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How Much to Charge For 3 minute Kickstarter Script

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Jordan McGehee
How Much to Charge For 3 minute Kickstarter Script
on Oct 27, 2014 at 4:21:22 pm

A video production company approached me to write a script for a 3 minute Kickstarter campaign video. I can't find anywhere online what to charge for such a thing. Any ideas? They are pushing a physical product, but I do not have any more details at this point. Thanks!

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Mark Suszko
Re: How Much to Charge For 3 minute Kickstarter Script
on Oct 27, 2014 at 5:05:32 pm

When you shoot and edit a video, you know what to charge because you have a day rate and hourly rate and you understand how many hours shooting and posting something can take, based on experience and a description of the work they give you.

The right way, I think, to think of a similar process for estimating your scripting, is to first work with a creative brief and a treatment.

The Treatment I feel is the key element in the whole project. A Treatment is not the script: it is a scene-by-scene description of what the script will convey, without the actual dialog spoken. It will also have notes explaining anything that may need explaining to the producers/director in terms of why the scene has to be done that particular way, what the subtext is.

From a good treatment, nearly anyone could then write a successful script, but the Treatment is the "blueprint". And like a blueprint, it's the cheapest stage to get approvals and make changes before going forward in a scripting process, or into actual production. You can show the Treatment to a client and they can pretty much know what to expect to see in the finished video.

So when I meet with a client on a scripting gig, if it's a fresh start, we talk about what specifics need to be communicated. I sound them out on what the Creative Approach can be: if they want humor, drama, a description of the key audience demographic, so I know the vocabulary level to write at for that audience, and any cultural keys, etc.

From that meeting, I make a proposal with the Creative Approach and the Script Treatment. Once we get a treatment signed-off, I write the actual script, and like a video edit, you get one or two chances to read that and order changes. Though if the Treatment was done right, changes would be very very minor.

So, money-wise, It's an hour at my rate for the meeting, with a deposit to start the process. Then I ask for approval for the number of hours I think I need to come up with the Treatment. That number is based on how many hours I need to do research or background work like interviewing people to get the content and tech details, etc. I present the Treatment and when that is signed off, that's billed for the hours that took. The final script-writing is billed at the hourly rate and the amount is due on delivery. I typically give one free re-write at that stage, if necessary. Breaking the job into stages with progress payments means you always get paid for the work done up to that point, and the client doesn't pay for work not completed. If the project blows up, both parties walk away without outstanding obligations. It's important your payment is not contingent on other production stages or factors not in your control or area of responsibility. You get paid as you turn in your work, and you don't go forward until all payments are up to date. You'd be foolish to wait for a check for scripting, until the program is done and distributed and profits from it collected. Holding the product contingent to payment is your only true leverage in the negotiations.

In the case of your Kickstarter, I'd bill an hour for the initial consultation, and depending on how much material they can give me to use in my research, from one to six hours to get to a Treatment stage. If the Treatment is rejected, I try again but bill for that time. With a treatment already signed-off, I can churn out the actual script in an hour or less. Multiply hours by your hourly rate to get a number. I'm not a signatory to the Guild but my rates are at or just below Guild minimums and I don't work for less unless its for a charity I support.

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