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Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

How much $$ do the top DP's make?

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500$ a week?… is less as you get as gardener…

I´ve earned 1200-1500$ a week as 1st AC back in the days… 800-1000$ as a Loader… can´t imagine earning that low as D.P. somewhere on earth… In europe the norm is around 3000$ per 5 day working week on a usual TV Movie production. And even more on bigger shows…

https://www.crew-united.com/downloads/2018_DE_Tarifvertrag_Gagentabelle.pdf

2500-3000$ is a usual shooting-day rate for a normal TVC/Commercial Job… + 1/2-Full for prep/recce/travel days. But as more popular and wanted you are as higher it gets…

Again… you´ve to pay Taxes, Health care…pension safe… and enough feed for all the slack periods and weeks where you hanging around here…

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There are two sharply defined worlds. There's the world of feature films from bona fide production companies, commercials and broadcast television, which pays realistic wages. Then there's everything else. It's easy to overlook the fact that the sort of thing that pays a reasonable living is really very rarefied; I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that those jobs are oversubscribed several thousand to one. People who work exclusively at the high end tend to suffer from terribly selective awareness of the rest of it.

People react with horror to these low wages but I know lots of people who have taken a reasonably convincing stab at film and TV work, in departments from camera to hair and makeup, worked at it for years, and never did anything at all for what we might call real rates. I was never quite in that position but it's easy to hover in the periphery of all this and struggle from month to month. Personally I got tired of being asked to work fourteen hour days, bringing with me a couple years' average wages worth of gear, for minimum wage.

Yes, I would be happy to accept that sometimes this is an issue of sheer ability, but at some point even on the simplest jobs people have a right to a living wage that will, as Robin alludes, pay for a reasonable lifestyle, and the gear is expensive.

So I stopped doing it.

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True… but beeing a DP is not just having knowledge of camera & film techniqe but also  24/7 about a really good self promotion, heavy networking and maintaining contacts, good physical health, ability to travel everywhere, neglecting your family (which is the toughest part) and mostly a really strong menthal health… You´ll hear more „no´s“ than „yes’s“ in your career no matter how good you think you are. This is particularly bad in advertising. You´ll have good and you´ll have bad years… nomatter if you´re a A List or just midrange DP.

I wondered about the well known DP´s who worked in film schools and told their students that maybe 5% or even less will survive in this business… after 15 years in the pot I know ... it's a hell of a hard job and not healthy at all. So there is a reason for that Fees, and without them im sure more people´ll give up at some point. However im still loving it…

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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, Philip Reinhold said:

500$ a week?… is less as you get as gardener…

I´ve earned 1200-1500$ a week as 1st AC back in the days… 800-1000$ as a Loader… 

I know Hollywood  feature 1st ACs who make $10,000/week between salary, box rental  and equipment rental. 

G

Edited by Gregory Irwin

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12 hours ago, Phil Rhodes said:

There are two sharply defined worlds. There's the world of feature films from bona fide production companies, commercials and broadcast television, which pays realistic wages. Then there's everything else.

Corporate/Industrial work can also pay good rates, depending on the market. You won’t have the same prep time, schedule, or crew size as a broadcast commercial or feature film, but the work can still be of reasonably high quality and pay the bills. 

I shot this earlier this year, thought it turned out pretty well for a one day shoot with minimal crew. Scout day + 10hr shoot day, full rate for everyone. It’s a living.

 

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Sat.. corps have been the savior of doc camera people.. as that market has polarized to one man band dir/camera/audio or big budget Netflix /Natural History (nat history seems to be the only docs that make money !)..shoots..the rise of Corp shoots has been a god send.. Im mostly doing corps now.. some are like small commercials but without a lot of the anxiety and BS.. others you just shoot 10 minute interviews and get full day rate.. 🙂 .. 

