Project budget

“How Much Will My Video Cost?”

Even if it’s not the first question you ask, it’s probably right at the front of your mind. It’s a good one. You deserve to get the best value for your money, and that means you have a right to know exactly what we can do for you within your budget.

You may be looking at various video production companies to try to get a rough idea of how much money you’ll be spending. It’s always wise to compare, but before you make a final decision, please finish reading this section. We want to help you make the right decision, so we’re going to give you some tips and red flags to watch out for when dealing with any company.

Tip #1:

There’s no hard and fast formula for figuring out a production budget up front. It takes time and requires complete honesty and input from you.

Hencar_Day1_1001Producing a top quality video isn’t the result of a cookie-cutter process. Your project is your dream, as individual as you are. It involves so many unique factors that it would be irresponsible for us to even give you a starting estimate without speaking with you to learn what you want to achieve with your finished video. There may be different approaches to take, which we’ll walk you through during the concept phase. Each of them will have a different budget. We want you to have as many options as possible to ensure you’re pleased with the final product. To do that, we want you to give us as much input and detail as possible about your plans.

Red Flag #1:

Beware of a company that quotes you firm rates for your finished project without talking to you extensively. If it sounds too good…

You may find someone who speaks with you on the phone for three minutes and says, “I can do that for $500.” Is that reasonable? If you have a fairly simple project with a single person in front of the camera, sitting at a green screen or in a basic setting, then it might be doable. We say “might” with hesitation. Here’s why.

You need to know what’s going to be covered in that $500 payout. Will there be separate technicians for video, lighting, and audio? Will there be a makeup artist, or will your on camera talent have to do their own makeup? (And can they do their own makeup?) Who will be responsible for writing the script? (You may be surprised that some companies will expect you to do it, which can mean an added expense if you need to hire someone to write it for you) If there is a long script, will there be a teleprompter, and will the production team make sure your on camera talent is comfortable with using it? Are they using top-quality equipment for video, audio and editing? Are they handling distribution to various channels (YouTube, Vimeo, social media) or do you need to hire someone else for that? Will the video need graphics, b-roll and/or stock photos, and if so is there an added cost for those items? These are just a few of the factors that will influence the final product. $500 doesn’t go very far. While you may get your video for that price, when you see the final product you may also think that your 17-year-old nephew could have done the same job for half the expense.

Tip #2:

Have a clear idea of what you want your video to look like, how you want to use your video, and how long you expect it to be useful.

Sleek and sophisticated or simple and straightforward? It goes without saying that the more polished the video, the more expensive it will be. We can give you both ends of the spectrum in quality and cost, and everything in between. We’ll be happy to give you cost estimates for every step of the process so you know where your money is going.


One consideration is how you plan to use your video. If you just want to use it for your website we will adjust the concept accordingly, but if you want to send it out through various channels such as Twitter and other social media, it gets a bit more involved.

Another key consideration is how long you plan to use the video. If you want to use it as part of a much larger campaign with a rapid content turnover, we can likely tailor down the cost a bit. But if you want to keep the video for several years as part of your website or a main component of your YouTube channel, you’ll definitely want to have as much polish as possible.

The best way to think about a video is as an investment. If you want to turn it over quickly for an immediate impact, the cost and quality might not need to be as high. If you plan on keeping it for the long haul, you’ll want to spend a fair amount of money on it. Remember, this video will be your introduction to the world. Many of your customers will form a first impression based on your video. If it looks slapdash and unprofessional, they may think twice about working with you.

Red Flag #2:

Watch out for a video company that is hazy on details before the shoot begins. If they can’t express a clear concept about what the finished video will look like, it’s probably because they don’t know what it will look like, much less how much it will cost in the end.

Be wary of companies that only give you nebulous cost estimates. Ask for detailed breakdowns. They should give you both cost and time estimates, which is critical since certain costs are on a per-hour or per-day basis.

Aside from providing those estimates, Hencar offers storyboarding services to ensure the video will look exactly as you want. If a production company doesn’t offer that, or if the result leaves you uncertain that they really understand what you’re looking for, ask more questions and insist on more consultations.

