Many people approach me and ask me to help them make a video either on the good work they are doing or simply on their organisation. The moment I say I agree, the first question they ask is, “How much will it cost?”

“What is your budget?’ I ask them in return.  Most times they tell me they don’t have an idea. Well, I proceed to tell them, the budget is dependent on a number of factors:

  • Length
  • Complexity (will it be shot on location/ indoors/ sets etc.)
  • The ‘story‘ for the video (Yes, every video needs to tell a story)
  • The people involved (actors/ whether talent to be interviewed are in different locations)
  • And of course, the purpose of the video (education/ entertainment/ corporate/ fund-raising etc.).  This, in fact, together with the others, is a major factor in deciding the budget.

All of these factors will decide:

  • Video format: The video format that will be used (MiniDV, DVCPRO, HD, AVCHD etc). Remember, rentals differ from camera to camera.
  • Special equipment & personnel:  Does the video shoot require track & trolley? Cranes? Jibs? Steady cameras?  What are the kind of lights required for the shoot? There goes up the cost!
  • The number of days you’ll be required to shoot.  This is again dependent on the script & the story. Will the film be shot documentary style? Will it involve actors? Different locations? Clients always want everything to be included in their video. It’s your job/responsibility to explain why it can’t be so.
  • The number of personnel involved in the production. More complex the video, more the number of days, the locations and more the number of people involved & hence more the cost.
  • Transport, fooding & lodging:  This takes away at least 30-55% per cent of your total budget. Budget them carefully.
  • Permissions: Many locations require permissions and user fees. Factor these into the budget
  • Production & Post-production:  Does parts of the video need animation/ complex graphics?  These will add to costs.

And yes, before I forget, add 10-15% of the budget towards incidental expenses. Clients will never understand why you need that amount, but shoots can always spring unpleasant surprises.

Remember, every client wants the best video ever made for her. It’s important that you take the time out to explain to them why a video costs that much. 

If you are interested in making good videos, purchase the second edition of Video Production, Oxford University Press.

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