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Weekly Rates v.s Owner Daily Rates -- How to Justify

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Daniel Andreas
Weekly Rates v.s Owner Daily Rates -- How to Justify
on Nov 20, 2008 at 6:46:02 pm

This rarely happens but it is now coming up in prepro for this large HD doc I am shooting starting next month.

The producer suddenly asks me what my "WEEKLY RATE FOR EQUIPMENT" is after I had provided a quote with daily rates which was approved by production.

As an owner/operator I always charge daily rates but then don't charge for equipment on travel days. Which I think should make up for some. Besides much better cared for equipment and lower hours what are some other arguments that you guys use in this type of $$ discussion?

Appreciate your kind advise!

Daniel Andreas
DP Los Angeles




Daniel Andreas
Director of Photography
Los Angeles
DigiBetacam PAL
SDX900
HDX900

http://www.IconSpots.com



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Ernie Santella
Re: Weekly Rates v.s Owner Daily Rates -- How to Justify
on Nov 20, 2008 at 9:26:20 pm

If your first bid was approved for daily rate. I would stick firm to that and say I don't have a weekly rate and I just go by daily rates.

But, for reference, Rental houses usually charge 4 day/weeks for video gear. Film gear use to rent for 3 day/weeks. I personally don't offer weekly rates on my services. And travel time is 1/2 my daily shoot rate.

But, with the economy going into a depression (yeah, I think so) who knows if I will have any clients after this week.

Ernie Santella
Santella Productions Inc.
http://www.santellaproductions.com


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john sharaf
Re: Weekly Rates v.s Owner Daily Rates -- How to Justify
on Nov 20, 2008 at 9:38:55 pm

Dan,

It's quite common for owner/operators to discount weekly or longer rentals on the basis of five for four or seven for five. Of course if the producer was renting the gear from a rental house they could get a three day week or even better if more than a month long term, but a cameraman's kit is usually cheaper because the package price is still less than the a la carte total of all the parts you'd include vs.a rental company, even less the nominal 30% discount and three day week.

Furthermore, a cameraman's kit is less of a liability in terms of loss and damage, because to a certain extent the cameraman himself is responsible not to loose or break his own gear. Of course you must get a certificate of insurance from your client for liability and misc. rental equipment because your insurance will not cover you when you are working for, and under the control of a producer.

JS



JS





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Noah Kadner
Re: Weekly Rates v.s Owner Daily Rates -- How to Justify
on Nov 21, 2008 at 1:30:09 am

Love it- that's possibly a producer trying to pocket the difference from your discount... How bad do you need the gig is the next question?

-Noah

My FCP Blog. Unlock the secrets of the DVX100, HVX200 and Apple Color and Win a Free Letus Extreme.
Now featuring the Sony EX1 Guidebook, DVD Studio Pro and Sound for Film and TV.
http://www.callboxlive.com


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John Cummings
Re: Weekly Rates v.s Owner Daily Rates -- How to Justify
on Nov 21, 2008 at 6:11:57 pm

I don't have a weekly rate, although I think some do.

I'm currently shooting a large, long-term documentary project.
Instead of offering a weekly discount, I don't charge them for OT, missed meals, extra gear like wide angle lenses, mattebox and filters or expendables. I stay flexible with my schedule, don't charge for meetings and try to give them extra service. I figure I make it back in bulk, so it all comes out in the wash, and the invoice looks better without all those extra charges.

To me, just because rental houses do 3 for 5 or whatever, doesn't mean owner/operators like me have to. My clients aren't renting my gear, they're paying me for my expertise...and I supply the tools.

J Cummings
DP/Chicago
http://www.cameralogic.tv


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Matthew Romanis
Re: Weekly Rates v.s Owner Daily Rates -- How to Justify
on Nov 21, 2008 at 9:11:09 pm

When you engage a builder to construct a house or do a renovation, does he charge only 3 or 4 days for his hammer? Don't think so.
The weekly rate concessions were a mechanism to make longer rentals more attractive and affordable when the individual day rates were high, how much have your day rates changed in reflection of cost increases and CPI over the last 10 years? Not much I guess.
As a rule, owner operators don't do weekly rates, we already are an attractive price.
Put a rental daily rate on all the gear you have, compare it to your daily charge and demonstrate the difference to the scammer.....er.... I mean producer.



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Noah Kadner
Re: Weekly Rates v.s Owner Daily Rates -- How to Justify
on Nov 22, 2008 at 8:18:14 am

In this economy *not doing* a weekly rate could be one way to put yourself out of business. It might be a rule for you but I suspect there's folks in most markets that would be ok with it.

Noah

My FCP Blog. Unlock the secrets of the DVX100, HVX200 and Apple Color and Win a Free Letus Extreme.
Now featuring the Sony EX1 Guidebook, DVD Studio Pro and Sound for Film and TV.
http://www.callboxlive.com


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Matthew Romanis
Re: Weekly Rates v.s Owner Daily Rates -- How to Justify
on Nov 23, 2008 at 5:48:20 am

Hi Noah,
Rule was probably the wrong word to use, more "the thing done" instead. ("as a rule" here means "Generally speaking", one of those language region things.)

