Jump to content
BAB414

"Standard" Gear Packages

Recommended Posts

The recent "Who Brings the Slate?" thread got me thinking about what kind/amounts of gear are expected on what kinds of jobs in what regions and for what rates. We always talk about a "standard" package but I'm of the mindset that the factors above really affect exactly what gear the mixer brings to the job.

 

For example, I've heard for ENG type gigs, a mixer, boom and 2 wires is standard. Any additional gear (timecode, additional wires, comteks) incurs additional charges.

 

On larger narrative cart-based projects, I've heard from quite a few people that they negotiate a daily kit fee with the producer, and from there on out, they provide whatever gear is needed on a shot by shot basis to get the production what they need (additional slates/timecode boxes for additional cameras, additional wires, comteks, even certain playback functionality) with the only exception I've heard of really being earwigs. I assume what happens in these scenarios is that the mixer agrees to a rate he feels more or less is fair for his entire kit and then if production needs something he doesn't have, he'll consider charging extra. Does anyone here do this? How many wires/comteks/slates is the limit?

 

I'm somewhat skeptical that when we talk about standard packages, we don't always mean the same thing. What really is standard in a basic package for these different kinds of gigs?

 

And the other question is, if you are adding additional items a la carte on set, how do you get away with that without pissing off the producer? I've had to have an awkward conversation or two with producer types on shoots where extra gear was required that wasn't previously discussed. The money people don't always understand the creative/sound needs and the creative people don't always care about the production's financial needs, they just want the job done. Isn't it sometimes better to forgo the extra $$ (especially if it's something as small as 1 additional wire or comtek) to show production you're a team player, rather than piss them off with what they might consider to be pettiness and risk them not wanting to hire you again?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

they just want the job done. Isn't it sometimes better to forgo the extra $$ (especially if it's something as small as 1 additional wire or comtek) to show production you're a team player, rather than piss them off with what they might consider to be pettiness and risk them not wanting to hire you again?

 

And that's right there where they want you.... 

 

Set your limits up front:   i.e.

1- number of wireless mics and / or comteks included

2 - billed expendables, batteries, etc

3 - reasonable mileage expectations ( I do 50 free roundtrip per day, then work from there - if you are not careful here you'll be giving away 100 miles (IRS value $55) and an extra two hours of your life on each side of the job.

 

Get them established in a phone conversation and then an email, and then collect the revenue - which you need to grow and prosper.

 

DO NOT GIVE STUFF AWAY - it hurts us all. 

 

 

MF

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nothing is standard for bag work anymore. Seriously. Not having the conversation can create a mess. I've flown across the country to do a single person talking head interview. Lav and boom into 302 cabled to camera. Glad I didn't bring my Nomad and 8 wireless mics and camera hops for that. I'll always bring some extra stuff just in case, but I want to know if the shoot will have 2 people walking in a park, or 8 people kayaking.

Narrative cart work at a higher level is definitely different. The lower budget narrative may have a producer asking about kit to get a ballpark of the quality level of your gear, and if their editor requested sync boxes or a TC slate. It's also why you want to read the script before nailing that stuff down. Do you need to rent waterproof transmitters? Do you need some other special and unusual equipment? Also, I prefer to do it all via email. Then there is a record, and something to reference.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BAB: " when we talk about standard packages, we don't always mean the same thing. "

it my be "our" standard package, but it may not be "their" standard package.

"we" can put a "standard package" on our "rate card" but the reality is that unless it is a regular client, with an already established and agreed "standard package", it needs to be clarified for each client and gig.

