How much will a 3-minute video cost?
I have been asked that question countless times throughout my career leading corporate video productions. My answer is always the same: How much does a cart of groceries cost? Of course, the answer to both questions is first to understand what is going into the video or grocery cart.
I find unhelpful to give a blanket all-inclusive cost-per-minute video quote. After all, a typical high-end 30-second Superbowl ad costs a lot more than a 30-minute video of a TedTalk. Or it could cost less to produce depending on what’s actually going into the ad.
Would you pay a flat per-pound rate on your groceries? Either you end up overpaying, by a whole lot, for canned beans or getting a sweet bargain on a cartful of caviar. (I’ve never had caviar, but I’ve heard it’s expensive.)
So, how do I come up with the cost of producing a video? After meeting with a client and understanding their vision and what kind of video they want, I start to factor in the costs. The primary factors are time(times expertise*) + complexities of the project. Are we hiring actors or voice-over talent? Is it a one or two production day? Will there be any drone shots, animation or visual effects?
I always like to give a ballpark figure after going over the vision with a client so that they can properly budget for the shoot. Other times, if the client has a set budget, I go over priorities and figure out how complex the video can be.
My favorite times are when a client realizes they don’t have to spend as much as they thought because their video isn’t as complicated as they thought. Of course, there are plenty of times when additional factors aren’t taken into consideration by a client and they can be surprised by the cost. That is why it very important to be transparent on cost, on what it is paying for, and on what the client can expect for that amount.
We don’t try to be the cheapest or most expensive, but rather deliver a high return of quality and results on the investment. In the end, I hope it feels like you got the equivalent of a cartful of caviar for the price of a cartful of beans.
Time and Expertise
*Why (time)x(expertise)? In a future blog post I will go further into detail, but for now I will share my favorite story in answer to this question.
One day a rich businessman walks up to Picasso at a café and hands him a napkin saying, “Draw me something on this and I’ll pay you for it.”
Picasso takes a couple of minutes and sketches out a drawing and hands the napkin back to the businessman saying, “That’ll be 1 million dollars please.”
The businessman, taken aback exclaims, “but it only took you five minutes to draw.”
“Yes,” replies Picasso, “but it took me five decades mastering my craft to draw it.”