There are always deals to be struck with clients, but to expect a weekly rate without disclosing that wish in the initial negotiating is a bit rich.

Don't forget this is a world wide forum, and "This economy" is not the case all through the world. Believe it or not, some regions outside the States are not anticipating a crunch, for the foreseeable it's business as usual.



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john sharaf
Re: Weekly Rates v.s Owner Daily Rates -- How to Justify
on Nov 22, 2008 at 5:34:03 pm

Now, you're talking dangerous precedents. If you do not charge for meetings and prep, overtime, extras that they ask for, you're not only ruining it for yourself but for others. Overtime in particular is a very sensitive area; it is the only way we have to keep the producer honest and not abuse the crew in lieu of union contracts and universally accepted terms.

The broadcast news networks have long established five-for-four and seven-for-five rental weeks that are quite fair and still advantageous for owner/operators (even if they have to go out and subrent at a three day week they can still make money). In addition it minimizes the difference in cost between dry hiring the gear and hiring an operator with out gear.

In addition in these ling term assignments there is often travel and layover involved, so again the four or five day rentals advantage the owner operator and preclude having to agree to half day rates for travel, and renegotiating based on changes that inevitably occur in longform production.

As the economy sours, we must all make an effort to hold firm on these terms (5 for 4, 7 for 5, overtime, pay for prep/meet/travel, etc.) and if necessary negotiate the daily rate and not these hard fought terms. Ultimately it will benefit everyone, even the producers who find comfort in at least being able to accurately predict their costs.

JS



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cowcowcowcowcow
Tom Kaufman
Re: Weekly Rates v.s Owner Daily Rates -- How to Justify
on Nov 22, 2008 at 10:29:52 pm

I have to agree with John. It's important to be flexible, but to say no overtime...well, just shoot me now, okay? I've worked way too many jobs for some big companies in which the only thing keeping some newbie producer from running us into the ground was the specter of overtime.

It's a bit like shooting film vs tape. Back in the day, I would be given one roll (400') of negative, and told to go out and shoot some an event. They wanted angles, coverage, wide shots, details...you know. So I had to very careful with each shot. The limits kept me very focussed on what I was doing.

In a similar way, having some kind of limit set for the length of the day could help a producer/director focus in on what's really important on their shoot. And if something is happening outside the 10 hour day, well, that's why there's overtime.

I try not to be too much of hard-nose about this stuff. We all have lines we won't cross.

(Two weeks ago I was working on a shoot and the producer was going through our day's schedule, minute-by-minute. I asked her when was lunch. She just looked at me. I said, our call time is 6:30 am, we should take at least a half-hour break between 10:30 and 12:30, okay? I got a reluctant yes. Better than me getting low blood sugar and taking their heads off around 1 pm. I always pack some snacks just in case.)

As to gear rental, I start at one for one, then see what they say. Of course, a long form show, the producers should get a break. But I don't think it helps the owner/operators to try to match a rental house on gear prices. I explain to the producer that, as an owner/operator, I have a greater familiarity with the camera than someone who just rents it when they need it. So it's value-added. The gear company just has gear, and a producer needs more than that. Otherwise they'd shoot it themselves, right?





Tom Kaufman,
DP


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John Cummings
Re: Weekly Rates v.s Owner Daily Rates -- How to Justify
on Nov 23, 2008 at 12:33:51 am

Now, you're talking dangerous precedents. If you do not charge for meetings and prep, overtime, extras that they ask for, you're not only ruining it for yourself but for others.

Well, I don't want to be blamed for ruining the business for everyone, but I do bid each job differently. As an independent, that's my prerogative. I assembled the gear package for this shoot that I want to use...and priced it very attractively.

My current project is huge...a 10X1 hour HD series shot over two years for a nonprofit organization. I think the producers appreciate my flexibility, and if I don't nick them for every extra piece of gear or extra hour worked, I might actually get more shooting days with them.

"...but to say no overtime...well, just shoot me now, okay? I've worked way too many jobs for some big companies in which the only thing keeping some newbie producer from running us into the ground was the specter of overtime."

On shoot day 1, I had one chance to establish myself as a serious, hard-working professional. By making myself an example, I have set the tone...and the bar...for the whole crew. Now, if something's not the way it should be, I can speak up, and they will listen. That's what a good DP does.

I do have a work deal signed by both parties, and it spells out all terms including OT. I can choose to enforce it at any time if I feel I'm being taken advantage of. So far, it hasn't been a problem. A few extra hours here or there just isn't a big deal for me.

So to answer the original question again, there are no hard and fast rules. You're an independent businessman. Crunch the numbers and do what you think is right for you, and your client. If everyone ends up happy and they call you back, you did it right.