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6 minutes ago, Robin R Probyn said:

Sat.. corps have been the savior of doc camera people.. as that market has polarized to one man band dir/camera/audio or big budget Netflix /Natural History (nat history seems to be the only docs that make money !)..shoots..the rise of Corp shoots has been a god send.. Im mostly doing corps now.. some are like small commercials but without a lot of the anxiety and BS.. others you just shoot 10 minute interviews and get full day rate.. 🙂 .. 

Yes, you’re right of course. I mention it as some are unaware that there can also be more ‘cinematic’ corporate projects, not just interviews and b-roll.  

And some interview shoots can be more ‘cinematic’ as well. If you can get paid well to do that kind of work, it’s not a bad living.

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10 hours ago, Gregory Irwin said:

I know Hollywood  feature 1st ACs who make $10,000/week between salary, box rental  and equipment rental. 

 

Sure there is always a Top-Level & Superman Fee. For me it was an average minimum salary and I mean in euros & small germany television market… The weeks in Germany are 5 days / 10h basis. AC's do not have their own equipment, usually they get everything from the rental. And most productions already have their rental deals which include everything up to cinetape´s and carts. I remember i owned a Magliner and they rarely wanted to pay for it…


Same now as DP. I only own my Prep & Expsoure Stuff / Meter's and smaller tools that I use for Jobs. My older 16/35 equipment is mostly for my own pleasure and rarely as additional-cams... it does not make much sense to have a camera in my position these days. You´ll have to fly with it and again most producers have their deals with Rental Houses and I could not and did not want to beat them. It's also based on projects which format Alexa / Film / Venice...to go.

btw. i added the iatsi fee excel from 2018

iatsi_excel.thumb.jpg.be8eb5c6c042b789a07dee36db1c8449.jpg

 

 

 

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5 hours ago, Philip Reinhold said:

 

btw. i added the iatsi fee excel from 2018

iatsi_excel.thumb.jpg.be8eb5c6c042b789a07dee36db1c8449.jpg

 

 

 

This looks like the Canadian IATSE schedule that is vastly different from the American IA schedule. 

G

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50 minutes ago, Gregory Irwin said:

This looks like the Canadian IATSE schedule that is vastly different from the American IA schedule. 

true sorry its 669 so Canadian $…

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On 10/8/2019 at 7:33 PM, Satsuki Murashige said:

Another one, same team but two day shoot. 

 

Nice work my friend.

G

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On 10/11/2019 at 1:14 AM, Satsuki Murashige said:

Thank you sir!

Sat.. what camera set up / gimbal  you using for the corp shoots..  out of interest sir ..

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9 hours ago, Robin R Probyn said:

Sat.. what camera set up / gimbal  you using for the corp shoots..  out of interest sir ..

It really depends on the client, as many of them either own their own camera packages or have a preferred system. Some only want Red, Canon, or an FS7. I only get to use my camera if the client doesn’t have a preference, in which case it’s Sony F5 + Zeiss Contax primes or Canon Cine Zooms if they want to pay extra for it.

I don’t use gimbals much, I’m more of a dolly / handheld person. If I have to go small, then a Dana dolly or slider on rolling low boy combo stands is my go-to. I haven’t really gotten into small mirrorless cameras with single handed gimbals, though I guess that will be a ‘must have’ soon.

The Salesforce videos were shot with an ARRI Amira, Sigma primes, and a Zeiss Compact Zoom 15-30mm. They (Salesforce) also have Cooke 5i primes and Red Monstro/Heliums but there are multiple video teams that have to share the gear, so they may not always be avail.

We will be doing another shoot in a few weeks with their Alexa Mini, which has replaced the Amira. Hope we can get the Cookes, as I am not a big fan of the Sigmas. They are rather bland looking and have harsh bokeh in my opinion (look at the wide shot of the cars, ugh). I actually prefer the look of my Contax Zeiss primes, but it’s silly to ask my 1st ACs to pull focus on them. So they only get used on single operator shoots or as taking lenses on my rehoused anamorphic Iscorama lens.

