Budgeting Your Video Production Project
Don’t Shortchange Your Own Project
Unless you’re an experienced video producer, it can be tough to know how to allocate a budget for your marketing and communications video project. Video production is a multifaceted and complex beast and If you’re not familiar with the intricacies of video and film production, it can be incredibly difficult to accurately budget for it.
Will the budget be enough to cover the scope and objectives you have?
Will you need to compromise on quality? Can you afford a crew that size?
In this week’s blog, we cover some of the questions you may have about budgeting for video production and share a few handy tips to help you build your brief and ensure you can allocate the right amount of funding for your project.
Vendor and Talent Costs
Without specific sector knowledge, it’s hard to know who you will need in your production team, and importantly, how much they might cost. Quite often, video production budgets can underestimate the fees associated with hiring skilled professionals, such as videographers, editors, and actors, as well as the ‘mark-up’ that a video production agency needs to add. Negotiating fair rates, while maintaining high standards of quality can be a delicate balancing act and is the job of a dedicated agency-side producer. We’d recommend getting a selection of rate cards from your agency suppliers which will give a rough indication of costs for each specialist role.
From an agency perspective, this can be a tricky one to manage. Sometimes unrealistic expectations regarding the complexity of the project, the level of production values, or the time required for various tasks can contribute to budgeting challenges. It’s down to the agency to offer guidance in that respect, aligning the client’s expectations with the financial resources available.
Fluctuating Creative Direction
Realistically, this shouldn’t be an issue, as the creative direction of the project should be agreed upon well in advance of any production, however, changes in the creative direction of any project can happen throughout the production process, and this can pose any number of logistical challenges. These challenges may necessitate adjustments to the budget, such as impacting costs associated with reshoots, funding additional equipment, or extending post-production. A common example is finding B-roll opportunities on a filming day more limited than anticipated and having to then retrospectively budget for additional stock footage.
Equipment and Technology Expenses
For a lot of creative directors, the reason for asking for an indicative budget from the client is so that they can identify the production tools they have available. Can they use a certain type of lens, a wider range of lights or specialist camera equipment? In very simple terms, the more contemporary and high-end the technology, the more contemporary and high-end the film (in theory!), but keeping up with the latest video production technologies and investing in the necessary equipment can place a strain on a budget. Clients and agencies may need to discuss which equipment should be prioritized while avoiding unnecessary expenditures on technology that won’t get used.
Video production is inherently unpredictable, and unforeseen challenges or obstacles can often arise (we’re looking at you 10-minute flash thunderstorms!), leaving the budget vulnerable to unexpected expenses. A producer will do their best to anticipate all potential scenarios, but sometimes there is a need for a contingency plan, particularly if there are elements beyond your control. On larger productions, such as a TV or cinema advert, the producer may ask to allocate a section of the budget for this specifically. Likewise, if there’s a possibility that a key contributor becomes unavailable, or filming is no longer feasible, money may be allocated for a reshoot or a cancellation fee.
If a deadline is tight, then it may require a production team to work additional hours beyond the normal working day. This ‘crunch’ can result in overtime costs, or extra crew brought in to expedite any processes, which of course will have impact on the budget. We’d recommend ensuring that you give yourselves enough time in pre-production so that the post-production cycle is kept streamlined and focussed. Likewise giving ‘false’ deadlines (usually to ensure that the deliverable is ready well before the actual deadline) can sometimes cause more harm than good, as it’ll likely mean the production team doubles up on their own resources to cover it.
Distribution and Marketing Costs
The video production agency needs to know where the final videos are going and how they are going to be used. If they don’t ask, tell them! License fees for actors, music, stock, photography, etc, vary significantly depending on where the films will play out and their intended usage. If the correct license isn’t in place you run the real risk of having the work removed from the platform or streaming service until you’ve paid for the correct one. Licenses tend to be a set fee based on usage, so your producer should be able to give you a clear cost ahead of any production taking place.
The Impact of Budget on Filming Days
There’s a clear link between a budget’s size and the amount of filming days available. Simply put, a bigger budget results in greater flexibility on a shoot, it gives the option of additional filming days (which increases the time that can be spent with each contributor), or the ability for more complicated and technical setups (for better-looking, more creative shots). Be warned, however, if a production team is travelling far and requires an overnight stay, it’s likely you will need to factor in an additional half-day rate for each crew member on top of your filming dates. To address this, we’d always recommend filming to take place in concurrent blocks, for example, three days back-to-back.
Of course, there is a trade-off between allocating a higher budget for more filming days and the potential increase in overall production quality. A reduced budget may lead to compromises in terms of both coverage and final output, there could be ripple effects such as rushed shoots, limited coverage in the edit, and potential compromises in overall project quality. Think of those movies or TV shows where you can feel that something is missing, maybe the edit feels rushed, or the visual effects don’t quite work. It’s likely that at some point, the budget (or lack of) has had an impact.
Balancing Budget and Project Goals
It’s important to find that balance between budget constraints and project objectives and we’d strongly recommend that clients communicate openly with their video production agency about their goals and expectations. Telling the video production agency what their budget is, doesn’t mean that they’ll always come in at the absolute limit, but it does allow the agency to offer different creative options. Personally, if we’re told the budget beforehand, we tend to give our clients three creative choices, one at both ends of the budget spectrum, and one in the middle.
How you allocate your budget reflects on your brand. While a video doesn’t have to be a grand affair, it should uphold production values that convey your brand’s ethos. Consider your video as a lasting asset, worthy of investment for a substantial and prolonged impact. Remember, investing in your video ensures it becomes a lasting asset with a significant impact over an extended timeframe.
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