 

JP: " Narrative cart work at a higher level is definitely different. "

In the top tier big movie marketplace (IA Basic) there is typically a "package" and "rate" to go with it, with only a few ala carte exceptions, but even this is usually discussed in pre-pro.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do bag work, and have a "basic package" rate for my 633, boom, and two wireless. Everything else is a la carte above that, and I try to keep my rates in line with other local mixers. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The best practice I believe, at all levels and for all jobs where will be supplying (renting) equipment to the production, is to never let the word "package" sit out there too long without carefully defining it. The worst case of NOT doing this is when a production person says "we've got $300./day for you and your equipment". That statement, the only thing that is defined at all is that they are willing at this point to part with $300. of their budget. Defining the package in concert with the production, even in those cases where production person really doesn't know what they're talking about, helps to avoid most of these issues.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a good discussion to have amongst mixers because studios will follow suit on what low ball mixers charge.  There is a mixer here in L.A. that works on a long running network TV show that only charges $1750/wk flat for it's package which includes any and all things that production wants.  Because of this, FOX will not pay more to other mixers. It has become policy from what I'm told.  Shim has set precedent. 1750 is a terrible rate for even a basic package let alone an all inclusive one. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's not what I heard happened at Fox. From what I understand, a vendor in Los Angeles offered to supply Fox with gear in much the same way as WB supplies its own. The offer was that the "basic" package would be $1750/wk. This upset many mixers, although I saw it as a bit of biting the hand that feeds you, but a reasonable business move, given the slate of about 9 or so shows. Fox simply took that number and said to the mixers from that point on that it was the new number. Take it or leave it. "Extras" became challenging to bill. Sadly this also became the "daily" rate too, just dividing $1750 by 5. I argued this with Fox. I refused to amend a 2nd unit invoice at the rate I had been given previously. They paid the number they chose, not what was on the invoice, and I never worked for Fox again. Not my choice. I was simply never called again by anyone on a Fox show. Coincidence? Maybe.

ABC and NBC also "mandate" a max of $1800/wk. UPMs at ABC might tack on another $100 for slates to get a higher number past the suits. Fact is that numbers get around, people accept them, and over time it becomes the rate. To blame one person is just ridiculous.

On TV, I was receiving $1900/wk as a rule. I have an 8-channel recorder, so I recorded up to 7 ISO tracks, if required, whatever they happened to be. I charged extra for playback. If for any reason I would have required more than 7 tracks or mics, I would have charged extra. I see Comteks as cheap PR. Sorry. If a director's or actor's family come to visit, I give the headsets. I have a lot. I hand them out because I think it's nice to offer guests comteks. If I am told there are studio execs or press coming and we'll need extra comteks (even if I know I have enough), I have production order them. That way it's not a discussion.

This is not the case on commercials. Everything is extra, as Crew wrote.

I'll need to learn what's normal all over again now that I'm in a new market.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've always framed it as a "Basic Package" at $$$ per day. Everything on top of that is a la carte. I have this conversation every week at least once.  Per day is a commercial thing.   TV & Film are a weekly deal. I don't follow TV & Film Package rates but mirror is in the TV game and I'm sure he knows where of he speaks concerning $1750.   As for what is in a standard gear package, my Basic is a mixer, recorder, and all hard wired mics, plus a comtek for director and script. Radios, comteks, playback, etc are additional rentals.

Don't be the lowballer in your market. Nothing good comes from it.

CrewC

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I bill a daily rate separate and in addition to labor for the basic kit which includes the mixer / recorder, the first two wireless sets, and boom mic on pole. Each additional wireless set (lavs or as hops to cameras) is a separate line on the invoice. Comteks are a grey area in billing for me some shoots being included and some as a billable item. Always separate from the basic kit are the slate and Lock-it boxes.

 

Years ago I was billing separately for the recorder particularly when using a 442 and 744t combination. At the time, sound to camera was most often considered primary and iso'd tracks weren't as common as they are today in sound for TV. Having the recorder and mixer combined now has made it difficult to bill for the recorder as a stand alone item, so my rate increased to allow for both combined and I now include the iso'd WAV files as part of the basic kit rate.

 

I always make a distinction in writing with a production manager prior to the shoot as to what the basic kit rate is, and what's included. Most often for me with sound for TV, the number of wireless sets needed after the first two in the basic kit is the next question. It's extremely rare that I'd ever offer a flat rate on gear. It's all in writing ahead of time so that when something beyond the basic kit is needed during production, I just use it and include it on the invoice. Every so often I'll get an email questioning an additional billable item where I'll quote the email correspondence so we stay on good terms (don't rely on a phone conversation about rates and terms)!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Food for thought:

In Australia (for TV production) we have a standard 8hr (or in some states 10hr) rate which includes labour, mixer, 2 wireless and boom) - $650

In Commerical land, that base rate increases to $850 but includes a 2-track recorder, a TC slate, and a director IFB.

