I couldn't find any specific post about this. In May I will be gaffing a feature with about 12 shooting days with a budget around $30,000. I've worked for this director before on a bigger budget feature, but only as an AC. He always pays on time. I'll be working on the film no matter the rate, because principal photography isn't that long, because I want to continue to work with him, and his features keep getting more and more budget (John Debney just scored his last feature, the one I worked on). But he's just doing this one for fun. What would I charge for my day rate as gaffer with a budget like this? Any help or input would be appreciated. This would be in addition to any equipment rentals.
Given the other costs, on feature film that sounds like the food and some basic rental for gear. It depends on the crew size, a small docmenutary sized one may have some crewing money, because that's the budget size.
if you have to lower your rate considerably they should show you the budget and you can then negotiate together how much the production can afford to pay you, eg. what is a fair rate considering what the budget is.
it is difficult to say how much it would be in a low budget indie feature without seeing the budget and discussing with the producer or production manager
You can't afford a gaffer. Your can't afford any real crew or gear at that sort of level. What you can probably do is afford someone who one day wants to be a gaffer, and if you look around, you may be lucky enough to find someone with at least a bit of book knowledge and a few days experience on no-budget music videos and the like. Sometimes, such people can be very good, but you shouldn't expect too much.
I wouldn't book a "gaffer" at that budget level cause there's likely no need. No electrical distribution. No tie-ins, gennies etc. Probably all house power with a handful of units and no real steel or rigging to worry about. Better off with a few experienced swing. All ya need are hands at that point to keep things safe. Probably no math or "middle management" involved.
Edited by Michael LaVoie, 17 March 2016 - 08:48 AM.
it saves lots of time and money if you have experienced people around, so I would definitely book a experienced "gaffer" who is fast and innovative and can thus do great job with the resources available. even if the whole lighting/electric crew is only that one person I would do just like that to make sure to stay on schedule. otherwise the DP has to do the gaffer job which eats lots of time and they will probably hate it.
you can probably save 30-40% on lights if you have experienced and innovative people using them so it is also most likely cheaper option
I guess I should add that I'll be doing a couple other crew positions as well. I am an experienced grip and electric swing so I'm not worried about any of that, but I'll probably be pulling focus among other things. It'll be a very small crew with minimal locations. Mostly interior, so I can probably get away with only a few smaller lights and maybe a shiny board or two. I've done features with a rate lower than $200/day so I'm not really worried about it since it's only two weeks. I'll be getting all the lighting equipment from a really good friend who owns two 10 ton grip and lighting packages, and he gives me a really good deal every time I rent from him, so we will be able to save money that way.