How Much Does a Film Cost?

It’s a simple question that requires a less simple answer. Video production is multifaceted.

When in the early stages of discussions with a client thinking of using film, an important question often asked is: ‘How much for a film?’.

I wish I could give a direct and accurate response. With filmmaking, though, many variables affect the cost. I have worked on a 90-second video that cost the client £500 and a different 90-second video with a budget of £41,000.

Why Such a Disparity for Films of The Same Duration?  

We unpack these two scenarios for you.

When deciding on the level of budget to allocate to a film, a commercially minded approach is advisable. Think about relevant questions such as:

  • What returns (ROI) are you looking to get from the end product?
  • How will its success be measured?

The £500 Project

In the example of the £500 project, the client was looking to enthuse team members about a new internal workflow initiative at their firm. She supplied us with video clips shot in her office on a smartphone. We used these clips and edited a simple 90 seconds package adding some background music and simple graphics to complement the production value.

Our experienced editor made the transitions look smooth and professional; the film was basic, but the main thing is that it was watchable and the key message was clear for the target audience. The film achieved its aim with minimal cost to the client.

The £41,000 Project

The film with a budget of £41,000 was for a global consultancy keen to assert status as the industry-leading expert in Artificial Intelligence. They wanted the film to attract the attention of potentially very lucrative clients and thus, wanted it to look and feel like a short movie.

The script required a great deal of thought, preparation and discussion to get the messaging spot on. Some overseas shooting was required in specific locations and they commissioned many days in the edit suite to create and add elegant motion graphics. If you’re not sure where to begin with your script here are some great pointers from HubSpot on How to Write a Video Script

They also wanted to hire a famous actor as a voiceover artist so his distinctive tones would be familiar and recognisable. The result was a film that elevated the status of the client and helped them to establish their credentials in a very high-value and competitive field.

In both these cases, the client had a clear intent in mind for their film and had allocated a suitable budget.  

“If you’re trying to challenge an audience and make them look at elements in a different way, you’ve got to give them a familiar context to hang onto. But you have to be very aware that the audience is extremely ruthless in its demand for newness, novelty and freshness.” - Christopher Nolan

We break it down even further.

silhouette of camera and equipment in front of green screen

3 Main Variables That Affected the Cost of Each Stage of The Filmmaking Process

Here are some variables that affected the cost at each of the 3 stages of our filmmaking and video production process, on both these projects, as well as others:

Pre-production

  • How much detailed work does the creative approach require from the producer and team?
  • How much writing does the film need?
  • Is it going to be a logistically complex shoot? Is it being filmed far away? 
  • Does it require a large crew and kit? 
  • What transportation and accommodation requirements are required?
  • A full risk assessment needs to be made for any filming taking place. The more complex the shoot, the longer this takes.

Production

  • How many days of filming is required?
  • Does the film need hired performers, such as voiceover artists?
  • Does a set need to be built for the filming?
  • How much kit and equipment (lights, cameras, lenses, sound recording etc.) is needed?

Post-production

  • How much footage needs to be worked on?
  • Will motion graphics and/or animation be added?
  • How many review stages does the client need?

Once they clarify and confirm the parameters of the project, we work out the final price. It is the same when commissioning a film.

young man wearing grey t-shirt with blue star and red cape gesturing money

What is The ROI Of Great Video Production?

Return of Investment (ROI), goes hand in hand with great video production. So how can anyone do that? One word - strategy…well, two words - great strategy. Creating video for your business usually has an end goal, especially in marketing, and that is to generate leads.

A good strategy provides a clear roadmap, consisting of a set of guiding principles or rules, that defines the actions people in the business should take (and not take) and the things they should prioritize (and not prioritize) to achieve desired goals.” Source: Harvard Business Review

ROI comes from great video strategy, which any decent video production company should help you build. If your video's aim is to deliver leads, then the strategy must reflect this from the start. At Shortstories, (not only do we love the word ‘great’) if we think the idea behind the brief won't meet your goal, we will tell you, and discuss better ways in which it will.

Creating quality videos doesn’t necessarily mean compromising on your video production budget. As per the above examples I have mentioned, hopefully you get the idea that we can create great videos for any sector, within budget, once both the tangible and intangible aspects are considered and discussed.

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right…

So, when done right, what are those elements that a great video can deliver?

  • Gives your company a n identity
  • Helps increase revenues
  • Delivers your key messages in an entertaining way
  • Strengthens relationships and bonds between you and your clients (especially if they’re featured in them)
  • Increases your reach
  • Improved conversions
  • Engage with your website visitors
  • Drive traffic to your website
  • People will remember you

Before we get to the drawing board, there are a few fundamental questions we ask all our clients. Below are a few of these, to give you an idea.

Questions We Ask Every Client Before Commissioning a Video

On any given project, before we put pen to paper, we ask our clients a few crucial questions. Some of these include:

·      Background to project

·      Key messages you want in the video

·      Strategic objectives

·      Who is your audience?

·      On which platforms will your audience be viewing the film(s)?

·      Tone of voice

·      What will success look like for this project? How will you measure it?

·      Frequency

·      What format would you like the final video files e.g. hi-res mp4?

·      Number of final films

·      Duration of each film (approx.)

·      Filming Date (if known)

·      Deadline for the final edited film(s)

·      The people who will need to appear in the video(if known)

·      Any safeguarding considerations we need to be aware of?

·      Any logistical considerations we need to be aware of? e.g. availability of contributors

·      Approximate budget available (if known)

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See how we do it: send us an email to hello@shortstories.media if you would like to discuss your next film project.

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