Everything else is a la carte.

I don't have a package for long-form drama (features and series) so I can't comment on that apart from it all being heavily discussed and organised in pre-pro - it depends on the show.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@RPSharman, If I have it wrong, please let us know what happened at Fox then, because that is the word on the street. That lowball rate and all inclusive has to start somewhere.  Like I said - word on the street.

 

To not offended you, and in order to be more politically correct, I changed the gender reference to a neutral one. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Food for thought:

In Australia (for TV production) we have a standard 8hr (or in some states 10hr) rate which includes labour, mixer, 2 wireless and boom) - $650

In Commerical land, that base rate increases to $850 but includes a 2-track recorder, a TC slate, and a director IFB.

Everything else is a la carte.

I don't have a package for long-form drama (features and series) so I can't comment on that apart from it all being heavily discussed and organised in pre-pro - it depends on the show.

 

Yep that is what we get here in Melbourne (10 hr day). A usual TV day rate is AUD $675 with the inclusions you have mentioned + $150 for stereo camera link (usually Lectro SR) + $75 per additional channel of wireless.

 

However, I have witnessed first hand big networks asking soundos to wave the Camera link charge for long productions (over 3 months full time in that case). I guess that can be seen as a "bulk order" saving and isn't out of line.

 

I will usually charge $80 for 2x ERX IFB's and will throw a couple of comteks 72s for free for additional non-critical personnel. I won't include or even mention the comteks if production has refused to pay for the Zaxcom IFB.

 

Questions :

  • Do the guys who use wireless boom count that as a channel of wireless ? 
  • How do you charge for travel (per kilometer outside of the "free" radius or just by the clock) ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Food for thought:

In Australia (for TV production) we have a standard 8hr (or in some states 10hr) rate which includes labour, mixer, 2 wireless and boom) - $650

In Commerical land, that base rate increases to $850 but includes a 2-track recorder, a TC slate, and a director IFB.

Everything else is a la carte.

I don't have a package for long-form drama (features and series) so I can't comment on that apart from it all being heavily discussed and organised in pre-pro - it depends on the show.

 

Justin, whilst you are free to charge what ever you wish, I just want to highlight the fact that your Commercial Rate and Inclusions are way off the mark.

 

You may wish to get in touch with ASSG regarding this as there has been a large amount of discussion regarding Minimum Rates.

 

Cheers, Steve

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My post severely amended above.

And it wasn't a politically correct thing. You were "naming" a mixer and calling them out on a forum occupied by mixers, whereas you don't have the courage to stand by your own posts with your own name.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An aside--don't give away batteries and other expendables.  They are a hard cost and should be compensated for, if only @ your cost plus shipping (if you buy online), in the numbers actually used.  I also think that every mile I drive my gear in my truck should be paid for, just like they pay for the grip/electric/art/camera trucks--no diff.  It's hard to justify charging for expendables like neopax, stickies, overcovers, surgical tape etc on short jobs, but on longer gigs they should be billed too.  If you use rechargable batteries there should be a charge for those too--they aren't free to you and don't last forever.

 

philp

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Justin, whilst you are free to charge what ever you wish, I just want to highlight the fact that your Commercial Rate and Inclusions are way off the mark.

 

You may wish to get in touch with ASSG regarding this as there has been a large amount of discussion regarding Minimum Rates.

 

Cheers, Steve

That's a base rate that is/has been discussed and agreed upon by several local sound ops up here, but you're right, it's probably too low, and long overdue for a rethink.

 

ASSG QLD, assemble!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Comteks are a grey area in billing for me some shoots being included and some as a billable item. Always separate from the basic kit are the slate and Lock-it boxes.

 

The term Comtek often refers to the overall versions and brands of client headset feeds.  Though the actual Comtek brand is a bit cheaper, many of us use more expensive Lectro R1s or Zaxcom ERXs.  I happen to own lots of all three flavors.

