The Business of Video Production

[by Gail Mooney]

The “business” of video production encompasses a lot of things – one being good paperwork.  From the initial estimate on a job, through the final invoice along with obtaining the necessary releases – good paperwork is essential for a profitable business.

I keep a database of past SOWs (Statement of Work) to use as references. While every job is different, I use these archived SOWs as a starting point. Another great starting point when putting together an estimate is to use the estimating form online at the AICP (American Independent Commercial Producers) website.

In addition to estimating the costs of crew, equipment, location needs, pre-production and post-production, I include clearly payment and licensing terms as well as a schedule of workflow and completion dates.

Terms – Here is where I state rights and  “usage” of the finished product – where will it be used and for how long.  I also clearly spell out payment terms, cancellations and provide an accurate description of exactly what I’m going to deliver.

For Example:

  • 5 minute web video.
  • One day shoot on location at………….includes 2 interviews and b-roll.
  • Post production – edit will include x amount of still images, voiceover narrative track and music. Logos and graphics to be provided by client.
  • Payment – one third upon signed SOW (Statement of Work)  – one third after shoot –balance due upon delivery of final product.
  • Cancellation terms and change fees.
  • One rough cut and final cut included. Additional changes are billed hourly at $………
  • Licensing and usage terms. Web usage for 2 years. No Broadcast rights.
  • Schedule – This is extremely important in video production – a schedule where the client signs off on each phase of the project. This is critical so if the client delays things on their end – it’s clearly understood that the rest of the schedule gets extended in terms of deadline dates.  Otherwise if your client’s boss has an unexpected out of town trip come up and you need to wait for his/her approval – you won’t be left with half the time you need on your end to deliver the final product.
By Gail Mooney | Posted: February 5th, 2010 | 7 comments


7 Responses to 'The Business of Video Production'

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  1. Is this a video website? I thought it was a photography one…

    By Jason Wallis | Feb 6, 2010


  2. Jason,

    Just like with cameras – many people have expanded and converged their still photography businesses with video.

    By Gail Mooney | Feb 6, 2010


  3. Remember when the first Macintosh and Laserwriter came out, and suddenly everyone decided they could do their own page design and layouts, simply because they believed that having access to the tools of the trade suddenly made them expert designers. The result was a lot of ugly looking page designs and a lot of designers scrambling for work.

    Now, still photographers (apparently encouraged by ASMP) suddenly believe that they can be masters of motion media simply because they have low-cost tools for creating video images in their still cameras.

    ASMP presents so-called “experts” to help guide all these wanna-be movie producers, yet some of these “experts” barely have any experience in this area of their own (see previous posts in this blog).

    Seems like a lot of smoke and mirrors. Perhaps you guys are just grasping at whatever straws you think might be the latest fad to help you sell overpriced services to your fellow photographers.

    I get to cook dinner for my family fairly regularly, and have all the same pots, pans and ingredients available in my kitchen that some of the finest restaurants in town do, but that in no way makes me a five star chef, nor even remotely qualified to cook professionally.

    Yet you guys seem to think that since you can now shoot limited video with your still cameras, suddenly you are god’s gift to the video production world. Did you ever stop to think that you’ve engaged in competition with all the desperate, out-of-work video professionals, who have no problem working for lowest day rates and giving up rights to their work without even blinking?

    Great business planning, guys.

    By Jeff Smith | Feb 7, 2010


  4. Can you provide sample numbers on what you charge at each stage of the game? That would be more helpful. I know rates can depend on client and project, but what about editing rates, re-edit rates, graphics, interviews etc…?

    I use fotoquote for still image pricing, but is there anything for video?



    By Armando Solares | Feb 7, 2010


  5. Jeff,

    I have been working in video production for the last eleven years.

    As far as my business model – I position myself as a producer/director. That’s not to say that I don’t shoot at times but essentially I don’t market myself as a camera operator. I want ownership and control of the entire project whenever possible.

    I hear a lot of photographers saying that their existing clients are coming to them and asking them if they shoot video. I tell them that video production is a collaborative effort and that you can act as a producer and work with camera operators, sound mixers and editors to solve your clients’ needs.

    There are tremendous opportunities in new markets for video because the demand is high due to broadband and mobile devices.

    By the way, I don’t feel that getting a DSLR makes you a videographer – shooting motion is a different thought process.

    Cameras are converging – so are visual media businesses.

    By Gail Mooney | Feb 7, 2010


  6. Amando,

    Editing in the NYC area will run you betwwen $150 – $250 an hour.

    By Gail Mooney | Feb 7, 2010


  7. Great idea to keep a database of SOWs. After the video production work is complete it’s never over. That work is going to be used over and over again and it’s always wise to protect yourself.

    Jackson from Maverick Boston Video Production

    By Jackson Maverick | Apr 9, 2014



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