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Topic: First Film gig (What should I charge)

  1. #1

    First Film gig (What should I charge)

    Hi all,

    A director wants me to submit a bid on scoring his upcoming film. As many know, I am new to all this. I would really appreciate your input on what I should charge.

    Here are some details that will hopefully help. It will be 90-120 minutes in length. In addition to the score, I am not sure of how many vocal pieces will be required. The Director has just a couple other short films to his name, but has negoiated a three film deal with this production company (this will be the first.) He tells me that the film is on a tight budget but that there will be other opportunities to make $$ as well (CD\'s, etc.) The film starts production in July.

    Of course, I have never done a film score, so I would probably do it for free, but as I have seen posts from Bruce and King - we should always give a standard fee and \'discount\' as necessary to get the work. I really want this gig but don\'t want to bid too low or high. Any help / advice would be appreciated.

    BTW, \"O\' Jerusalem\" was the piece that caught his ear (here it is, but I still haven\'t pick up VSL to sweeten it - waiting for Nick\'s demos). This Director actually asked me how much the \'choir\' costs - he really liked it but wanted to tell me that our production and studio cost may be somewhat limited (way to go Nick on the library.)

    http://www.robelliottmusic.com/mp3.html (hit \"o\' jerusalem.mp3 \")

    Again, thanks for any help you can be.


  2. #2

    Re: First Film gig (What should I charge)

    Thanks Craig,

    I will call you straight-away.

    Anyone else want to give their advice?



  3. #3

    Re: First Film gig (What should I charge)

    Well, this isn\'t really fee related because I\'m lucky if I can cover my expenses off the indie films I\'ve done...but given the amount of music you\'ll prolly be doing, you might want to do a few run-throughs on your system to make sure you have a good base setup in working order so things run as smoothly and efficiently as possible. ie., if you\'re going to be capturing video clips and working from those in your sequencer, just make sure all is working with the video capture card (no audio drift with the picture), the seq. works fine with the capture format (.mov, .avi), etc.
    Also try and get as much prep work done as possible. If you have an idea of how you\'d go about writing the score, start going through patches and samples to create a sound pallette for the film. That can take a few days in and of itself, and better to do it now while you have the time than later when you only have 2 weeks to get the entire thing scored and mixed before the premiere at the local theater.
    If you can actually get a decent fee for this, go through the film with director, get an idea of how many cues there are going to be and how complex the arrangements will be, and come up with a reasonable price based on the overall time committment. Since this is your first film, ya gotta factor in the learning experience factor which you already acknowledged, but you should still be compensated. For low to medium budget stuff, I usually think in terms of $100-150 per minute of music. If a feature has 45 minutes of music, we\'re talking in the $5000 range. Of course, that usually aint gonna happen beacuse composers are pretty much the last ring on the totem pole and the budget is usually dried up by then with these first time directors, but at least you can offer that as a reference as to what you would normally charge as opposed to what you\'re gonna charge.
    Besides, it\'s also an investment on your part. Clips from this film with your score will now become part of your video reel to help you get your next film gig. That\'s why some of the films I do may pay crap, but if they look good (I know superficial, but hey...it\'s reality), I jump at them because it just makes my reel look that much better. Hope some of this helps.


  4. #4

    Re: First Film gig (What should I charge)

    Rob, you have some beautiful cues over there on your site. Nice work. Here are some links that may prove helpful....or not. The links are a coupla years old, but it gives you some idea. Best of luck.

    Composer Agreement Basics



    Some typical rates


    Some links to various types of Sample Contracts


    Music Licensing Income



    Soundtrack albums


  5. #5

    Re: First Film gig (What should I charge)

    Craig, Scott, an Runyan,

    Thanks so much for the time you spent responding to my post. I appreciate your setting me on the right path. Hopefully my bid will be right on and I will have this much sought after opportunity.


  6. #6

    Re: First Film gig (What should I charge)

    Rob!!! Wow that Jerusalem demo has come a long way!!!!!

    Is this your mixing work?

  7. #7

    Re: First Film gig (What should I charge)

    Hi Marty,

    Thanks on the comments. Yes, this is my mixing.

    Scott (others),

    Can you give me a little more on the \"video capture\" card necessary. I have one computer running Cubase SX (dual screen) and one running Giga (I\'ll pick up a second if I get this gig.) Beside what is already included in SX - do I need anything else to link (and view) video with my sequences?

