I’ve worked mostly for gov


I’ve worked mostly for governmental agencies my entire career and as DOn said, when an agency seeks out three bids, they’ve generally already decided who they plan to contract with. So far and away the best technique to get the job is to be personally aquainted with whoever makes the decision. A moderately inflated bid by someone who’s done work before, and is thereby a known factor, will always win over bids without serious references. Governments don’t have to use the lowest bid when it comes from an unknown bidder. People who make decisions in government are guided by the principle of “cover your ass.” They practically always choose someone whose previous experience is easily available for elected officials to review. Because in the end, elected officials make the final approval for all projects that have a bidding process. So if you can’t convince the folks in charge of the bid review process that even with disasters, you’ll make a product with the production values they demand. So what I’m taking the long way to say is you’re a pawn in the three bid requirements.

But if they keep seeing your name on bids, they may eventually accept one. Provided you have irrefutable proof that you’ve already done a number of similar projects quite successfully. Since you are an unknown without significant national experience, you’re not going to be seriously considered for this job. But to be considered for other upcoming projects, you need this bid to be competitive and have as many references & work examples you can fit in. And these samples should be from works that are similar in nature to the project you’re bidding on. (What you had as work samples on your web site six months or so ago would do nothing but insure they reject your bid without review.) And you might want to consider putting the state on your business promotion press releases, little announcements of work you’ve finished for high profile clients and/or complex projects. If they know your name and that you’re working with the production values they require, you could rapidly rise to the top of the list the first time the local freelancer doesn’t want or can’t take a job.

When you respond to a Request For Proposals (RFP) you must make certain you make the bid exactly the way the RFP describes the submission package. Every question must be addressed and the budget submitted according to their rules. If you fail to provide any item requested, you will be immediately rejected. And while you’re at it, don’t add in stuff they aren’t asking for, it makes it look like you’ve never done this before. Now when it comes to specific line items in the budget, be certain you have exactly what they request. And no more! I’ve also never heard of a government entity that will pay for capital expenses, especially if the expense is for something that the contractor should already have and/or the contractor would use for other projects. So while it is a fine idea to use the budget to purchase new or better equipment, it absolutely cannot be listed in the RFP. Although you might be able to get funds to purchase a POV camcorder, most RFP’s I’m familiar with would require the government to be given the capital expense items. And I have a tip for calculating your production fees (or your salary.) You have two weeks of field production followed by two more weeks of post-production (or more.) So the project will take between a month and six weeks. Now as a professional producer, you should consider what producers make annually. (There are a numbers of resources you can use to learn what producer/directors are earning in your area. Call the library help line and they can direct you to them.) I think the last time I checked for Iowa, beginning producers started at around $40,000 while top producers would make $100,000 or more annually. Using $60,000 a year as an example (because the numbers are easy,) our producer would make $5,000 per month. So his bid would start between $5,000 and $7,500, then add in the per diem for field shoots (plus calculate the cost of two weeks of motels for the cast & crew, plus craft services of some sort, rented transportation to & from the shoot each day, drivers will get something extra, three meals each day and etc.) Remember, these numbers don’t have to reflect your actual expenses. They just need to be the average for normally covered expenses. Which works out to pretty much every out of pocket expense. And don’t forget about wardrobe and of course the snowmobile rentals. And you’ll still have the field per diems for cast & crew. It is assumed that people on the shoot will need no money or personal effects to do their job. (So crew members will wear their own clothes, but cast members will have their outerwear provided, like jackets & insulated coveralls.) There are a number of resources to aid in covering all the normal expenses, SonnyBoo.com has some good stuff for working out budgets & the contracts everyone will need to sign.

Well I’m afraid I’ve gone on too long. Hopefully this will help you make a viable bid. And be sure to specify when you expect payments. Industry convention is for one third up front, another third at the start of post-production and the final third when the project is accepted, but you’ll need to know ahead of time. So good luck with your RFP and expect it to be a learning process.

And I almost forgot, so don’t you forget about some sort of insurance. If any one is injured or property damaged, you are responsible for the expenses, possibly including payment for time an individual is unable to work. (You might need to pay for Workers Compensation Insurance; you will need to pay for generaly liability insurance. This is a possibly dangerous shoot and injuries & property damage during the two weeks in the field are more than likely.)

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