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Bryce Lansing

Cinematographer's pay rate

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I don't want to later come to find that I should have gotten paid more than I did.

So what if you should have gotten more than you did, you were happy with the money at the time, that's all that matters. You will have more experience for your next shoot. Always look forward ... never look back. On your next job you may charge more ... or you might work for free.

Edited by Peter Hodgins

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I'm actually really curious for more people to throw numbers into this thread, as based on what exists so far I feel like I'm some anomaly. I'm based out of Massachusetts but work around the country, and right now I'm usually around $850-$2000/day depending on how complicated the project is. I've been a DP for 4 years.

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Is that you turning up with a pulse .. or with gear.. what sort of stuff do you shoot.. Im sure there is a fairly big gap between high end commercials.. and mid F5 /C300/500 type corp shoots.. with inflation/house prices etc.. I think rates have gone down alot say over the last 25 yrs..

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What are these fantasy rates? Good grief, they have it good in the USA. 800/day after four years?

 

By sheer bodycount, the majority of people shooting in London probably aren't paid at all, and I would imagine that four figures a day, even in US dollars, is probably the reserve of the ultra high-end (which means five to ten people, tops)

 

P

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In Spain a newcomer gets around €700 / day with camera included.

 

Then, depending on your experience and how well known you are, commercial cinematographers get between €2000/ €5000 without any kit, and those rates are not for top people! Well, the €5000 / day it is for tops yeah but the other ones are not!

 

In Ireland is pretty much the same.

 

Have a good day!

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In Ireland is pretty much the same.

 

Have a good day!

 

Top of the morning to you there Miguel!

Was I not telling ye that I was half Irish only the other day to be sure.

I can feel my Irish side coming on more strongly right now.

I might pop over there just for the crack you know! :)

 

Freya

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I might pop over there just for the crack you know! :)

 

Freya

No need to go that far.

You can get crack on every street corner in town.

  • Upvote 1

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Top of the morning to you there Miguel!

Was I not telling ye that I was half Irish only the other day to be sure.

I can feel my Irish side coming on more strongly right now.

I might pop over there just for the crack you know! :)

 

Freya

 

It's the 'craic' you want, not 'crack'... that's a whole different kinda fun!

  • Upvote 2

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For commercials with with in demand and experienced DP's, the rates are roughly:

 

US: $2000-5000/day

UK: £1092

Europe: 1500-2500 Euro

 

In the UK, the APA, producers association, set a max limit that they all follow. And since the union is non existent and toothless there, the UK pays less than anyone else does for experienced DP's. Pair this with the highest cost of living anywhere in the world, an being a DP there can be hard financially unless you're in high demand. Most commercial DP's work maybe 2-4 days a month, and sometimes not at all. Hard to pay rent, have a family and live in London for that.

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Is that you turning up with a pulse .. or with gear.. what sort of stuff do you shoot.. Im sure there is a fairly big gap between high end commercials.. and mid F5 /C300/500 type corp shoots.. with inflation/house prices etc.. I think rates have gone down alot say over the last 25 yrs..

Honestly it goes either way. To be honest I've only been offered $2k/day once, and that was just me. Production company was supplying dragons and all that. Sometimes the $850-$1500/day stuff is with my c100, but usually we're just renting cameras.

 

Mixture of stuff, some work for ESPN/facebook, some random corporate stuff in Nashville, some music videos and like 3 minute web highlights on people for non-profits..

EDIT: Worth mentioning that as Adrian said I am East Coast, so the competition isn't very fierce. Also there are only a few good DPs that aren't just shooting high-end music videos in nashville I find, so I get called a good bit from there.

Edited by Evan Bourcier

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I should point out that to most people the rates being discussed in this thread are comedy.

 

The last rate of pay I was ever offered when I was pursuing freelance cinematography on dramas was £1000 for four six day weeks, bring your own camera. I didn't (and don't) have a camera package. And you think this was a crappy, low-end job? Eventually it was shot by a BSC member (I have no idea how I ended up being considered for such a job, but there you go). This was the last of a long line of similar situations and I have no shame in making it clear that at that point, I gave up.

