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Average pay for cinematographer


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#1 Faraz Shaffi

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 12:40 AM

hey guys,

what is the average pay for cinematographers, or does it depend on the production? thanks.

Faraz Shaffi
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#2 Markus Rave

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 06:36 AM

hey guys,

what is the average pay for cinematographers, or does it depend on the production? thanks.

Faraz Shaffi


There is absolutely no average pay for cinematographers. You will have to negotiate based on the project and your skills or your competition. There is some guideline for TV camermen here in Germany but even there are differences regarding whether you shoot news or documentaries.

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#3 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 08:30 AM

there are the union scales, but in my own experience, as mentioned, it all depends on what you can negotiate. The best pay is normally on commercials and industrial videos, the worst, at least recently in my experience seems to be short films and music videos (often they aren't paid).
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 01:44 PM

The "average" is zero dollars to a bucketload...
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#5 Stephen Murphy

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 02:34 PM

The "average" is zero dollars to a bucketload...



I work for free. I figure this industry has given me so much over the years i should give something back. And besides the scripts I get offered are always great so thats reward enough.
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#6 Stephen Williams

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 02:40 PM

The "average" is zero dollars to a bucketload...


Probably 10% make a good living, the vast majority do not.
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#7 David Rakoczy

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 02:47 PM

I am with David M.... you have say, Vilmos, who (say on a Barbie Doll Commercial) gets $12,000 USD for 10/ hours (no doubt others have been paid more)... and you have the other extreme... the thousands who (like Mr. Murphy :rolleyes: ) work for free. I would say the average Cinematographer makes about $50 USD a year :o . After shooting a ton for free including a feature, building a reel, I shot for years at $200 - $350 per day then bumped up to $30k, $40k and more per Feature.... then sat and sat with nothing... some Commercials came in at $3.5k per day but it was this on again off again roller coaster that really bothered me. So, I built a Company that offered more than a 'day rate'. It is not near as "glamorous" as the Hollywood Shows I used to shoot and I do miss shooting narrative, however, I am making more than ever ... and still shooting Film :wub:
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#8 Bill Totolo

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 04:43 PM

If you're negotiating for yourself try to get them to agree to overtime, not just a flat rate.
Also, spell out the pay schedule clearly with penalties for late payment.
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#9 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 06:23 PM

One takes what one can get. On paying gigs, $250-$1,000 per day seems so be about what people in my neck of the woods make, depending on skill, experience and project type of course.
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#10 JD Hartman

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 09:30 PM

If you're negotiating for yourself try to get them to agree to overtime, not just a flat rate.
Also, spell out the pay schedule clearly with penalties for late payment.


Laying out the rate for a "standard" day, rate for O.T. and the minimum hours of turnaround, are great point for agreement. Getting them to live by their agreements if another thing. One of my stronger bargaining points, is that the G&E equipment is mine and if you continue to screw with me on set, my equipment, myself and my people leave.
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The Slider

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