How Long? How Much?

Posted: October 1, 2011 by Alan Hardcastle in CMP 10_12
Tags: , , ,

Ok, we are making short films. Adverts.30 seconds. That’s it.

So how long is it taking us to make these films? I want you to time all the tasks in the process. How long is it taking you to research each company you look at? and be careful here – some research packs have taken a week to get back to the folder, yet I know the researcher has sat still for a long time – or even just printed out web pages.

I want to know in hours how long the whole process has taken – confirming who what they have been nominated for, looking at what the company has given us, finding the web site, reading it, extracting what is important & relates to the awards, putting together the checklist, rough script, shot list & questions, phoning them, talking to them, running through the shots we want, negotiating access to those areas, running through the questions, rewriting the questions, rough script and shotlist based on what the company have said they want.

Then the logistics – this is essentially just sorting out who is going to get the footage. This should not take too long, but can be quite complex when there are 5 groups going out with 3 cameras in 1 minibus.

Then there is travel – how long does it actually take you to get to the company? How long are you filming on site? The average seems to be about 2 hours, which is a long time for a 30 second films… Then there is the journey back.

Then digitising – real time for DV, quicker for digital. But you ned to log the footage – where is the good stuff? Have we found the best shots, the best soundbites? We only have 30 seconds, but it needs to be a dense, action packed 30 seconds. It has to sell. This takes some serious editing.

By my estimation, 3 hours filming per film, 4 hours researching & talking, and (depending on how well the shoot was logged) either 7 or 14 hours editing. So, lets say 21 hours per film. Most of you will take a lot longer. But why is this important?

A job like this is payed by a fee. You would estimate how long it would take you to do all these jobs, in hours, and then multiply by an hourly fee. Lets say, £25 per hour. So, I make it each film (before we get to the master edit, and without expenses) as being worth about £525 each. (NB – this is based on one person, so with a 4 person crew going out takes it closer to £900). So, talk to someone who you know owns a business and see if they would be willing to pay £525 for a 30 second piece. If they say no, look at how big their business is – then ask yourself why…

I have had companies complain at a release fee of £100. But how would you bring the cost down? Well, you do it quicker. Drivers and crew who don’t muck about. Get in and film exactly what you need, based on good solid research. Maybe 2 hours to explore the subject, and come out with a good solid shotlist and questions that cover everything. It is worth spending more time on the research, because it is the filming and edit that will consume the most time. If you know what you want before you go, it is so much easier to assemble what you need at the end of the day.

So, as part of you blog – tell me how long you have been spending on each task. Multiply that, in hours, by £25. Then tell me if the work you have is worth that amount of money.


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