“Pricing for Video Production Services”
By Matthew Billings
Principal and Creative Director at Spin Creative
How do film and video production companies come up with their pricing? This is one of the most asked questions we face from clients as well as people in the production community – especially as the price of video equipment and editing software drops. So why does video cost what it costs and why can pricing vary so much between providers?
The closest analogy to a video production I can think of is a kitchen remodel. (This will make sense. I promise.) In both instances, there is a general contractor (producer) who oversees an assortment of specialists (writers, directors, directors of photography, editors, composers) to complete the work. Both the contractor and the producer come up with a creative solution, a budget and manages the time and schedules of the specialists.
Just as with a kitchen remodel, the choices you make when planning a video determine the price. Here are some things to consider.
- Experience – How experienced are your producers and crew (contractor and subs)? Is this their first project or have they been doing this kind of work for years? A production team with experience can greatly assist in the creative development of the program. Such proficiency enables a contractor or a producer to effectively anticipate and solve problems, which translates into saving time and money.
- Director – Like a great chef, a director knows what to do to bring about the best results. A good director costs more than an inexperienced director but can be the difference between Chateau Briand and dog food. Also, an experienced director can be critical in planning a realistic number of shoot days to bring to life the creative vision for the project.
- Equipment – The quality of the actual recorded images varies as much as models of refrigerators, ranges and dishwashers. Today, cameras are ubiquitous and inexpensive. But the actual cost of quality production cameras remains high due in large part to cutting edge technology and professional grade lenses.
- Artistry – How should your video look? The answers are as varied as the many choices facing a construction project. In a kitchen does the food taste better if it’s cooked on a Viking range as opposed to a KitchenAid®? Will the cabinets be handmade by a skilled carpenter or purchased at a super store? Will they be made from cherry or oak? The answers are determined by brand identity and corporate culture which can be key drivers of the creative direction.
- Audience – In general, the larger the potential audience, the larger the budget. Commercial kitchens and television commercials serve a larger demographic. A program for internal use generally costs less than a marketing vehicle.
- Information vs. Marketing – A program meant to inform, such as a video news release or an employee benefits video, is more effective if it doesn’t look and sound like a commercial. Both can entertain and both can be clever but “flash” tends to undercut the credibility of an informational video just as straight information does not necessarily make a good commercial.
- A Solid Script – When preparing a great meal, the ingredients you choose are crucial. The same can be said of the ingredients that go into the script. A good script is the recipe for an effective video. (OK, even I’m getting sick of the kitchen analogy.) But the key purpose of the script is to tell a story. In fact, the importance of story cannot be overestimated.
- Budget scope – In most cases, the budget defines the quality and the quality is determined by the budget. The narrower the range, the more your vendor knows that you know what you’re doing. If you give a producer or a contractor a range of $20,000 to $100,000 you are setting yourself up for dramatically different results.
- The blueprint – The script for a video project is analogous to the blueprint for a kitchen remodel. In both cases, changes to the plan can be costly. Adding scenes during shooting is like moving a wall back 10 feet after framing. Such changes are the leading cause for cost overruns and should be avoided. Keep in mind however that some changes are inevitable and that it’s wise to include at least a ten percent contingency for the unexpected.
The marketplace for video production services has become much more crowded over the last few years. Budgeting for film & video production can be a confusing process but like a kitchen remodel, a proven professional will deliver an excellent product at a fair price.
About Spin Creative
Spin Creative is a creative agency and film and video production company specializing in high-craft, high-care TV and digital commercials and brand, event and marketing videos. We design each project to engage viewers, increase audience reach and ultimately help power the success of your campaign, idea or business. If you need high impact TV and web commercials, brand and marketing videos to propel your business, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 206.686.6278 (Seattle) or 415.767.3645 (San Francisco). Our offices are in Seattle and San Francisco but we travel all over the world for our clients.