Thread: "Competitive" Rates for D.P.?

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  1. #1 "Competitive" Rates for D.P.? 
    Hi there,

    I approached the agent of my first choice D.P. (for my first narrative feature, which I'm producing) and was turned down, on the grounds that the film's total budget is too low ($65K) for the D.P. to be paid at competitive rates.

    I am wondering: what rates (from typical to concessional) are acceptable for fairly well-established/rising star/world class DPs, and what size budgets will they not scoff at?

    In my case, the D.P. has shot two successful low-budget indie films, and is currently in pre-production on what appears to be his first feature produced by a major studio, but I'm curious about the gradations in general.

    Thanks!
    Last edited by JT Thurlow; 06-26-2019 at 04:49 AM.
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  2. #2  
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    Quote Originally Posted by JT Thurlow View Post
    what size budgets will they not scoff at?
    Where are you located? A $65k film shot in LA is significantly different than a $65k film shot in Ames, Iowa.
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  3. #3  
    It's tough to pay a DP a reasonable rate with anything less than a $100K budget. That's my experience at least. Something in the neighborhood of $500 a day on a 20 day shoot is already $10K and that doesn't take into accont gear or anything else. Unless a DP is doing the feature for other reasons, they'd need at least $400 or $500 without gear to stay afloat. The agent knows that if you spend even $7500 on the labor of a DP, the rest of the budget will run out pretty quickly. I'm not trying to dissuade you at all. That's awesome that you have $65000!
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  4. #4  
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    Local 600 has good standard rates for union work. I asked my indie friend and he said $300 to $500 per day for commercial work and far less for indie narrative (usually low to no budget passion projects). These include camera like C100mkII or EVA1.
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    I think one has to understand the agent's interest in all of this.

    The agent gets a percentage of the rate for representing the talent (in this case the DP).
    The agent will likely have a greater interest in landing jobs that will pay the DP more as
    they will in turn get paid more.

    This is no different with agents representing actors and actresses as they tend to steer them clear of lower budget projects as well.

    Naturally there are no absolutes and circumstance vary but I found this to be generally the case.

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    Senior Member Bill Totolo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom S View Post
    Local 600 has good standard rates for union work. I asked my indie friend and he said $300 to $500 per day for commercial work and far less for indie narrative (usually low to no budget passion projects). These include camera like C100mkII or EVA1.
    Wait, what year are we in?
    Bill Totolo
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  7. #7  
    Senior Member Aaron Green's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom S View Post
    Local 600 has good standard rates for union work. I asked my indie friend and he said $300 to $500 per day for commercial work and far less for indie narrative (usually low to no budget passion projects). These include camera like C100mkII or EVA1.
    ACs make more than that per day here in Chicago.
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  8. #8  
    Senior Member Louis Maddalena's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom S View Post
    Local 600 has good standard rates for union work. I asked my indie friend and he said $300 to $500 per day for commercial work and far less for indie narrative (usually low to no budget passion projects). These include camera like C100mkII or EVA1.
    Your friend was very wrong. Commercial DP rates are at the very bottom $1500/ day and frequently more, and do not include a camera kit. Branded content might drop down to $500-650 range but still should never include a camera.
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    Agreed (see above). For an low budget indie I'd imagine that an "average" DP's rate is probably around $1k per day. But for a microbudget it's all over the map, since the DP will basically take way less than their usual rate because they like the project and want the job.
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    Senior Member Brendan_H_Banks's Avatar
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    Just gunna throw in my personal experience.

    I just did a SAG ULB qualifying film as DP (budget around $250k after tax incentives) and everyone made the same - NYS mandated minimum wage. I believe the term is "favored nation". I'm don't have any representation. This all being said, I have a long relationship with this director and I had been working with him on the story before a script existed. The film meant a lot to me so it honestly didn't matter what I got paid, but I made sure everyone on my team was treated well, paid on time, and their timecards accurately reflected their standard and OT hours.

    Anyway, no two experiences will be the same. This is just an example of mine from this year.
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