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#1 jbraver

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Posted 03 November 2005 - 10:13 PM

I want to be a cinematographer, because I love light, film, and composing images. Money means nothing to me if im doing what I love. This said it would be nice to know what a cinematorgapher makes per job. Im curious to know what salaries are from an indie film all the way up to Robert Richardson's level.

thanks,

Jake
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 03 November 2005 - 11:30 PM

Zero to hundreds of thousands, maybe over a million. It's all over the map.
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#3 jbraver

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 12:03 AM

how is salary decided upon. Do the agents handle that?
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 03:04 AM

how is salary decided upon. Do the agents handle that?


Salary is determined by overall budget generally, with a little wiggle room for negotiation, maybe by your agent. But honestly, if it's a union shoot, there are posted minimum rates for different budget categories, and most producers try and pay close to union minimum unless the budget is really big. So if you're doing a film in the 3 to 10 million dollar budget range, you'll probably be offered union minimum DP rates. An agent may get this up a little, or you may get other perks added instead, like a few extra days of paid prep, or a kit rental.

Features pay worse than commercials -- even video shoots like for EPK's and informercials pay more than feature rates often. But features go on for weeks, even months, not just a few days.

Obviously if you're a top DP working on a big commercial or feature, who knows how much they are willing to pay you if they really want you.

But I was just talking to someone who worked on a 15 mil feature where the lead actress got 10 mil, her staff got 2 mil, the director got 1 mil -- leaving only 2 mil to make the movie with, so everyone else got union scale.
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#5 Dominik Muench

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 05:03 AM

But I was just talking to someone who worked on a 15 mil feature where the lead actress got 10 mil, her staff got 2 mil, the director got 1 mil -- leaving only 2 mil to make the movie with, so everyone else got union scale.



OMG thats sad :/
i find it scary when the movie has to suffer because one actor take up the biggest part of the budget.
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#6 Frank Barrera

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 07:56 AM

OMG thats sad :/
i find it scary when the movie has to suffer because one actor take up the biggest part of the budget.



Really? Well, think of it this way: That movie DM was talking about was never going to be more than a 2 million dollar picture anyway. But with the added 12 million investment for the actor the movie will more than likely be seen in the theaters. Remember: It's show BIZness.

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#7 Dominik Muench

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 08:14 AM

Really? Well, think of it this way: That movie DM was talking about was never going to be more than a 2 million dollar picture anyway. But with the added 12 million investment for the actor the movie will more than likely be seen in the theaters. Remember: It's show BIZness.

FB


ok thats one possibility, but wouldnt it be mroe interesting of using ana ctor that charges less, and from ym experience there are a lot of great actors out there which might be unknown but still deliver great performances. so why not going for a "cheaper" actor instead and putting the 10 million or whatever, saved into lightin, camera gear, production design and increasing the value of the movie ?
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#8 Stephen Williams

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 08:20 AM

ok thats one possibility, but wouldnt it be mroe interesting of using ana ctor that charges less, and from ym experience there are a lot of great actors out there which might be unknown but still deliver great performances. so why not going for a "cheaper" actor instead and putting the 10 million or whatever, saved into lightin, camera gear, production design and increasing the value of the movie ?


Hi,

With a Big $$$ actor there is a much greater chance of general release. Therefore the chance of making a profit is easier from a $15000000 movie than from a $2000000. The studio makes most of its money from the opening weekend, when they get a very high percentage of ticket sales.

Stephen
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#9 dancordle

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 11:23 AM

Hi,

With a Big $$$ actor there is a much greater chance of general release. Therefore the chance of making a profit is easier from a $15000000 movie than from a $2000000. The studio makes most of its money from the opening weekend, when they get a very high percentage of ticket sales.

Stephen


I absolutely agree. You have to give the producers and investors a little credit. They're no fools. When deciding what movie to see, your general audience member will ask "who's in it?" or even "who directed it?" but rarely "who produced it?", "who DP'd it?" or anything else. The bias against actors is that they have it easy, but in reality they don't. The best are highly skilled, struggled to become succesful, work hard to keep their careers afloat, and are worth every penny they're paid. That's not to say there aren't blockbusters made with unknown actors. Of course there are. Sometimes it's wiser to use unrecognizable talent. But what it comes down to is this: If you were dragged to a remake of "Barbarella", who you you rather see in the title role? Angelina Jolie? Or Nancy Piscatelli from Kalamzoo?

Hmnm...been a long time since I saw "Barbarella."
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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 12:42 PM

I don't think it is as clear-cut as "big name actors are always worth whatever they are paid even if the crews get scale". I mean, if a film is a flop, as many are, then you may question whether the film might have turned out slightly better if they could have funnelled a small percentage of that huge salary over to, let's say, another screenwriter or adding a week to production, etc.

That said, many films simply don't get greenlit without a name attached, so it becomes a matter of "yes, the actor gets 90% of the budget and you're left with two million to make the movie on, but two million is better than nothing, isn't it?" Maybe.

In the case I mentioned, it was a serious political drama shot digitally, so I question the fans of this particular pop star / actress being the primary audience for the movie. I mean, if one of the reasons it flops is because it looks like a cheap indie movie to audiences, the studio is going to wonder whether it was worth spending 15 million on the thing only to end up with something that looks like it cost much less.
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#11 Max Jacoby

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 01:58 PM

I don't think it's as easy as saying that one should have taken a cheaper actress and spend the money elsewhere. It's highly likely that if a lesser known actress had been hired for less money, the below the line budget would not have changed at all, i.e the total budget would simply have been reduced.

Most big budget movies only get made if they have big stars attached anyway. Take Darren Aronovsky's new film, 'The Fountain' for instance. If I remember the numbers correctly when Brad Pitt was supposed to do it, it had a budget of 90M, but after he left the film, the film got put on hold. Now they did it with lesser known actors for 40M, which means that after Brad Pitt dropped out, the budget got reduced by MORE than his salary.
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#12 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 05 November 2005 - 09:50 AM

But this is only true in some sense - I can think of two exceptions:

1. A truly good movie will almost always get recognition regardless of the cast.

2. In genre-film, the genre is the star.

That's why horror is done in every basement these days - you have to be a fool to lose money on that, almost.
Besides, I'm betting that the horror producers, the Rogar Cormans and the Nu Images of this world make a lot more return per invested dollar than say any big Hollywood studio.
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