When hiring a video professional, you might think there’s a set of universal guidelines that govern pay rates. However, as any filmmaker or videographer will tell you, there are many variables to consider when deciding on a dollar amount; rates can (and often do) vary widely from project to project.
That said, there are a few key elements to keep in mind when calculating video project rates. We’re outlining a few of the big ones — like day rates vs. project rates vs. hourly rates — below. Scroll on for insight into the different breakdowns, with tips for deciding which one’s right for your next video project.
The most common video project rates are day rates. This is especially true for the super-specific jobs you might be hiring for — such as Director, Director of Photography (DP), Assistant Director (AD), Production Assistant (PA), and so on. (Need a refresher on what these roles mean? Read up on them here.)
Typical day rates depend on the region where you’re hiring, and can range anywhere from $400 to $800 per day and up — with a “day” being anywhere from 6–10 hours.
If your shoot will fit into a window of fewer than 4–5 hours including set-up and take-down time, you may be able to negotiate a half-day rate. One important note is that hard costs like camera rentals are often only available at full-day rates, so you’ll want to account for that expenditure going in.
A less common way of breaking down video project costs is by the hour. Not all video professionals are accustomed to working on hourly rates. That said, some projects may warrant it; in those cases, hourly rates can be negotiated.
The most likely scenarios for using hourly rates are video editing projects. Again, rates will vary based on experience and the task at hand. If you go based on the day rates mentioned above, you’re looking at rough numbers between $25 to $100 per hour — and up.
As solo, do-it-all filmmakers and small hybrid crews are becoming more common, so too are all-inclusive project rates. Often times, these rates will be meticulously line itemed to list out every single cost across the complete scope of the project. And while this may seem excessive, it’s actually ideal.
This approach gives you the full picture of what your video production will cost, and it level sets expectations from the get-go. Add timelines, deliverables, and dates to the list, and you’ll be on your way to a well-oiled project.
Pro tip: Be sure to discuss what you’ll be using the video files for as the rights may change the cost.
Camera and gear costs
One common oversight for people hiring video professionals is the sheer cost of cameras, equipment, and gear. Whether you’re hiring a solo filmmaker or small video production company, they’re likely investing tens of thousands of dollars into cameras and gear, either through renting or owning their equipment. Not just in one-off costs either, but also in maintenance, updates, and insurance.
These costs should absolutely be factored in when discussing any video project rate. To get a better understanding of how much to put forth, you can always research what it costs to rent a camera from a rental house, or check out the equipment online (including what it costs to insure).