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Need advice quick!

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shane jenny
Need advice quick!
on Sep 7, 2011 at 5:59:40 pm

I have to submit a very simple proposal to a design agency for a 30 second web commercial/intro video. Problem is, I'm a wedding videographer and haven't had a real commercial job.

All they want is want is a simple breakdown of the services we are going to provide, and I don't have the slightest clue how to word it.

If someone would help me put together something very simple or point me in the right direction. We're basically providing two DSLR cameras (5d mkii & 7D), lighting and audio equipment and doing all the editing.

Thanks!

"Just along for the ride"


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Steve Martin
Re: Need advice quick!
on Sep 7, 2011 at 6:21:51 pm

So is the agency providing all the creative (i.e concept, storyboards, script, graphic elements, etc...)? Any pre-production (i.e shot planning, location scout/permitting, production coordination, casting, etc...) on your part?

I ask, because if they are handling all these elements, all you're really doing is providing "below the line" technical services and it's pretty easy to put together a proposal/estimate:

X numbers of days for equipment at $??/day
Camera operator @ $??/day
Audio Engineer@ ??/day
Gaffer @ ??/day
other crew @ ??/day
X number of hours editing @ ??/hour

and so on... you can break each line item down as much (or as little) as you want/need to depending on the complexity of the project.

Make sure you (and your client) understand who is directing the shoot and making final creative decisions. If it's them, that's not to say that you don't have input and make suggestions - but ultimately it's their show and their responsibility.

If on the other hand, you are responsible for creative development and direction, there's nothing quick about it. You need to slow down and ask enough questions until you have a complete understanding of the scope of work.

Then AND ONLY THEN, can you even begin to write a proposal that addresses your ability to provide those services and the corresponding fees that you will charge to do so.

Good luck!

Production is fun - but lets not forget: Nobody ever died on the video table!


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shane jenny
Re: Need advice quick!
on Sep 7, 2011 at 6:48:38 pm

Phenomenal advice! That's exactly what I needed.

I am not handling any of the creative aspects of the job nor the pre-production. I'm shooting the web commercial and editing it.

So how should I lay this thing out? Should I do a summary, then list pre-production (ie. time it will take for lighting setup, audio, etc.), then list post-production and a summary of what we'll be doing? I'm having trouble coming up with the vocabulary, I'm that green (which is okay, my point of contact at the agency is my best friend who is having a fun time watching me fumble around with this).

"Just along for the ride"


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Steve Martin
Re: Need advice quick!
on Sep 7, 2011 at 7:07:32 pm

There's no right or wrong way to lay it out. And sometimes i use a different approach depending on the client.

If you want to draw very clear lines (almost always preferable) about:

  • What services you will perform,
  • For how long and
  • How much each element will cost

a line item approach might be best. Typically we show day rates for people (10 hour days) and equipment. With hourly rates for editing, graphics, etc... Over time you get better and estimating how long things take. If things take longer than you estimated, you can decide if it's because you're slow, you misjudged the project or if the client bears some (or all!) of the responsibility for the overrun. At that point you can decide what (if any) changes there should be on the final invoice.

If you and your client have a good understanding for the scope of work and it's all very simple and straight forward, a flat fee for the project might be OK. But you have to be very careful with flat fees because once there's no "cost differential" the scope of work tends to expend dramatically as clients try to add things or get you to redo things for free because of their own poor planning.

That's when disagreements pop up and your best friend might not be any longer!

I hope this helps!

Steve

Production is fun - but lets not forget: Nobody ever died on the video table!


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Nick Griffin
Re: Need advice quick!
on Sep 7, 2011 at 7:08:46 pm

At the risk of making this seem complicated, here's the left side of the spreadsheet we use to develop pricing:

Pre-Production
Meeting & planning, Pre-scripting
Shot list development & finalization of scripts
Location Scouting & site coordination


Production (Field or Studio Shooting)
Director / Cameraman
Producer / Senior Grip
Grip, Junior
PA / Script Supervisor
Equipment Rental (Lighting / Jib / Dolly)
XDCam Media
Actors (Union, On-Camera, Speaking)
Actors (non-union, non-speaking)
Stylist / Hair / Makeup
Props
Wardrobe
Location Fees
Airfare
Transportation & Lodging
Crew Meals / Day
Travel days


Post-Production
Audio

AFTRA Voiceover Talent
Voice-over recording session
Prod Music, small audience, no net, X min
Production Music, Unlimited use*, X min
Sweetening of Audio from Video (& Folly)


Video
Window burns (no one has asked for them in YEARS)
Transfer & Shot Logging
Non- Linear Editing (Suite & Editor/Director)
Off-Line Efx & Titling (Opens/Closes/etc)
Producer (seldom used at this stage)
Master to Digital Files
Mastering Disk Stock

Then we present each of the tasks, Pre-Production, Production, Post-Production as sub-totals so the individual costs aren't picked at. This is a tiny portion of the standard budgeting sheets used by larger productions but it works for us and our clients.


