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Current Freelancer Rates

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Brian Mills
Current Freelancer Rates
on Oct 21, 2009 at 6:03:10 pm

This isn't a "what should I charge?" thread, it's a "what should I pay?" thread.

I have been a cameraman for a few years. A couple of years ago, I shot on a basic cable reality show as an operator for $450/ten hour day. And that was operating a HDCAM.

Now I am working with a producer to put together a budget for a reality show pilot proposal, and after doing mostly industrial video for several years (and having that rate fall big time since 08), I want to make sure what we are paying (as a NON UNION rate, of course), is fair for what people are seeing in the current freelance reality show basic cable world today.

So, a few years ago, it was $450/day for camera and $350/day for audio. Is this still the case?

The gear would be EX-1 and standard audio package (mixer/3 lavs/boom). I need operator rates, as kit rentals would be handled separately. Also, these would be 5-6 day shoots, so standard multiple-day discounts on rates may apply.

I want to offer real pay to hire guys with cable reality experience, I DO NOT want to Craigslist it. On the other hand, it won't be major network union budget either.

Thanks for your help....

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Mike Cohen
Re: Current Freelancer Rates
on Oct 21, 2009 at 6:57:53 pm

I usually ballpark a day rate for a shooter at $800/day, or $1200 for a two-person crew, camera op + audio op with gear. This covers most markets.

I know you said kit rental is separate, so maybe $450 is realistic, but that may vary by market.

Union or non-union, an 8 hour day may not include travel, meals, mileage, tolls, parking, media (tape stock or hard drives) and consumables - account for these extra costs which are unlikely to be part of a day rate.

If it comes in less great, but you are covered from a estimating point of view.

Sure reality shows are cheap, which is why there are so many of them, but there is a difference between "cheap" (reasonably priced) and "being cheap" (being cheap.)

Mike Cohen

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Greg Ball
Re: Current Freelancer Rates
on Oct 22, 2009 at 12:36:34 am

$450-$500 for a shooter works in our market. for a 10-hour day. Gear is additional.

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grinner hester
Re: Current Freelancer Rates
on Oct 23, 2009 at 12:30:00 am

I have found just keeping my rate 100/hr is the easiest method for all. 800 a day is quite the norm and many charge OT. Some don't. Some offer half day rates. I don't. Some charge less for travel. I don't see why. After much evolution, I came back to how I started... just charging by the hour. This way, should their shoot be longer than expected, I eat nothing. Should I get it done quicker for em, they save and put me at the top of their list next time around. The math is easy.
I edit at home now on paid-off gear so I carry these rates turn-key. From pre-pro to post, everything I do is just 100 per hour. This ease has been a great saving grace in this economy. This simple method allows me to easily offer flat bids for turn-key projects... many of wich I otherwise would have just edited.

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Bruce Bennett
Re: Current Freelancer Rates
on Oct 23, 2009 at 6:22:30 am

Hi Brian,

For the past 9 years, I've subbed out 5-6 local crews per year (so about 45-54 crews total) in mid to large markets/cities.

Early in my career, I could get a well-seasoned, local 2-person crew for about $1,200. For about the past 3 years, I find that I need to budget at least $1,500 for a 2-person crew, plus tapes, plus mileage in some cases. Obviously SD is usually closer to the lower rate.

My local shooters here in Madison, Wisconsin (about 1/2 million population in the greater area) run about $1,100-$1,200 per day for a 1-person videographer. SD is usually slightly less than HD, but not by much. $300-$350/day for a grip and/or videographer without equipment.

Good Luck!

Bruce Bennett
Bennett Marketing & Media Production, LLC

Creative Inspiration
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