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Day Rates? for AC


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#1 Michael Palm

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Posted 03 July 2007 - 10:09 AM

Heres the situation:
Through networking, my friend got me a weekend gig. It was a pick-up shoot for a television show. I did it for no pay. I got to work as AC.
Now they would like to see me again for the next episode.
They want to know my day rate is to see if I could be budgeted in.
What is a fair suggested day rate for AC?
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#2 Chris Keth

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Posted 03 July 2007 - 01:27 PM

Heres the situation:
Through networking, my friend got me a weekend gig. It was a pick-up shoot for a television show. I did it for no pay. I got to work as AC.
Now they would like to see me again for the next episode.
They want to know my day rate is to see if I could be budgeted in.
What is a fair suggested day rate for AC?


As a 2nd I've made 200/day a couple of times but that wasn't in NY or LA.
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#3 Michael Palm

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Posted 03 July 2007 - 02:20 PM

As a 2nd I've made 200/day a couple of times but that wasn't in NY or LA.


This is a production company based out of the midwest. Thanks for the help.
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#4 Frank DiBugnara

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Posted 03 July 2007 - 09:56 PM

First Call AC's in Arizona are making $500 for ten hours plus $25 Kit rental. Second AC's make just $50 under that, I believe. Arizona is very much a commercial market, though. Of course, less experienced people make less.
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#5 Adam Thompson

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Posted 31 July 2007 - 01:27 PM

$500 a day? You'd be lucky to get that on an Indie film if you were a DP! I worked on a $800k film where the AC got about $150 a day. I know that for regular commercial work this varies a lot since they can budget for it but if you are working for a month straight on something small, $500 a day for an AC seems really, really high.
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#6 e gustavo petersen

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Posted 31 July 2007 - 02:11 PM

You should ask them first what they're paying. Your contact with production will likely already have a budget drawn with the rate for your position included. If they're asking for you to give them a number, either they're inexperienced or they're checking to see if you'll come in lower than someone else.

You might want to start your talk with them by getting some details about the shoot and that might give you clues as to how big the show is. Ask about equipment, length of day, special requirements, etc. Then if they push, you can give them a number. You might also want to start high, and tell them something like, "I don't want to price myself out of a job, but I usually get $?? but I'm willing to negotiate." I know it happens, but I find it odd when a production asks you to give them a rate. Also, don't forget to asked how they plan on handling overtime, travel (if applicable), box rentals, etc.

As others have mentioned, $150 seems to be the magic number on low-budget shoots. I have to say that $500 on a high end commercial isn't too out of the question. I get a very happy crew on shoots like those.

Edited by Eric Gustavo Petersen, 31 July 2007 - 02:13 PM.

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#7 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 31 July 2007 - 04:05 PM

I know it happens, but I find it odd when a production asks you to give them a rate.

In my experience, they're asking in hopes that you'll quote lower than what they have in the budget. I would attempt to find out what they're used to paying. If, for some reason, you can't get them to quote you a number, then you should err on the side of being too high. You can always negotiate down, but never up. I also find that you get more respect when you ask for more than they're willing to pay. Even though you'll most likely do the job for the rate they have they'll think of you as the guy who's used to getting more money than they're paying. If you quote less than what they're used to paying then they think of you as the 'cheap' guy, and you don't want to be the cheap guy. The producers job is to get crew as cheaply as possible, and our job as crew is to get as much money as possible from the producer. There is generally a happy medium.
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#8 e gustavo petersen

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Posted 31 July 2007 - 05:40 PM

If you quote less than what they're used to paying then they think of you as the 'cheap' guy, and you don't want to be the cheap guy.


Excellent point. As my account executive at Panavision once told me, "you charge like a whore, you get treated like a whore." It a bit crude but you get the point.
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#9 James Puli

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Posted 31 July 2007 - 06:30 PM

The other point here is daily rates Vs weekly rates. For a feature I will generally be working on a weekly rate which will be signifigantly less then my commercial rate for 5 days. And this will of course depend on the production.

In Aus the Award rate for a Focus Puller is $1233 per week. But if you are working as a Camera Assistant and the Loader it is $1000 per week. Generally it will be up alot more then this but for low budget productions this is what we can expect.

Hope its a bit of help.

