185 posts in this topic

Thanks, Crew. I know that rental houses give a 3 day week here in NYC but until reading this thread it had never occurred to me that we as mixers might be expected to do that as well with kit fees (not labor of course). Glad to know that is not the case!

-Mike

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35 minutes ago, Mobilemike said:

Thanks, Crew. I know that rental houses give a 3 day week here in NYC but until reading this thread it had never occurred to me that we as mixers might be expected to do that as well with kit fees (not labor of course). Glad to know that is not the case!

-Mike

Well, sometimes a rental house will give YOU a 3 day week, so that you can still make money by charging production full. Consider that you need to pick up and return the rental gear. That's your time, gas - and work setting up, tearing down and maybe cleaning said gear.

==

Fun? Sure, but in the end it's a business. Can you pay for the investment and upkeep of gear, make a living, feed the kids and set aside money for when you hit a dry period. There's also retirement some day.... hopefully.

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12 hours ago, Constantin said:


This may hold true for you, but since it sounds like you are making a universal statement, I'd say it's not true.
My rate does depend on the project's budget, as well as my experience.
In practice, I don't ask about the project's budget. I quote my standard rate (somehat hire at the beginning of negotiations), and then they can say, that it's low-budget and sorry, but they can't pay that. Then I can consider taking on the project anyway, based on various considerations, or leave it. Fun is not a prime consideration for me. I consider my job as a whole as fun, but the individual jobs are less important to me. I live in a predominantly TV market, so many of the projects are not great, but fun anyway. But just this year I had the choice between a TV movie with 23 days, or two (shot in one block) with 49 days. The shorter one was the more exciting project, with an awesome cast and crew, but guess which one I chose. The longer one has its fun, too, of course, but more subdued perhaps. But with a familiy to support and a house to pay off, I can't afford to chose fun over money.

But like I said, for me the job itself defines the fun, not the project. In fact, for the sound department, the project itself perhaps matters less than for other departments, as we will do whatever to get the sound we need. I use the same mic on a high budget TV movie as I would on a low budget doco

As you have said its not universal I just share a different thought. Life proved me that sometimes you get less and later it comes back to you with a greater amount. I am mostly in documentaries and feature no TV totaly not for me.

 

 

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I think fun in general is important in any job, but I stopped at some point in the past hoping to work on exciting, fun, artistically rewarding projects. Mine is not the position to expect that. To me the fun also can come from working on a fun crew. Some jobs where you get to do what you do best, get great sound, and do it your way, that's fun of course, and I am greatful each (rare) time that happens. But if a producer pays my rate (which is slightly above average in my area, by the way) and wants me to swipe the floor instead of doing sound, I'd even do that, and get the fun in my private life instead.

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Fun, (having some) at work is very important, but a different topic. I think there was a conversation about that some years back. I know one thing for sure, it's much easier to have fun when you are getting the fair/full rate.

CrewC

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I can have work-fun w/o making a good rate if the company is good, the job cool and meaningful and the work not unpleasant.  I just can't do that all the time, or most of the time, right?  And I do like seeing those checks arrive in the mail.

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In my market, I'm the person with all the bells and whistles, but most of the locals will not hire me because I'm too expensive. So I have become the go to out of town person but don't really like it because I never work with the same group of people twice and the first day you have to figure out how they want to do the job and by the time you have them figured out, they're gone. And then there is always the fight to get the rate/with equipment and it make you feel like you're just the market sound whore where every day is a first day. Some days are fun, but other days are just a grind and I wish I had stayed home.

Scott....

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You say "you get what you pay for", and then say that as an experienced DP with credits you get $1500/day with a camera package.  I say "you don't ask you don't get".   I assume that your soundies get commensurately less than the rate you mention, with their gear (which nowadays often costs as much or more than a basic camera package).   So what's the future in this?  It seems to me that you admit that the return is not keeping up with the investment, so all you guys are digging yourselves into holes while working as much as you can? 

 

I've asked, I don't get. I do pay my audio guys and everyone else the going rate for work & gear. Yes, it is unsustainable - if I hadn't been accumulating gear over the years, and it's the "little" stuff that adds up and is not charged for - it wouldn't work. Unless you work 2 -3 days/week, hard to make the numbers work.  Hard to get enthusiastic about recommending this as a career now for someone with a family. As mentioned in other posts, rewards come with final product and with the people I work with.

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And yet young people start in all the time!  In my area I think I personally know only maybe 30% of the sound people anymore, if that.  They can't all be independently wealthy, or living in their cars.  Most of them have gear, mostly newer than mine.  Anyone who has spent many decades in this field in a given area is fully permissed (says me) to work and charge however they want as they ease themselves out of the business over a few years.  But meanwhile I see younger folks getting traction even in my area which is a stupidly expensive place to live and work, so it IS possible.

