What to charge


The question of what to charge comes up quite often on the forum. The answers really should be a stickey item, one that's permanently on the board. The basis for what to charge is your operating cost, otherwise you're just making up numbers. You might find my article at http://www.videoccasions-nw.com/cost_analysis.html to be of value in thinking this through.


In my experience, charging by the finished minute is a mistake. It's almost impossible to determine beforehand how much time will be involved in a shoot and post production. Our company has worked on 60 second projects that took as little as an hour of shooting and a couple of hours of editing and 60 second projects that took two 8 hour days of shooting and a couple of weeks to edit. Working with a client on nuances of voice-over, for example, or on color correction, can add hours of time you haven't expected to spend and have no means of billing.


You're much better off, from a business view point, charging by the hour, half-day or day for pre- production consultation, scripting, casting and shooting and charging hourly for editing. Discuss budget, then give your client a best guess estimate, making it clear that you'll keep them posted as to where your work is relative to that budget.


I wouldn't worry too much about finding actors for your production work. Syracuse University's College of Visual and Performing Arts should have a substantial pool of trained semi-professional actors — talk to the head of the Acting Program to identify the best and brightest– and you're not very far from NYC and its huge pool of professional actors. Contact Actor's Equity and SAG for a list of local professionals, too.


Good luck,




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