While there is no flat amount for every commercial project, there are usually some things that are constant, in regards to production. Depending on how these elements vary, the cost will vary accordingly. I have learned to keep things as lean as possible, both in the amount of crew needed as well as gear and set up time. However, I feel that it would really be a shame to keep things ultra lean and have the project as a whole suffer for it. With that said, here are some common costs that should be thought through as you plan out your project:
a. Camera/Lenses: I typically shoot with Canon HDSLRs, and I own a very good variety of lenses, but some projects need something different. Maybe you need super slow motion, or a higher resolution. Just because a camera is good doesn’t mean it’s the best solution for your project.
b. Lighting: If there’s one thing that sets a project apart from the rest, it is the lighting. When you compare a still from a film to that of a home movie, what makes the difference in quality is 95% the way light is shaped and used to create or reinforce a mood. Sometimes extra lights and modifiers are needed to get the desired emotion across.
c. Stabilization equipment: I have a variety of stabilization devices, such as Glidecam, dolly, monopod, and tripod. These all have their place, but depending on the complexity of a shot, or a location, something more robust, such as a large jib or a longer dolly track may be desired. Specialty equipment, such as heavy-duty car mounts can also open up many options for your project.
a. On-camera: Sometimes you really need to call in a professional spokesperson to handle the delivery of your product or service to potential clients in your film. Non-celebrity professional talent are often readily available, and very talented.
b. Writing: Though I like to do much of the writing of the scripts for my projects, I know that there are some times I need to call in a little help. This is not a frequently needed service for me, but it can be nice when I just need a different perspective or if a project may take much longer if I don’t bring in skilled help.
c. Voice over or musical: A professional voice over can sometimes make or break a video, and the same goes with music. There are many outlets, both local and online, that give us options for voice over talent in various flavors. And music can be easily licensed, usually for around $50 a track. This is one area that you should not skimp on.
a. Location rental: Does your project require a studio with a green screen? Will we need to shoot in a conference room? Do we need to rent a football field? Some locations can be acquired for free if you have connections, but it’s always good to keep in mind that, if you want to do it right, you may need to rent that unique space for the shoot.
b. Permit: For certain locations, such as some landmarks, public roads, and government buildings, shooting permits may be required. This involves submitting an application, paying a fee, and only shooting within the allowed rules set by the owner.
4. Post work (Editing)
a. Data storage: Depending on your project, extra data storage may be needed. This can include online (or “cloud” storage), media used during shooting, and archive hard drives and backups. A typical project wouldn’t have any extra cost associated with it for data storage, but for higher resolutions (4K, etc.) or for RAW video, extra space may be needed. Again, this is not typical.
b. Color correction/Grading: I always do some level of color correction and grading when finishing a project, but some films need extra care to get things right. This is another non-typical extra cost, since it is pretty much built into the quote you’ll get for your project. However, if there are excessive revisions, or if the scope of a project dictates that extra stylization be done, the time spent in color grading will increase, and therefore, cost will as well. Don’t worry. Your project will almost certainly fall within the norm in this area.
c. Graphics: Adding graphics means adding branding, in some way. There is a level of design involved, as well as extra time spent making sure all the elements work well with the footage and don’t get in the way of your message. More graphics means more time and skill needed. However, this may be just the thing your project needs to make it fit your vision, so don’t be afraid of going after this option.
d. Advanced compositing/ Motion Graphics: This area of expertise is one in which I, admittedly, have less ability. However, I have colleagues who excel at this kind of work, and are very reasonable, too. I would consider 3D modeling and animation and certain visual effects as falling in to this category. I can handle some basic motion graphics and compositing, but because I really want your project to soar, I may suggest having one of my more-skilled colleagues work on this portion.
Again, while not all of these elements require extra cost, they are all within the realm of the possible for your project. You can make your project as elaborate or as simple as you like. Please contact me before getting too deep in planning your film, so that I can assist you in finding the best way to tell your story, in the most economical way possible. Cheers!