 

There may be ten or twenty people in the UK who regularly make £1000/day. If you restrict your definition of "director of photography" to those people, then these claims may make sense, but I think that greatly disrespects most of the people in this country who actually do that sort of work, often for nothing, almost always for very little.

 

The average rate of pay for someone in this country who runs a crew and designs lighting on a moving-picture production is probably under £100/day, considering how often it's done for nothing.

 

P

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I was talking commercial rates, drama is a completely different ballgame. I got paid £500/week for my last feature this summer. Obviously, nothing you could ever live on, it's pure charity.

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Sure.

 

But that's such a tiny group of people. There are more professional soccer players in the UK making a living wage than there are directors of photography. Probably hundreds of times more.

 

You're talking about ten, fifteen, twenty people.

 

The statistic is meaningless to discuss. And in order to take those cheap features, you have to be able to make the rest of your living somehow.

 

P

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By sheer bodycount, the majority of people shooting in London probably aren't paid at all, and I would imagine that four figures a day, even in US dollars, is probably the reserve of the ultra high-end (which means five to ten people, tops)

 

P

 

I don't think this is true, it's just that there is a lot of poorly paid low end stuff out there. Britain has kind of set itself up as a low wage economy for a long time. There are vast swathes of people doing the lower end "unprofessional"(??) work and a much smaller number working on the fancy stuff. I doubt the majority of people shooting in London aren't being paid at all although once you start pulling your "on average" trick then the numbers quickly become so close to zero that they could probably be called statistical noise.

 

It's like Charles Dickens said: "A tale of two cities"

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Define newcomer?

A cinematographer who has finished school, has an interesting eye, has developed "his/her" voice shooting short-films and music videos in school and has either a Red Epic or an Alexa or an Amira or has amazing connections to get any of those for the jobs.

 

You might think that those people don't exist but there are quite a few examples of twenty something years old guys who actually have an Amira or a Dragon or an Alexa (even an Alexa Mini), I know 3! 2 Spanish guys and 1 Irish fella.

 

BBC pays around €3500 / week for its super high commercial tv series and that's kind of what you would get as a DOP on normal features in Spain (and I'm pretty sure that in the UK too)

 

Top of the morning to you there Miguel!

Was I not telling ye that I was half Irish only the other day to be sure.

I can feel my Irish side coming on more strongly right now.

I might pop over there just for the crack you know! :)

 

Freya

You could make a lot of money here if you wanted to pursue a career in the camera department!

 

As a 2nd AC you get around €370 / day in movies or tv series and €320 / day in commercials.

 

Have a good day!

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Sure.

 

But that's such a tiny group of people. There are more professional soccer players in the UK making a living wage than there are directors of photography. Probably hundreds of times more.

 

You're talking about ten, fifteen, twenty people.

 

It's 93 people I just counted. Maybe a few more depending on how many overseas cinematographers are working on features over here. You aren't doing your argument any favors by throwing out these ludicrous sounding numbers Phil. It's really obviously more than ten or twenty people, that number is way over the top. The number is still very small tho.

 

Freya

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You could make a lot of money here if you wanted to pursue a career in the camera department!

 

As a 2nd AC you get around €370 / day in movies or tv series and €320 / day in commercials.

 

Have a good day!

 

Heh heh! Would love to persue a career in the camera department.

I have a tiny toy slate already and I can make that thing snap! ;)

I'd even be prepared to learn the local language and how wot it is spelt and everything. :)

 

Freya

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How did you get to 93?!

 

I just picked up on it through the current! ;)

 

Nah.. seriously I just downloaded the .pdf and counted by hand. No magic involved.

 

Freya

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BBC pays around €3500 / week for its super high commercial tv series and that's kind of what you would get as a DOP on normal features in Spain (and I'm pretty sure that in the UK too)

 

 

3500 Euros a week? That's about double what the BBC was paying last time I worked for them (which was only a few years ago). Are you sure?

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Very sure!

High profile tv series I said.

 

I'm pretty sure that there are many other tv series where, sadly, the dops are not getting that amount of money.

 

Probably having a good agent helps too!

 

You know, taking a look at the salaries and the amount of days that you can work as HOD, I should go back to be 2nd AC! Would be working as many days as I would want to work and the good thing is that there are not too many good 2nd AC's.

 

Have a good day!

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