Deciding On A Budget

The Cost Of Production


Usage Rights

Be aware that any additional rights licences, and crucially any continued use of the imagery outside of the temporal period negotiated prior to shooting (standardly 6-12 months), will be subject to extra charges. Unless you negotiate a complete image buyout licence and rights in perpetuity – which is very rarely given by professional photographers due to rights being part of their livelihood – you must be clear that the photographer retains all the image copyright, not the Client or Agent.

An informative resource from the AOP is available at this link: www.the-aop.org/information/copyright-4-clients/faqs

Talent Costs

Just as if you use a famed photographer, deciding to feature Kate Moss is going to cost you a lot more than casting an attractive “new face” from a reasonably-priced model agency. Talent fees will also be subject to the usage rights required, as well as the industry category in which the models are being featured, as appearing in shots for one brand may compromise their ability to subsequently work for other competitor brands in the same or similar industries.

Crew Costs

A useful guide for budgeting commercial film and video crew, across every role required including styling, is to refer to the Advertising Producers’ Association (APA) rates. The APA is the trade body for production companies, post production and VFX, and editing companies making commercials, and any good production agency will have access to the latest ratecards which came into effect in October 2012. Generally commercial is defined as ‘above-the-line’ media (loosely print, TV, radio and outdoor advertising, where space must be purchased) although particularly high-profile online/digital productions are now also likely to attract commercial rates.



Initial Brief – Points To Consider

  • Where will the video/s be used, company website, social media, microsite? 2K, 4K? Knowing this will help us decide what camera resolution we should be looking at and potentially how big the crew might need to be.
  • What do you want to communicate? Make it simple; trying to cram too much into a video will make the finished product hard to engage with.
  • A good length for an online video is anywhere between 3 to 5 minutes, although if the message you wish to convey is simple, say a call to action, something shorter might just work great.
  • Advertising productions for TV will need to be cleared for production and then again before broadcast via Clearcast. Details here

Additional Content Creation

  • Can you make more of your shoot? Think about filming additional footage for a ‘behind the scenes’ video, and why not get some stills shot at the same time. For a small additional cost you can make so much more of the day.

Creative Concepting / Proposal Back To Client / Response To Brief

Treatment, rough script and storyboards – My team and I will take your initial brief and develop it into a treatment or rough script, from this we can both work on fine-tuning the messaging, script and flow. As soon as this stage has cleared approval a locked script and storyboard will be created. The storyboard will be an illustrated representation of what we intend to capture in camera.

Choosing The Level Of Production



UK or Abroad? Grand or Grunge? High-End or Budget? Think of it like choosing a hotel or holiday destination: what’s most important, what’s desirable, what’s a nice-to-have, what do you want to avoid, and ultimately what can you afford? My Production Team can recommend and arrange the best facilities to suit the brief and budget if you don’t have fixed ideas.


In the very basic sense think of a studio as just a largish room with a high ceiling and power sockets, however this may not always be enough. If we’re recording sound an echoey concrete and breeze block cave will cause the sound engineer no end of problems and fixing bad sound is time consuming and ultimately expensive. Having the right facilities on hand ultimately saves time and money. I tend to shoot all my studio work in London and not because ‘London is cool’, London provides, by far, the widest choice of shooting environments. Daylight studios, daylight white studios, large cycloramas, kitchens, backwashes, and three phase power. West London is awash with sound stages which are close to the major hire centres. You’ll also be close to and have the very best access to models, stylists and other crew. I will always suggest options that are precisely suited to the proposed work. There are hire studios available in Hampshire if you’d prefer to shoot locally but it just makes more sense to go to where the facilities are than bring the facilities to you.

Location Houses

If the shoot requires a lifestyle feel, a situational context that relates to a particular aspect of the brand or message it may well be necessary to rent a location house. I strongly recommend avoiding the temptation to make use of a colleague’s house but consider selecting a suitable location house through an agency. It may seem like an extravagance but houses suitable for photography and filming tend to have larger than average rooms and frequently higher ceilings. They also tend to be brighter and styled to be natural and non-intrusive. Being forced to use wide lenses, which will unnaturally distort the image, because of environmental constraints is not a good solution. Having space to set lights, safely move around the set without tripping over tripods and cables and not having to move furniture around for access has a positive impact on productivity.

Permits and Insurance

Taking photographs on public land doesn’t require special permission but, especially in London, not all public access land is actually publicly owned. It’s frequently necessary to obtain permits in advance, unless you opt to shoot guerrilla style, especially in the City and Royal Parks and these permits typically cost a few hundred pounds. However, sometimes just being polite and considerate and asking for permission in advance can get you the access you require.

Models / Talent

Wherever possible try and find the budget to use professional models, they perform in a natural way in front of the camera and are reliable and professional.

Negotiations And Licensing

It’s essential to agree terms and fees before shooting commences. Having to re-visit this stage at some later date will prove costly. 


When casting models and actors, profile your end-consumer first, the look or message you want to portray through your video, any aesthetic specifics, and your budget. It will often then come down to relationships and availability. Live-cast alongside your Casting Director if you can – models and actors can look very different in real life compared to their (heavily-photoshopped) cards.

