Filmmaking / Directing : How much to pay freelance line producer? by Mary Ar

Mary Ar

How much to pay freelance line producer?

Hi, there, I work at a medium-sized video company (45 people) that mostly does weddings, music videos, and industrials. A screenwriter recently came to us with a feature and I'm not sure how to line produce it. I'm used to doing quotes for clients, but when it comes to all of the SAG stuff, tax credits, and actually doing a breakdown page-by-page, feature film budgeting is way different than a bunch of "talking head" videos for pharma companies. What is the average price of a freelance line producer, so we can get the ball rolling? I know that he/she will need to come back in once the film is totally financed, but I want to understand how much I need to put out up front to determine what the budget of this film is going to be, even ballpark. Also, does anyone know anyone dependable? We are based in Central NJ and will likely need to shoot in the 'burbs of NJ, PA and/or DE, depending on what the line producer thinks in terms of tax credit.

D Marcus

For someone who is experienced and really knows their stuff you should be offering a minimum of $500/day. I'm sure you'll find people willing to work for half that. But very often you'll pay less in the long run because a connected, experienced person can do the work faster and with more accuracy. Especially someone who fully understands the tax credits. It wouldn't be out of the question offer $750/1,000/day. Think about it. Five days of work to get accurate numbers that saves your production $50,000 for $3,500/4,500?

Mary Ar

Yes, I want pro - it would be HORRIBLE to commit to a project that is not properly line produced. Ok, so in order to accurately quote the development time to draw up a budget, maybe I should estimate it's $1K for every 20 pages of script (just in case I quote them $4K and they hand us some 120 page opus. someone still has to tread through that). I'm having trouble because most of the time, people expect a "free quote" from us but a line item budget is CRAZY - I can't afford to hire a line producer on spec to do that. We don't do financing - we are just hired guns.

David Trotti

You can also contact the DGA's East Coast office and get the names of UPMs off the Availability List. Many of them are Line Producers, or more experienced than most Line Producers who'll take your call. Call a few up and get quotes on their rates to do a budget. That's what they do for a living. Most should have familiarity with the current incentives. But when you contact them, be straight up that this is to get a quote on doing a budget for a writer who doesn't have funding yet. After the snickering dies down, they'll give you an honest quote for their work or a pass. But don't sell it for more than it is. Experienced UPMs and Line Producers have heard it all before.

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