How much does a video cost? Your car dealer knowns it. Namely, exactly the same as a car! That’s why you should ask the representative of your preferred dealership. You will be faced with the same problem as in film: a Rolls Royce Ghost does not cost the same as the tiny Nissan Micra. Because not all cars are the same. And not all films are alike.
Depending on the dealership and the represented brands, the answer to your question can be fundamentally different.
How do I find out how much a film or video costs?
While the brand and the size of the car determines its price, the price of a film is determined by its degree of staging, the amount of necessary emotions and the intended purpose and genre of the planned communicative measure with the use of moving images. Or more precisely:
1. The degree of staging
The first question is always about the extent to which a film or video documents or stages reality. Filmed reality is always less expensive than staged reality. Unfortunately, the viewer frequently finds filmed reality less attractive, because he or she is expecting the film to provide not just information but also entertainment. This leads to the second important question regarding emotionality.
2. Emotions in film
Emotionality can only be created in the presence of scopes of identity. People are oriented to other people. They do not identify with Word documents and Excel tables, but rather with people and living environments which could server as their reference values.
3. Intended purpose
In practice, the following applies to commissioned films: the closer the film’s approach to the product and the shorter the available time, the more carefully and sophisticatedly production has to be addressed. In this regard, a prime example is the commercial. For TV spots, six-digit amounts are almost always invested in the 20 seconds of film. Every take must be perfect, the message must have a lightning effect, the product’s staging must leave no questions unanswered. Because ultimately, it’s all about image, sympathy, familiarity and last but not least: about sales.
That which costs little is less valued. Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
In their intended purpose, cars and films are more alike than meets the eye. Films and cars are means of transport. Cars transport people. Films and videos transport information and emotions. And both are also about transport safety or rather the question as to the probability with which the objective can be achieved at what costs. In this regard, cars have always been aided by strong engines and skilled engineering – these days mostly combined with computer-supported safety wizards.
In contrast, film is aided by experience and talent. And the knowledge that, justifiably, there more than forty highly specialised professions in moving image production (from dialogue authors to gaffers, from make-up to focus pullers). Would you get into a car built from scratch by a single person in order to win a race?
Transferred to the art of cinema, the same question could be: would you entrust a single video journalist with the translation of your brand values into moving images for an image film?
The variety of definitions for genre is almost as manifold as those used to distinguish between films and videos. If one does not define genre like in feature films, i.e. the Western, Adventure Film or Romantic Comedy, but rather as a grouping of identical communication tasks (image film, product film, recruiting video, etc.), genre is characterised as a benchmark for pricing purposes. After all, the planned communicative action does not exist within a vacuum but within an environment consisting of competitors.
In order to win the race for attention, it could make sense to arrive at a luxury hotel on a scooter instead of in a luxury car. Specifically conducted and fully aware of one’s own actions, the rejection of rules seemingly specified as imperative by genre could be extremely clever. Seen from the opposite angle, this can be explained by only one word: ignorance. Which rarely breeds success.
5. Further drivers for the production costs of a film or video
Further price-determining factors for the creation and production of a film include: the talent and experience of participating creative and operational key persons, the number of shooting days and shooting locations, the technical equipment and extent of subsequent digital image and sound editing and any 2D/3D elements, as well as the scope of required rights to use the result (depending on territories and application period).
Last but not least: what spare parts are for cars, archiving is for film: any repairs, or rather later film adaptations, are impossible without clean film archiving. Neither with reference to the length, nor for language versions, nor for use on social media or using the takes in other films or videos.
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Once you have an approximate idea of the extent to which your film or video is to be documented or staged, you will know the emotions and their scope you want to trigger in your target audience and can use a sensible check list for a briefing of a video maker in order to tackle the next steps to realisation.
Conclusion: how much does a video cost?
Back to the original question: How much does a film or video cost? The strained comparison between films and cars is of course slightly misleading and, in this case, had to primarily serve to increase memory value and illustration and comparison purposes. However, one thing is certainly correct and applies both to cars and to films and videos: the price range and the variety of possibilities. Bargain-buy cars are already available for under 5,000 (you will have to purchase some “special” offers at your own risk of course), but even luxury cars are frequently offered at six- or even seven-digit range, which you (similar to yachts as of a length of 30 metres) should only accept if you can afford not to have to ask about the price.
But remember: cars are mass-produced industrial products. Contextually, films are always characterised as prototypes. If you get involved in offers for films and videos of the common garden variety, you run the risk of ending up with a lawnmower or a kitchen blender instead of a car. Without exception and quite mercilessly, audio-visual works always demand three key skills from their makers: know-how, talent and experience.