Thread: DP rates: How do I quote my pre-production

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  1. #1 DP rates: How do I quote my pre-production 
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    Hey guys,
    I'm a DP and honestly I shoot 90% sport and branded content. That means small budgets and not union jobs.

    This year is starting in a different way though, with two tv broadcast commercials in the horizon.

    My question here is: how do I quote the pre-production days?

    I'm asking because the director and producer asked me if I wanted to bring my crew, I agreed...
    From there it started an ordeal of emails and phone calls that turned a one day shoot commercial into a month of planing and organizing.
    On top of that I already went to do scout location and obviously likely will be involved in the storyboarding and shot list process.

    So, Do I charge the company only my shooting day or also all these hrs before the actual shoot? What's the "official" approach? and (in case) appropriate % our of my full rate?

    Thanks guys
    Coralclimb.com
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  2. #2  
    Senior Member Alex Lubensky's Avatar
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    Usually it depends on the market you work in. In Eastern Europe we're used to quote for a day rate, which includes pre-production, production and some post-production. Depending on a project, it may take somewhere from one week to a month of your time. Usually in my market it something like:

    - first production call, quote for dates of production and sometimes quote for pitching.
    - meeting with director, discussing the job.
    - scouting locations.
    - pre-production meeting (usually with agency).
    - tech rec on location with crew (gaffer, production designer).
    - production (may vary from one day to some days).
    - post production. Usually it's visiting the colorist and selling the final job to a client.

    During the day of production, it's vital to "sell" each shot of the storyboard to a client. On the shoot there's client, agency, production. You usually speak only with the Director or 1AD, if something wrong happens - to the Production. The production speaks to an agency, and an agency then sells the idea to a client.

    That's the basic idea of shooting commercials here. That's why the daily rate is somewhat higher in commercials. On bigger projects the client can be really demanding, opting you to choose and approve all the wardrobe colors, building decorations and so on.


    Sometimes the jobs have a really tight schedule, like in December (just before the year-marketing closure), opting you to do the whole job in 2-3 days. That's the moment, when some of jobs may not end up in production, thus making you waste your time in prep and not recieving any money for the job. So dividing the job into prep money and production money is a good idea and depends on your market traditions. If it's common, I'd go the split way. Usually prep alone costs 50% of production cost here.
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  3. #3  
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    Typically you agree on how many days of prep are in the budget and you bill for those. It's part of the deal when you take the job. However, expect to work more than you get paid for ;-)

    Nick
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  4. #4  
    Senior Member Hugh Scully's Avatar
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    So as a DP you are supposed to build all the meetings, location scouts, tech prep, tests into the one shooting day rate? What about asking for 1/2 your day rate for the days spent on those? You’ve got to get something, no?
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  5. #5  
    Senior Member Alex Lubensky's Avatar
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    You just include those inside your daily rate for commercials. It's just easier to budget things for productions this way, and usually they don't want to mess with anything non-usual to them. The downside of such method i've mentioned above - if the shoot doesn't happen, then you're without your rate in most occasions. No one is going to pay you daily rates or half rates for each day of prep, unless in my market or you're a big name in your market. Usually it's like full rate for a shooting day, and a half rate for all the pre-production. You can split those, or summ up into one rate. Sometimes they will ask you a project rate, and it's another hassle of its own.
    Last edited by Alex Lubensky; 01-03-2019 at 05:16 AM.
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  6. #6  
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    I generally don't do half day rates for anything except travel. The logic being if I am working for you, I am not working for someone else, so you buy the day.

    Nick
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  7. #7  
    Before you take the job, you ask how many days of prep are they budgeted to pay for. You probably will put in more time than that but that’s up to you. I usually think of the money for prep as covering the work rather than breaking it down because prep can be non-continuous.
    David Mullen, ASC
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    http://www.davidmullenasc.com
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