A music video cost depends on so many factors that, sometimes I really don’t know how to answer this question without scratching my head and looking a little baffled. Some clients look at me with a poker face thinking that, I am either resisting to give them a price or, that we are too expensive. The truth is that every song, every artist, and genre needs a different approach and visual treatment. I know how much a music video cost in 2018! Music Videos go from $10,000 to $200,000 as an average (with some being made for 2,000,000 or more) Yes, $10,000 is really cheap and $200,000 is not much if you compare it to Music Videos that were made many years ago. The Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson music video for the song “Scream” had a budget of $7,000,000. Madonna’s music video for “Express Yourself ” was $5,000,000. Think those are big numbers? Well, yes, but watch the results! The artist and director had the freedom to paint on the film canvas all the visuals, themes and stories they envisioned for these Music Videos. For them, it wasn’t about cost, but creating the ultimate piece for these artists and their great songs.
Director: Cesar Perez
Some Music Videos are filmed with a very small crew of no more than 5 crew members.
The variables that affect a music video cost are many, so let’s get to it! You can film a Music Video in a park with an iPhone, or you can film it in a luxury yacht with two top of the line ARRI Alexa Cinema Cameras, a helicopter and a crew of one hundred people. There are many more variables: Concept, crew size, locations, art direction, wardrobe, makeup, lighting package, camera package, etc, etc. Many of our Music Videos are filmed with a skeleton (small) crew of no more than 5 crew members. Some clients have bigger budgets and can afford a larger crew with expensive Cinema Cameras ( Alexa, RED EPIC), Anamorphic Lenses, top of the line accessories and many days of pre-production.
How much does a Music Video cost? Continue reading the world is your oyster!
Director: Cesar Perez
The bigger the crew, the more it will cost.
First, we need some basic information from the artist in order to figure what the visuals for the music video will be. We always listen to the song, not one but countless times in order to understand the meaning, the artist statement, etc. In one of the meetings, the director and talent will discuss the look and feel of the Music Video. Storyboards and shot-lists are created in order to inform everyone on the set about the angles, scenes, shots and the visual approach to the music video. One of the most important decisions is crew size. It is very important to know how many crew positions you will have in your music video. The bigger the crew, the more it will cost. If you plan to shoot the artist with a group of dancers in several locations, we have to go with a relative big crew. The artist and the dancers would probably need hair and make-up, wardrobe, etc, etc.
Don’t forget that a choreographer is a most for a dance Music Video. The dancers will have to rehearse for days and have those movements down to the T, if you don’t want to suffer the consequences on the shoot day (been there before). Sometimes music managers want to cut too many corners and the production triangle gets thrown out of the window! We talk about the triangle in the following paragraphs. The Director of Photography will more likely suggest a crane to get nice swaying shots from above, or steady cam to follow the artist and the dancers. When you are filming only one performer in a small single location, sometimes you can get by with a small crew. Planning is always crucial, even more, when the budget is small.
There might be times when you can cut some corners.
Music Videos can be very conceptual, sometimes that allows the director some freedom to create with a limited budget (in some scenarios). Sometimes minimum resources are sufficient to create an outstanding music video. The most important thing is to have a talented artist , great performances, a very creative director and a professional crew to help him achieve the final task: Creating a music video that sells the artists and the song.
Director : T. Demos
The Assistant Director is the one that manages the set and schedules every shot during the production day.
Keep in mind that with a small crew, everything will take more time and a really well-developed plan in order to make it happen. For example, some productions don’t know about the importance of a having a good A.D. (Assistant Director) on set. They simply forget to hire one. He/she is the crew member that helps the Director and runs the set. When you don’t have a good Assistant Director, the Director has to run the by himself on the shoot day. That is very risky because the director is responsible for the creative decisions, not managing the set and keeping track of time. The director is responsible for the performances, deciding camera blocking, lighting, and every single creative decision. That is a lot!
The Producer (or Line Producer) will make sure that locations, permits, insurance, and equipment are secured and ready for the shoot day
Another key position is the Producer (or Line Producer). He/She will make sure that locations, permits, insurance, and equipment are secured and ready for the shoot day. One crew member that will certainly make or break the video is the Director of Photography (D.P) He/she is in charge of the camera and lighting department. The main duty of the D.P is to compose every shot with the right camera angle, camera movement, and lighting. The right camera angle and lighting is correct when helps the audience get immersed in the story, not when you have a “cool shot” as some may think. Director and D.P work together as one unit composing every shot and advancing the story through the visuals they create. In music videos, there is more freedom, and you can do some crazy things. There might not be a story and the song might call for all sort of stylish gimmicks. As long as the director’s creative decisions help sell the artist everything is fine.
The infamous production triangle. Good – Fast – Cheap
I like to compare a film set to a very sophisticated factory or machine. Every single crew position is an important part of the filmmaking machine. When you don’t have all the necessary parts (crew, equipment, art direction, A.D, Producers, Gaffer, Grips, etc) you are missing parts of the machine. Not having all the parts will result in going over schedule, expending more money, not getting all the shots, etc. The best way to explain the cost-quality balance is with the infamous film production triangle. It is one of those things you learn in film-school and never forget, and if you forget you are in deep water. When you have (2) corners of the triangle the third is compromised. If you want your music video to be good and need to shoot it fast, it will not be cheap. If you want it to be cheap and good, it will take more time.
I will stop rambling and get to the point in question. How much does a music video cost? Our music Video Production Packages start at $ 4,000 and that includes 1 day of shooting / 1 filming location / Alexa or Red Camera / Lights / Grip and a skeleton (small) crew. Once again, the more resources you put into a Music Video Production the better. The music videos presented in this post were shot with a small crew and didn’t cost a fortune. Remember the triangle!
Some details we need to know.
Do we need more than 1 day to film? Do you want to film in more than one location? Do we need to hire actors? Do you need extras? Do you need a make-up artist? Do you want us to shoot with a specific camera? Are there any animals involved or animal handlers? Do you need dancers? Do you need a rain machine? Do we need to film in a Sound Stage? Do you need complex VFX? Don’t get discouraged by everything I said above. Frankly, we can work with you if the budget allows for a digital cinema camera, lights and a small crew on a location of your choice.
How much does a music video cost?
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