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How much for a commercial

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Lutz60400How much for a commercial
by on May 9, 2006 at 10:14:54 pm

Hi I was wondering if anyone knows how much it would cost to make a commercial. I have two companies asking me to make one for them but i dont want to undersell myself. The first company is the san jose grand prix and they have about 10 hours of footage as well as a couple hours of my own footage, they gave me a script and basically all i will be doing is editing together a 15 second, three 30 second and a 60 second spot for them. it will include a lot of cool graphics and i will do it mainly in Apples Motion. The other commercial isa 30 second for Westfield shopping mall. they will need me to do everything except write the script. I will have to do all the filming and what not. what do you think a should charge?

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Frank OttoRe: How much for a commercial
by on May 9, 2006 at 10:56:38 pm

I think you should charge $250,000 per finished spot...add in an additional 75k if they want you to distribute to stations...

But seriously...This question has been asked and answered so many times in the Business might want to do a search on the Cow in general and in the business forum. But here's the short answer:

Is this your business or avocation? Are you gainfully employed elsewhere and are looking to build a business? Is this a hobby/career change/timekiller?What is your goal as a business person - what are your goals as an artist/creator?

Those are the first things to ask yourself -

Then ask yourself, how much money do you need. Cost of equipment, facilities, supplies, insurance, rent - all that has to be paid for somehow. And don't trap yourself with "I already own the gear"...yes, but it wears, breaks or otherwise goes obsolete and then you'll need to develop a fee to charge in order to afford to replace.

Then decide what you want as a salary - that includes your check and benefits (medical, other bennies). Don't forget staff - if this is a one man band you're lucky - most of us have to have help somewhere, from assistants to specialists to tax guys and accountants. And they have to get paid. As do you.

Now going back to the first questions. If it's a hobby/avocation/one-time only then ask for what youy think the market will bear, after all, you won't be doing it again - or only on a limited basis.

If you're doing this as a business - long term, then it's a lot more complicated than "what do I ask for."

Market research of who charges what is the last thing - There are people I work/compete with who charge a minimum of 25k per job, period. If they don't get the gig, they don't care- their price is their price. If you are new, or in a wholly competitive market (say L.A., NY or London) competition will drive rates.

And there's more...but for now, I'll let you think it thruogh - and open the floor -

(by the way, I charge 450.00 per hour(10 min) for shooting as a D.P., 350.00 per hour as a camera op., 350.00 per hour edit and composite - flat fee of 2500.00 per 30 sec of finished writing)


Frank Otto

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Frank OttoRe: How much for a commercial
by on May 10, 2006 at 1:40:41 am

I should also add that those rates are for real - I'm about fourth or fifth down from the top film rate in the Vegas market. With gear...

The reality is I don't get many calls or inquiries for D.P. work because my rates are high, which is good, since I have a 40hr fulltime gig right now, holdover company issues from my last go at being independent and I haven't invested in new hardware or technology (software and workstations not withstanding)since the BVW400.

I've had maybe seven or eight clients in the past five years who didn't question the rate and I took on three that interested me. And although I'd love the money...I'd rather not have the marketing and sales grief, the second full time job as it were, just to make the nut. So it works as basically keeping a place in line.

Something else to think about when asking how much is, "How?", as in how well can you sell yourself because that's the only thing that makes your shop unique from the other guy who bought a Mac, a DVCam and a box o' lights. Frankly, and as I've said on this and other forums, I can build a campaign for a client, but I have a hell of a time selling me. That's why I have a manager.

But - that's another cost to deal with - when asking "how much to charge."


Frank Otto

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Bob ColeRe: How much for a commercial
by on May 11, 2006 at 3:25:12 pm

[Frank Otto] "I'm about fourth or fifth down from the top film rate in the Vegas market. With gear."

Those rates are pretty impressive, Frank. And I want to urge all of my colleagues in the Baltimore-Washington DC area to charge at least that much.

But if that includes a gear package, maybe you should charge more....

-- Bob C

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Frank OttoRe: How much for a commercial
by on May 13, 2006 at 4:55:57 am

The 450 DP rate is with a package that has an 400, arm, Arri kits,200 and 575w HMI pairs, flags, stands, sticks, grip and custom dolly all on a hotel bell type cart that weighs out at about 1100lbs. And another body.

The 350 rate is just me, a 400 and my "work kit" ; a custom dolly, arm, Arri SoftIV kit, a bag full of clamps-connectors-braces-plates and more, sticks, flags and all fits on a magliner.

As I said - the 40 hr gig curently keeps me busy - so rates are sort of an auto stop for the cheap.

Funny, I found an old rate card from 1980; I was getting 650 A DAY for a TK76, 3/4" BVU100, a Colortran 3x 650w kit, a Mole 3x 1-light 600w mini fay kit, a Sylvania 30vdc batterypak for a 30v light, Shure M67 and SE30 mixers w/2 RE15, 2 635a, 2 ecm-50, Mitchell wood sticks, O'Connor 50, all in a van with monitors, scopes, two-way package and a 2ghz microwave package.

Just some history - some one else can do the math between then and now....


Frank Otto

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Bob ColeRe: How much for a commercial
by on May 15, 2006 at 4:13:16 pm

[Frank Otto] "and all fits on a magliner."

I think you're missing your real calling: you should be the chief packer for the space shuttle.

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Frank OttoRe: How much for a commercial
by on May 15, 2006 at 10:47:16 pm

I've always had the knack of packing the proverbial 10lbs into a 5lbs sack


Frank Otto

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jehf85Re: How much for a commercial
by on May 12, 2006 at 7:02:57 pm

Have the clients suggested any price range that is realistic for them to want to spend on this?

I sometimes have clients who want my services, but have a limit on what they can spend on the project. In those cases, provided I actually want to do the job, it's not just a matter of asking "how much do I need to cover all my expenses in addition to my own salary?", instead I have to ask myself "how much can I do for my client with this money?". In these cases, you basically have to find out how you can solve your client's problem, within your client's budget. And if you can't you're either turning them down, or working for free :)

Otherwise, I think Frank Otto has it all covered pretty well. You really need to establish your own role in all of this, and you need to research the market in your area.

About putting a price tag on the equipment you own. I find it helpful to just set up a private price list for renting my equipment, that somehow matches the market price for renting this kind of equipment in my area. I then just use calculate this price into the total cost of the project. So even if I own the equipment, I theoretically rent it off myself, effectively assuring I get paid for the wear and tear.

Hope this is helpful in some way.

John-Erling Holmenes Fredriksen
Runaround Film
Life of Elling

Life of Elling

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Tim KolbRe: How much for a commercial
by on May 13, 2006 at 11:42:39 pm

Hmmm... How good are you?

Are you the best in your market? The worst? (sorry...least best?)

What are the rates of the top and low end of the market? Where do you fit? Oftentimes if I'm doing a spot where I'm helping with concept work and directing, I'll have some sort of flat fee...but it won't be inexpensive.

I'd be more concerned about underpricing than overpricing. Be careful about wanting the work too badly. I spent the first 20 years of my career underpricing it's painful to even think about how much more margin I could have made on less work and less keep growing whether you're there or not.


Kolb Productions,
Creative Cow Host,

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