Entry Level Cost for Video Business?

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    • #43072

      At well under $10K, going into business as an independent professional video services provider is one of the lowest investments with one of the highest potentials of any small business start-up you can imagine.

      While there are those who would argue the equipment, debate the costs and question the sanity, by far the easiest out of the box experience for a video entrepenure would be based on the factors listed at E.C. Come, E.C. Go

      Check it out, we can debate the equipment recommendations and needs, costs and what might be left out, or unnecessary here!

    • #180502

      This reminds of sometihng I used to tell folks who approached me, wanting to learn about becomming a pro photographer. My advice to them (this is back in the early 1970’s so adjust for inflation) was to take a twenty dollar bill and grip it between forefinger and thumb, go over to a window, hold your hand out and then let go – This exercise was not received well by some but all came back after the fact and affirmed it’s value as a lesson.

    • #180503

      buy the really useful stuff, rent everything that might go obsolete in a year or two.

    • #180504

      Potential and sanity being the keywords…Even the rental companies are closing their doors.

      “I now pronounce thee…broke.”

    • #180505


      As always I thought your article was insightfull and will give some people considering the business food for thought.

      I think that the equipment you listed is a base that you will have to vary based on areas you may want to concentrate on. Let’s say you want to do events. I think you would need to facter in a minimum of 2 if not 3 cameras. Training and corporate type videosyou could probably get by with one camera but you will probably need a green screen set up. Weddings you would probably want some type of glide cam setup for anything more than just a basic shoot not to mention a music and effects library to support your edits.

      Of course several of those items can be added as needed for the job. Just my 2 cents worth.

    • #180506

      Under$10 grand doesn’t seemright? for a onecamera business maybe..

      To break it down for a 2 man crew:

      2HD Cameras – $8000 (FX1000)

      Lighting- $600

      On Camera – $600

      CPU for editing- $1400

      Tripods and heads- $1000

      Wireless Lav mic – $500

      Shotgun mic- $600

      Photo printer -$400

      NLE and plugins -$500 (yihayy for torrents!)

      Laptop andprojector- $ 2500 (If you are doing sameday edits)

      Not to mention DV tape, DVD cases, DVD’s, photo paper, ink, business cards, brochures etc…never ending

    • #180507

      Aikidoken, although I commend your high aim, most of your prices are quoted much higher than necessary. For instance one could get two fx7’s for around 4 grand or two panasonic HM150’s for about 6. Also, although it’s important to be sufficiently supported, you need not spend $500 per tripod system on a camera of that size. I certinaly think that one should buy the best equipment possible, but 10 grand is plenty suffecient for your average starter, there is always time to upgrade later.

    • #180508
      AvatarGrinner Hester

      I started my business for just uner 100k and paid it all off the first year. Today, I could start it for 10k, as Earl pointed out. 20k, anyway. I hear folks gripe about how it use to be easy to have clients standing in line to pay 450 an hour for cuts, wipes and dissolves and today it’s quite the challenge to get 150/hr for anything they can dream up. The difference? overhead costs, man. It simply doesn’t cost 7 figures to build an edit suite like it did in the linear days. One can pay off their investment in a month if they hussle. If your good, the video business just doesn’t have to be much of a risk anymore. Stay away from loans, that’s my best advice.

    • #180509

      “Stay away from loans….”

      Amen to that brother! I also agree with TD. Most folks starting out are looking at a 1 camera setup so you can shave some cash off your initial estimate. Akido you also forgot; camera bag, various connector cables and adapters, external hard drives (for editing and storage), a UV filter to protect your lens and an all-too-important website to showcase your work.

      The hard part isn’t starting a business, it’s staying in business. Grinner’s right about how it’s challenging to get old school pricing, but video/film production is still a highly skilled profession and if potential clients want work done better than a ‘YouTube’ special, they’re going to have to pay for it. Unfortunately, just starting out you’re going to have to ‘work cheap’ and then charge accordingly as your skill level and rep grows.

      My first year of doing big gigs paid off my first four years of ‘hobbling along’. Tough an industry as it is I love it. The production biz is one of the few gigs that if you do things right the first time, you can get paid forever.

    • #180510

      In addition to setting up the equipment, you’re also creating a business. To get free advice on starting a business, go to http://www.score.org or http://www.sba.gov. They have loads of information on starting a business. Most states have a SCORE chapter which can provide you with information specific to your state, such as, registering as a business, setting up a LLC, etc.

    • #180511
      AvatarGrinner Hester

      Your atty can handle that stuff.

    • #180512

      If you can afford an attorney or accountant, fine. But they cost $$$$. An attorney or account can’t write your business plan. Only the entrepreneur can do that. A good business plan helps identify the required financial and technical resources, the customer base, etc. Creating a business without a plan is like hiking in the woods without a map or trail. You’re chance of failure becomes significantly higher without a plan. SCORE and the SBA web sites contain valuable information for the small entrepreneur. They also have FREE consultants who can meet with you in person or use e-mail where you can get answers to your questions about running a business.

    • #180513
      AvatarGrinner Hester

      That’s one way to look at it. Another way is if you write a business plan to start a video company with no loan, you are simply filling a day off. You can plan all ya want but untimately you will evolve with an ever-changing industry.

    • #180514

      I started my outfit with SBA assistance. They helped me put together a solid business plan and really helped me understand the business side of what I wanted to do. I was able to get a Lawyer onboard for cheap and have my taxes worked on by a pro accounting firm. That said, having the BP was a good exercise in getting into business and understanding what needed to be done.

      On the flipside, just as Grinner implied I ‘had to adapt.’ Despite my solid research and ‘SBA Approved’ BP, nobody was going to lend me money despite my experience and contacts. So by financing it myself, I slowly began to build my business. Now, some fortunate things happened enabling me to get equipment because I had taken all the previous steps in starting my business and I was able to take full advantage of them. Even so, it all came down to slogging it out to get gigs and build my reel and rep. Which by the way, is an ongoing process. So for me having ‘both’ made the difference.

    • #180515

      Aikidoken: I’d make sure you had a backup lav setup, so that if one mic goes down during a taping, you are covered.

    • #180516

      Some say that it’s necessary to be employed before going freelance into a video business. I wouldn’t agree with this thereom entirely, as entry-level employment can becomea severe knockoff. I’m not trying to criticize anyone who thinks in this way, but in certain cases, it may be more profitable (and also better learning curve) to start by charging cheap rates for producing freely/employing a crew of your own. Acquiring a fair-sized equipment suite within a budget is probably one of the biggest leaps in starting a video career.

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