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Cinematographer's pay rate


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#21 Richard Boddington

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 02:09 PM

$500k is "low" budget

 

That's a massive budget compared to the Blair With Project, Open Water, or, Paranormal Activity.

 

Even a bigger budget than Napoleon Dynamite, I know the the producer.

 

500K is a lot of money, imagine if you had to come up with 500K to make a movie with, where would you get it?

 

R,


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#22 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 06:23 PM

Hi Richard, just curious. As a producer how much of your budget would you be willing to spend on a DP for said 500k feature? Would you pitch it to them as a low budget project?
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#23 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 07:46 PM

On a 500k budget, a DP could expect anywhere from $200 a day to $500 a day. It all depends on how many days the shoot is, how much is taken by above the line costs, how effects driven it is.

 

If you are talking about a 20 day shoot with lots of VFX and a name star (not an A list, obviously) then the DP rate is likely to be $200-250. If there's no stars and no VFX, you might get more. Wages are the first thing to get squeezed when the production costs rise.

 

It also depends on how greedy the producer is. I know of a few who will not pay above a certain level, no matter how much money they have, because they don't want to set a precedent.


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#24 Richard Boddington

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Posted 24 August 2014 - 12:33 AM

Hi Richard, just curious. As a producer how much of your budget would you be willing to spend on a DP for said 500k feature? Would you pitch it to them as a low budget project?

 

 

I can't see that I would have any more than $1500.00/wk, assuming 3 weeks and a week of paid prep.

 

Then again at 500K I may elect to DOP and operate the show myself, and simply "donate" my time to the production.

 

It certainly would not be a union shoot, that is for darn sure.

 

R,


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#25 Richard Boddington

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Posted 24 August 2014 - 12:39 AM

It also depends on how greedy the producer is. I know of a few who will not pay above a certain level, no matter how much money they have, because they don't want to set a precedent.

 

The free market ultimately sets the price for everything.  No one is obligated to accept a job that pays them less than what they think they are worth.

 

Google could pay all the secretaries 300K a year if they wanted to.  Just because an employer has the ability to pay more, doesn't mean they have to.  If the producer shows up to set in a chauffeur driven Rolls Royce, that doesn't mean the crew deserves anymore money than what they agreed to.  Want more money? Become the employer vs the employee.  :)

 

R,


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#26 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 24 August 2014 - 04:27 AM

Ah, I see we've devolved back to the "I can do it therefore it's OK to do it" case, which I shall hereafter refer to as the Boddington gambit.

 

P


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#27 Richard Boddington

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Posted 24 August 2014 - 10:09 AM

Ah, I see we've devolved back to the "I can do it therefore it's OK to do it" case, which I shall hereafter refer to as the Boddington gambit.

 

P

 

Oh Phil you're hilarious! I wrote that with one purpose in mind....to see if I could bait Phil Rhodes.  You found this thread as if by magic and keyed right in.  You are predictable I will give you that.

 

R,


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#28 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 24 August 2014 - 11:36 AM

 

Google could pay all the secretaries 300K a year if they wanted to.  

The argument here is not about paying all crew $300k a year, it's about paying a living wage rather minimum wage. I don't particularly like the idea of skilled crew getting paid $8 an hour, but if the budget is $100k that's the reality of the ultra low budget world. It's when there is money to pay crew properly and the producers choose not to that I take exception.


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#29 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 24 August 2014 - 12:19 PM

Well, yes, Richard, if you repeatedly behave unpleasantly, you will have people standing there going "that guy's really unpleasant."

 

What do you expect? Are you deliberately flaunting your ability to misbehave for some sort of kicks?


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#30 Richard Boddington

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Posted 24 August 2014 - 02:22 PM

Well, yes, Richard, if you repeatedly behave unpleasantly, you will have people standing there going "that guy's really unpleasant."

 

What do you expect? Are you deliberately flaunting your ability to misbehave for some sort of kicks?

 

I'm deliberately pointing out that I know how to push your buttons and you always fall for it.  You don't say a word on this thread until I jump in....classic.

 

As for: "that guy's really unpleasant."

 

Only to you Phil.

 

R,


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#31 Richard Boddington

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Posted 24 August 2014 - 02:22 PM

 It's when there is money to pay crew properly and the producers choose not to that I take exception.

 

Then don't work the show, easy solution.