Dolly-wise, we had a Fisher 11 + Ronford F7 head for the car dealership shoot, as we had to do a few underslung shots, including the opening shot skimming the man’s desk. For the insert of iPhone as the woman walks, we built a 20’ underslung pipe dolly rig to shoot the background plate, then shot the hand with phone static on green screen with a light gag to help sell the composite. The screen itself is comped in post. For the other Salesforce shoot, we just used the Fisher 11 in normal mode on track.

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Ok thanks for the in-depth run down..   my market the A7  on a gimbal has already become a must have.. I'd never used one till last year.. but now used it alot .. went from a Ronin S to much easier to work with Ronin SC... with A7III.. actually they are really good fun.. and the A7 III AF is quite amazing.. not as good as a steadicam of course.. but quick and easy to set up and operate after a bit of practice ..

 

Also tote the Sony f5.. but the Fx9 is in my sites .. 

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6 hours ago, Robin R Probyn said:

Ok thanks for the in-depth run down..   my market the A7  on a gimbal has already become a must have.. I'd never used one till last year.. but now used it alot .. went from a Ronin S to much easier to work with Ronin SC... with A7III.. actually they are really good fun.. and the A7 III AF is quite amazing.. not as good as a steadicam of course.. but quick and easy to set up and operate after a bit of practice ..

 

Also tote the Sony f5.. but the Fx9 is in my sites .. 

I shot alongside an NHK documentary team earlier this summer, the DP had an FS7 and a little DJI Osmo Pocket as a B Cam, which I thought was pretty neat. Wished I had one too when we were jockeying for space inside a moving bus for several days. Then again, not sure I really want to be doing more of that style of work anyway. I'm sorta ok with working fewer days on projects where I have more input into the look and style of the piece. The luxury of 'no wife, no kids, no mortgage' I guess...

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1 hour ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

I shot alongside an NHK documentary team earlier this summer, the DP had an FS7 and a little DJI Osmo Pocket as a B Cam, which I thought was pretty neat. Wished I had one too when we were jockeying for space inside a moving bus for several days. Then again, not sure I really want to be doing more of that style of work anyway. I'm sorta ok with working fewer days on projects where I have more input into the look and style of the piece. The luxury of 'no wife, no kids, no mortgage' I guess...

NHK.. they usually have a crew of 20 for news !.. see them on the street..one guys job is holding the monitor.. and they will always have a guy with a sun gun blasting.. regardless if it s actually needed !.. Unfortunately I have all of the above except the mortgage .. and must toil in the salt mines at all times..

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On 10/6/2019 at 12:25 AM, Adam Frisch FSF said:

Huge Netflix show with a major star in it paid $6K/week for the DP. He later moved to an even bigger show, also for same network, and it bumped to $8K/week. I'd expect that is as much as you'll ever earn doing TV.

Big features with a big time DP might pay a little more, but we're talking the top 20 guys here. Us mere mortals, on a $1-5 million movie, probably looking at anywhere from $500-3000/week. Which might sound like a good living, but if you're in LA or NY and have a family, really isn't.

$500 is way too low. 

I also shoot corporates apart from documentaries, commercials etc. The lowest rate that I had charged for a corporate was 750 USD and that was five years ago. It was a 15 min interview and a prestigious project. Even on that I had charged cost of equipment and assistant as extra.

Many clients tell me "ohh its just a one hour shoot". Even an hour's shoot means atleast half a day is spent. You have to arrive and get through security with equipment and set up lights etc. Generally the corporate shoots are like max three people - DP, Director/Producer, PA. They try to avoid sound person as much as they can.  Commercial rate is way higher.

US clients find my rates very reasonable. However, UK clients freak out when they hear the rates. May be top end UK clients pay more? 

Independent documentary guys when they start telling how great their previous film was and how great the present documentary will be ie. how many countries the documentary will be shown etc etc - then I know that they will offer peanuts. 🙂 For genuine documentary guys, if I believe in the cause then I support them if I am free.  

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