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B-roll licensing rates (1 reply and 1 comment)

9 months ago
Ethanseye 9 months ago

Hi, I'm trying to orient around rates to charge for wildfire footage I shoot as an independent artist/journalist.  I'm in very early email negotiations over footage with an independent documentary company.  Central to their story is a particular massive fire in California.  They came out from France twice after with a small crew to do interviews on the phenomena, science and policy around it, but I don't think they have much direct footage of their own.  I met with the director and gave her a few hours of watermarked select clips from many different situations and perspectives I'd covered with press access.  Beyond just shooting near the fire line, this included extra dangerous work, up-close with fire fighters and a few specialized fireproof camera box shots placed inside the fire.  I believe they have my footage in mind (in part) for the story and are just about to start editing. 

The producer asked this week for my rates after I checked in with them and I replied with this:

$40 per second for 1080, $60 per second for other 4k, and $80 per second for 1080 fireproof camera box and most hazardous footage.  I also said I'd consider discounts if they want more than a minute.  This is way below what the high end BBC doc series spend, but probably rather high.

Anyway he replied that this was impossibly high.  

I don't have a good sense of their overall budget.  They did a similar production a few years ago on floods using a lot of news footage and talking heads.  Their production appears to be an independent company collaborating with international partners in documentary film markets (not really in the US).  I've read that they have broadcasting agreements with TV stations in France (ARTE) and Japan (NHK).

SO, how low should I go?  I'll ask him to make me an offer, and can be flexible and would like it to be seen, but don't want to be taken advantage of for weeks of this dangerous, demanding work.

FYI you can see some of it in the broader context of what I do here:»»

Many thanks,



9 months ago
Mike 9 months ago

Years ago there were hard and fast rules for film footage rates but nowadays with the explosion of small TV production company’s around the world the original rates have gone out of the window. 

With the introduction of small digital HD cameras and ofcourse the billions of telephones with high grade lenses, there’s more than enough footage around for any demanding newsroom but images are now cheap, it all depends on the subject matter and the urgency of the footage. Today, it’s ‘dog eat dog’ and ‘fast and furious’ it’s not for the faint hearted so if you cannot keep up with the top runners then don’t compete! That’s the news industry.

The BBC is a very complicated set up. They own 550 freehold properties around the world and more staff than you could wish for, it also transmits a 42 language world service which is paid for by the U.K. foreign office, TV production is paid for by the general public which is extracted from the annual TV licence (£150.00 per person). I mention this because the money is then split up between departments , Drama, Radio, News, NHU (big slice) News gathering,  Legal depts etc. Each heading then can be split up in hundreds of smaller sections and departments each requiring separate funding. Even accountants cannot get a handle on expenditure, as each department runs itself so to speak. So if you have footage to sell then you have to know which department to deal with and that takes experience. Commissioning editors normally know which producer is doing what and when but prices will vary from dept to dept. There is something you should know, BBC News have a special budget much higher than anyone else, they have influence around the world and can “lean” on people to get the right footage at their price. Don’t dictate the terms otherwise they with not deal with you again, it’s that simple. Always remember, yesterday’s news is worthless, not worth a dime!

The French company you are dealing with are probably “green as grass”, their market share is very low, maybe 3 %. They want your footage cheap otherwise they will buy in from people like the BBC, NBC and others. News footage is how TV stations make their money. By all means try and sell your footage to them but if it’s too expensive, they have options to buy elsewhere, they are a tiny production company where the crew are freelancers and are desperate for work. Don’t risk your life filming fires, let other people do it for you and you buy their footage and sell it on. That’s the game. It’s a market place like any other, buy cheap or wholesale and move it on at a profit. Sell your footage by all means but be sensible, if the price is right they will buy it but remember, they have already checked you out, they have been forewarned. If they don’t want it then sell it to a stock photo agency.

Wish you luck.

Btw, I love your 3D images very impressive.

9 months ago

Hi Thanks Mike for your feedback. I waited a bit to reply in hopes of having something to report. The producer did say that doc companies are paying 2000 euros max. I asked for more for certain footage that was more hazardous to get, but haven't heard back. I assume they are going to decide how much it's valuable to them as they begin to edit.

I''m glad you like the Stereocollision project! I didn't include anything about them in my post.... did you see them on» ?

Thanks again,

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