Costing professional film production

March 22, 2021
Cameron Jones

Unlike other visual creative mediums, such as photography, there are orders of magnitude more processes and experts required to complete even small scale film productions at a high standard. 

In this sense, there are a lot of similarities between Video production and House construction. There are multiple specialist teams involved, requiring entirely different materials and skill sets. Asking your creative partner how much a video costs, without context, is a little like asking a building contractor how much a house costs, the answer is entirely dependent on requirement. To exact an accurate answer to this question, we suggest starting with a detailed creative brief (see our insight - how to write the perfect creative brief), just as you would brief a contractor on number of bedrooms, interior design ideas, budget, etc.

From this starting point, we will be happy to provide you with a creative proposal in response to this brief, and quote the associated costs.

While creative projects are undoubtedly a form of art, there is also a commercial side to even the most experimental and artistic projects. Defining your desired outcome in financial terms is the best way to evaluate your ROI when assessing a creative proposal’s costs. For example, a £20,000 commercial makes a lot of sense if you foresee this creating £50,000 in generated sales.

Why is my quote so high?

While the latest iPhones are capable of 4K video, creating a high-end film that will communicate the essence of your premium brand involves more than high resolution images. The greatest concentration of efforts in any film or video often lies in post-production. Before high-quality footage enters this process, you simply have a collection of seemingly random images; editing is where the real magic happens. Post-production also requires a significant amount of time to craft the story and emotion we need to convey to our audience.

"Editing is where the real magic happens"

While the world of Tik Tok and Instagram has opened up a whole new world of marketing, there are still limits. Short videos and ‘content’ are great at attracting fresh eyeballs to a social account and gaining new followers. We know that ‘home-made’ video’s with little to no production value are currently the undisputed king of this endeavour. Once ‘engaged’, creating customers and brand advocates from these followers is a whole different challenge. That’s where high-end video production comes in. With the power to move, persuade and emote viewers - professional video production is the ultimate bridge between social media and the rest of your brand.

Additionally, while social media is certainly the zeitgeist of modern marketing, it isn’t the only form of distribution. Certainly there is a correlation between the increase in social media marketing and its relative effectiveness - there is only so much space for all of this marketing material to exist. This explains the recent rise in in OOH marketing, where low production value is not only unadvisable, but often technically unacceptable. There is still a whole world of marketing options out there, and while social media is certainly essential, it isn’t a silver bullet.

How do I bring our costs down?

The two factors that incur the highest costs are production days and post-production. Therefore, if you find your creative partners quote in excess of your budget, our suggestion is to scale down the idea and/or reduce the number of deliverables. If done correctly, both of these adaptations should bring down costs without compromising on the quality of your end product.

"The greatest power of video is its ability to tell a story"

Is is also worth considering whether video is necessary. Video production is inherently expensive, with the purchase price of your average industry-standard camera alone starting at circa £54,000. It is worth considering if you absolutely need a video. While the engagement statistics with video are encouraging, on social media for example, this doesn’t always make it the best option. If you’re on a tight budget and simply need to release visuals of a new product, it may make more sense to simply commission some high-quality photography instead.

The greatest power of video is the ability to tell a story. Even the simplest sequence can captivate an audience and remain in their thoughts for a lifetime. For this reason, if we receive a creative brief for a simple video of a bottle shot from many angles - our suggestion would be to consider photography or expand the idea to utilise the full power of video.

If you have any further questions about costing video production, feel free to drop us a line at