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On 11/18/2016 at 0:38 PM, Mobilemike said:

Reading through this old thread brought up a thought - do you guys give productions a 3-day week on kit rental as a matter of course, or only if a producer asks, or never? My jobs are usually one or two day shoots so this hasn't come up for me personally yet but it would be cool to know what you guys do. 

-Mike

By default, I do not. This only happens when I have to give a competitive bid, usually against a rental house, for a long term show (meaning at least 2-3 weeks).

On 11/18/2016 at 6:31 PM, old school said:

TV in LA is also based on a week, not a 3 day week. I only work upper end commercials so I assume there are people who give it away in other arenas but I'd advise you not to for your own good as well as your sisters and brothers in the craft.

CrewC

I think the "3-day week" statement pertains to how most rental houses do a full week rental, for the cost of only 3 billing days. I do find this to be true, but have heard and seen of rental houses charging 2 and sometimes even 1 billing day.

On 11/18/2016 at 10:16 PM, Mobilemike said:

Thanks, Crew. I know that rental houses give a 3 day week here in NYC but until reading this thread it had never occurred to me that we as mixers might be expected to do that as well with kit fees (not labor of course). Glad to know that is not the case!

-Mike

Most of us agree that weekly rentals should only be for long term projects.

 

On 11/18/2016 at 11:01 PM, Johnny Karlsson said:

Well, sometimes a rental house will give YOU a 3 day week, so that you can still make money by charging production full. Consider that you need to pick up and return the rental gear. That's your time, gas - and work setting up, tearing down and maybe cleaning said gear.

Rental houses have 3-day weekly rentals publicly available for all to see and get. This is not just a price break for mixers.

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On ‎11‎/‎19‎/‎2016 at 5:28 PM, carbonhobbit said:

In my market, I'm the person with all the bells and whistles, but most of the locals will not hire me because I'm too expensive. So I have become the go to out of town person but don't really like it because I never work with the same group of people twice and the first day you have to figure out how they want to do the job and by the time you have them figured out, they're gone. And then there is always the fight to get the rate/with equipment and it make you feel like you're just the market sound whore where every day is a first day. Some days are fun, but other days are just a grind and I wish I had stayed home.

Scott....

I'm finding that I'm in the same situation. I'm currently working on a new rate sheet and want to start charging for equipment (SD664, six channels of Lectro etc) I'm hesitant though, because even my date rate alone is too much for at least half of the jobs I'm offered. So I think you have to be smart about pricing for your market.

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In the DC area, soundguys with a decent kit (on board recording, couple wireless, etc...) charge in the $700/$750 range.

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29 minutes ago, telecam said:

In the DC area, soundguys with a decent kit (on board recording, couple wireless, etc...) charge in the $700/$750 range.

Ready for this... It's almost embarrassing... My "new" day rate is $200 plus either $150 for the A bag (SD664, Lectro wireless) or $50 for the B bag (Zoom F4, 2x Sony Wireless). Yeah, definitely really low. Keeping in mind that here in San Diego there isn't much of a film community. It's slowly growing, and I've become one of a couple go-to mixers but like I said, at least half are too low budget. So safe to say I'm not leaving my day job anytime too soon.

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1 hour ago, enjoyfebruary said:

Ready for this... It's almost embarrassing... My "new" day rate is $200 plus either $150 for the A bag (SD664, Lectro wireless) or $50 for the B bag (Zoom F4, 2x Sony Wireless). Yeah, definitely really low. Keeping in mind that here in San Diego there isn't much of a film community. It's slowly growing, and I've become one of a couple go-to mixers but like I said, at least half are too low budget. So safe to say I'm not leaving my day job anytime too soon.

Almost...?  You forgot damaging to our industry..  sell your stuff and go back to your "day job.."  Harsh yes, honest, you bet..   This IS our day job...  a two hour day, a favor for a long time client, a favor...OK, I can stomach that, but, your "NEW" rate...? I have no stomach for that while people are trying to feed their families doing this for real..

   I always wonder when someone calls and says they have $200 for me and gear what they were smoking..?  now I know... People actually charge this as a rate, and people think this is a new norm... see the damage here yet..?

Many have heard this before, the plumber thing... 

Not ONE Plumber in the US almost anywhere will work for $20 an hour... NOT ONE... The million dollar question is... how can they be lockstep on this and not us... Even WITH the varying types of jobs we do...  Call a Plumber for a repair to your hose bib...$60- $75 an hour...  Call him to re-plumb your home... you guessed it... $60-$75 an hour...  

