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Did I lowball a company for 10 minute Training Video?

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Rrotz Productions
Did I lowball a company for 10 minute Training Video?
on Jun 18, 2007 at 11:14:49 pm

I've been working on a 10 minute training video that I shot and edited which I quoted $1250 for based on $125 per minute of finished video. Is that a fair charge or did I lowball myself?


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Craig Seeman
Re: Did I lowball a company for 10 minute Training Video?
on Jun 19, 2007 at 2:59:44 am

So you'd do a 30 commercial for $62.50?

Charge based on how many hours it takes to do something, not on the duration of a piece.

If you did the whole thing in 10 hours you might be ok depending on your cost of living and gear used.


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Timothy J. Allen
Re: Did I lowball a company for 10 minute Training Video?
on Jun 19, 2007 at 3:36:14 am

How much to charge really depends on the content of the video and what it takes to bring that content to your viewers eyeballs.

How much will the video cost you to make? Add up your total time, money for materials like tape, equipment rental or depreciation, administrative costs, printer toner for labels, courier costs, etc. Don't forget to add the amount that you'll need to pay your government for taxes on wages for those who you hire to help.

After your expenses are covered, decide how much profit you need to make on the video for it to be worth doing. (For instance a $400 profit might sound pretty good at first, but if the video takes a full week to complete, that's less than you'd probably make at most entry level jobs.)

I'm going out on a limb here, but I'd venture to say that most professional quality corporate videos that would hold the audience's attention for 10-minutes would take more than a week to do, especially when you count preproduction meetings with the client, scriptwriting, arranging for crew, blocking the video shoot out, arranging logistics for the shoot(s), shooting, graphics creation, editing, audio post, mastering, and properly archiving everything to wrap it up properly and professionally.

Then again, if all or most of the elements are provided to you (including the approved script, video footage, timecode notes, preproduced graphics, voice over files etc.), and you can complete it very quickly... there's a chance that your quote works.

Just like Craig said, if you finished it all very quickly, (within just a few hours from front to back) the quote might bring a livable wage. That's such a tight quote, you'd have to be extremely clear about client expectations and be very specific about any of the client's "change order requests" in the language of the quote.

Timothy Allen



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cowcow
Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: Did I lowball a company for 10 minute Training Video?
on Jun 19, 2007 at 4:23:39 am

Sounds like you probably did lowball it... but we don't know enough details to know. We also don't know how "high end" a project this was, and what your technological and aesthetic capabilities are. If the project was a single shot of a talking head for the duration, that's one thing. It's another thing entirely if there are 30 cuts a minute, 10 locations, 20 actors... you get the drill.

It's good to have some very rough guidlines to keep in mind for whenever you get that inevitable "How much does an infomercial cost?" phone call. I always start with my "How long is a road?" analogy... it depends on where you want to go and what kind of scenery you want along the way. But to get clients started, I will give them a range.... in my case at our company I tell them they are probably looking at something in the neighborhood of $1500 to $3500 per finished minute. We are a full service but tiny company... your rates might be higher if you are a big company with infinite capabilities... or maybe a little lower if you are a one-man band.

Anyway, those are just guidlines that I give clients... then we learn what their exact needs and expectations are. I then give them an entire project extimate based on my best guesses as to how many shoot and edit hours will be required, plus anything extra such as travel, talent, voice talent, music rights. etc.

Know ALL the details of your project before you give a bid, because project costs can vary wildly. We've done lots of little infomercials in the 5-10 minute range... the cheapest one (super easy) was only a few hundred bucks, while the most expensive one was about $45,000. Quite a wide range, and you don't want to cheat yourself.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Rrotz Productions
Re: Did I lowball a company for 10 minute Training Video?
on Jun 19, 2007 at 6:29:37 am

Thanks all. Basically it was a 2 hour shoot, 30 minutes uncut and I whittled it down to 10 minutes. I've only been working on it in my spare time, I work a full time job and did this on the sideline. I think that I've worked on it only maybe 8-10 hours so far in the past 2 weeks. This was the first job for this client and I did it to get my foot in the door and get something on my portfolio. They will require a 30 minute training video next so I will be sure to find out before hand how much I should quote and give you all the details. I didn't have any other expenses, no employees, no overhead as my studio is setup in my dad's house.

This was a good learning experience and I'm putting together a business plan to get my business off the ground. I hope to be more active on these forums and gain more experience in the corporate/commercial video world.



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Mark Suszko
Re: Did I lowball a company for 10 minute Training Video?
on Jun 19, 2007 at 2:52:33 pm

Here's the problem you created for yourself: you have now set up an expectation with this client as to what level of work you do for what amount of money. Good luck raising your bid on the next one; they are gonna likely grind on you to keep working at the lower rate you established going in, even as the projects get more elaborate and creative.

Per-finished-minute rates that actually work out as a fair range for a particular project, do so ONLY by coincidence, IMO. NEVER use them.

Estimate the hours for doing all phases of a project, add up your costs, throw in profit and a slight fudge factor for unanticipated events, and from all that, generate an hourly and day rate that at least hits that minimum number that makes it all worth doing. You will use the figure to create a day rate and an overall estimate on the project you can live with.

Express the deal to the client as x amount of hours to a limit of Y amount hours, beyond which requires approving a new deal,and you are going to charge additional, and that you will discount X amount if you finish early. Typically, you structure the deal in thirds; one third (or however much you need to pay the rentals and assistants first) up front, one third when production wraps or you hit the first screeing of the edit, and the final third on completion and delivery of the finished dubs. This protects them and you: gives them control of costs and ability to kill the project without losing all the money, and it allows you to at least break even, should this ever occur.

