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Producer's Guide to Freelance Video Production


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#1 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 22 August 2006 - 12:51 PM

Working an IA job is nice, particularly because all the rules have been established and there is no "arguing" over hours or conditions. Checks generally show up on a regular basis and you feel relatively protected.

Non-union is a different story. Different production companies have different rates and different expectations. Sometimes, Producers within one company have vastly different understanding of what their own jobs are and what the crew is supposed to do.

After having a multitide of discussions with various Producers, Cameramen, Audio mixers, and assorted "crew," I came up with this "guide" which could serve as a valuable learning tool and safety net for everyone. Granted, it's the wild-west out there, but there are some basic fundamentals that freelance crews in LA and elsewhere operate under.

I invite comments, additions, subtractions, new ideas...whatever comes to mind. In some respect, we're all competing against one another. In another, everyone benefits if there is consensus on some level.




Suggested Producer?s Guide to Freelance Video production


(and why things are the way they are)



? Equipment Prep and Scout days are billed at full day rates for Camera, Sound, and other involved departments such as Set Decorators. If you need the crew for any reason (Scout, Prep, Shoot, and Wrap), that is time they are working for you and not someone else.

? Travel days are billed at full day rates for Camera, Sound, and other involved departments such as Set Decorators. Most travel is labor intensive, as crew must pack equipment differently than for a local shoot. Airport check-in and security can be significantly more complicated than just dealing with ordinary luggage.

? A production day is defined as ten (10) hours beginning from equipment prep and pickup (from Production Company and/or other outside vendor) to equipment wrap back at Production Company or equipment vendor.

? One-camera Videographer/Camera Operator rates for 2006:
Betacam SP Videographer: $500/10 hrs
Digibeta Videographer: $500/10 hrs
NTSC DV camera Videographer: $500/10 hrs
HDV Videographer: $550/10 hrs
HDCAM (Sony) Videographer: $700/10 hrs
Varicam (Panasonic) Videographer:$700/10 hrs

Rates may be increased periodically to adust for cost of living expenses.

? Director of Photography rate (when Videographer is in charge of two or more camera production including equipment management, personnel management, lighting, and logistics and/or ?special? production, such as camera tests.)
$1,000.00/10hrs for shoot day
$800.00/10hrs for prep and wrap days

? Audio Mixer rate: single talent situation
$400/10 hrs + $50 equipment rental

Standard ENG Audio Package includes:
? Portable field mixer
? Boom pole and shotgun microphone
? Two (2) wireless microphones (with suitable lav mics)

additional rental fees apply for any additional equipment required.


? Audio Mixer rate: Multi track, multi talent situation
$500/10 hrs + normal additional rental fees for each piece of equipment
necessary (ie, multitrack recorder, mixer, etc.)


? Mileage: billed for all freelance crew (Camera, Sound, Set Design, additional Grip, Electric, etc.) from Production Company back Production Company at current IRS rate (currently 44.6 cents/mile for 2006)

? Cartage: billed for all crew who carry Production Company equipment or rental equipment for a Production Company production in a personal vehicle. (this is in addition to the mileage above)
$50.00/day



? Meal penalties: accrue in 15-minute intervals six (6) hours after call time if a reasonable attempt to not break has not been planned nor attempted.

? 30 minute break if meal is provided by production and ready 6 hours after call time.
? 60 minute break if meal is not provided for by production and a ?walkaway? is necessary.

First 15 minutes = #1 @ $7.50
Second 15 minutes = #2 @ $10.00
Third 15 minutes and beyond = #3 @ $12.50

A ?walking meal? is not considered an official break.


-Cancellations: When a crew has been booked and confirmed for a production day.

? If crew is cancelled within 24 hours of 6 am the day before the confirmed day of production (not 24 hours from call time), crew will bill for full day rate.

? If crew is cancelled before 24 hours prior to 6 am the day before the confirmed day of production, crew will not bill.

(For instance, if a crew is booked for a Thursday, if the shoot is cancelled for any reason at anytime on Wednesday, a cancellation fee will be charged. The 24 hours is not based on the call time of the shoot.)

Explanation: the reason that freelance crewmembers charge cancellation fees is because they have committed to work for you and consider themselves no longer available for anyone else. In the time that you?ve booked the crew, they may have turned down multiple other offers for the same time period. If your shoot cancels within 24 hours of the day that was scheduled, your crew may now have lost the opportunity to find other work for that day they thought they were working for you. If your shoot day has any chance of cancellation, you should put your crew on hold instead of confirming them, however be aware that you may lose them if a firm offer from another Producer or company comes up.


? Invoice payment: Every reasonable attempt should be made to secure payment for completed production within 30 days for freelance cast and crew. Payments not made within 30 days shall be subject to penalty charges of 5% for each day of delinquency unless other arrangements have been made.