Why the hell are we all over the map here...  big jobs and small... I am NOT saying everyone should be at $75 an hour per say, but a little Nationwide solidarity could go a long way... When everyone has some sibilance of a standard, that standard will become reality. Or, they go without.. But our craft has no spine for this.. zip, nada none... and the byproduct is... a constant fight for a fair wage and the constant battling with people who go out for $200 a day...  so sad.  

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54 minutes ago, enjoyfebruary said:

Ready for this... It's almost embarrassing... My "new" day rate is $200 plus either $150 for the A bag (SD664, Lectro wireless) or $50 for the B bag (Zoom F4, 2x Sony Wireless). Yeah, definitely really low. Keeping in mind that here in San Diego there isn't much of a film community. It's slowly growing, and I've become one of a couple go-to mixers but like I said, at least half are too low budget. So safe to say I'm not leaving my day job anytime too soon.

Ok.  I don't mean to be mean, but I mean to be honest: you are a hobbyist, not a professional.  You have another source of income, which allows you to undercharge for a person of almost any level of experience and a very decent, not-cheap package.  It's good that you have a day-job, because at those rates you are probably not likely to get many referrals from other sound folks who are trying to live off their sound work.  It is true that the lives and work of other people aren't directly your responsibility and that competition is to be expected, but the rate level you are in now is very hard to rise out of, believe me, if you have plans to move into sound work full time.  My advice to you is to get what experience you can while keeping that rate on the DL, but then decide if you will be joining the rest of us as a full-time professional at which point you'll need to up your rates to continue living in San Diego. 

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Ok, Ok, I do believe enjoyfebruary has dropped his rate a little too far, but what do you do when the phone stops ringing? The bills are still there and as my better half has said, it's better than nothing. My market is dying, the biggest production house is down to a day a month and the up and coming group has no idea how to work with a crew bigger than two where they set up two cameras on the same subject with maybe a slider where a boom is fed into a camera. I just did a low budget movie only because the total would get me thru the month with a little left over. It was that or dip into what I didn't have left. The callers are telling me they are paying much less than my day rate and would rather go it alone than hire me. It's not about how many years I have under my belt (25) or how I can help them out on the shoot with an easy way to get their sound recorded and have everything go fine in post, no they are only worried about how much they want to pay me for my day. They seem to have forgotten that for me to be here in the middle of the United States, I need a certain amount to stay here so they can call me so they don't have to fly in a sound person. We have already lost one sound person because they couldn't keep their head above water because of insurance. Even I have been thinking about doing something else just because chasing the money is just getting harder.

What are you to do when you become the buggy whip maker and all anybody wants to do is buy cars? I know good production can come back to a market, but how long do you hold out?

Scott....

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You do what you need to do to get along on a per job basis.  Everyone (and I mean "the greats" as well) has slow periods and bills to pay.  But having a stated low-ball normal rate is how you get pigeonholed as a low budg soundie (only) and how you keep the business in your area from growing. 

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We try really hard in Utah to have all the professional sound mixers and boom ops charge a similar rate according to experience and gear. But we also have those "hobbyists" that low ball what we do and it makes it hard.  We try and educate those that are entering the market so that we can stay competitive and fair. It's easier here since there are only about a dozen of us and we are all friends. There is one guy here that has a couple of RED camera packages that now has a 633 and is charging only $25/day or something insanely low. It's hard to compete with that.

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2 minutes ago, Philip Perkins said:

You do what you need to do to get along on a per job basis.  Everyone (and I mean "the greats" as well) has slow periods and bills to pay.  But having a stated low-ball normal rate is how you get pigeonholed as a low budg soundie (only) and how you keep the business in your area from growing. 

 

9 minutes ago, Philip Perkins said:

Ok.  I don't mean to be mean, but I mean to be honest: you are a hobbyist, not a professional.  You have another source of income, which allows you to undercharge for a person of almost any level of experience and a very decent, not-cheap package.  It's good that you have a day-job, because at those rates you are probably not likely to get many referrals from other sound folks who are trying to live off their sound work.  It is true that the lives and work of other people aren't directly your responsibility and that competition is to be expected, but the rate level you are in now is very hard to rise out of, believe me, if you have plans to move into sound work full time.  My advice to you is to get what experience you can while keeping that rate on the DL, but then decide if you will be joining the rest of us as a full-time professional at which point you'll need to up your rates to continue living in San Diego. 

 

44 minutes ago, afewmoreyears said:

Almost...?  You forgot damaging to our industry..  sell your stuff and go back to your "day job.."  Harsh yes, honest, you bet..   This IS our day job...  a two hour day, a favor for a long time client, a favor...OK, I can stomach that, but, your "NEW" rate...? I have no stomach for that while people are trying to feed their families doing this for real..

