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Project idea but unsure how to charge...

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james parker
Project idea but unsure how to charge...
on May 22, 2011 at 10:41:16 pm

Hello again!
So i have this idea and here it is.
I put together a dvd about animals at the local zoo. Not all of them but specific ones that are of most interest. Interview some zoo keepers maybe even write some v/o. Put it all together into a single dvd with maybe 5 minutes shorts about for example their tiger. Once completed i would hope for 30 minutes of product at minimum.

Then the zoo and city welcome center can sell copies for X dollars.

How do i charge for this? or what would be common.
This is a project i want to do more than make money. But i dont want to do it completely free.

I figure there are two ways to charge...
1. I could sell the project to them and then they would be responsible for duplication. (i seriously doubt they would pay me enough to make it worth my while but still i dont know what a good price would be)
2. I could produce it for free. And then charge for each copy? But then I have to produce a copies for EVER! haha.
I guess i could also produce for free with an agreement from them to buy say 50 or 100 copies? something like that? And as they want more they have to pay more...

The project sounds like a lot of fun. I shot a mini doc about the local zoo for a class last year so i know some of the people down there. Also since I am interested in docs it would help me develop my skills more.

So what do you guys think?

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Mark Suszko
Re: Project idea but unsure how to charge...
on May 23, 2011 at 4:38:25 am

Your project sounds a lot like one of COW founder Ron's early projects. You may want to look up his story.

Anyway, the best way to do a project is to have someone else pay for it. Consider having the production sponsored/underwritten by a local advertiser, which lets you keep the final cost to zoo patrons very low. A second feature of sponsorship/underwriting is, nobody has to worry about the DVDs getting pirated, indeed, the sponsor will LIKE the dvd getting extra free distribution that way.

Backing up a bit, my first question if I'm the zoo is, why do I want to try to sell DVD's of what the patrons have just seen with their own eyes? Isn't this a project that's better served as a web video? Instead of them going home and watching the DVD multiple times, don't I want them coming back physically for more visits? What is the selling point to the zoo, the reason for having them to sell in the gift shop?

See, I don't think regular zoo goers are the best audience for a series of behind the scenes videos like this: people, and more specifically organizations and companies that can become donors to the zoo's fundraising, and maybe zoological support organizations that award significant efforts of zoos, are the real target for something like this. You give them a great behind the scenes story that shows the value of the zoo and of particulalr exhibits, shows the needs like an expansion or renovation of a primate house, for example, or a new interpretive center... and now you can get the donation and sponsorship ball rolling.

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james parker
Re: Project idea but unsure how to charge...
on May 23, 2011 at 7:56:19 am

I really like your ideas about sponsorship. Also you make a good point about zoo's wanting people to come back rather than take the zoo home.
I did leave a little out of the story though. I also considered offering some of the segments as a web video. The selling point i see is this. I would be creating public figures. What i mean is that i would give the animals an identity. For example the Tiger is named Tigger. I would highlight this and educate at the same time with hopes of turning the animals into a public figure that all of the community can recognize. I think im explaining my self but let me know if not.

Could i speak to local business owners and ask for money to produce the video as a donation to the zoo? basically they pay me to produce it then i dontate it to the zoo to sell or use in anyway they choose?
I could include sponsor logo at the beginning or end of the project.

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Mike Cohen
Re: Project idea but unsure how to charge...
on May 23, 2011 at 1:00:28 pm

However you approach the project it seems like a good idea to get someone at the zoo involved. If you have already done a class project and know some zoo staff, you might talk to these folks about your idea. Also, anytime you setup a tripod to shoot video on private property, you'd better have permission from someone in writing, or you'll be fed to the lions.

With the permission to film, which is likely to be separate from an agreement to distribute the DVD, you can then talk to the zoo about your ideas to sell the video. Perhaps you could offer them free video for their website, or just pitch them on the whole idea. Perhaps use your footage from the student project as a proof of concept - show them what you have in mind before you put a lot of work into it.

As for zoo patrons buying a DVD, when we went to the San Diego Zoo, they were selling videos about their baby panda - I think we bought one - so the idea is not without merit. I have noticed that a lot of the videos sold at museum or zoo gift shops are not about the museum exhibits but about related subjects (ie, Nat Geo docs about lions rather than Timon and Pumba the lovable lion cubs at the Cleveland Zoo). But if an attraction is a big draw for kids, parents may be likely to buy a DVD.

Good luck.

Mike Cohen

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