? Reimbursements: Every reasonable attempt should be made to secure reimbursements within 10 days for cast and crew who use personal finances to pay for Production Company production requirements, such as travel expenses and/or equipment. Reimbursements not made within 15 days shall be subject to finance charges of minimum 10% for each day of delinquency unless other arrangements have been made.

? Producer will make every reasonable attempt to secure a suitable location for production per the requirements and parameters of the shoot. (ie, conference rooms are typically not ideal locations for interviews no matter how big the room is, due to the standard large table, greenscreen requires additional equipment and space, etc.)

? Producer will make every reasonable attempt to secure arrangements for parking vehicles that hold equipment plus parking for cast and crew vehicles prior to shoot day. ?Figuring it out? when everyone arrives wastes valuable production time. Helping to get the equipment vehicle as close to location as possible and making arrangements so that it doesn?t have to be moved will save the crew time that they could be giving to your production.

? Videographers, Sound Mixers, Associate Producers, Production Assistants, etc. are not qualified Makeup Artists. If talent needs makeup or hair styling to look their best on camera, please make proper arrangements.

? Additional equipment and/or arrangements (ie, special backgrounds, greenscreen, day exteriors, inclement conditions, etc) are sometimes necessary on a per shoot basis. Please collaborate with all involved departments as soon as possible so that everyone is aware of what is needed (Production Coordinator, Equipment manager, Videographer, Audio Mixer, rental houses, additional vendors, etc.)

? Prior to rolling camera during production, verbally confirm with Camera and Sound the proper settings for production (Drop Frame, Non Drop Frame, Camera format: Digibeta/HD/other, running speed: 59.97I/23.98P/29.97P, etc). These parameters should also have been noted in writing on the call sheet, including ?Begin with tape number X,? and project name and shooting environment (i.e. Day Exterior, Night Exterior, Day Interior, wet conditions, etc.) Also make note of any special equipment that may be needed, from special lighting to desired filtration or extra radio mics. The crew is there to help you, but they can only do that with adequate and timely information. Don?t assume that what you need will just be there. It is your job as the Producer to think through every aspect of your production and make it happen.

? If there is a perceived problem with footage while in editing, be it with picture, sound, timecode, or other, please take the time to check the original field sources (tapes, drives, film, etc.) in order to find the source of the trouble. Please be sure to check all settings on playback decks as well as within editing software.

? Whenever possible, please hold talent and any pre-interview and post-interview discussions outside of the shoot room. The crew needs that space as clear as possible to set up and wrap quickly and efficiently.

? While a great deal of delegation and collaboration is necessary to complete even the simplest of shoots, it is ultimately the Producer who is responsible for ensuring that the production is completed with the highest quality possible within the parameters of time, resources, and budget. Please double-check on all aspects of your production day. You don?t have to know how to do everyone else?s job, but you should know what everyone else does and why they are there. Plan for everything, assume nothing.

? Remember, nobody will remember or care what your problems were on the shoot day. All that anyone at home will see is the finished product. Take every opportunity to address every element of your production before rolling camera. Your problems are only on that day, but the tape/film will last forever.
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#2 Stuart McCammon

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Posted 22 August 2006 - 03:52 PM

Great guide Bryan!

The only things I would add are the specs and rates for sound when there is no audio person, I.E. camera mic vs. lavolier(s) vs. plug into existing sound board (for an event) and the grip/lighting package when that is supplied by the camera operator (usually adds $350-500).

I find that checking the camera operator's sound equipment and opinions about sound allows me to set client expectations and save mucho grief come shoot time.
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#3 Nathan Chaszeyka

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Posted 22 August 2006 - 04:59 PM

Wow, I wish we could have arrangements made according to those guidelines around here. ESPECIALLY the day rates.
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#4 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 22 August 2006 - 07:56 PM

Wow, I wish we could have arrangements made according to those guidelines around here. ESPECIALLY the day rates.


These are boiled down "guidelines." Different production companies run things their own way. Some pay mileage without the crew having to ask and others won't do it at all. Some insist on lower day rates and some pay more. It always comes down to what you're willing to leave the house for. For instance, I just got called to fly out of town to shoot a concert over the weekend. Pay: $1200 flat for the three days. Granted, I don't have to show up at the airport and deal with all the gear like I usually would have to, but I generally avoid working flats and the day rate is lower than my norm anyway. I balance that with how the rest of my year is going and any plans I have made for the weekend. When I was just starting out, I would have jumped at the opportunity, but the job isn't likely to benefit my resume in any meaningful way so I probably won't go.

But I digress.... :) Anymore additions, alterations, etc...?
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Metropolis Post

Glidecam

CineLab

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Visual Products

Rig Wheels Passport

Technodolly

Opal