    Is there something I need on the SX computer to run this film\'s video on one of the screens? Sorry for the basic question, but as you say, when this job gets awarded (thinking positively), I want to have all technical issues behind me. Many thanks for any help you can be.


  8. #8

    Re: First Film gig (What should I charge)

    I don\'t have anything to add but congrats on the gig! I would follow the links to film music mag becuase they give you some basic guidelines.
    New Jerusalem is awesome! I enjoyed the guitar. Is that VOTA in the bacground?
    I\'m trying to negotiate with a film director to buy me that library when I do his project.
    Good luck and let folks know how it goes. I\'m scoring my second short and am learning as well.
    Congrats. Man. . . Three picture deal huh! Awesome.


  9. #9

    Re: First Film gig (What should I charge)

    Hi Rob,

    I use Cubase SX, and have done a little video work in it. There\'s a few things that might help / hinder you.

    First is Nuendo is Steinbergs big \'working to video\' product, so whilst you can get by in SX, it\'s not ideal for video. If you take a look at the manual you\'ll see what video file types you can use with SX........there\'s not many, but it includes AVI and Quicktime (if you have a separate Quicktime player).

    Second is.......for some strange reason Steinberg decided that it wouldn\'t allow the video files to play their audio in Cubase SX. So.....if you want to hear the audio from the video file itself, you\'ll need to get hold of a utility to split the audio as a wav file from the video, then set up an audio track in SX and drop the wav onto it. If you\'re using quicktime, I believe quicktime pro has a facility to split out audio from video as a wav anyway. If you\'re using AVI, there\'s a free piece of software called Vitual Dub that will do it.

    Actually, there was an article in \'Sound on Sound\' on working in Cubase SX with video that could really help you from February 2003. If you are an online subsriber, you can read the article at their website.

    Congratulations on the job, and I hope it all goes well for you!


  10. #10

    Re: First Film gig (What should I charge)

    Sure Rob...I\'d love to help you for, oh...say a nice bass library? Hahaha...seriously, though, I\'ll send you my mailing address.
    Here\'s the long version so you understand what it is and why you need it. The video capture card was an absolute heaven send for me. I did an uber-poor man\'s setup for the first couple of films where I would actually just watch the film, compose to the picture with no lock-up/sync whatsoever, and eyeball the hits. Believe it or not, it worked really well because I had the time to make sure everything would sync when I brought it into the editor. But it was still a nightmare scenario.
    A better way would have been to get a SMPTE stripe on one of the audio channels which would then be fed by a regular VCR to the SMPTE input on my midi interface. Still, not very fancy pants, but at least you\'d have a working sync. The sequencer would be slaved to the actual timecode on the vcr so when you rewind/fast forward/play, the sequencer would follow where the tape position was due the SMPTE code.
    Then I read an article on Video Capture Cards and the headache was greatly reduced. Pinnacle (which now owns Steinberg, btw) made some analog cards which would allow you to capture in MJPEG format. There was the DC-30 for like $550 and the lowly DC10+ for $70. The only major difference was that the DC-10+ did not have onboard audio. Big whoop...the DC-30 audio wasn\'t that hot to begin with. So it was a no brainer, which is good, cause I have a very tiny cranium. Bad news, I don\'t think they even make the DC-10 anymore, so you\'ll have to see what\'s available these days that\'s comparable.
    So, now I ask the editor to place a SMPTE burn in window on the vhs copy, I capture the entire movie into my nonlinear video editing program, convert it to the format of choice (usually avi), chop it up to my hearts content, and compose directly to the clips in my sequencer. No rewind/fforwarding, perfect sync, bloody brilliant. Cubase will allow you to run the clip in a little window. You might have to export the audio in the video clip and import it as a seperate audio track to hear the audio...major shortcoming in Cubase!! Maybe Pinnacle will have better video integration now that they own Steinberg.
    If anyone has anything they\'d like to add, maybe a more efficient way, some tips and tricks, please give us a shout out. I\'m always open to hearing other ways to improve my overall efficiency!


    [QUOTE]Originally posted by Rob Elliott:
    Scott (others),

    Can you give me a little more on the \"video capture\" card necessary.

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