The quote should express that they get one free round of change orders after viewing the first cut, taking x number of hours maximum, that they pay for additional changes after this, plus fixing things that are their fault, like them giving you somebody's name or title wrong, and that you eat the cost of fixing what YOU do wrong, like typos you made in the CG when they gave you the right spelling. Establish up front if this is a work for hire or not, and who owns the finished master and source tapes. These will eliminate the bulk of problem areas for such productions.

You might consider adding a clause that holds you harmless for legal probs and puts the onus on them to get any legal clearances taken care of for things like music rights.

All of THAT will get you more in the ballpark, and getting paid more than the fry cook at McDonald's. Charging a per-finished-minute fee, you might find yourself actually LOSING money on the videos over doing something else like cooking those fries. That's not a sustainable business model.


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Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: Did I lowball a company for 10 minute Training Video?
on Jun 19, 2007 at 3:12:14 pm

[Mark Suszko] "consider adding a clause that holds you harmless for legal probs and puts the onus on them to get any legal clearances taken care of for things like music rights"

Just FYI... a clause like that might indeed show a "good faith effort" on the part of the producer to do things on the up-and-up and throw the legal burden elsewhere... but it won't stand up in court.

Lets say you are producing a bunch of copies of a DVD you made... the client supplied the music. You thought it was, but still weren't TOTALY sure the music was clear, so you have the client sign some kind of waiver releasing you of any liability for use of the music. Nope. Won't work. You as a producer are still just a liable for misuse of the music (or images or whatever).

Think about it this way: you are borrowing your friend's car. Your friend says, "Don't worry, the tag is up to date and I have insurance. I'll even write you a note that says so, and that says I'm to blame if proven otherwise." If a cop stops you, he doesn't care about your friend's note. YOU still get the ticket for driving with an expired tag and no insurance.

Sorry, didn't mean to hijack this post with another subject (I hate when that happens to me), but I didn't wanna let this go because it is very important.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Nick Griffin
Re: Did I lowball a company for 10 minute Training Video?
on Jun 19, 2007 at 4:18:25 pm

Yes, Todd, you highjacked the thread. But you are completely correct. The tough thing here, for someone starting out and just getting into providing production for an outside client, is to not make it so complicated (and therefore expensive) that the client goes elsewhere.

Mark, Tim and Craig are also correct in the things they say and, getting back to the original thread, there are a couple of major problems here to confront.

The biggest is, as discussed, you've relegated yourself to living pretty much in the price range where you've started -- at least with THIS client. Hence the importance of building a reel and using it to branch out.

In the growth phase of a new business often the smartest tactic you can employ is to add clients at the top end and cut from the bottom. Often cutting involves saying that your rates have gone up and the old clients walk on their own. This is where it is critically important to communicate in a polite and business like manner. Be humble and apologize for the increases, just be sure to firmly state that given the expansion of your business and the costs of equipment, it's necessary to raise the rates. Sometimes you can keep the existing clients, usually not. But surprisingly, sometimes you can get them back further down the road when they've had a chance to look around and realize that even your new rates aren't that bad.

Getting back to what things cost... unless your clients are experienced television professionals, most won't have a damn clue as to what things costs, what's do-able and waht's not. Everyone has a television and gets to see elaborate spots, prime time TV shows, 60 Minutes-style interviews, complex motion graphics, etc., etc., etc. -- and NONE of it has a price tag supered into the corner giving the public the slightest hint as to what it costs to do.

It's up to you, in the initial sales phase, to walk them through what their options are. If you have a fairly broad reel or collection of past work not even in reel format, it becomes all the easier. The key is to treat this kind of situation as an education opportunity, one where you are helping them to "get the most they can out of their budget." The more you are the coach and nurturing teacher rather than salesman, the better this will go.

Oh, and yes. You probably did lowball. But everybody's got to start out somewhere.

Hope this is of some help for you Rrotz. And say... this is the EXACT sort of thing we discuss all the time over on the Business & Marketing COW. Be sure to check us out and read back into the archives for a wealth of this kind of discussion. (Talk about HIGHJACKING!)


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Bruce Bennett in Madison, WI
Re: Did I lowball a company for 10 minute Training Video?
on Jun 19, 2007 at 6:22:39 pm

Mark has pretty much said it all. I feel he


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Bob Woodhead
Re: Did I lowball a company for 10 minute Training Video?
on Jun 22, 2007 at 7:35:05 pm

Hey Bruce - what's John Smith's phone number? (wink wink)

Good post, very true.


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Mike Cohen
Re: Did I lowball a company for 10 minute Training Video?
on Aug 1, 2007 at 9:37:53 pm

It doesn't hurt to bid higher than you expect to get. If you have an idea of what kind of budget the client is prepared to spend, bid slightly higher and offer at the outset to work with the client to find a mutually beneficial price. Assuming you arrive at the price you want, you have given the client an opportunity to show his "negotiation skills." Doesn't always work however.

Mike Cohen


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jmill0823
Re: Did I lowball a company for 10 minute Training Video?
on Oct 23, 2007 at 5:35:10 am

Todd,

Is there a clip from the infomercial that ran $45k online anywhere? I am always really interested in seeing a product and finding out what the cost of production was...or vice versa.

Thanks,
Jason


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Chris Schwager
Re: Did I lowball a company for 10 minute Training Video?
on Jun 19, 2012 at 11:29:34 pm

In Australia, you lowballed yourself!

Ridge Films


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