JP
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#10 James Puli

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Posted 31 July 2007 - 06:44 PM

Im not sure what the AC's are getting on big budget things these days. But i would assume it was at least twice the award rate or somewhere around the $2000ish per week. On a feature, Vs a week on a TVC could be alot (alot) higher.

Also the rate you described as $500 a day for TVC's is about the average here I believe. Some of the better AC's will charge more and get it, and others wont get that. Loaders, around the $350-$400ish i think is a reasonable rate for a trainee - top notch loader.

In addition to this, most Focus Pullers here will own their own truck and a bit of their own gear (video monitors, often a Preston or BFD, Cinetape etc) and will add that to their weeks wage.

(Sorry it wouldnt let me edit my own post)

Edited by James Puli, 31 July 2007 - 06:48 PM.

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#11 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 31 July 2007 - 11:55 PM

The last film I AC'd on, I was making $150 per diem. When I told the DP, his eyes all of a sudden went wide and he said "That's reasonable...that's VERY reasonable!" Meaning I probably could have gotten quite a lot more from the production, especially since I was the only AC on the shoot.

I don't suppose there's a set scale for AC's, it mostly depends on the budget for the production you're working on. They should have already budgeted for crew if they're a legit outfit, so you just gotta hope that your idea of a day's wages is similar to theirs.
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#12 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 01 August 2007 - 02:48 PM

The last film I AC'd on, I was making $150 per diem. When I told the DP, his eyes all of a sudden went wide and he said "That's reasonable...that's VERY reasonable!" Meaning I probably could have gotten quite a lot more from the production, especially since I was the only AC on the shoot.


Well, regardless of whether or not you were working for less than they were willing to pay, the truth is you can't make a good living on $150/day. Most likely, the producers of that film will never call you with a job for a rate higher than $150/day. You've basically told them that that's what you think you're worth, so they won't see any reason to pay you more.

I don't suppose there's a set scale for AC's, it mostly depends on the budget for the production you're working on. They should have already budgeted for crew if they're a legit outfit, so you just gotta hope that your idea of a day's wages is similar to theirs.


Actually, there is a set scale rate for A.C.'s. Union scale for a 1st is $36.77/hr for the first eight hours (OT after that), but most "A" 1st's get tech rate, which is $43.85/hr. The rate for 2nd's is $33.91/hr. Actually, I just realized I'm looking at an old rate card, so the rates are higher now (probably by a couple bucks). But I know some 1st's who won't accept a job for less than $50/hr. Sure, they are very experienced 1st's, but the point is that we all have to set standards for ourselves. If you work for very low rates all of the time you're not only hurting yourself, but you're hurting everyone that works in your position by bringing the rates down overall. The steadicam community has experienced this over the last ten years, and now some operators are making close to HALF what they were making ten years ago. I guarantee you the studios and producers aren't making any less, they're making a hell of a lot more! And the cost of living certainly hasn't gone down.
So the trick is to figure out how not to get screwed while still working. Personally, I'd rather work less days for more money.
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#13 Logan Schneider

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Posted 01 August 2007 - 07:15 PM

I think you just need to use your judgement. I've worked for $200 or less on some projects, but I know that that is all they have. If I'm on a project that has a budget I will expect to get $400 or $500 for 10 or 12 hours. While starting out I would suggest finding out what you can about the project so that you can quote a good rate. I've had jobs where l have asked for a higher rate than normal just because I want them to respect me.

In the end, I agree with the idea of quoting a little high and working down. However, most of the time the producers tell me what my rate is and it is not a negotiation.
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#14 Jamie Metzger

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 02:02 AM

Always ask for more. It's good that you are doing research and asking questions, but like Brad Grimmet has been saying, ask for more, but let them know you are willing to go out for less.

I recently was asked to shoot a corporate video, and I knew they had money (was for BP). I asked for my normal rate, and they said they could pay $50 bucks less, because the producer was getting that. I was happy because a lot of other guys that were much older than me were underbidding themselves just to get the work.

I'm not saying ask for too much, but realize your needs, vs your wants. I live in San francisco, and $150 can't get you a tank of gas, noneless pay your rent.

