So, What Should a Video Production Cost?

 
 

Pricing a video project is a lot like a middle school dance. The client is on one side of the gym fearful of revealing their budget. The production company is on the other side afraid of revealing their pricing. A whole lot of laminated gym floor and fruit punch goes to waste. So what's the hold up?

Most clients are afraid to reveal their budget for two reasons: first, they don't want to overpay if they name a budget higher than what the video would actually cost. Second, they don't want to be embarrassed if they have a budget that is too low.

As for the production companies, the big fear is being stuck with a price that's too low and losing money on a project that the client changes in size and scope later. Other reasons are fear of discouraging potential clients with some of the scary expensive numbers or being undercut by the competition and losing every bid if they made their pricing known.

Pricing a video project is not as simple as it seems. As any business owner knows, time is money. When it comes to products that rely on the creative process like videos, graphic design, or websites, time becomes an unknown variable.

How much time a project will take depends almost entirely on the size and complexity of the concept. As the size and complexity of a project goes up, so do the costs. A more complex concept may incur higher one-time fixed costs such as hiring actors, hiring additional crew members to facilitate the production, equipment rentals, and creating animations.

A more complex concept will almost certainly require additional scripting and planning time before the shoot and more editing and revision time before final delivery. For detailed information on just how many factors there are and how much those factors can cost when pricing a video, read this article here.

These factors are the primary reason that most creative companies have a hard time posting fixed prices for their services. It would be great if creative companies could take a page from law firms and charge by the hour until the project was done. A large business with deep marketing pockets would have no problem paying that way, but most small businesses don't have the extra cash to simply let the chips fall where they may. A new commercial or 'about us' video might just be their largest expense of the year. They need to be able to budget for it with a degree of certainty. 

A production company must take all of this into account when they build the quote. After getting an idea of the size and complexity of the project, they must tally the fixed costs (actors, crew, rentals) then estimate how much time it will take scripting, planning, editing, revising, & delivering and apply their hourly rate.

Come in too high, the client might not be able to afford it. Come in too low, the production company risks losing money. At the end of the day, every production company is taking an educated guess on how long each project will take and thus how much it will cost.

Once a price is agreed upon, it becomes an imperative of the production company to keep costs in line and avoid any overruns, especially in regards to time. Every extra hour or day spent over the allotted time for scripting, editing, or revisions eats away at the margin.

In a flat price scenario, too many changes, whether from the client or the creative process, can take a profitable project and turn it into a loser. To prevent that from happening, many production companies have a revisions process in their contracts that charge an hourly rate once a client has used up all of their changes. However, this can quickly balloon a client's budget and dissuade them from even starting the project.

BREAKING THE LOGJAM

Now that we have a better understanding of what goes into pricing a video and an understanding of the fears of both parties in arriving at that price, we can break up the logjam that is pricing. 

For starters, if you're looking to have a video made, don't be afraid to name your budget! With a number in mind from the start, most production companies can steer you in the right direction of what ideas are possible instead of both sides wasting time developing ideas that fall well outside your budget. Another approach you can take is to send the production company a sample video you really like and ask them how much a similar video would cost.

On our end, we believe in educating anyone in the market for video production on the process and requirements of making great video for their business or organization We believe pricing should not be any different. So, we're going to try to give you a range of what a few different types of video costs.

The Talking Head

Although it sounds like a 1950s B-movie, these types of video are pretty common. The format can be adapted for television commercials, testimonials, or web content. A person stands in front of a simple background and speaks. They don't require a full crew or lots of time on set or take a long time to edit. However, this puts the emphasis in the words the person is saying and it's very important they say the right things. We provide full support in writing what they say or pinpointing the right questions to ask. Talking Head videos start at $500 and should rarely go over $1500.

The Creative Commercial

You would think that creating a 30 second video should be a snap, but it's actually quite complicated to do them effectively. To be effective, a creative commercial must grab the viewer's attention with a great concept and then follow through on quality and execution. This means we're going to take the time to get the script right first. Then, on the production day, we're going to bring in only the best talent in the area both in front and behind the camera; top-notch pros at what they do. Creative Commercials start at $2,000 but can go as much as $10,000.

The About Us Video

When you've got more time than a commercial to tell your story, you can go more in-depth about who you are and what your business is all about. An About Us Video should be on the front page of your website so prospects can quickly get to know and trust you. The About Us borrows elements from the videos above. There are many different ways to do an About Us Video, but here's two:

1. We can interview you, employees, vendors, customers talking about your business. Then, we edit a story from the interviews and combine them with great footage we'll shoot of your business being a business.

Or...

2. We can script a story. Probably the story of how you came up with your business or discovered how to solve your customer's problem. We'll get all the different people who've helped make that happen on camera and they'll each give us a couple details that will move the story forward. We'll combine those bits with reenactments of those moments in a creative and good-humored way. 

An about us video should clock in around 3 to 4 minutes. The pricing structure is a little different than other videos and usually goes per finished minute. It's just like buying meat by the pound with different grades costing different prices. Example 1 above would be at the lower end; Example 2 would be at the higher end. About Us Videos range between $1,000 per finished minute to $3,500 pre finished minute.

There are other videos you can make like How-To's, Q&A's, Explainers, Product & Crowd Funding Launches, Branded Shorts, or even you can even make a video for fun.

So, now you have a general idea of what a video should cost and why it costs what it does. If you're ready to start talking about a great video for your business or organization, click the button below!

Patrick Kirk

No one knows the exact day Patrick Kirk was born, because he was carried into town by a pack of wild coyotes, but the end of March seems to have some consensus built around it. The townsfolk hadn’t much need for a coyote-raised wild boy seein’ as they already had a town idiot. So, they set Patrick off with the next traveling circus that rolled through town. It was there that the young boy learned of books and math and writing and other cultural offerings from Martha, the kindly old bearded lady, and her husband, Harold, the world’s tallest midget. In between shows, he would explore each new town, never having the chance to make friends with children his age, mostly because they didn’t speak coyote… However, it was on one such trek in his later teen years that Patrick happened upon a small cinema playing an engagement of Major League II. From then on, he knew that he must dedicate his life to motion pictures. The members of the circus were sad to see him go, some angry calling cinema ‘beneath them’, but Patrick took his leave and headed off to university to study the filmic arts. Over nearly half a decade of study, Patrick learned from notables such as Fritz Kiersch, director of Children of the Corn, and Gray Fredrickson, producer of the Godfather Trilogy. Patrick has worked locally in the Oklahoma City market as a grip, camera operator, and editor. He has directed a number of short films and commercial projects and aspires to do more. When not in the editing suite or on set, Patrick can be found relaxing at local sporting events or playing a round of golf. He is particularly fond of poker and has been known to frequent the local casinos. Patrick also experiments with cooking and can make a mean batch of tacos. Among things he still would like to accomplish, Patrick hopes to fly to the moon one day and get into an old fashioned pistols at dawn duel; preferably both at the same time.