Starr Films

Why Is Video Production So Expensive?

With social media platforms being used to promote businesses and brands more than ever before, video has become the most powerful tool available to get your message across to the masses.
While it is true, that you can certainly use a camera phone to get some interesting shots, you will find it very hard to compete with larger brands who have a healthy marketing budget that includes video branding and marketing.
Given that there is an over-saturation of videos playing across multiple platforms, without a quality video, that tells a story in an entertaining, inspiring or educational manner consistent with your brand, it’s likely it won’t get seen.  And those types of productions cost real money to produce.
That being said, most smaller companies do not want to spend the money associated with video production.  It is not because they are being cheap or difficult but rather in most cases, they have no idea what actually goes into production and have never budgeted for it before.
Recently we sat with a potential client who was very excited about expanding her brand and was interested in creating video content to help her do it.  She had outlined an idea which included multiple end products.  In her pitch, she had several locations, models, wardrobe changes, and three days of shooting, not mention editing, which included her ideas for a 3D animated logo, and hip music.   She had clearly thought this out and we were excited to help bring her vision to life.
STARR: “Great.  What’s your budget?”
CLIENT: “Oh, yeah well I can only spend $500.”
This is a common issue creatives come up against when dealing with clients who really don’t understand what goes into the cost of production.
There is certainly a $500 video that can be produced but it will not include any of the above-aforementioned things.
It’s not because we are being difficult, it is just simply not possible given the cost of production.
So today, we are going dispel some myths and hopefully shed a little light on why we cannot make your epic, commercial-grade video for $500.
This is the biggest deal and as with all things comes with a cost. You want the best and the best cost money. You have your Director, Producer, Cinematographer, Editor, Sound, and Gaffers.  This is at the bare minimum.  The more budget you have for the crew the more talent can be hired behind the camera thus the higher the production value.
Those gorgeous models and actors everyone wants in their videos cost money.  Their agents cost money and so do their managers.  If you happen to have an arsenal of friends that are super talented and willing to work on your project for free, AMAZING! The more power to you. But in most cases, if you want people who have real talent and will really make your production pop, then you will have to pay for them.
Even if you somehow snag a great cast willing to be in your video for free, you must at the very least pay for their meals and travel expenses.
Location Location, Location.  A good location will increase production value.  They are fun, fabulous and rarely free.  If you are thinking of shooting on location there are likely costs associated with that unless you are shooting in your own home in which case you will want insurance (another cost) in order to cover any damages that may occur.
While you can certainly shoot some fun content on your phone it will still be hard to compete with those who have invested real money with talented filmmakers in creating video content for their brand.
There are many companies who are hip to this fact and will often tell us which cameras they would like their films to be shot with.  If you want to get in the game you’ll need real gear which is expensive to rent and will need a small or large army (depending) to operate.
We always feed our crew (yes, production people need to eat too).  This is the most important aspect of production.
A nice craft service table doesn’t have to be elaborate but should be well-stocked throughout the day with healthy food options, waters, and fruit not just sugary snacks and candy.
If you are shooting for more than a day or two a hot breakfast is a nice touch as bagels and muffins get old after a while.
Lunch or dinner if you’re shooting at night, should consist of food that is not just pizza or sandwiches.  Hot meals or the occasional sushi platters are appreciated and your crew will be grateful.
Taking care of your crew if very important as they are the ones making it all happen for you, so when it comes to food, DO NOT skimp on the budget.
When shooting anywhere, even on the street, you will need a permit.  While it seems logical that one could just put down a camera and shoot at their leisure, many towns and cities will require you get a permit to shoot.
For example, there are parts of Central Park where you cannot put down sticks (a tripod).  These are things you must research BEFORE you show up with a team to a location.  When the police are called because you weren’t prepared, you will be shut down and have wasted a lot of time and money.
Any place you shoot will want insurance, a 2 million dollar coverage minimum.  It is not uncommon for damages to occur on set so this is imperative and not something you will get away with overlooking.
Editing, sound design, color correction, motion graphics, titles, credits, etc., this is the world of post-production.  And while this is often the most exciting part as all the elements come together, it is also the most TIME-CONSUMING.
It takes hours of tedious work in order to make the footage you’ve shot into a clear, cohesive story.
Those special graphics everyone loves in their videos?  They have to be built and in building them, the animators and graphic artists can spend days trying to get it right.
Like we said earlier, there is certainly a place for smaller budgeted videos and if you can convince a production company to do a three-day shoot will full crew, including post-production, and graphics for $500 the more power to ya.
When dealing with a production company don’t always assume you can’t afford it.  There are many companies who are willing to work within a smaller but realistic budget range.  Our company, for example, offers Business Solutions, video production for small businesses on a budget. They’re not epic, commercial-grade pieces, but they are professionally shot and assembled providing a nice piece of content for web or social media.
While it might not be feasible to hire a production company to do every single video you will need to market your brand, getting one or two really well done, tailored films in your wheelhouse shows that you care about your brand, and that can make a huge difference in the long run.
Keep Creating.
Starr Team


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