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Charge for a short promo for academic department

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Jenn Lindsay
Charge for a short promo for academic department
on Mar 6, 2015 at 10:23:30 am

Hi there!

I'm a PhD student, and long before I got into this impoverishing line of torture I worked in post-production in NYC for about 5 years. I continue to use my production skills to make short docs to use as teaching tools. This year I was able to secure academic funding by making five 12-minute movies about the activities of a research facility on campus. I probably got paid about 10% of "industry standard," but that's how grad school rolls I guess. (Example: https://vimeo.com/119710312)

I have some footage of undergrads doing interviews about their experiences taking classes in my department and I thought of pitching a "promo" video to my department that they could use to try and drum up enrollments. I already have the footage so it's just a matter of cutting it and adding audio. It will probably be around 8-10 minutes of talking heads and related b-roll, not too technical. I'm a musician and tend to use my own scoring for audio, and I also create swift little Intros on Motion. I imagine it would take about 40 hours from logging to final cut.

When I imagine what to charge my department for such a proposal I am very unsure was to what normal, professional, dignified editor people would charge. I'd like to know a ballpark range so I know how much to ask for. I will inevitably ask under market, but I'd like to know how much I'm undercutting myself!

Any thoughts?

Thanks very much!
Jenn Lindsay

http://www.JennLindsay.com
iMac 27-inch, 3.5 GHz Intel Core i7. 4GB GPU.
FCPX


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Mark Suszko
Re: Charge for a short promo for academic department
on Mar 6, 2015 at 4:11:44 pm
Last Edited By Mark Suszko on Mar 6, 2015 at 4:16:47 pm

Well, I'm one out of three, but I'd suggest you either bill it at a pro rate, or do it pro-bono, while giving them an invoice with the true value of your time noted and then a notation that this time it's "N/C" or "rate waived". If you give them something at a low-balling price, you'll have a struggle ever being taken seriously when you ask for the REAL rate.

What's the rate in NYC? I'd imagine higher than many places around the country. Expenses in your market are so high, a lot of folks try to do it from out in the outer boroughs or over into Jersey, to cut some costs. You could be talking anywhere from 50 an hour to over 350 an hour. Maybe more. If I were in your shoes, first, my feet would hurt, because they're size 14, but second, I'd look up or obtain rate cards from a few low to mid-range post houses in your general area, compare between them, and aim at a rate somewhere in the median.

That's assuming this is a one-off deal. If you're at all serious about getting back into post work even semi-regularly, as a pro, you need to do all the expense and revenue calculations to generate your true "day rate" and from that, your "hourly rate". That number is the rate at which you actually come out ahead after all the time and effort you put in, and the number below which you dare not accept a job, because it winds up paying less than burger-flipping.

If you're really just doing this more or less out of the kindness of your heart to help the institution you're working in, it still is useful to put a realistic price tag on any volunteer work you generate for them. You never know when someone might see that somewhere, and decide to commission you for a "real" project with a "budget". If that happens, trying to negotiate your rate upwards, against what you are already on record as settling for, destroys your bargaining position, see?

(edit to add)

There may be issues with how your stock footage of the other students can be used in anything that generates money for someone. Did you ever get signed releases from the people you shot? It could become an issue down the road. Some institutions or schools get around this by making students sign a generic permission slip as part of the other annual paperwork for going to the school, they add a lot of indemnifications at that stage. You'd want to know if what you shot was covered under the school's contractual language with each student, or if you indeed have to hunt down every person in the final cut and get a signed permission.


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Richard Herd
Re: Charge for a short promo for academic department
on Mar 6, 2015 at 7:26:51 pm

[Mark Suszko] "If you're really just doing this more or less out of the kindness of your heart to help the institution you're working in, it still is useful to put a realistic price tag on any volunteer work you generate for them."

When you hit the job market after your hooding, a line in the letter of recommendation(s) is/are worth more than the cash you'll make from doing the job itself, especially with regard to both the quality of your work and your service to the department.


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