Friday, September 08, 2006

What he make?

A commenter asked about how much music video directors make. I don't get that many comments so I will definitely answer that question. The answer is, "It depends."

There is not a fixed rate or dollar amount fee that music video directors make (like there is for commercial directors). The standard rate is that the director earns 10% of the budget. That may seem like a lot of money (and it sometimes is) but you also have to figure that the video's line producer makes 5% and the production company usually takes 15%. That is 30% right off the top that goes to pay the people involved before you pay a single crew member, buy film, and so on.

Okay, the director makes 10% of what? That also depends. Music video budgets vary from weird little arty things you find on antville to big budget Hype Daddy jobs. Smaller, "favor for the band/label" jobs almost certainly do NOT adhere to the fee structure I described. In 2006 a "big budget" is, in my opinion, anything over $350-400k. Much more typical, even for established artists you have heard of is a budget between $200 and 300k.

The quick math will tell you that 10% of 300 large is thirty grand - not bad for a few week's work of directing. But those jobs are hard to get, even for established directors. The thing that truly effects a director's income is how often does the director works. Many big time directors work less than twelve times a year.

Much of the time these days, the director and the production company have to take fees based on a smaller number than the actual budget. If the label wants to spend 300k, the production company will often decide to take fees on "only" 225k in order to have enough money to spend on making the actual video.

This is becoming a more and more common practice as labels focus on the bottom line, often at the expense of the creativity (shocking, I know). Bigger budgets do not guarantee creativity, but in the "good ole days" it was common for the labels to agree to higher budgets to get name directors like Michael Bay, David Fincher or Paul Hunter. The labels would also often ramp up the budget because they wanted something specific like choreographed dancing or stunts that cost money. Now, the label is locked in on a number and they seem to care more about hitting that number - no matter if that means losing a rehearsal day for the dancers or whatever. Labels are now also excluding budget items and paying them directly - like artists' travel costs or make-up/wardrobe/hair stylists (a whole other topic) which saves them paying the production company's fees on those items.

The commenter asked the director pay question about an "artist of Beck's stature." In my experience, the status or level of an artist/band has no effect on the director's pay, other than labels spend more on established or famous or previously good-selling artists. Some "big" artists have super budgeted videos - like the aggressively messy new Janet that Hype did - while other noted artists, like Beck, or Beastie Boys often have a DIY, low-budget approach which means smaller director fees. Often, new and "poppier" artists - like Rihanna or Chris Brown - get higher budgeted videos because the label wants to "launch" them and see if they fly on music television while the labels spend less on much more well known artists, like the recent Red Hot Chili Peppers videos. Directors like working with artists they admire/respect, but the money from bigger budgeted jobs is what pays the bills.


Alright 30f, here's a comment. I (dp) posted on an earlier post about 10-50K budgets. I'm really diggin your blog, but don't have time to read them all now. I can definitely tell your "grounded," meaning you know what you're talking about and probably work in the industry. I'm guessing mid-level position, who also directs. Maybe I think that way b/c that's where I'm at. Just wanted to comment on budgets again. The days of the 350K budgets is definitely gone. I AC for one of the few "big time" mv dps and in the past 3 years have probably done 3 a year. Usually for someone like Francis . We usually do the 200K jobs and those are the big jobs now like you said. It's sad, but now the 150K jobs seem big. I remember when we first started working for this dp, when he first got started about 6 years ago, he was shooting as many 150K rock videos as he could handle. They were everywhere. sadly, this was also the tail-end of the mv heyday. I only make about $50 a day more on my 12hr rate now than I did 5 years ago. Thankfully, said dp mostly shoots pop videos b/c that's where the biggest budgets are. Every once in a while when we do a rock video, we're always on a 14 hour deal with a rate from 2001. It's bleak. I'm subtly trying to get my 2 baby dirs to see the light and lay the ground work to move into spots in 3-5 years before all of that money goes away. Oh yeah, that money is going too. Before, commercials were always 10hr deals. Now, I would say at least half are 12hr deals now.

Besides the pocketbook, I want to work on bigger budget stuff so we can shoot and produce better work. I hate when I'm made to look greedy when I state something like that. Usually from the filmschooler/antvilleans.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?