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Survey question on portal-to-portal

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Mark SuszkoSurvey question on portal-to-portal
by on Jul 2, 2010 at 4:33:11 pm

What's your organization or studio's policy on overtime travel?
Does the clock run portal-to-portal, or something else? Trying to get a feel for what currently is industry-wide standard practice.

Specific example to apply your policy to: A five-hour shoot that requires three hours van travel each way, the shooter's normal work hours are 8:30 to 5. The van and gear belong to the organization, not the shooter. The shoot has to start at 10 AM, and needs an hour of set-up. He loads the van and then hits the ignition switch at 6AM, drives three hours, arrives at the location at 9AM, is all set up and ready to record at 10 AM. He stops rolling tape at 3PM, takes 30 minutes to break down, starts the van at 3:30, arrives back at the shop with the gear four hours later due to traffic. The time is now 7:30 PM as he hangs up the keys and clocks out. Assuming we don't consider any lunch or break time factors, but just the case as stated, how much of this time do you regard as overtime, and how much of it is billable, by your policies? Union or non-union?

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Mike CohenRe: Survey question on portal-to-portal
by on Jul 2, 2010 at 4:50:46 pm

Our employees are salaried - if you work 10 hours or 100 hours you get your same paycheck. We just hope that no one works 10 hours and everyone works somewhere between 40 and 100!

As far as billing out the time to a client, that is by the shoot, not by the hour. The client pays us for a video shoot, or likely for a whole project, which is priced to cover the travel and setup. Most of my clients don't want a breakdown by hour, lunch breaks, setup etc - they want to know what they need to pay to get the job done.

If you get nitpicky down to the part-hour of time actually spent, you can make yourself crazy. If your bean counters want you to account for every minute spent, then you need to tell them that it doesn't work this way.

If I hire a freelance crew, I pay them by the shoot, which should be priced to include their travel time to get to and fro. That charge is up to the vendor.

Mike Cohen

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Todd TerryRe: Survey question on portal-to-portal
by on Jul 2, 2010 at 4:51:07 pm

Our rates run door-out to door-back-in.

Travel time rate is one-half shoot time rate plus mileage, and anything outside of 9-to-5 (whether shoot or travel) is overtime (time and a half).


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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Mark SuszkoRe: Survey question on portal-to-portal
by on Jul 2, 2010 at 4:59:48 pm

I did two 16-hour days last week, where the actual shooting took an hour, and 12 or so hours were eaten up in the van, playing tag with deep vein thrombosis while driving there and back. You mean I can't bill OT for the parts of that that happen before and after my "normal working hours"? It's not like the van turns into my personal vehicle at 5 PM while I'm still stuck on the Eisenhower expressway with 4 hours more ahead of me. It's still full of the organization's gear, and I'm responsible for it and the vehicle until it's returned and I sign out and get into my own car to go home. The way I see it, I'm not free to do anything personal in that time with my time or the vehicle and gear, so it falls under "work". Am I wrong?

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Rich RubaschRe: Survey question on portal-to-portal
by on Jul 2, 2010 at 7:00:17 pm

I think it depends on who you (or whoever is in the van) are billing. If it just an hourly rate for an employee I think that could be negotiated to the manager. If it is a freelancer and you know that there will be traffic and extra driving time you could again negotiate what they will charge if they get back late due to traffic.

You are sort of describing unusual circumstances. We can usually estimate travel time and negotiate accordingly. We are also in a smaller city so travel is not a huge factor regardless.

If travel accounts for more than four hours of a 10 hour production day I would negotiate a lower rate for the travel time. If a shooter and his gear is $1400/day, 10 hours portal to portal and we know there will be at least 4 hours of travel alone I might negotiate perhaps $1100 for the day. They might or might not bite, depending on how much we work with them.

If it's my own employee I might slip them a $100 Best Buy gift card, or maybe a gas card...Jiffy Lube oil change gift cert?

We base a production day on 10 hours portal to portal, with some wriggle room for traffic etc. But if the client keeps everyone late because they can't decide what wash they want in the background it might incur an overage for the entire crew depending on how invested everyone was with the project.

Times are lean. Anyone who nickel and dimes in this economy is looking for a world of hurt. Best to play nice, exceed expectations and always deliver more than expected. You will get the next job...

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media Inc.
Video Production and Post

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Todd TerryRe: Survey question on portal-to-portal
by on Jul 3, 2010 at 5:48:14 am

Obviously, Mark, all of those 16 hours should have been "on the clock"... or at least they would be in my shop.

Normally as I said earlier we charge 1/2 our shoot rate for travel time... but we would probably quote that differently in a case like that. If a shoot only takes an hour but getting there and back takes 7 more, then that has blown the whole day... and taking me and my crew out of circulation for full-rate shoot time that day, which we could have most probably booked. In a case like that, where travel time far outweighs shoot time, we'd probably quote a travel rate that is much nearer to the actual shoot rate.

And again anything outside of 9-to-5 is billed time and a half.

We did a corporate shoot once that probably only lasted an hour... but it was 2000 miles from our home base on the other side of the country. We only charged them an hour. Haa... NOT. It was probaby our most expensive hour ever charged... I think we billed for three full shoot days, or at least close to that (plus crew airfire, hotel, and equipment shipping. (And yes, it was nuts that they hired us to do that when a local crew would have been a fraction of the cost, but that's what they wanted and that's what they got)


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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Mike SmithRe: Survey question on portal-to-portal
by on Jul 4, 2010 at 4:02:43 pm

If you are doing those hours as an employee, all of them are "on the clock" and it depends on your deal with your employer on hours / flexibility / overtime.

If you are a business and you do all that time for no charge, the long term doesn't look good. Though if you find you lose all your pitches to producers more local to your clients and you think travel costs make the difference, then you'd have something to think about .

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grinner hesterRe: Survey question on portal-to-portal
by on Jul 3, 2010 at 1:49:55 pm

This one of the great things about being a one man band. I base my bids on the time I'll have in the project. My travel time is not excluded. It's time I could not be billing something else. Full rate here.

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Chris BlairRe: Survey question on portal-to-portal
by on Jul 4, 2010 at 3:09:04 pm

I think the industry norm is to charge anywhere from 50-75% of your regular rates for travel time. I know our clients would be none too happy if we charged full-rate for travel time...and if I was a client I would feel cheated if somebody charged me $200/hour for the time they're sitting in a vehicle or on a plane.

I agree you're not able to book other billable projects during that time, but in my opinion it's excessive to charge your full-rate for getting to a gig.

We typically charge by half-day and full-day. So if we spend a 8-10 hour day traveling, we charge 60% of our day-rate (for a 2 or 3 person crew). Rates differ depending on the number of people on the shot.

Same if it takes us anywhere from 3-5 hours to travel somewhere, we charge 60% of a half-day rate for travel...again based on the size of the crew.

For shorter distances we just charge mileage at $.44/mile (or whatever the standard is now).

Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
Read our blog

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grinner hesterRe: Survey question on portal-to-portal
by on Jul 4, 2010 at 4:18:07 pm

I realize most don't bill ful rate for travel. I just see no reason not to though and I am not going to penalize myself for travelling for them. I'm on the road too much as it is. I'd only be away from my family more if I rewarded it by charging less.

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