A very hard question to answer at all. The good news is that most directors can usually tell if a pro’s services are valuable by how much the filmmaker saves through production costs. If a filmmaker has an existing video relationship with a pro, that pro will typically add a pro-service package to the overall price of their work. For some filmmakers, the cost to make a film, the costs to edit, and the costs to distribute it can all be counted as the filmmaker’s production costs. If the filmmaker can also count the cost of production on their budget, they can usually calculate that the price of a professional-services package is worth a great deal more than the budget they’re working with.
For example, a filmmaker might want to shoot a 12-minute short with a low budget. A professional will work for an hourly rate, and a professional-level editing suite would typically cost $200. The filmmaker may charge a professional $1000 per hour, or maybe $2000 a day, but those numbers are usually based on a very rough calculation. How much of a savings can a filmmaker expect if they worked with professional services for just $2000 in production and distribution? That $2000 in savings could be used to pay off the entire cost of the 12-minute short, or it could go toward a variety of other film expenses. The key question is how much of their new income will be attributable to production costs. If the filmmaker gets a great deal for their work, there is no need to worry about whether or not film expenses might result in additional costs in the future.
If the filmmaker gets a flat rate for their services, though, they should keep in mind that there could be a potential future impact on their budget. If you pay $1000 a day to create a film for a smaller budget, you can reasonably believe that your filmmakers’ budgets have no impact on a decision to make a certain film—or to make a very specific film. However, in addition to their costs of production, the filmmakers may find themselves spending at least a small amount of time for the entire production process, which represents costs of getting approvals, making changes to the script, shooting, distributing, and, of course, marketing their work. If this is the case, it’s reasonable to think that there’s a future impact on the filmmaker’s budget.
So whether or not a filmmaker’s budget is at risk is a question that is best answered based on what the filmmaker’s needs are. It is a question that a filmmaker should try
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