Filmmaking / Directing : What to charge for a trailer by Elisabeth Meier

Elisabeth Meier

What to charge for a trailer

Hi guys, I was asked for producing a trailer for a crowdfunding campaign. So, I would like to know what to charge for such a trailer of about 2 minutes or so, think that is the maximum crowdfunding trailers, many are just 30 seconds or so. The thing is there's hardly any material as the film of course doesn't exist yet and I have to work with a lot of free stock material. The search for the right material is of course time consuming etc. - so I have no idea at all what to charge for such a project. Is there any rule? I don't think there is but you never know. What are your experiences? Would you charge the hours or a fix price for the complete project? Thanks for your help!

Michael Wearing

My thoughts: charge whatever you need to cover your costs, then you need to consider the likelihood of the project hitting the crowdfunding target. Some you can look at who's involved or the subject matter and know there's an audience. So you might want to consider tying yourself in to a paid role in the actual project. You might want to consider percentage of what they raise. Or if you aren't over convinced about their likelihood of a successful campaign you might want to consider a flat fee based on the hours you anticipate working. Don't forget that helping somebody in any way can reap huge rewards down the line..

D Marcus

There is no "rule". I charge by the hour.

Elisabeth Meier

And may I ask how much you take for an hour - circa? Just asking because a screenwriter is never paid per hour but for a proper script of about 110 pages. No matter how long it takes until the "customer" is happy, meaning no matter how many re-writes.

David E. Gates

When I previously shot wedding/event videos, I charged by the hour I was at the event - if I was there for ten hours, it was 10x my hourly fee (£100 per hour). This included the final product, editing, etc., and any re-edits required (limited to a maximum of two). Try and work out how many hours it's going to take you, then quote based on that. P.S. Trailers are an art form in themselves - it took me a LONG time to get the trailer for my film just right, and that was just a minute long. You have to get a lot of information into a very small space. Made me appreciate how skilled the people making trailers for big movies are.

D Marcus

Not true in most cases. A writer is paid to write a project. A specific number of rewrites is agreed upon. If the "customer" wants more rewrites they pay more. A writer doesn't get paid one fee to write until the "customer" is happy. It is possible that an editor could spend 100 hours finding the right materials for a 30 second trailer. A set fee of (say) $500 means $5 per hour in searching only. If it then takes another 10 hours to put everything together and then the "customer" wants five or six more recuts of the trailer it could end up taking 150 hours. If they aren't happy and need you to do 40 more hours finding the right materials it might even take over 200 hours. That could end up being $2.50 per hour. You asked if I would charge by the hour or the project. I would charge by the hour because a project like the one you describe could be very time consuming. Which way are you leaning, Elisabeth? Seems like you're leaning towards a project fee.

Regina Lee

You can get a rough idea of what some people charge by googling "sizzle reel charges" or "rip reel charges." I know a guy in Los Angeles who charges as little as $30-50/hour, but it depends on the scope of work.

Elisabeth Meier

@D Marcus - Of course the screenwriter is paid for the complete project. Never said any different. But that's why I opened this thread. I haven't had any contract so far that includes only a certain amount of re-writes and extra payment for more. Great idea, will have that in my next contracts. Thank you! I opened this thread to figure out how much a trailer, pre-produced for crowdfunding is worth. Just about. I mean if I'd help someone with producing such a trailer with almost no material and a lot of free footage I would not know what to charge. A lot of research to get the right music and proper pictures that transport the mood of the movie and give an idea of the story. That's not easy and done in a day. It's even more difficult, harder and probably more time consuming than having enough original film material and can't decide what to take. So, because of the "poor" producer and low budget etc I indeed thought to get an idea what to charge as a project fee. But, thank you all I now know better. :) Well, the point then is to calculate what you should charge for your hour by what you need for your expenses to make your living and put this against reality. This is why I was asking how other people do it. Thank you all for sharing your thoughts and experiences. Very appreciated!

Scott Leger

As a generalized, rough estimate: For crowdfunding trailers of projects $0 - $10,000 - I'd charge $500. For crowdfunding trailers of projects $10,001 - $20,000 - I'd charge $1000. Also I've had more success filming table reads, rehearsals, interviews, etc. rather than plugging in found footage. If you show that your creative team has gotten together multiple times to work on your project, I think that shows a certain commitment and people respond to that. Good luck!

Douglas Eugene Mayfield

I'd be skeptical of a crowd funding campaign for a project for which there is 'hardly any material'. Of the campaigns which I've seen work, that is, achieve their goal, almost without exception, the film makers have shot material themselves to demonstrate their ability to potential CF donors and give reality to their project. You might be helping a friend or willing to take a risk if you're getting paid or..., so feel free to ignore my comment if it's not relevant. And Scott's suggestion concerning 'filming table reads....' makes sense.

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