 

I find no "grey areas" with regards to Comteks.   If they are part of the normal package rate, I provide 4 for the essentials. 

One for Director, one for Script, Two for Producers.  All of the extras are billed for, at usually 20 per, per day.  I am very upfront about this with producers and coords, as sometimes they want approval before I hand them out like candy to people that really don't need them to conduct their day on their laptops with FaceBook, barely engaged in the product. And I bill for every battery too, including the transmitter.  

That's at least $10 depending on how long the day goes. 

That is not nickel and dimeing.  Do not leave money on the floor. 

Other crafts don't throw two dollar bills on the floor all day - why should we?

 

Back to "Comteks" -

There is no grey area about the significant investment involved in having them around, with headsets.

There is no grey area that I or my team will be tending to these all day in addition to mixing sound. 

There is no grey area about their exposure to damage and loss.

 

Giving stuff away diminishes the value of the stuff....   profound, eh?

The stuff has significant value - you will discover that when one or more come up missing someday, or when one is crushed or missing a knob, or a pouch is ripped, and you have to deal with it = time = money....

Charge accordingly - it's business-like.

 

MF

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An aside--don't give away batteries and other expendables.  They are a hard cost and should be compensated for, if only @ your cost plus shipping (if you buy online), in the numbers actually used.  I also think that every mile I drive my gear in my truck should be paid for, just like they pay for the grip/electric/art/camera trucks--no diff.  It's hard to justify charging for expendables like neopax, stickies, overcovers, surgical tape etc on short jobs, but on longer gigs they should be billed too.  If you use rechargable batteries there should be a charge for those too--they aren't free to you and don't last forever.

 

philp

 

+11 Bold, ALL CAPS.....

 

One day of shooting can easily amount to $20 - 40 dollars in batteries. 

2 or three wireless, 4 comteks, 10-12 hours... 9v @ 2per, Lith AA @ even more...

Why would anyone not charge for this?  It is NOT nickel and dimeing here - that's real money 5 days a week. 

 

MF

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just like to add that I've been successful charging for the use of Zaxcom TRX's in various flavors as "additional stand-alone recording devices" @ $75 each per day when they want to run off and get that, "She's just on a cell phone," shot. I make sure that we are fully staffed tho.

 

My original deal reflects max of six wireless, 2 slates and one recorder, and specifically excludes playback, VOG and earwigs.

 

Have successfully charged an additional full kit when they need me to bring out the bag rig that seems more and more frequently needed to supplement cart-based work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As to expendables for wireless I just add that into the cost of the wireless and on the invoice I state that all accessories and expendables are included on the same line. Since production only sees one line and they see it up front they don't think I'm trying to nickel and dime them... most of the time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

rps: " The offer was that the "basic" package would be $1750/wk. "

the situation RPS describes is called competition.  sounds like someone though they could make a decent ROI at that rate...

there are businesses that specialize in renting equipment, and often offer "deals" for longer term rentals like 4 day weeks, even three day weeks to get and keep the equipment "working"; if we want to be in the equipment rental business, we have to compete!

 

Scott: " sound to camera was most often considered primary and iso'd tracks weren't as common as they are today in sound for TV. "

I suspect Scott has a different standard of what is "sound for TV" than many of us.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

$1800 a week was the policy at Fox last season. Did it go down even further to $1750?

 

For Fox, at that rate, my basic package included 6 wireless, 8 Comtek and 2 TC slates. Anything additional was to billed ala carte. However,  when I invoiced them, I discovered that they (the production supervisor and line producer) weren't aware of these limitations. All of my correspondence, including emails and equipment lists, detailed exactly what "Basic Package" meant, but somehow they "missed it". 

 

In a subsequent conversation, I found out two interesting things: 1) these guys figured $1800 bought them everything they could possibly need to record 1st unit sound for 12+ episodes. 2) they made it sound like productions, at least at Fox, would rather rent from vendors than mixers, particularly for additional rentals.

 

We worked out our deal in the end, but it did get contentious at times, which sucks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×