How to Request a Video Bid

How much does it cost to create a video production?

The answer is: it all depends… Costs can easily range from $500 to $500,000 per minute. The answer simply isn’t simple.

It’s easy for a potential clients and professional videographers to get frustrated with each other during the bidding process. There is one reason for this frustration: the job isn’t clearly defined.

Let’s Start with the Client

Why does a client contact a professional videographer? Typically, it’s to request a bid for a job they want done. A common initial contact goes something like this:

Client:               Hello, I want to make a promotional video about my company, can you give me an estimate of how much that would cost?

Professional:  Can you give me a little more information about the video you want?

Client:              I want videos that promote my business to potential customers.

Professional:  Videos. Okay, how many? And how long do you want them to be?

Client:              Maybe between 3-10 minutes each?

Professional:  Where are you going to use these videos? Will you put them on your website? Show them on TV?

Client:               A TV ad would be good. Look, I just want a few videos that I can use for TV and on our website. And I’d like to incorporate our logo into it with some motion graphics. How much does something like that run?

It’s a problem for the client when the job isn’t clearly defined because they can’t get a clean number.

Moving on to the Professional

In the mean time the professional is searching for parameters that will guide him in giving an anywhere-near-accurate bid.

  • The average documentary costs $2-3,000 per minute to produce;
  • A hit TV show costs about $87,500 per minute to produce;
  • The last few Pixar films have averaged about $1.3 million per minute to produce.
Pixar Scene from Inside Out

Anger from Pixar’s movie Inside Out

See the problem? Vastly different costs – all in the same field. If you, the client, want an accurate bid, then you need to present an accurate view of the project.

If you don’t have an accurate view of the project, then you need to say that directly so the professional understands that you need help defining the project from the ground up.

It’s a problem for the professional when the job isn’t clearly defined because they can’t give a clean number.

Some Questions You Should be Prepared to Answer

Chart showing complexity and cost of video project

  • Ÿ What length do you want your final product?
  • Ÿ What is the complexity of the project? (Think number of locations, b-roll, and how many people you want to see on-camera.)
  • Ÿ Will there be on-camera interviews? If so, do you already have scripts ready?
  • Ÿ Are there additional expenses such as a drone operator, equipment rental, permits, and props? Who is doing the pre-production?
  • Ÿ Can you describe the tone and feel of the piece? Do you have music in mind or will we need to find it?
  • Ÿ What type of graphics or logos will be involved in the project?
  • Ÿ If at all possible, show examples of what you like and what you don’t like. Pictures really do say a thousand words, so plan on playing show and tell.
  • Ÿ Be prepared to give an expected desired turnaround time for the project.
  • Ÿ Know what your budget is. Really truly. Both your desired budget and your absolute budget.

And So They Lived Happily Ever After…

As with most situations, the key to success is good communication. Come to the discussion table as prepared as possible, be ready and willing to go round up a few answers to things you hadn’t thought of, and you will be pleasantly surprised by how smooth and accurate the bid process becomes.