If you haven't budgeted our your living expenses yet, I suggest you do.
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#15 Andrew Jackson

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Posted 02 October 2007 - 05:36 PM

Well, regardless of whether or not you were working for less than they were willing to pay, the truth is you can't make a good living on $150/day. Most likely, the producers of that film will never call you with a job for a rate higher than $150/day. You've basically told them that that's what you think you're worth, so they won't see any reason to pay you more.
Actually, there is a set scale rate for A.C.'s. Union scale for a 1st is $36.77/hr for the first eight hours (OT after that), but most "A" 1st's get tech rate, which is $43.85/hr. The rate for 2nd's is $33.91/hr. Actually, I just realized I'm looking at an old rate card, so the rates are higher now (probably by a couple bucks). But I know some 1st's who won't accept a job for less than $50/hr. Sure, they are very experienced 1st's, but the point is that we all have to set standards for ourselves. If you work for very low rates all of the time you're not only hurting yourself, but you're hurting everyone that works in your position by bringing the rates down overall. The steadicam community has experienced this over the last ten years, and now some operators are making close to HALF what they were making ten years ago. I guarantee you the studios and producers aren't making any less, they're making a hell of a lot more! And the cost of living certainly hasn't gone down.
So the trick is to figure out how not to get screwed while still working. Personally, I'd rather work less days for more money.



Hey Brad, is there any site/list/place I can look that shows all the union pay scales for different positions? I'm really curious, and it sounds like you might know!
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#16 Markus Lanxinger

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Posted 15 October 2007 - 03:42 PM

Hey Brad, is there any site/list/place I can look that shows all the union pay scales for different positions? I'm really curious, and it sounds like you might know!


Entertainment Partners Paymaster lists pretty much every job in the industry with the minimum union pay.

cheers
markus
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#17 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 04:15 PM

Hey Brad, is there any site/list/place I can look that shows all the union pay scales for different positions? I'm really curious, and it sounds like you might know!

I'm not sure, but you may be able to just call the union and ask. They may send you the info.
Before I joined the union I knew generally what scale was from talking to people about it.
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#18 Michael Palm

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Posted 29 October 2007 - 07:39 PM

From my research:


Paymaster suggests:$37.87 per hour (for daily, LA)

I found shooting with a Kansas City area production company the rate is cheaper.
This makes sense when you realize the cost of living in KC is half of what LA is.
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#19 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 29 October 2007 - 09:00 PM

$500 a day? You'd be lucky to get that on an Indie film if you were a DP! I worked on a $800k film where the AC got about $150 a day. I know that for regular commercial work this varies a lot since they can budget for it but if you are working for a month straight on something small, $500 a day for an AC seems really, really high.


I second that Adam. Not to say there aren't ACs around here expecting close to those wages. When I was recruiting for my current short film, a few of the ACs wanted $325/day. That was the highest figure I heard, even for a starting bid. Most were around the $200-250 range. Many of these guys had some impressive experience and some had even DPed in the past. I'm located in Sacramento which is in Cal too, but far less expensive than LA and San Francisco. I rent a two bedroom for $750 here as opposed to one of my actors from SF who is paying $1500 for the same size place...ouch! If you have expenses like that, I don't blame for charging more. I personally won't pay high rates just because someone lives in an expensive place. That's why I don't live in an expensive place. I realize though that they live in those places because they are trying to get the most work possible, and that is basically going to be in LA and NY. (I think SF has a pretty good scene too, if Im not mistaken)

For 800k budget, I might pay $200/day. Depends on how long the shoot is. Also, I think that the AC better bring it. I agree with people getting paid more for commercials since they don't have the "glamour" appeal of films. Not denegrating commercials by any means. I realize Stephen's made a great career out of them. However, many cameramen and actors told me they would accept less from me than they expected from commercial work since they didn't like doing commercials as well as films.
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#20 Adam Thompson

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Posted 30 October 2007 - 01:32 PM

I think we need to clarify the time and type of job here and how it changes things.

If it's an indie feature that's shooting for a month or so, outside of LA, $150 is something to expect I think. A feature means solid work for a month, a commercial means work for a couple of days then maybe three weeks of no work!? I'd rather take $150 a day for that long than $300 a day for two days.

Personal examples: I was paid $600 to gaff for two days on an industrial once. I was soon after paid $1500 total to DP a 24p feature that went on for over three weeks, plus I got food and a hotel room.
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