It’s difficult to understand why things cost what they do in an industry that isn’t yours.
With so many production companies starting in the last few years, the quotes you receive can be vastly different. We’ve been in competition on jobs where some quotes have been half our price and some more than double our price. I’ve explained previously how important the balance between Cost and Quality is when choosing a production company. But now I’m going to explain where the prices come from.
Although entry-level equipment costs have come down greatly, the fast moving pace of technology means it’s important to keep ahead or at least up to date with the field. A small production company may have a filming kit that costs £10,000+. Over the years this will be upgraded, changed or repaired to keep it in perfect working order. It will also be insured. To account for those costs production companies will charge a small percentage per job. For us it’s £200 for our standard kit. By doing this we are able to ensure our clients have the best equipment that is in full working order.
Some jobs require a lot more equipment that may need to be hired in externally. The hire company dictates these costs. Whether it’s a particular camera or lighting rig, the costs depend on the value of the equipment and are unavoidable.
Post-production can involve thousands of pounds worth of equipment, from computers and software to hard drives. It is important that your production company has the correct licenses for all their editing software. It’s no surprise that post-production costs can run very high. Most small production companies will charge between £250-£350 per day of editing with a trained editor.
For smaller productions that can be crewed in-house there will be set day rates. But remember if they are to be any good they will be trained and experienced. These are skilled jobs and their daily rate needs to reflect that. If you are paying below £200 for a camera operator you have to question whether they’ll be capable of meeting your objectives.
When it comes to bigger projects where external crew are needed there are union daily rates that must be followed. BECTU provide detailed rates for all film and video crews.
Like any business there are costs that need to be covered. Rent, rates, transport, and admin wages all need to be accounted for. On top of this should be a robust insurance policy that is tailor made for this industry.
Some companies will add these costs into the mark up on the individual costs. Others will add a percentage of the final cost usually around 10-20%.
Just remember if you are going to go with the cheapest check to see exactly what you are getting for your money.