Production Primer: How much does a video cost?

That’s the most frequent question I get from new clients. A popular variation: How much do you charge per minute?

To find the answer, let’s look at two different hypothetical one-minute-long video productions and figure out what’s involved in each.

Video 1: Your company’s CEO stands outside headquarters and delivers a 60-second monologue directly to camera.

Video 2. A sixty second video featuring Oprah Winfrey and your company’s CEO standing on the bow of the Titanic as it sinks into the North Atlantic along with George Clooney, Brad Pitt, the Rolling Stones and 1500 digitally created extras, with an orchestral music score by John Williams.

Video 1 is the simplest of productions, and can be shot with a two-person crew in a half-day. There is no editing needed… the finished speech is placed directly on the company intranet. Cost: Around $1000.

Video 2 will require $25 million in talent fees, 18 months of computer generated visual effects work, state-of-the art motion control camera systems, and a month-long shoot with crew of 120 skilled artists and technicians. Total budget: $50 million.

So, how much per minute does a video cost? Somewhere between a thousand bucks and $50 million.

Now I haven’t worked on a lot of $50 million corporate videos, but there is definitely a wide range in my budgets. Budget is determined not by finished length, but by what is being put on the screen and the time and resources needed to put it there.

The productions you see on this site were budgeted as low as $15,000 and as high as $300,000. Surprisingly, some of my favorite and most creatively satisfying projects have been the ones with the smallest budgets.

The part of the production business that requires the greatest skill and experience is finding ways to make low budget projects not look like low budget projects. We want to see your dollars show up on the screen… and not get wasted with unnecessary expense.