 

R,


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#32 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 24 August 2014 - 02:58 PM

 
 
I can't see that I would have any more than $1500.00/wk, assuming 3 weeks and a week of paid prep.
 
Then again at 500K I may elect to DOP and operate the show myself, and simply "donate" my time to the production.
 
It certainly would not be a union shoot, that is for darn sure.
 
R,

That seems pretty reasonable to me!
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#33 Richard Boddington

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Posted 24 August 2014 - 03:01 PM

That seems pretty reasonable to me!

 

Really?  What's your schedule like in October?

 

R,


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#34 Gregory Irwin

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Posted 24 August 2014 - 03:12 PM

My motto has always been: "It doesn't matter how big or small the house that you're building is, the labor remains the same." Smaller budget? Pay the same and employ me for less days by condensing the schedule to fit your budget. That makes much more business sense by ensuring you get reasonably experienced labor for the precious, limited funds.

G
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#35 Richard Boddington

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Posted 24 August 2014 - 03:18 PM

That's a good idea Gregory, and producers will always try and do that when possible.

 

I know one 1st AC that completely priced himself out of the market and insisted that he be treated like a lead actor on set.  He became the biggest prima donna imaginable.  Needless to say I found a different 1st AC and told him to bugger off.

 

R,


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#36 Gregory Irwin

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Posted 24 August 2014 - 03:24 PM

That's a good idea Gregory, and producers will always try and do that when possible.
 
I know one 1st AC that completely priced himself out of the market and insisted that he be treated like a lead actor on set.  He became the biggest prima donna imaginable.  Needless to say I found a different 1st AC and told him to bugger off.
 
R,

No room for prima donnas in a team sport! But there is fair market value for skilled labor. Most of the numbers being posted in this thread don't reflect that in the least.

Edited by Gregory Irwin, 24 August 2014 - 03:27 PM.

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#37 Richard Boddington

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Posted 24 August 2014 - 03:36 PM

No, but you're working on big budget Hollywood theatricals that can sustain the higher wages.  I would not expect to be producing a 150 million dollar tent pole and pay the 1st AC, $8.75/hour.

 

But everyone has to start someplace, and it's unreasonable for a 1st AC or DOP that is just starting to think they are going to earn "big money."  That will take 20+ years of slogging first.  Lot's of kids don't understand this.

 

R,


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#38 Andrew Paquette

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Posted 24 August 2014 - 04:04 PM

I hate to say this but all this talk about rates seems beside the point to me. When a person is inexperienced enough to be asking the question, the rate won't be high enough for any quibbles to be worth as much as the opportunity to shoot the project *might* be. When you are experienced enough that negotiating a fee gets into serious money, you'll have an agent doing that for you and you will probably get a decent rate.

 

I say this with the full knowledge that people get screwed sometimes, and it even happened to me, but the reason it happened had to do with an unusual situation. I was a comic book artist a long time ago and Fox decided to make a TV show out of a creator-owned property I co-owned (Harsh Realm). Chris Carter was the exec producer and head writer. The problem is that at the time I did the comic (1992-1994) I was an underpaid nobody living in Maine, with no idea that this thing would be turned into a TV series in 1999. By the time it was a TV series, I was making a good living as an art director at Universal Interactive, so I could afford to look at the terms more carefully. Unfortunately, the comic book publisher was not only incredibly stupid in the deal they made, but they were unscrupulous as well, and the deal was worth less than the trouble it took to sue them (which I did)--it was also worth less than what a makeup artist would be paid for one day's work per episode. The difference here is that I was a co-owner of IP. A DP or AC is not usually going to own any IP rights, so it is unlikely that an early career negotiation error would hurt that much in the long term, and you'd get experience out of it. If you're lucky, you'll do such a great job you could move up a rung professionally and get paid more the next time.

 

AP 


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#39 Gregory Irwin

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Posted 24 August 2014 - 04:49 PM

 But everyone has to start someplace, and it's unreasonable for a 1st AC or DOP that is just starting to think they are going to earn "big money."  That will take 20+ years of slogging first.  Lot's of kids don't understand this.
 
R,


You know Richard, I can't disagree with you on this.

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#40 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 25 August 2014 - 01:19 AM

 
Really?  What's your schedule like in October?
 
R,

Well, I was going to go on vacation for a few weeks after wrapping a web series pilot in September, but I'd be open to shooting something for you. :)
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