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shane jenny
Re: Need advice quick!
on Sep 7, 2011 at 7:18:24 pm

You guys are incredible. I really appreciate the help. I'd give both of you a hug if I could, honestly.

Here's what I came up with so far.

Summary
This proposal is for a 30 second web commercial and includes two high-definition cameras, two camera operators, production, and post-production. A sample render will be available for preview via web 1 week after shoot. Approval will be requested. Final output will be available for download via web.

Rates
A-Camera Operator $300/day
B-Camera Operator $300/day
8 hours of editing $50/hr
Re-edits $50/hr

Production
Crew will need 2-3 hours of setup of audio and lighting equipment at location prior to shoot.

Post-production
Post-production includes editing of footage, color-correction, color-grading, incorporating graphic elements, and royalty free music.


What do you guys think?

"Just along for the ride"


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Nick Griffin
Re: Need advice quick!
on Sep 7, 2011 at 7:25:11 pm

First, I think Steve's comments were excellent.

To what you already have I would add editing, color grading, etc "to first cut" 8 hours, additional hours for client requested changes at $X/hr.

Also, are you getting any portion up-front? 1/3rd is normal so you can at least cover your crew costs.


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shane jenny
Re: Need advice quick!
on Sep 7, 2011 at 7:28:08 pm

Thanks for the comments Nick. Great stuff, I'm making that change now. Would I request 1/3rd upfront in the proposal? I haven't even thought about that yet.

"Just along for the ride"


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Mark Suszko
Re: Need advice quick!
on Sep 7, 2011 at 10:14:04 pm

Yes, it is customary to get a down payment or Production Deposit of a third to a half the total estimated cost before work begins. A popular method is to bill in thirds: one third up front to start, from which you pay your rentals and staff, the middle third is due at the first screening of the first draft, where they are going to give you any change orders they need executed.

The final third plus any overages is due when you hand over the master or other deliverable, and note, you DO NOT hand that over EVER until you get paid. You also watermark or otherwise brand any sample footage you hand over "for review at home". If all they want to do is review it, the logo bug or time code window on the screen will not be a problem for them. If they complain they want to see a "clean copy", before they decide to pay you, they are vey likely going to rip you off, so demand payment in full before you hand over a clean copy. Ask me how I know ths happens:-)


Contracts are never thought about when things go well, their value is in defining what happens when things go badly or unexpectedly. You can't count on oral "understandings" to hold up in court. If it is not on paper and signed off, it never happened.

You will also want a clause or statement defining if this is a "work for hire", and if the client owns all the raw footage and media and things like project files, or if you do. Typically, unless it is a work for hire or otherwise specified in writing, you retain ownership of the tapes and the raw footage, they only get the master that results from the edit process. If they want to make further edits or new product from old footage, they come back to you for a new contract and a new job. This needs to be understood by all parties and signed off before you start work, you can't call 'dibs" like this retroactively.

Typically, your project files and edit decision lists are retained by you as proprietary materials, but you may choose to sell those to a client that wants them (a rare thing). Think about what you want to charge for those, because with them, the unscrupulous client can cut you out of future repeat business by leveraging your creative work from the first job wothout paying you for more versions. Figure the rough cost of the editing work you may be giving away with those project files when you contemplate a price for the files.

You need a simple short statement that declares the policy for
lateness/cancellations by client/ postponement due to weather or unforseen circumstances. This has been the cause of a lot of drama when it isn't understood ahead of time.

For example: "In the case of a client cancellation made at least three days prior to scheduled work, 100% of the deposit will be refunded. For cancellations within 24 hours of the scheduled work, a cancellation charge of x% will be applied to any refunds. Either party may cancel this project without prejudice or cost, up to one week prior to the first shooting day. Editing services may be cancelled at the end of the first rough cut stage and billed only for services and materials performed to that point" This clause protects you from being on the hook for rentals or staff booking (like hiring actors or shooters) that wasn't put to billable use. Also, clients that book you take you out of circulation for other, lucrative work, so if they don't come thru with the job, you would be out some money due to lost business opportunity. Ergo, the cancellation fee or penalty.

Your weather policy may be: "In cases where weather or acts of nature interfere with the execution of the scheduled work, work will be resumed the next available business day, and the client is responsible for any overages for rentals or personnel costs". That is important because regardless if you got any useful shots that day or not, crew and actors and equipment renters made a COMMITMENT to you, they took time that could have made them money elsewhere to make themselves available to you. If you have to cancel, you owe them something for the effort and inconvenienece. Or, rather more smartly, the client owes them for it.


