If you were asked to work post audio on a film, one man band style, and you knew the budget was $150,000, what would you think a fair price would be? This is just for your services. No dolby stuff or anything fancy, no music licensing, etc..., just your editing and mix.

On a similar note, what would you want to get paid for production audio? My normal rate is $250 / day just for me to mix, plus $150 for the boom op, but I've had a ton of people with a $150k - $200k budget baulk at that. Big production guys in the industry charge up to $1500 a day to mix (including gear) plus anywhere from $200 - $500 / day for the boom op, and $200 for an A2.

Just thinking about this for a project I have coming up, and this stuff was on my mind, having recently read that article that's been floating around on working for free. Link anybody?


  • My production rate is generally 350/day and most of the time + kit fee. I've based this on what I am worth as a live concert engineer per day. That same basis is how I am quoting people for hourly post work. It is the conclusion of years of live engineering and what companies around here all seem comfortable in paying for my level of work. I very rarely get anyone with a problem with that rate if they are an actual company and actual production. Only the "investment" style of projects are what will try and talk me down. Dec 9, 2011 at 23:07

4 Answers 4


How about thinking of it from this angle?

  1. You are effectively being asked to be an investor in the project, so cost it out at your normal rates & first give the producer that budget... Make them appreciate what it actually costs to do it 'properly' call this total $A

  2. Once they've recovered offer them an X% deferment option, so that you are not throwing away X%: that debt/investment will remain until it is paid, but you will have to be happy that you may never see the X% ever, so go into it resolved about this...

How to work out what X% is?

Add up your hard costs - if it will take you Y weeks to edit & prep it all & Z weeks to mix it, you are going to have to at least break even for Y+Z weeks, otherwise it is actually costing you money to work on the film... And will you turn down any full paying jobs during the Y+Z weeks? Or does the low budget project get done on weeks when you definitely have nothing on?

So add up (Y+Z) weeks of

  • rent/mortgage payments (home + studio)
  • electricity/phone/internet (home + studio)
  • insurance (home + studio)
  • transport
  • food etc....

Total = $B

So ($A-$B)/$A = MAXIMUM possible % deferment/investment

And that should tell you whether you can actually do the project for what they offer....

I'm all for supporting projects that I love and/or dear friends, but if you are going to commit to it for 2 or 3 months, you shouldn't end up personally in debt for it

(I dont do production sound so cant help with shoot side of it all)

  • I've always hated math, but this formula is definitely an exception. Fantastic post. May 1, 2010 at 23:59

I had also posted this question over at Gearslutz in the Post Production forum. Here's a great answer from "Big Andy".

I am doing a 90 minute film for a friend in a couple weeks that is only dialogue, BGs and Music with a similar budget and I'm still making my union base for all editorial and dubbing plus DNS One as a perk.

VERY MINIMUM you should take on a $100k project is $15k [IMO]. In truth, the amount of work, time spent finagling once the director decides the crickets sound too Blue, and relationship strain that you will be dealing with is not worth anything less. I've done plenty of "one man band" projects and if you aren't VERY STRICT with your clients, you'll end up working for less than $10 / hr.

The "Rule" or guideline is that post sound gets between 2-5% of the budget. But that is assuming it is a film with a budget. If the producer is at all experienced s/he will know what the real costs of post sound are and will hopefully plan the production with at least a base cost sound budget. If they don't know what the costs are, PLEASE let them know. Everything from your electricity, insurance, paper, DVDs and whatever else.

Most sound packages I build for clients are six figures and even with those numbers, things run tight a lot of the time. Figure out what your studio's operating costs are... figure out what you need to live on and then figure in a profit margin as well as pay yourself to look for a new job once the current one is over.


General starting point for me is 10% of the total budget, it's never that simple though. Depends on how confident I am that I'll get the project and how demanding it is. Also, what kind of mix environment I can package for the client seems to make a big difference in how much I can charge.

  • BTW I rarely get 10%. May 1, 2010 at 3:52

doing a 20k feature. everyone worked minimum wage on set to get the film to actually happen so about 750 for 3 weeks. now i'm doing post sound i'm going to be very busy but not sure what is a fair asking price. 10% as suggested about would be 2000, which is out of the question. I would think another 750 just to make the film a reality but their funds are really tight. a point in the profits is included but who knows what will happen.

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