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Pricing for 15-30 interview videos - Example included

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Evan WendtPricing for 15-30 interview videos - Example included
by on Jun 19, 2014 at 8:30:52 pm


An acquaintance of mine recently saw this video I did

He writes for several medical associations. He really enjoyed my piece and approached me about doing videos similar to this for his clients. Basically patient vignettes and doctor interviews with opener/closer graphics in this style ranging from 15-30 minutes each, once complete.

He says it would be 4 to 6 videos over the course of 5 months. He has asked me to give an estimate of my services (Both shooting and editing) so he can write the proposals to his clients.

I really don't know what is fair to charge! I want to make money on this while not undervaluing or overvaluing myself.

Based on my research this is the basic plan I have put together:

Full Day Rate - $800
(Flat rate for a minimum of 5 hours, but not to exceed 8 hours. $100 per hour after 8 hours is exceeded in the same day)

Half Day Rate - $500
(Flat rate for a minimum of 1 hour, but not to exceed 4 hours. $100 per hour after 8 hours is exceeded in the same day)

Editing Hourly Rate:

The editing hourly rate is applied to all editing activities including video capture/download, logging and sorting, editing, render and export.

Editing, Render and Export - $65 per hour

I then calculated what the video linked above would cost under this system:

Completed video run time - 11 Minutes

Shooting/Production - 16 Hours (3 Half days at $500) = $1,500

Editing - 35 Hours = $2,275

Royalty Free Music Licenses = $350

Total = $4,125

So my question is, based on the video above and that the clients are large medical associations, in your professional opinion am I accurate on price? Too high? Too low? I value your professional input. Thanks!

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Nick GriffinRe: Pricing for 15-30 interview videos - Example included
by on Jun 19, 2014 at 9:52:24 pm

Too low. But to sell this I believe you have to provide options so your prospective client feels in control and not being given a "take it or leave it" proposition. Give options that take away some things they may want, ie.- length, shoot days/depth of coverage, etc.

BTW, I didn't see a cost for your function as a producer, the one who turns raw footage into a message that makes sense. That's a lot more than just editing. Maybe the addition of that will help raise your price.

By way of style, I'd suggest reducing the amount of handheld footage and, when shooting talking heads, lower the camera so the subject is looking AT the viewer, not being looked down on.

AND, for what it's worth, Medical interests have serious money, especially if you can get a pharma company involved. Then it's SERIOUS money.

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Evan WendtRe: Pricing for 15-30 interview videos - Example included
by on Jun 19, 2014 at 10:37:36 pm


Thanks for the shooting tips. I was using a cheap steady cam unit for the first time for this project (School Project) so the resultants were less then stellar.

I like the suggestion of different options for the client to choose, I will have to think about this further.

As for script writing, I was told a member of his staff would handle this and be on set to prep the person interviewed.

I had figured on the producer duties and prepping images and materials as part of the editing hourly rate. Would you charge a different rate for such things?

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Mark SuszkoRe: Pricing for 15-30 interview videos - Example included
by on Jun 19, 2014 at 9:52:31 pm

First impression is, dump the half-days and rate everything at full days. You lose money billing half-days in these situations, and the bit of time cushion can be useful. If you get done early, pocket the extra as a bonus, or if you're feeling generous to the client, pro-rate it towards the next one.

Bump the edit rate up to an even $70, put the extra money towards buying more plug-ins or updates.

It's not apparent if you budgeted time for writing the script and pre-production like prepping the photos for montage and organizing materials.

What about captioning costs? Lots of times, these things play in a room where they've muted the sound and put everything on captions.

Likewise, what about alternate language versions, at least Spanish?

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Evan WendtRe: Pricing for 15-30 interview videos - Example included
by on Jun 19, 2014 at 10:37:11 pm


Thank you for the reply! "Full day rate only" sounds good. How would you work around a situation where I go out for say two hours to capture some extra b-roll? I feel like still charging $800 would be a lot but maybe I'm wrong.

For similar (but better) production quality as my video, what would be a reasonable estimate for a 20-30 minute video in your opinion.

Am i on the right track?

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Tom SeftonRe: Pricing for 15-30 interview videos - Example included
by on Jun 19, 2014 at 10:48:22 pm

Sorry, is this price for producing each film of the series of 4-6 or for producing the whole lot?

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Evan WendtRe: Pricing for 15-30 interview videos - Example included
by on Jun 19, 2014 at 10:54:19 pm

The price was an example of what my rates would look like if applied to the sample video I did.

