As a Director of Photography in Miami I NYC I LA . I get asked this question all the time. How much does it cost to make a music video? I know exactly how to answer this question. I tend to go straight for the head kick and while most incompetent DP’s and Music Video Directors get caught in the Arri Alexa vs Red Epic (Dragon) discussion/battle. I prefer to spend my time talking about how much does the Artist needs to put on the screen to get his vision across vs what can the Artist afford to put in front of the Camera in order not embarrass him or herself.
I generalize, but since we live in a time where MTV, VH1, BET,etc are no longer the holy grail and final destination for music videos, one can afford to ignore some “standards” and our job as content creators and artists becomes more relaxed.
Again, unlike most Directors of Photography in Miami, I don’t push a “look” or a type of camera or the new piece of gear everyone is using (MOVi Stabilizers) on the project. I push for an open and honest dialogue between the Artists, the Music Video Director and myself (sometimes I serve as both DP and Director). This connection of the minds happens right away or it won’t happen at all. If we are having a conversation about the project is because the Artists and Director already saw my work and what my Team and I can do. Yes “Team” more on that later.
I don’t fish for the Artists budget before I put down real numbers on paper. Anyone with a smart phone can call “bullshit” in seconds if you start giving ridiculous figures for gear and crew. Lets not be afraid to say how much things cost. There is always a kid with a DSLR willing to whore himself out for the job. Yes, I said it. I also recognize some of this kids do an excellent job and I support their hustle when they contact me for advice or equipment.
I generalize again, but we all know that If the project calls for a lambo, and models, and yachts and planes and the like, there is no hiding that from the budget. And when I hear a Director or Producer say, “I can get that cheaper” I call their “bullshit” right away and move on to the next Artist that is not caught up with an incompetent Director and Producer “Team”. Or if indeed they have a better price, then is great! what else can we get for free?
Still to this day, some 16 years in the business, it hurts me to see talented artists surrounded by idiots trying to get their money. I am not the kind to mess with another dude’s hustle, but lets call “bullshit” on incompetence. As a “Director” you can be ignorant of what it takes to accomplish a project, that’s why you get an seasoned Producer and a DP and a crew. But there is no place for a Director that is incompetent about the process.
It is really easy to spot incompetent Directors on set (more on that later)
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We don’t charge “REGULAR” Production company fees. Our cost is the same whether we shoot in your living-room or blow up a car $1500/10hr gets you an Experience Director of Photography & Steadicam Operator a small crew and a Red Scarlet X PKG. Weather your project needs more or less Post Production and Color Grading is always included. I do this because in an time when everyone shoots RAW, still not many know how to use it!