Your editing process should be defined: "Client has paid for x hours of editing time at N dollars per hour. Client is entitled to a screening copy of the first rough cut assembly edit for general review and approval purposes. Upon our receiving client's approval or change orders, client will recieve one additional revised copy of the final edit with said changes, for re-approval. Further revisions to the product from that point will be billed at straight time and materials, payment due on delivery. The estimated hours to complete an edit are an approximation only, and any additional hours required for actual completion of the work will be billed at the #n per hour rate. Client must approve edittime overages beyond five additional editing hours. Duplicate copies are billed at $n cost. Error policy: We strive for perfection in our product. If we make an error of fact or technical detail on our part, we will make good a revision at no cost. Mistakes caused by incorrect client-supplied information will be repaired at our standard hourly rate, billable to the client, and all such services are due to be paid upon delivery"

This means if YOU misspell the client's title on a lower third, for example, you fix it for free. If they gave you a written spelling that they spelled wrong, or want to add a whole new section not in the original plan, that's on them; they should be more organized. The clause also protects you from being stuck making endless revisions for free and never getting paid for any of the time spent.

This way, they get one rough cut, for which they make any notes for changes, and they have to make their minds up. The next cut should then be exactly right, and also free, but if they still want more changes after that, now they have to pay more. I came up with this clause and the others thru hard-won practical experience. Take advantage of my pain and avoid some for yourself.


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Scott Sheriff
Re: Need advice quick!
on Sep 8, 2011 at 7:02:49 pm

[Mark Suszko] "The final third plus any overages is due when you hand over the master or other deliverable, and note, you DO NOT hand that over EVER until you get paid. You also watermark or otherwise brand any sample footage you hand over "for review at home". If all they want to do is review it, the logo bug or time code window on the screen will not be a problem for them. If they complain they want to see a "clean copy", before they decide to pay you, they are vey likely going to rip you off, so demand payment in full before you hand over a clean copy. Ask me how I know ths happens:-)"

This is good advice.
And if you put a TC window on your footage, make sure it is well into the frame, so it can be squeezed out.
I shot HD footage of a MX event on spec for a guy, that had SD footage he had been using in his spots for ever. His intention was to redo his spot in HD for next season. After the gig, I made him a TC burn DVD of the raw footage, which he said he really liked. No mention of doing any editing, which the guy knows I do. So next season comes along, and I get a group email about the spring MX, which included event dates, air schedule, an attached poster for approval before going to the printer, but no mention of editing the spot. About two weeks before the event, I get a call from a local station in a panic wanting a copy of the raw footage I shot because all they had was the old SD footage, and a DVD with TC burn on it. When I told them that they or the client had to pay for the footage, they said they didn't have any budget to do that because they were posting it for free to get the air buy. No soup for you.
Had I not TC'd the clients DVD, I'm sure they would have pulled it off the DVD and used it for the spot.

Scott Sheriff
Director
http://www.sstdigitalmedia.com


"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur." ---Red Adair

Where were you on 6/21?


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Scott Sheriff
Re: Need advice quick!
on Sep 8, 2011 at 6:09:34 pm

[shane jenny] "This proposal is for a 30 second web commercial and includes two high-definition cameras, two camera operators, production, and post-production. A sample render will be available for preview via web 1 week after shoot. Approval will be requested. Final output will be available for download via web.

Rates
A-Camera Operator $300/day
B-Camera Operator $300/day
8 hours of editing $50/hr
Re-edits $50/hr

Production
Crew will need 2-3 hours of setup of audio and lighting equipment at location prior to shoot.

Post-production
Post-production includes editing of footage, color-correction, color-grading, incorporating graphic elements, and royalty free music."


I think your rate for camera is low. 300 per day to operate is ok, but what about for the camera itself? Lighting, bulb time, etc. Shoots put hours on the camera and lights, and use up expendables and your only charging about the norm for walking in and operating gear.
What is your charge for setup and teardown? This looks like your doing it for free. If you are, you will still have to pay the crew.
I wouldn't use the term re-edit. Editing, is just editing. Having re-edit on here is redundant.
No mention of audio at all.
A two camera shoot, with a 2-3 hour set up, you might want to think about getting a PA.
You mention color grading. Do you have experience doing this, and have the proper equipment? If so, you are undercharging. If you are planning to farm this out, you are undercharging.
Who is writing this? Who is directing this? Who is producing this? Is it all on camera, or is there going to be VO? Who is going the graphics? Who is acting in this? If the actors are supplied by the client, and they run you over on shooting time, who is responsible?
What about travel time?
What about expenses? Who is feeding the crew? If you have a 2-3 hour setup, and an all day shoot, there will have to be meal and snacks provided.
How are you outputting this, and what is the charge for that?
What are your terms for getting paid?
More questions, than answers.

