Also known as, why does video cost so much?
Video production is EXPENSIVE. I feel you on that. However, there are a few insights I can give you to help you budget more realistically so that you’re not shell-shocked by the price tag on your next quote from a videographer.
You can also use the calculator at the bottom of this post to plug in your own numbers and see what your project might cost.
Let’s dive in.
Recognize that prices may vary.
Because videography is a freelance industry, every videographer is different. They’re going to have differently hourly rates, different equipment and different values on their time. Someone fresh out of college might be DYING to work for $25/hour, but others who have been in the industry a while may not take anything less than $200/hour. It’s important to realize that you are paying for experience in the field when it comes to your videographer’s hourly rate. That doesn’t mean you can’t find a great videographer at a steal of a deal, but it does mean that comparing and contrasting numbers might get exhausting, and you’d be best to go with the videographer that suits your style and needs rather than choosing based on a number.
2. Budget for the hours of filming - but don’t forget to include setup and breakdown
Did I mention that video production requires a ton of gear? If I haven’t then let me just say - VIDEO REQUIRES A TON OF GEAR. Even though videography is at the low-end of the production spectrum, it can still take a decent amount of time to load in, set-up, get exposures, run some test shots and take a deep breath — especially when most videographers are a one-woman crew. So don’t be surprised if you'r videographer needs 45m - 1 hour to setup and YES you have to pay them for that time too. Budget for at LEAST 30m of setup and breakdown EACH when calculating out how many hours of filming will be needed. It’s best to let the videographer tell you from experience how much filming time will be needed - a good rule of thumb is no less than 2-4 hours including setup and breakdown, and depending on the shoot. Multiply the hours by your videographers hourly rate to get the cost of filming.
3. Equipment rentals & gear
Not all videographers own their own gear, but if they do - they’ll likely be adding a fee to cover their costs. Owning gear is not only expensive in of itself but it is expensive to maintain insurance coverage and pay off any loans/credit cards that were used to acquire said gear. If your videographer is renting gear then that needs to be billed at actual cost. Hopefully your videographer won’t be renting EVERYTHING or that can get pricey - but sometimes renting a lens or light kit can be relatively affordable for both parties. I usually try to budget around $75-125 worth of equipment rentals per shoot, but of course it all depends.
This is where things get very VERY time consuming and expensive for most videographers. For someone who doesn’t do any video editing you might be wondering WHY your videographer charges SO MUCH MONEY for editing. I can tell you from experience that sometimes I don’t even want to OPEN a project file without at least $200 waiting for me on the other side, that’s how much video editing can suck at times. A good rule of thumb to help you budget for video editing is estimating 4-6 hours of work per finished MINUTE of video. If your video doesn’t include interviews, audio or any synching this number might get closer to 2-4 hours per finished minute - but it also all depends on your videographer’s editing speed - which is where experience totally pays off.
5. Location fee
Location… location…location! Locations are EVERYTHING for a video shoot. You can make a brand look extremely high-end (or not so high end…) all depending on where you shoot. LOCATIONS MAKE OR BREAK VIDEOS! There are some affordable locations out there as well as some very high end ones - it might be best for you to take a look through Peerspace.com and see what’s out there and at what rates so you can accurately budget for a location. For the average videography project, I would say $75-100/hour is a reasonable expectation.
6. Graphics & Voice Over
If you’re planning on having some original graphics made (think animations, titles, etc) for your video this can substantially raise the cost of post-production. However, with the introduction of Fiverr freelancers everywhere have been able to cut costs in this area. Ask your videographer if they source from Fiverr for Graphics and Voice Over and then budget based on what you see available on their website. You can get great Voice Over for $12 so there is no need to over-spend here - however budgeting on the high-end never hurts.
7. Markup & Profit
At the end of the day your videographer is running a business, a business that needs to profit and come out on top. They can’t be loosing money gig after gig and expect to stay a float. Don’t be surprised if you see a contingency markup (20% is typical) to cover unexpected production costs as well as a profit markup (usually 8%) so that some funds go back into the business itself. Seeing these additional costs on a quote should be a reassurance that your videographer is focused on running a quality business, maintaining great relationships with their clientele, and delivering high quality videos in a timely fashion. Freelancers who are only in it to make a quick buck and aren’t concerned with maintaining a brand identity and reputation are going to be much more likely to flake out or try and tack on additional costs down the road. Look for videographers who have a brand, a business model, packages and great reviews.
I hope this helps you navigate the waters of budgeting for your next video. Feel free to use the calculator below to run some numbers (defaulted to my rates and expectations) so that you can budget confidently before booking time with a videographer.