We’re asked this question all the time. One could just as easily ask: how much does a house cost, or a car, or a meal? Are we talking bungalow or mansion? Econo-box or luxury sedan? Fast food or five star? At any given time, one or the other might be fitting, and similar comparisons apply to “how much does a video cost?” Of course, when asked this question, our approach isn’t to make fun, rather we attempt to determine what it is our clients are trying to accomplish and how to achieve their purpose in a way that best fits their needs. Figuring that out helps us define what their particular video might cost.
There are always multiple ways to present messages and costs are related to the creative approach, but our goal when we’re first asked that question is to begin quantifying the job. What’s the message you are trying to convey and what’s the purpose you are trying to achieve? Who is the audience and how do you envision reaching them? Here is where we begin to determine what we’re dealing with. Are you trying to promote a product or an event? Train your staff on an operation or procedure? Advocate a position or raise funds? Document an issue or just have fun? What’s the story you’re trying to tell and why do you want to tell it?
When talking about cost, context is helpful and for clients that are inexperienced in commissioning a video, we let them know that length is not always the determining factor. Individual shots lasting only a few seconds might be quite elaborate and consume significant resources to accomplish – large cast and crew, complicated sets, and specialized equipment – while some longer form programs are significantly less expensive to produce when considering a per minute basis.
As we delve deeper, we ask: When you close your eyes and imagine the program, what do you see? How much material must be covered and what’s your target length? Is the program scripted or are interviews required? If scripted, do you have narration? Is that narration voice-over or on-camera? If interviews are required, how many and where might they take place? Is there a need to dramatize aspects of the story? If so, what’s entailed and how many scenes are envisioned? What locations might be required? Will we need to travel? What’s the production schedule? Is it a fast turn-around, or is there time to conduct research and proceed more deliberately? Does all footage need to be new source material, or can stock footage be utilized? Costumes? Props? Make-up? Graphical animations? Music? Special effects? Languages? Distribution requirements? Captions? Packaging? Collateral materials? There’s a lot to consider.
Clients don’t always know the answers right away, but as they contemplate the questions we ask, we begin to define the scope of their project and help them understand what approaches are available within their targeted budget. It’s our job to educate and to support them through the process, to answer any questions and quiet any apprehensions, to make it easy.
In just a few minutes we can determine if we’re talking about a fast food meal from the drive through in our economy car that we’re planning to take back to our bungalow, or if we’re traveling from our mansion to a five-star restaurant in our luxury sedan. Either way, whether the budget is lesser or greater, messages can and will be presented with simplicity, with elegance, and with impact.
If you have any questions about what your video might cost, give us a call. We’ll help.
Tim Phillips and the Rock Creek Team