   I always wonder when someone calls and says they have $200 for me and gear what they were smoking..?  now I know... People actually charge this as a rate, and people think this is a new norm... see the damage here yet..?

Listen, I agree with everything that has been said. However let me be clear: If I was approached about a half way decent job I wouldn't be charging that amount. I would charge proportionally to the project.  My rate sheet is not published publicly for that very reason. In fact, I'm actively trying to get clients to pay more but as I said before, the budgets aren't there. Even the big bio and telecom companies have turned me down with my higher rate. As far as I know the only industry job was for two days back in 2015 and they were only here because our stadium was available. Even on that job they literally brought everything and everyone with them because there is nothing here.

The bottom line for me: I do want to do this full time, but I also can't be an irresponsible adult and leave my job knowing I won't get any work with a livable wage. If that isn't a sufficient clarification/response, or if you want to blame me for damaging the industry then so be it.

-Dan

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29 minutes ago, enjoyfebruary said:

The bottom line for me: I do want to do this full time, but I also can't be an irresponsible adult and leave my job knowing I won't get any work with a livable wage. If that isn't a sufficient clarification/response, or if you want to blame me for damaging the industry then so be it.

Reality check, responsible adult: If you already have a job, why do you need take these low-ball jobs? All you are doing is undermining the business for yourself and others.

Actually - they do have the budgets, but since they know you are a pushover and will agree to these unicorn rates... You have set a low standard for yourself and these "clients" will never let you raise your rate. Then they will refer you to others, telling them that you will do it for that low rate. Then other sound mixers will hear about it and will not refer you to real clients, because they are afraid that you will undercut them and ruin their business. None of this will lead to anything good. Your reputation is everything.

If you do things right and respect yourself, the fact that there are few sound mixers in San Diego, should work to your advantage and make you more valuable. You see, when they bring me or others from out of town, they need to pay milage, flights, hotels, per diems etc.

 

 

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Well, I was brought down to San Diego 5 times last year from Los Angeles... paid to travel, put up in a hotel, given per diem and paid full rate and equipment rental. So I'd venture to guess that normal budget jobs do come to SD, at least on a somewhat regular basis. They just would rather hire a professional than a hobbiest when it comes to jobs where sound matters. Take the excellent advice already given by others and respect yourself enough to be taken seriously.

-Moe

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21 hours ago, enjoyfebruary said:

The bottom line for me: I do want to do this full time, but I also can't be an irresponsible adult and leave my job knowing I won't get any work with a livable wage. If that isn't a sufficient clarification/response, or if you want to blame me for damaging the industry then so be it.

-Dan

I lived in LA from 2011-2015 and worked at least 30 days a year in SD - for full rate, travel, hotel, etc.... Hell, I was flown there from Kentucky last month for a 4 day shoot. Your excuses are thin and your actions are damaging to the industry.

 

I truly hope you listen to the valuable (if sometimes caustic sounding) advice from the professionals above and learn from their extensive experience. Together we are strong. 

 

Cheers,

Evan Meszaros

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Here's what I'll do. In an effort to possibly mend this situation and because I do care about being a part of this community; I'll set my new official rate at $600 and i'll report back in six to eight months. Satisfactory?

AND here is the link to the updated rate sheet.

https://1drv.ms/b/s!AnwhCYaWihjpobNLJ3gQHFl5oXRTEw

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6 hours ago, enjoyfebruary said:

Here's what I'll do. In an effort to possibly mend this situation and because I do care about being a part of this community; I'll set my new official rate at $600 and i'll report back in six to eight months. Satisfactory?

AND here is the link to the updated rate sheet.

https://1drv.ms/b/s!AnwhCYaWihjpobNLJ3gQHFl5oXRTEw

You're getting there! Excellent! You passed an important 'test' by not getting defensive. That's gold.

Your overtime should be @ $75 (1.5 x regular hourly rate) to be in line with every other production on the planet. On NYC narrative projects my union "day" is 8 hours minimum with OT after that and double time after 12 or 14 (depending on the contract) which would make your 1.5 OT rate $112.50. I think a lot of PSM's doing bag work base their days on 10 hours. Different world so check.

I'll let others speak to your kit since I'm cart-based, but based on what I've read around the interwebs, you're charging 75-300% less than others doing the same thing. Also keep in mind that a lot of stuff in your world is charged à la carte e.g. more than 2 wireless mics @$75/day, TC slates @$50/day and more than 'X' Comteks @ $30, etc.

Look forward to hearing from you in a year or two that you've been able to quit your day job and are sipping craft beer somewhere nice.

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And get some solid chops to justify that rate. Perhaps ask Moe and Evan and other established mixers if you can assist them (for something around your old new rate) next time they're working in San Diego. That experience will be super valuable to you...and then in turn to your clients.

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