J Cummings
DP/Chicago
http://www.cameralogic.tv
HDX-900/HDW-730S/DXC-D50


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john sharaf
Re: Weekly Rates v.s Owner Daily Rates -- How to Justify
on Nov 23, 2008 at 12:46:54 am

John,

I don't want to get into a pissing match, but the reality is that when this client negotiates with the next cameraperson (for whatever reason) the first thing they'll say is the last guy didn't charge them overtime and they will not pay overtime. I've seen it before, many times, even as regards negotiating a 12 hour deal at a 10 hour rate, and the subtleties of portal-to-portal, and on and on. We cannot fault the producer for doing their due diligence and trying to save their precious budget.

Of course we all want to make our clients happy, and appreciative of our service, but overtime especially is a long fought term which can easily erode, especially for the rest of the crew, who are not benefiting from the rental aspect of the business.

Obviously this job has already been codified and I'm not suggesting that you try to modify the terms, just keep a mental note how it works out for you and the rest of the crew and you might reconsider this stance next time. For myself, overtime is sacrosanct and it's the least I can do to protect the rest of the crew as I negotiate the deal for all of us.

JMHO

JS







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John Cummings
Re: Weekly Rates v.s Owner Daily Rates -- How to Justify
on Nov 23, 2008 at 3:44:16 am

No pissing match here, John...I can see your point. But I'm afraid you may be picking on the wrong guy.

Unfortunately, the rate genie is well out of the bottle and every thing's on the table now. Last summer, I was offered a long-term deal on a cable series at what I thought was a ridiculously low rate...and it also included all kinds of extra gear at a discount. I turned it down on principle, and it was snapped up by another well-known area DP. The attraction, of course, is the steady gig...even if it is a much lower rate. Did the other guy make enough to justify the gouge? Probably...but he worked very hard for it. Do I regret not taking it? A little.

Now for a reality check. "Affordable" HD cams, reduced advertising rates and a glut of freelancers is putting tremendous downward pressure on rates. Now there's guys with EX-3's and the like hoping to play in my space. I know I'm going to have to deal with these people sooner or later. The only thing keeping me safe right now is 29 years of pro experience and producers that know the difference and need quality. That's my market and it's pretty small...and shrinking. But it's only going to get worse, and rates will inevitably continue to fall. Just watch the guys taking the deals next year when the economy really tanks.

I'm very happy to be getting my full daily rate on this project. If throwing in a few extras helps make my client happy, then that's what I'll do...because it's the right thing for me. And in my case, it's not your typical one week and out scenario.

As for the next guy that gets the call...I hate to say it, but he'll have to make his own deal. That's the new reality.

Sorry if I got a little off-topic, but it's a good discussion, anyway.


J Cummings
DP/Chicago
http://www.cameralogic.tv
HDX-900/HDW-730S/DXC-D50


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john sharaf
Re: Weekly Rates v.s Owner Daily Rates -- How to Justify
on Nov 23, 2008 at 6:24:59 am

John,

I appreciate your calm tone and reasoned logic, and you're right this is a good discussion!

Furthermore, you're absolutely right about the pressures on established rates due to the state of the economy, low ballers, bottom feeders and cheaper cameras, but I believe the pendulum is always in motion and even though it looks bad now, I do feel that us old timers may have our day once more and see our experience reflected in enhanced rates, in fact, it's in our power to structure the deals we make to do just that.

I know for sure that I do command a higher rate when I work with my Cine Altas or Varicams than I did with my Betacams, but I do wonder what will happen with both labor and equipment rates once the PDW700 settles in as the camera for all seasons. As I'm sure you know, it costs a little more than half of the Varicam (original price) and about half of the Sony F900R, so I suspect the package rental will end up close to what Betacam was, especially as it becomes adopted by most freelancers, and I believe it will be by virtue of it's acceptance by CBS and NBC and it's ability to shoot both 1080 and 720, as well as SD in NTSC and PAL, etc.

I know that folks are getting disproportionate rental rates for HDX900's (as we know it's an under $30K investment for body and vf) vs. over $50K that many of us paid for the Varicam three and four years ago, and these inflated rentals will not go on forever. The economics of HD camera ownership require early adoption to allow enough time to turn into profit and there's always the chance that premature obsolescence will rear its ugly head.

What little I do know about salesmanship and negotiation, I learned on the only "real" job I ever had, and that was one summer when I was in film school many years ago, as a Good Humor man, selling ice cream from a truck. I learned right away to ask my young customers as they raced up the truck not what they wanted, but how much they had to spend. This is a strategy that continues to serve me well to this day with film and television producers.

My only advice is to structure the deal to take all of their money by discounting the gear as much as you have to, while retaining the labor rates and conditions to our advantage. This strategy assures the maintainance of a respected position for the cameraperson and their crew, while letting the producer still feel that they're getting a good deal on the gear; as good if not better than the dry hire rates from a competitive rental vendor. Everyone gets what they want/need.

JS



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