But, yes, that would be an approximate price PER each video.

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Mark SuszkoRe: Pricing for 15-30 interview videos - Example included
by on Jun 19, 2014 at 11:08:22 pm

Two hours has a way of taking more than that time, and you have to consider the "opportunity cost" that taking 2-3 hours out of a day generally makes you unavailable to be full-time any place else that day. So bill a full day, and I'm sure some day you will forgive yourself for making a higher margin that day. If you feel really guilty, discount it from the next job, or, take it off some other task in the job like logging shots or whatever.

I am loathe to ever quote a hard figure to anyone for anything in such a situation. The most you'll get out of me is an estimate of the hours or days the shooting and the post will take. I have a good idea how many hours *I* would need. I have no idea what your skill level or working conditions and facilities are like, so for me to guess YOUR hours would be reckless and almost certainly too high or too low. And neither of those is good for your business.

You are supposed to have already worked out what a "sustainable" hourly and day rate are, for your specific situation.

If you can negotiate for more than that minimum rate, good; you're a good businessman or salesman, and if you deliver and they love it, hey, you've discovered your new, higher day rate. Don't scoff; that's more or less how many guys come up with the rate: charging what the market will bear. Sometimes, it goes scandalously high. When that happens, they shut up and make a note to cut a bigger check for the Sunday collection that week.

This is a business.

Likewise, never charge less than your established minimum rate. It's better to give away a "freebie" to someone as a charity donation, or "comp", than to under-charge and accept the lower amount. The first one doesn't obligate you to anything, and people go around bragging they got a deal, and telling people what your normal rate is. The second, taking less money, obligates you to do full-price-quality work at a loss, without an elegant way to back out, and it tells everyone that might hire you in the future, you've re-set your rate lower. You'll never be able to get them to come back up to your real "minimum" rate again.

Thus endeth the lesson.

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Evan WendtRe: Pricing for 15-30 interview videos - Example included
by on Jun 19, 2014 at 11:23:54 pm

Awesome! Thank you Mark, much appreciated.

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Ned MillerRe: Pricing for 15-30 interview videos - Example included
by on Jun 22, 2014 at 7:48:11 pm

Hello Evan,

I'm not sure if I missed something but did you say you are new to the biz? Recently a student? I ask because you are coming at cost estimating from that angle.

Much of my client base is health related, from hospitals, pharma, associations, etc. They do have money but they don't like to be gouged, it's very competitive nowadays and they often need to seek several bids to satisfy their purchasing department, thus driving down bids. As Mark says it's best to avoid half day rates but clients who have just one talking head don't understand why they should pay a full day so it's best to find more to do that day. Also, a full day is considered 10 hours in the biz, not 8 as it was in the good old unionized days. What you can get for a project varies, unfortunately you have an intermediary between you and the paying client. They will take a big cut thus forcing your price down. It is always best to work directly for the final client but half a loaf is better than no loaf. Going forward always try to market to the final client so you don't have to reduce your price.

As to editing, you may want to keep track of hours and how much you think you are worth hourly but the clients just care about the bottom line per video, perhaps with a range. It's hard to quote by the hour because everyone has a different speed. Sometimes it's best to ask the client what they wanted to spend or "keep it under". Two reasons for that: 1) You don't waste your time if they have too little budget, 2) They may give a figure that is higher than you would have charged!

So in sum regarding price, I'd say if you go out with an assistant for a one, 10 hr day shoot, edit for 3-4 days for the rough with a few back and forths of "reasonable revisions", in today's climate that is worth around $3500-$5000. Ten years ago we may have gotten 30-50% more but prices for videos have plummeted since then. Every now and then you stumble across clients who are not price sensitive but that is getting more rare. The higher up your contact is within the org the more budget you can get. Do not give a discount when promised quantity because that may not come through. Experienced clients always hold out that carrot as part of the negotiating process, I hear that all the time. Also, some videos are easy slam dunks and others are time sucking root canals, so you can't guesstimate time involved based on your first one. As a small business owner you have to get in the mindset of "What's the worst that can happen?"

Now as to need to advance, especially on your interview audio and the framing of your subject. You do have a good b-roll style but the interviews are the core. I highly recommend you spend $25 and subscribe asap to and go to video production tutorials, especially a NYU teacher named Anthony Q. Artis. Watch every one of his segments. He will explain everything including budgeting. I've been doing this every week for 35 years and even I learned a lot watching his segments.

Good luck

Ned Miller
Chicago Videographer

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