Filmmaking / Directing : How much do YOU charge?? by Amanda Murray

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Amanda Murray

How much do YOU charge??

I am a director who is putting together a budget for a short film and I would love to know from you how much you tend to charge or be paid for your work. I would like to get as best an estimate for my budget as possible. I would like to hear from set decorators, assistant directors, script supervisors, lighting, sound, and more! Any and all insight is great! Thank you!

Michael Wearing

Amanda, I would imagine most people would want to charge as much as they can get away with. When writing your budget for your film over estimate and add at least a 10% contingency fund, that way you will have room to manoeuvre. Look at the relevant Union rates as a starting point. If you have particular people in mind ask them how much they charge and see if you can negotiate. If you don't have particular people in mind then once you have your budget advertise the roles at a price you can afford. Don't forget to allow for tax travel and other expenses....

John O'Hara

I do lighting, electric, and production sound for$250/day for faith-based films

JD Hartman

@ Michael Wearing +1 to what you wrote. You can always drop your price but can never increase your rate when the details of the shoot are revealed or the simple 6 hour one location job turns into a 12 hour day with a company move.

JD Hartman

Minimum wage?? Should even a beginning HMU person make less than he equivalent person in a professional salon? Would you like everyone in your cast to contract pink-eye?

JD Hartman

Fair pay or not depends on the crew person's experience. Should experienced crew work on shorts? Why not, sometimes you make your next job connection that way through someone in the crew. My point is you get what you pay for. Do you want to minimize risk and maximize the possibility that you'll get your short completed in the time budgeted and get every shot you want and every shot looks good? How much will it "cost" to try and get cast back together because you have bad sound, a pivotal scene is not focused well enough or one of your actor looks like crap? What I'm trying to say is the low or no experienced minimum wage makeup person could spread conjunctivitis through the cast by using shared products on them. An experienced HMU would know enough to have a separate product labeled for everyone.

Nelle Nelle

Hi Amanda, I can only say that it depends. I'm assuming this is your first whack at it. Which is fine. Everyone has their rate and then everyone has the money they are willing to work for. I think you should find out how much the budget is overall. Then try to break that down. If you PM me I can give you a break down of what I paid a few key positions on my last film and what I am trying to pay this time around. Before it was all about getting the job done. So the budget was very small. And I have a lot of talented ppl that are close to me who believed in the vision (and it didn't take up too much of their time.) This time, the budget won't increase too much but I would like to provide more $$. There will be a lot of factors that you can manipulate. You also have to consider how long your shoot will be. Nothing is set in stone. Get your short made, however you got to do it! Just make sure you work with like-minded, good people who truly love what they are doing. Steer clear of those who are just in it for a paycheck. There has to be a balance. At any level. No one works in short film to get rich, imo. Nothing ruins a set more than someone who is just there and not putting forth passion. Anyway, my two cents.

Carl Welden

As a location sound recordist, I've made anywhere from $300-$600/10hr day, but that amount depends greatly on the combination of equipment I am asked to provide. Kit rental is often the way for freelancers to get the pay they deserve...unfortunately. If I'm operating $10K worth of audio equipment in my sound bag, vs. "a boom & a Zoom" there's a big difference in price AND quality. For low, or micro-budget projects, I may be able to offer a low rate for labor, but would require terms for travel, lodging, batteries, etc. On a full-pay shoot, I'm more willing to eat those costs myself, because frankly, it's worth it. I've glanced at posts for sound jobs on Craigslist offering $50-75 bucks A DAY for a boom-op with multiple lav mics, to which I've wanted to respond "I'd spend $30 of that on batteries alone! You're crazy!" So try to avoid that...haha! There are some great bits of information in these replies. Hope they help.

Royce Allen Dudley

Most working crew in L.A. who are any good command union scale, regardless of union status ( note that non union gets no benefits / pension contribution or qualifying hours).... but that gets cut based on the kind of project. There are also more than one union contract and scale depending on type of show ( Commercial, Feature Tiers, etc). The ocean of DIY filmmakers that have sprung up in the past digital decade have increased supply hundreds of times, I am sure. The demand hasn't increased proportionately for pro-budgeted work. So it's a producer's market, and many abuse it into the dirt. That said, to get good crew at low rates, you'll need a good project and a very good sales pitch. Most would rather wait for a day on a commercial than take 5 longer days for a new director and the same take home pay.

Anthony D Paul

And then you have to feed everyone and that all depends on how many crew. I'm looking at a cast and crew of 8 for my next one.

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