For anyone new to the video world, finding the right pros to realize your vision can be tricky enough. Add to that the loosely defined terms around roles (and sometimes stringent guidelines that dictate payment) — not to mention the new wave of filmmakers and videographers who can seemingly do everything solo — and it can be hard to tell how best to proceed.
To help you understand the landscape — and manage both budgets and expectations — we’re taking a look at the differences between individual roles, hybrid crews, and all-in-one videographers. Let’s get started.
Traditional crews (aka individual roles)
Classic film production roles exist for a reason. Largely representative of traditional filmmaking, each individual role requires a great deal of specialized training, experience, and skill sets — especially on large productions.
If you’re working on a big project in Los Angeles, New York, or any other major filmmaking hub, you’re likely to see individual roles defined on a production’s call sheet, such as: Producer, Director, Sound Engineer, Gaffer… you get the picture. (Learn more about each of these roles here.)
When working on a project of this scale, you should expect to spend thousands to tens of thousands of dollars per project. You not only have to consider day rates (often multiple day rates), but you also have to adhere to industry and union guidelines. That said, you can also expect the highest level of quality from these type of productions. Hiring individual roles usually means working with some of the best specialists in the business, including producers and directors with decades of experience.
If you haven’t done much video work at this scale, we recommend working with a producer or production agent who has. They can assist you with budgeting and hiring for all the individual roles in your production. One other consideration: These individualized, larger productions often have the longest lead times. Be sure to factor in time for negotiating contracts and meticulously coordinating production.
In smaller productions, there are many instances when individual crew members take on hybrid roles — or multiple roles all at once. You’ll often see this with passion-project indie films or commercial videos made in conjunction with small production companies. While the roles can be divided by departments (ie: pre-production producers and shooters; production experts; and post-production editors), it’s usually more of an organic process where individuals with multiple skill sets choose to work together, taking on any number of tasks as needed.
Small, hybrid-crew shoots split the difference between big individual-role productions and the tiny all-in-one projects. You can find these small crews online as small video production companies or video production agencies. They might have one or two principal members, who in turn have a handful of regular employees or freelance collaborators.
When working with these hybrid-role crews, you should expect to spend between a thousand to several thousand dollars per project. But in doing so, you can also expect high-quality work executed to meet your needs. You can also expect a single point of contact, if not a project manager, to coordinate with you across all parts of the production.
As the digital video industry continues to evolve, the all-in-one videographer has become more common. In fact, many small- or medium-sized businesses are hiring these jack-of-all-trades to work freelance or in-house, concepting, shooting, and editing videos solo.
While working with an all-in-one videographer might be the cheapest (and usually quickest) option, it does come with a higher risk. An all-in-one videographer means there’s only one person on set to manage production. It also means you’ll only have one set of gear, which presents challenges for more involved projects — not to mention in the event of equipment malfunction.
Despite the risk, this option presents an affordable route for quick-turn video projects, making it ideal for small businesses looking to get their feet wet with video. It also presents new opportunities for up-and-coming filmmakers to explore the full spectrum of video making, and can often yield results just as impressive as larger-scale productions. (Be sure to check out this flower shop video for proof).