• Filmmaking Post Getting Started Documentary Costs
  • How Much do Videos Cost?

    One of the first things you need to figure out when planning a film, is the cost. How much are you going to have to shell out to make your film. To help us explain this, we made a few videos on the topic.

    Explaining the Cost of Docs to Clients

    A Range of Video Costs

    For perspective I outlined the cost of a few different videos.

    • BBC Planet Earth: 2.2 million dollars an episode. Close to 40K a finished minute.
    • American Grit: 2 million an episode
    • Biggest Looser: 1 million an episode
    • Most Nat Geo or Discovery shows: 400K-ish
    • Clip Shows like What on Earth: Probably 100K or less

    The Cost of Crew

    Essentially, the cost of your production comes down to how much it’s going to cost to hire a crew. Here are some standard ranges for crew of unscripted documentary work (although they vary depending on where you are – LA? – DC?)

    • Camera Operators: 400-650/day
    • DP: 650-800/day
    • Sound: 400-650/day
    • Editors: 1750-4250/week
    • Story Producers: 1650 – 3K/week
    • Senior Producers: 1750-2500/week

    The last and final step is creating a budget. Jonas and I plan to do a video for that in future episodes. However, this is the best Documentary Budget Sample Sheet I’ve found online. It should give you a good overview until we make that next video.

    Written by Rob Nelson

    Rob is an ecologist from the University of Hawaii. He is also an award winning filmmaker. As principle director of the Untamed Science productions his goal is to create videos and content that are both entertaining and educational. When he's not making science content, he races slalom kayaks and skydives.

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