How Much Does a Video Cost? Part II – Crew

How Much Does a Video Cost

I was on set last week and didn’t get a change to blog.  However, In our last installment we talked about camera package and how different levels of production have different levels of camera requirements.  In this article, I will discuss the people that are necessary to have a productive and professional production.

It’s that home-improvement time of year and you want to paint your house.  There are tools that make it easier, ladders to make you taller, and sprayers that get it done faster…but nothing is better then having someone like the Epcon home building franchise do it, but labor costs money.  Or, if you have children, get that brush in their hand so you and your wife can lay back in your hammocks.

Child Paint

“It’s not easy painting green.”

When hiring a crew you need professionals and people are taught to value themselves hourly.  Typically, people don’t think of their “daily price-tag”.  However that is exactly the way video crews work, either on a 10 or 12 hour day and generally freelance. (Freelance Work will be covered later this year.)

Getting back to painting your house, how much would you pay someone to paint your house hourly?  10/hr? 20/hr?  If you are going with a professional company, not the help found on the Home Depot street corner, you are in the area of 30 – 50 per hour of labor.  The same as a mechanic, the same as a plumber, the same as a camera operator on a 10 hour day.

Knowing how much people cost can help you decide who is necessary and who is expendable.  The Director of Photography is your lighting foreman and he will be setting lights, building camera, working with the director to compose the shot, and making sure the image is properly recorded onto the media.  If he has no help he will have to work slower, and less footage will be recorded.  There lies the budgeting balance.

Waste Time

“When are we getting to my close up?”

As the producer it is your job to know what will help the speed of production and what the budget calls for.  If you have too few people the timetable will suffer, too many and the cost quickly elevates.

Using our last example from “How Much Does a Video Cost?” we know we have a DSLR camera package.  To save on time we will have two people assist the Director of Photography (one to set up lights and one to build the camera), one person recording the sound, a make up artist to make the client beautiful, and a production assistant (PA) to be available to run errands, pick up lunch, or lend a hand wherever needed.  This is a minimum of 6 people not including the creative team.

Depending on the script,  you may need an Art Director to gather props, visual effects, create posters and paint walls.  A head of wardrobe may be needed to decide what suit the talent should wear, pin back any loose fitting clothing, and oversee any rented costumes or jewelry.

As you can see, it takes a team, a well orchestrated team to ensure every moment on set isn’t being wasted.  In some cases the help outside the Home Depot takes more to manage then hiring a professional.  In the next installment of “How Much Does a Video Cost?” I will be talking about creative, and how little modifications to the script can add project value without increasing budget, and in some cases ‘simple gags’ can cost more then the client is willing to spend.



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