Help with pricing on a BIG gig

KCF1ManBand's picture
Last seen: 1 week 2 days ago
Joined: 04/18/2017 - 9:18pm

Hey friends, I'm in desperate need of your thoughts and imput.
I need help with pricing of a BIG gig/massive adventure.

Tonight a previous client wanted to know how much would I ask to go on a book tour with an author for a full year of travel. I would get the holidays off, and a few weeks here and there. I would make small daily videos for them about 3 times/week as well as a weekly recap video.
Would only bring my own gear, no rentals, drones or anything like that. Basically 1 camera shots throughout the entirety of the tour. (Clearly I would Instantly reinvest a chunk of the money made into gear to avoid giving the money to the government in taxes)
The other scenario they threw out was basically meeting them in the major cities and events they would like me to film. Basically 6-7months total away from my home.
The final piece is a 1 hour long documentary style video, documenting the whole thing. Narrated by the main guy I'd be with....
So my question to you is: As others who work in the production industry, what would you charge that person to be on the road with them for basically a full year? What about the 6-7 month thing?

Some things to help you come up with your number:
I'm newly married so I do have someone back home (have already run both scenarios by her, she's all for it because it would be great for our family)
I do not have any scheduled gigs after the projected start date for the tour.
I would still be able to service my regular clients (I have a small team of 2 other people who could absolutely handle things when I'm not around)
Travel + accommodations would be paid for by them (Or they would reimburse me)

I appreciate the help!!!!!


Brian Alves's picture
Last seen: 1 week 2 days ago
Joined: 06/13/2005 - 8:14pm

Really know what you're getting into

First off, you should get an agreement or 'statement of work" in writing and lay down the expectations for payment before you even begin any work and only charge for what you work on. You should have a general idea once that SOW is in place.

Factor in insurance for you and your equipment. What will happen if you're equipment fails or you get sick or injured?

Production costs:

You would make small daily videos for them about 3 times/week as well as a weekly recap video using your own equipment. The final piece is a 1 hour long documentary.

For shooting video: 1 hour = $x

For editing video: Plan on about 2-5 hours of work for each minute of final video product. In the old days a rule of thumb was 1 hour of editing per 1 minute finished. Charge accordingly.

Make an estimate on how much it would cost for equipment maintenance, recording media, etc.

Travel costs:

Seems like they're paying for travel and accommodations - like most clients they are likely expecting you to work for free in exchange. I would tackle that false expectation right up front if it has not been done already.

I would go the reimbursement route and get cash up front if you can this way you can charge extra for overhead and any costs that come up along the way.

So let's say you shoot and edit for a total of 100 hours... x $50/hour labor = $5,000 + profit (labor x X%) + overhead (labor x X% (a percentage of your annual costs for overhead)) + cost of materials (tapes, hard drives, batteries, gaffer tape, stock music, etc) and that is your minimum selling price.


KCF1ManBand's picture
Last seen: 1 week 2 days ago
Joined: 04/18/2017 - 9:18pm

Thank you for your opinion Brian!
I totally forgot to factor in insurance on my gear when I was coming up with my calculations so I appreciate you mentioning that.

The client who would be hiring me is very good with expectations. They know that Travel doesn't equal pay.
As far as editing time I'm not to worried about that simply because I know what my client expects and editing is what I'm the best/fastest at.


paulears's picture
Last seen: 1 day 16 hours ago
Joined: 11/05/2006 - 8:36am

One of my friends is on tour and works maybe 200-250 shows a year. The 'name' he works for covers travel, accommodation and he gets a per diem for food/etc. The work is simply whatever is needed wherever they are in the world - and he does far more than one job - it's a very small team who do everything. He invoices monthly for £250 per day, plus £25 per day pds. Travelling days are paid at £120. He cannot do any other work - so this becomes his sole income. In his case, he provides a camera, and in the UK screens and other gubbins - abroad they hire in the missing items to cut down on baggage charges, which the client pays for. Sounds great, and after covering for a week while he had time off I know that I would not like to do it permanently, as he does. Money works, but getting home for maybe two days a month sometimes is a social life killer.


Jack Wolcott's picture
Last seen: 8 hours 27 min ago
Joined: 01/02/2008 - 11:51pm
Plus Member

The advice above is excellent. To this I would add two thoughts: Lawyer, lawyer lawyer and income for a year.

I would not enter into this project without an iron-clad contract, something much more solid than a letter of agreement. I've done this in the past: go to an attorney and ask him/her to draw up a contract for your services and expenses that the attorney would feel comfortable prosecuting in court if the contract were to be breached. Spell out every detail of what you will be expected to do and what the employer will be expected to provide.

Then consider what you would be earning each week if you stayed home and ran your business. Your weekly salary for this venture should at least equal that figure. To this add the projected cost of your expenses -- batteries, wear-and-tear on your gear, insurance, etc. Finally, figure in a per diam for your food and lodging based on the itinerary for this project. Write your contract so that all travel is booked and paid for by the client.

The point of all this is to avoid finding yourself in a situation where the client owes you a large sum of money and the book tour and projected documentary falls apart leaving you stranded in Bismark, North Dakota or Bangladesh. Clients with dreams of long-range projects often have a way of saying "Gee, Man, I'm sorry but we're run out of money and you'll have to get home on your own. Sorry."