Crewing Up

Director, DOP, Camera Operator, Sound Engineer, Stylist, Hair, Makeup, Home EconomistCamera Assistant,  Computer Operator / DIT, Runner..

Do not try and save money by reducing heads. The cost of an extra Freelancer is cheaper than the cost of overrunning or adding additional days. 


If you’re producing a TV advert or advertorial the script needs to be cleared by Clearcast which can take about three weeks to complete. This process should be initiated as early in the production pre-production process as possible as delays and re-writes will impact on the final budget. Also bear in mind that the finished ‘clocked’ edit containing all necessary legals will need to go through the Clearcast process again before it can be released for broadcast.

Sign Off / Lock

Once the response has been signed off a production schedule should be drawn up.

Equipment Hire

Ensure a degree of redundancy has been factored into your planning.


(Travel & Parking/Loading) – How will each member of the shoot get to and from the location, and what needs to be organised as a result? If abroad, are their any visa or passport requirements that need to be considered? Let me know who among your team will be attending and I can make suitable travel arrangements if required or advise on what needs to be arranged from your side


Who needs to be fed and watered, and what are their expectations and dietary requirements? Please let me know what your expectations are in regards to this, I can arrange everything from tea, coffee, sandwiches and cakes to a freshly cooked sit down meal. Larger studios and studio complexes also offer catering as part of their services

Shot Planning

Once availability has been established you’ll have the option of settling on a start date. Once this has been agreed I will then confirm all the bookings. Jobs can be temporarily paused or put on indefinite hold at any time up to 48hrs before the shoot. Any intervention after that deadline may incur a cost up to the cost. Foe further details please refer to my Ts and Cs. The charge for late cancellation is typically covered by the advance payment

Prep Days

With many jobs the Director, DOP, Art Director, Stylists, Home Ecs. etc. will require preparations days. These days are used to collect, chose or shop for props, collect and check equipment, reconnoiter locations or perform tests.

Advance Payment

(Typically and approximately 50% of the final invoice total) The advance payment has to be received and cleared at least 48hrs before the shoot commences.

Call Sheets

A call sheet will be produced and distributed around all attending the shoot. It will contain a list of all attendees, their contact details, a schedule of the day’s activities as well as any other relevant information regarding anything from access to local shops and hospitals. Please take time to read this document and remember to print out a hard copy.


I not only have insurance to cover my own as well as rented equipment but Public Liability Insurance also. In many cases extensions to the basic operational policies are required and these would be made clear in the quote. These policy extensions would typically include:

  • Employers liability
  • Equipment cover
  • Props, sets & wardrobes
  • Production office contents
  • Cash
  • Hard drive
  • Producers indemnity
  • Pre Production cover
  • Post Production cover



Production / Shoot Day

Shoot Hours

Most models, actors and crew are contracted for an 8-hour day with 1-hour lunch which can be extended at extra cost; think about restrictions of daylight hours if you are shooting outside. Studio and location over-runs can easily be accommodated but the cost of over-runs will be added to the invoice. I expect everyone to be at the location, whether that’s a studio or a field about an hour before work commences. This gives everyone a chance to grab a coffee, breakfast and introduce themselves to the team. Starting work in a calm and un-flustered state of mind helps maintain a positive mood throughout the shoot.


If you or anyone in your team doesn’t understand something, just ask. Everyone on set will be more than happy to explain what’s happening and the processes involved. Additionally, if you have an idea don’t be afraid to come and have a chat to me about it, all the senior members of the team are empowered to make suggestions.



Editing, Grading, Titles

I will frequently have my DOP or Camera Operators shoot in Log Gamma or Raw so when I supply the first edits for content approval they will often look flat and either milky or gray. The reason for this is that Log Gamma, Raw or similar contains more image data than any screen is able to represent, it’s not until the grading stage that this dynamic rage is parenthesized or compressed into a natural looking range. Shooting in Gamma allows me the maximum amount of colour, density and tone control in the final output. The initial edits will be time coded so you will be able to ‘mark up’ what you don’t like or want changing. As the story and flow have already been worked on using storyboards I would expect we would require no more than three approval edits before moving onto grading and adding lowers and titles. If you want animation added, no problem, we can do that for you. We can also offer comping, 3D, VR and VR 3D sound. The major stipulation I have is that the most senior decision maker is involved right from the very start. The biggest time wasting mistake I witness regularly is approval edits circulating around junior members of staff before being submitted to line managers for approvals. This can significantly delay delivery and add unnecessary cost to the job.

Sign Off, Invoice, Delivery

Once the invoice has been paid in full you will receive your final edits in all of the requested sizes, bitrates particularly suited to the channels you are using to distribute your video. The video will be free to use for the duration of the agreed licences. Typically music licences are the restricting factor but I have long-standing relationships with the main industry recourses and am able to negotiate acceptably priced buyouts. Tracks from recourses like Audio Network are by comparison easy to licence and very reasonably priced. Try and sit through an evenings worth of TV without hearing and Audio Network track, It’s almost impossible.