simple industrial film.  If you really don’t have the money, shoot a few stills and write copy; better to do something good than to make a bad film that negatively impacts your business.  If you want to convey information still photographs and copy are very effective, but if your goal is to convey emotion, to really get at the heart of your message, to emotionally connect with customers and prospects, then nothing beats a film.

Often I hear from prospective clients that they want their film to look like (insert tv show here) well that’s great!  Do you have $ 4,500,000.00 for a 48 minute hour of broadcast programming? I did not think so.  Most people have no concept what it costs to produce films and television programming.  You really need to be realistic about what you want to accomplish and that is where I am most valuable to clients.  Will shooting 4k or 8k be appropriate to your company?  Highly unlikely.  Does your promotional film need to look like “the movies” to be an effective sales tool? NO it does not.  Should you make one expensive promotional film or create a slate of smaller films to talk about aspects of your business? Should your promotional film be live action, computer graphics, scripted or unscripted? Till we talk that is unknown.

When you “call around” for a quote, you are not getting the pre-production process of me learning about your company and creating a compelling story to be told through the filmmaking process, what you are getting is a quote for production services which presumes you know what you want, and you generally won’t unless you have actually produced films before.  Will you find a “cheaper” vendor? Of course you will.  Will you get the same kind of film I make, not a chance.  Many of my films use the voice of the subject, not a narrator, and that is a very time consuming way of making a film.  Why do it? because it’s the most compelling way of telling a story.  If you are not telling a compelling story, don’t make a film, shoot a few stills and write some copy, it’s much, much, cheaper.

I do not charge by “finished minute” that is inaccurate as industrial films are not cut from a bolt of cloth and sold by the yard.  That is a manufacturing mentality and filmmaking is a creative business with ideas impacting costs in an unpredictable way.  Budgeting a film is dependent upon what you intend to accomplish, and “calling around” for quotes is a great idea, if you have a detailed specification, but you don’t, so getting accurate quotes is complete “BS” without knowing what your goals are.  If you call me and ask for a 10 minute promotional film and want a “rough quote” I won’t give it to you.  Not because I’m being mean or deceitful, it’s because you don’t have a developed idea of what you want.  10 minutes can cost you a few hundred if you hire a kid with a DSLR or tens of thousands if your idea of “quality” is an industrial that looks like a feature film.  1/3 of my time goes to answering this question…what is your film going to be about and how are we going to tell it?  No one can give you a quote for that over the phone without understanding YOU and YOUR business, no one.

As a producer, I can “call around” and get quotes for specific services, such as editing rates per hour, equipment rental rates per day, labor rates per day, etc; but till  you have a script, shooting schedule, location schedule, you cannot get a quote for a “production” that means anything.  Just because you can “watch TV” doesn’t mean you can make it yourself; go to YouTube for the results of that process, it’s an ocean of crap; but if you think you can do it, great!  I encourage people to do things themselves, that is how we develop.  You are hiring me to know what to do with all the tools available, to BEST represent your company, not to make you look foolish or ignorant.

If you company requires a bid, and I mean a fixed price bid, not a quote, you will have to hire me (or a qualified producer) to assemble a detailed specification, otherwise you have nothing to “bid” against.  Without a detailed specification you are expecting someone to “read you mind” and set a price based upon fantasy.  Do people do this? all the time, I do not.  If you cannot invest the time into determining what you specifically want to accomplish, you are wasting both of our time.  “I want a film for our company” is not a biddable statement. “I have this 20 page script, and 10 page project summary” and technical specifications for deliverable’s; that is a biddable statement that I can fairly work with.

If you have a specific amount of money allocated for a film, that’s fine.  I can “back into” a budget, but don’t tell me it has to look like that hot new drama you saw on TV last night!

I am a creative producer, not a rental house.  I do own equipment for my own use that makes sense to me based upon the type of productions I do.  If you have specific needs for a particular camera that you read about in “American Cinematographer” you are going to have to allocate money to rent it, and hire the personnel to operate it.  The kind of equipment used on television series and feature films is VERY different from the equipment used on industrial and documentary film and impacts the cost of editing, grading and distribution in ways you are not aware of.

For simple jobs I can do everything “in house” as I have been at this a long time, for more complex productions I hire specialists to facilitate the job on an “as needed” basis.  Hiring a film producer (me) is like hiring a general contractor, I use sub-contractors for their specific skills, depending upon the need of the job at hand, and so does everyone else.

Contracts: All work will by undertaken by signed contract, no contract, no job.

Insurance: If you require liability insurance, you will have to pay for it, I do not insure your facility or personnel for free.

Production insurance is available, and is expensive on a per project basis, it is more cost effective to buy a rider on your own liability policy than for me to take out a policy for your shoot.  Project based production insurance is primarily for feature film size crews, not industrial/documentary crews which may only have 1~3 people and do not involve dangerous stunts.

Payments: All jobs will require an advance payment, progress payments will be required through production, post-production, and final payments due before delivery or transfer of usage rights.  All interim materials & intellectual materials are owned by the producer, license transfer only after all payments are made to the producer.  Preview materials will have visible time code burned into the picture, no preview materials will be released by the client to the public or intended audience.

Warantee: I guarantee my work, it will be of professional quality and will fulfill the requirements of the contract. Illness/injury may delay the completion date, there will be no financial penalties assessed for “acts of god” If Illness/injury prevents the job from being completed the producer reserves the right to refund advance payments, less rental fees or sub-contractor fees, the producer reserves the right to bring in a substitute to complete the job, under his supervision or may elect to turn over the project to the client in an uncompleted state so they may hire another company to complete the job.