December 21, 2010 \ Geoff Birmingham
How Much Does Video Cost? Part II

applying makeup on a video shoot at Mass BayIn an earlier post, we mentioned a conversation we had with a fundraising consultant about the wide discrepancy in video production costs she gets from production companies.  We recently were one of three companies speaking to an organization about producing a series of marketing videos, requiring ten days of filming.

When we spoke to the marketing director, she explained to us that she had received a surprisingly wide range of estimates, with the low and high quotes differing by $50,000!  One of the reasons for the difference, we learned, was that the pricier companies were proposing to send three people – a producer, a cameraman, and a sound person – to each of the ten video shoots.  The lower estimates were coming from single videographers who were proposing to handle all production by themselves.

So the organization had to determine whether their ten shoots required three people or if one person was enough.  This is not a question that has an obvious answer.  Because we usually have a two-person crew, and more often three, we naturally believe that a larger crew is better.  However, it is definitely not a must – we know plenty of folks that function perfectly well as a one-man show.

It all boils down to the complexity of what you are asking a company to do.  If you are asking your company to film a number of interviews and get a bunch of extra b-roll footage in a single day, for example, it’s probably going to be a real challenge for one person to act as cameraman, sound person and producer.

If, on the other hand, your production is pretty simple, then, sure, one person could definitely manage alone.  The main factor here is time.  How much time will you be giving your company to film what you have set out to capture?  The less that needs to filmed in a day (or the more days you have to film) the easier it is for one person to do everything successfully on his or her own.

As with anything in life, if a job is big but the investment in man-power is low, then it usually means compromises have to be made.  In a future post, we will explain more about how a crew functions and what client expectations of them ought to be.