If you are going to do things a la carte, it is best to have an inclusive list of services, with your hourly rates. This should be well thought out, and priced so you don't go broke. Then you can just send this to clients, along with your proposal of how long each element will take.
The other way to do this is with a fixed price bid, and list the amount of each service you will deliver. If you run over and it's your (or the crews fault) then you eat it. If it's because the client wants more than originally planned, then you charge from the rate sheet.

IMO, I think you are way undercharging on this, and it doesn't seem well thought out, or very business like. Not trying to be mean. But if I put myself in the clients shoes and received this, and something like what some of the other guys here, or myself would send, yours wouldn't make the first cut.
A proposal needs to be very inclusive and detailed, which this is not. It needs to be like a mini business plan.

Scott Sheriff
Director
http://www.sstdigitalmedia.com


"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur." ---Red Adair

Where were you on 6/21?


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Steve Martin
Re: Need advice quick!
on Sep 7, 2011 at 9:51:32 pm

Nice list Nick. I'm interested in your thoughts (and others too!) on how to bill travel days. We keep going round and round with clients & crew on this issue and would love to hear how others are handling it.

Do you guys typically charge full or discounted day rates for travel days.

It seems like a double edge sword. If you don't charge for it your profit margins suffer. If travel costs get too high, it encourages clients to hire "local." For some long term clients who really value the service you provide them, travel costs are a non-issue. For some, however, it's a hard pill to swallow.

Thoughts?

Production is fun - but lets not forget: Nobody ever died on the video table!


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Mark Suszko
Re: Need advice quick!
on Sep 7, 2011 at 10:21:07 pm

A lot of guys bill travel at a half-rate. It still takes you out of prductive work so ti has to cost *something*.

I think the smarter guys just embed those costs in other parts of the rate, and never really mention it. When you get into large budget projects, it becomes so small an issue that it almost shouldn't matter.

The last time I did a corporate gig was long ago, but they offered to handle the air and hotel thru their own travel agent at a large discount, and they thus knew they weren't getting overcharged for that, so it wasn't part of my bill on that gig, but I did put in a per diem for travel to cover a couple burgers and sodas and cab fare that would other wise be out-of-pocket before getting paid.

Travel time should be figured portal-to-portal: from the time you leave your driveway to the time you hit theirs, and the same on the return.


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Nick Griffin
Re: Need advice quick!
on Sep 7, 2011 at 10:32:53 pm

[Steve Martin] "
Do you guys typically charge full or discounted day rates for travel days."


Steve -
And isn't THAT one of the bigger issues many of us have to deal with. In the past I have often fallen on the side of, "Well if they could hire somebody locally am I not putting myself at a competitive disadvantage by charging for something the other guys don't have to?"

These days I regard travel as something I try to get at 50% of normal day rate. Especially when its justified by being a specialist in an area that the local guys are unlikely to know. "Try" is the operative word since when push comes to shove that always seems to be one of the areas that is cut first. Realistically it often comes down to how much I want the individual job and how much the client wants us to be the ones to do it.

While that is negotiable, expenses (air, auto mileage) are always charged at 100%, but without mark-up.

That's how we handle it, but different strokes for different folks.


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Scott Sheriff
Re: Need advice quick!
on Sep 8, 2011 at 6:37:05 pm

[Steve Martin] "Do you guys typically charge full or discounted day rates for travel days."

I understand there is a big justification for charging your full day rate for travel, but I still don't do it.
I charge a discounted rate, plus mileage, and/or direct travel costs that are not supplied by the client. After 5 hours, I switch to a day rate with a per diem to cover meals, hotel, etc.

Scott Sheriff
Director
http://www.sstdigitalmedia.com


"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur." ---Red Adair

Where were you on 6/21?


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grinner hester
Re: Need advice quick!
on Sep 8, 2011 at 1:27:57 pm

I usually word it something like, "I can do the whole enchelada and have it to ya by the end of tomorrow for 2500 bucks."
For years I really thought people wanted break downs in proposals. They just want a price. I cut to the chase and respond in real time rather than dragging it out while they collect other bids.



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shane jenny
Re: Need advice quick!
on Sep 9, 2011 at 11:52:01 pm

You guys have been immensely helpful! Thank you so much!

"Just along for the ride"


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Scott Sheriff
Re: Need advice quick!
on Sep 10, 2011 at 7:42:44 pm

[grinner hester] "I usually word it something like, "I can do the whole enchelada(sic) and have it to ya by the end of tomorrow for 2500 bucks.""

I was wondering if you would accept either an invoice, or a estimate from a contractor, plumber, mechanic, etc that was written like that?

Scott Sheriff
Director
http://www.sstdigitalmedia.com


"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur." ---Red Adair

Where were you on 6/21?


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