July 19, 2016 at 12:04AM


When making a budget for a commercial work, do you ask money for pre-production?

I have been working freelance since I started film school few years ago. I have mostly been working into the athletic field (making highlights tapes, promotion of teams, etc.) My University is now in a process of rebranding and they hired me and another student to make a series of commercials about the sport teams. So I've made a budget for them and so far we made one video and in the process of making the second one (they want 5 in total). My only concern is that we are spending a incredible amount of time in writing, researching and developing this project. So we have been dithering with the idea of adding a pre-production section to our budget.

I'm sure many of you landed on similar gigs in the past. I'm just wondering: how do you deal with this issue? Do you get paid for pre-prod or do you put more money into the production to add to your salary at the end? Or do you just get paid for shooting and editing days?

Thanks a lot!

I hope I'm posting in the right section! :)


For larger jobs I always ask for at least one third up front to cover my costs, then one third upon delivery, and the final third in 30 days. A good client has no problem paying for this.

July 20, 2016 at 11:55AM

Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer

In my work, I have never been able to be paid for prep. The clients I have been able to get will only pay for the time spent shooting. They see it as part of the job, like a plumber asking for you to pay them to clean their tools at the end/beginning of the day.

July 21, 2016 at 12:08AM

You voted '-1'.


July 21, 2016 at 3:27PM, Edited July 21, 3:27PM


There cannot be enough said about the value and time put into pre-production and development. The quality and savings to any project though proper planning and development is essential to any filmmaker's business and quality of the end product.

When you are bidding or negotiating a project is it key to include costs associated with pre-pro and some recouping of development time/research. In a way this is an aspect of your margin costs in running a production based business. Including these costs in your conversations is no less important then being able to pay everyone appropriately associated with your projects.

"You get what you pay for."

Just going out and being able to capture footage of things/moments/people associated with the overall concept with little to no development or review/revision may not serve the project in the end as well as a reasonable amount of time spent developing the story and execution needed to deliver the best end product possible.

Just make sure to be reasonable in what you include for these costs in relation to your client and the needs/scope of the project.

July 21, 2016 at 4:28PM

Brett Cherry

Obviously you need to do the pre-production, it must be nice where you are.

In LA you are lucky to shoot their video for free, if you can get paid anything you are more lucky. Asking for extra for pre-pro would seem like taking advantage to most clients.


July 23, 2016 at 11:04AM

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