How much does a film cost?

Posted by Nick Francis
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Creating content costs less than ever. New technology has put the power of production studios in our mobile phones. We are all savvier than ever about how a film goes together. You have everything you need to create and share content right now. Even for professionally produced content these advances have fed a drastic reduction in the time and cost of creating a like-for-like piece of work over the last decade or so.

That having been said, in order to ‘cut through’ to our audience online we should be sharing more content than we ever have before – so it’s just as well it’s cheaper. Because of this there has been a significant move towards getting as much mileage as possible out of all the content that we create. ‘Content atomisation’ – taking the central piece of content and then reediting and repurposing it to maximise the mileage. The cost of each output has fallen, even if the cost of the overall project is often the same.

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How much does a film cost?

This is one of the most common questions people ask. There are a few different ways of answering it but to save beating around the bush, the simplest answer is that an average Casual Films project for the financial year to 2019 was $18k in the US and £15k in the UK/EU.

The key word there though is project, as often these can entail a number of different outputs and reedits. More usually we will create a series of films that cost more in the $/£60k -100k region. Some projects extend into the hundreds of thousands, but these tend to be many outputs in one.

What’s the reason for the average film value?

Because at around $18k/£15k we begin to be able to add significant value to the project with our proprietary production process. Our pricing is defined by the amount of time that it takes to create each project. Different roles in the process cost differing amounts depending on their experience, expertise and impact on the project. At this budgetary level there is enough budget for two or three days of creative - to get a great idea - some producer time to make it all happen, a day or two to shoot it and then editing, sound design and some animation if necessary. They will be able to create something fairly sparkly, as long as they don't need to work around too many fixed costs - travel, talent, specialist equipment.

What’s the cheapest film we can make?

The lowest that we tend to start a project is around $/£8k, although if we have an existing relationship then we can and do go a little lower. We tend to not compete for projects at the really low end because there are lots of smaller producers and freelancers out there who do a decent job at this level. We’re not able to add the same value we are when the projects have a little room for a bit more creative thought and sparkle.

As a rule, if this is your first question we’re probably not the right company for you. We compete on being able to create things happen for your business with video – optimising for return on investment rather than being as cheap as possible.

Can you work to my budget?

The process of filmmaking is creative, so the budget becomes an additional constraint that the creative thinking needs to work around – like the timeframe, branding or specific messaging. Because of this, it can be extremely flexible – it’s possible to fulfil the same objectives for significantly different investment levels. On the other hand, quality, in-depth thinking and delivery take time, and time costs money. If you need to shoot in a number of different locations or include significant amounts of complex animation these are hard costs which are challenging to work around.

Promoting your content

For years, there has been a disconnect between where marketing money gets spent and where the real potential lies. In studies, researchers have found that the quality of creative messaging is responsible for up to 75% of a campaign’s success. In spite of this, as much as 90% of the overall spend is often still focused on the media budget.

"75% of a campaign’s effectiveness is defined by the quality of the creative messaging"

- Google

Traditional television marketing became so successful largely because of how strong the metrics that were available to support it were. One of the major challenges that online content has faced over the years is the challenge of showing direct causation between money spent and the return on that investment.

But this isn’t necessarily about spending more money on marketing than you already are. Creating and executing a comprehensive and effective content strategy can be about redistributing the money you’re already investing. Why, for example, are you spending hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars on the production of TV commercials when the vast majority of your audience watch them for the first time as a small image on their Facebook feed, momentarily pausing before scrolling onwards, and paying very little attention to them?


We'd love to talk to you about this or anything in the production process. Drop us a line or send us an email: projects@casualfilms.com to book a call back with one of our producers.

Topics: Production process, Being a better commissioner, How-to, Project management

The simple secret to being more successful in almost everything you do...

Posted by Nick Francis
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There is one lesson in productivity that is so incredibly valuable, it's amazing it isn't taught to anyone working in any business on day one. For day one lessons it's up there with the location of the loos or whether the cookies in the cupboard are Scary Pete's personal stash or not. It's benefit has the potential to be far more lasting... 

justyn-warner-551353-unsplash-1

So what is it?

It comes from Steven Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It is that you should:

“Begin with the end in mind.”

It’s in extremely valuable idea and it works with almost everything. From meetings to wedding planning to project management. Taking a moment to think about what you are trying to achieve before you begin a process is an extremely useful and valuable thing to do. It means you know exactly where you’re heading before you start towards it.

Why are we mentioning it here? Because it’s surprising how useful an exercise it is for video commissioners. Why are you creating or commissioning a project? What are the goals and how will you accomplish them? What specific, measurable, achievable realistic and time framed action or response are you looking to generate with your project. We know that’s ‘SMART’ goal setting, which we will cover here soon. The point here though is that you need to consider exactly what you want to achieve – what success looks like - before you even start. I know this may seem a bit obvious, but you would be amazed at how many people get blinded by the idea of ‘wanting a video’ without thinking about exactly what they want the video to do. We’ve worked on a few projects where we get very close to the end of the process, and a senior client representative says, “Hang on a second, why are we doing this?”

You need to be completely clear on your reasoning. Clarity of focus and purpose is what defines effective corporate content. It is too easy to start before taking the time to agree among the stakeholders what the video / video project will be used for.

Resist the temptation here to seek consensus among stakeholders by including too many disparate goals. Many people will use the fact that you are creating a video to include other messaging. Bear in mind that everything included in the final output that doesn’t specifically work to achieve the goal you set out will detract from its effectiveness. This may sound overly severe – of course films can be about more than one thing. You need to stop your film’s effectiveness from being watered down by including too many messages.

This is why the briefing stage is so important. It takes time, skill and discipline to agree on and write a really good, clear brief. This can be an extremely valuable experience, as it requires an alignment among the different stakeholders in the process. Having agreed on the content, you should write a brief that is clear and concise, but that is readable and engaging. You should try to bring what you are after to life, as the more effectively you can do this, the more likely you are to capture the imagination of someone who might know a potential subject. So many of the briefs that we receive as a company are dull, verbose and complicated. This makes sense, as they are very specific business documents, but they tend to elicit better responses if they are clear and have a little life to them.

THE BRIEFING DOCUMENT

Once you have all of the goals for the project ironed out, you can fill in a briefing document. The briefing 

document is the bible for the project. It should include all the objectives for the production: the audience, desired action (what success looks like), budget, timeframe, delivery channels and key stakeholders. You should take the

time to do one of these for every project you do, even if you’re a 

little lighter on the information on the basic ones. 

The time taken to make sure that you have thought a bit about it will save you far more time, money and annoyance in the long run. Almost every project that doesn’t end up as desired can be traced back to an incomplete or poorly thought out brief. It doesn’t need to be super complicated, but it will help you make more-effective films.

Writing a Winning Brief

If you’d like to know more, you can follow this link to download our Writing a Winning Brief Worksheet. This will help you to fill in a brief more accurately and thoroughly, giving you the perfect jumping off point for whatever your next project is.

Topics: Production process, Being a better commissioner, How-to, Project management, Preproduction

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