The concept development and storyboarding processes are crucial initial steps to a successful shoot, and if a company won’t work with you extensively during this stage, then they’re likely to cut corners with time and involvement in all subsequent stages. Remember, having a clear vision before the shoot begins will save both you and the production company valuable time and help you avoid costly do-overs or disappointment with the final product.

Tip #3:

Dream big but keep your feet on the ground.


Being realistic about your budget may be the biggest asset you have going in to consultations with Hencar or any video company. Simply put, no matter who you go to, if you want high quality you’re going to end up paying for it

Hencar wants to give you the best possible video, and will work with you no matter your budget. You might be surprised at how much you can get. Hencar utilizes media professionals with decades of experience, people who know how to get the job done in a reasonable time frame with outstanding results. You won’t get a call saying, “You know what, we need to reshoot the first part of the video because the lighting was off,” or “The video’s done. By the way, we weren’t able to design the animated graphic we promised, but we found a workaround that we could whip up in PowerPoint” (Hencar will show you the graphics for your approval before finalizing the video).

Hencar will explore all cost options with you during the concept phase, but the more research you do ahead of the first meeting the more likely you are to have a realistic understanding of all the steps, and potential costs, involved. Take some time to read the other articles in our “Services” section so you have a good idea of what’s available, and why some of the services are critical to a successful video. You’ll get a better idea of why it pays to invest in those areas.

Above all, don’t hesitate to ask about possibilities you have in mind during our consultations. It will only make you feel more limited if you shoot down your own ambitions without telling us what you’d like to have. Let us know up front what’s important to you, and we’ll find a way to deliver a quality result within your budget.

Red Flag #3:

Beware the company that promises you the sun and moon, but doesn’t show you prior work to prove it can deliver.

A number of years ago, Charles Schwab put out commercials which sleekly combined live action with animation overlay. They were clearly done by a professional production company working with a large budget.

Another company decided to put out a cheap knockoff of the Schwab ads. They didn’t have the budget for sophisticated animation. Instead, the production company decided to shoot real people, then artificially manipulated the brightness, contrast and other elements to oversaturate the video, giving it a surreal appearance that poorly mimicked the professional animation in the Schwab pieces. The commercial actually made air on at least one network but was pulled for quality concerns almost immediately. The company represented in the video lost credibility and who knows how much money by investing in an unusable video.

Always ask to see representative work when you’re in negotiations with a video company. If they say they can give your video high-end production techniques, ask to see samples of work they or their contractors have actually done to verify they can deliver. Don’t settle for examples from other companies that they show you “to illustrate what we’re going for.”

Bottom line: if you know you have a minimal budget and a company promises you a video that rivals Avatar, be skeptical. Their idea of an approximation may involve putting your on-camera talent in blue makeup and body paint.

You. Do. NOT. Want. That. Video.

Tip #4:

Know the advantages of quality vs. quantity

You’ve got a budget in mind, but now you wonder how to spend that money effectively. Should you have one long video or go with several shorter videos? Both options have value. During the concept development phase, we can help you decide which will work better for you.


What if you know you want 90 seconds of video overall, but are uncertain whether you should have just one piece or divide it up into six 15-second pieces for a multilayered campaign?

Don’t assume the six shorter videos will cost you more. They may cost you less than a single 90-second video. Longer videos require special handling to ensure the viewer stays through to the end, which may mean multiple locations, complex shots involving dollies or jibs or special animations to keep the pace moving. Shorter videos get right to the point without a lot of fanfare, so the viewer gets crucial information right away.

Red Flag #4:

The production company doesn’t want to talk about different production options and their relative cost.

Be observant during your consultations. Do the company representatives keep trying to corral you into a specific option and disregard your concerns about it? Are they unwilling to discuss multiple ways to approach the project? Most importantly, are they unwilling to give cost estimates for multiple approaches? Have they focused their estimates on one approach only? Chances are they’ve chosen the approach that will let them charge you more money.

Don’t be afraid to ask them for specific reasons if they’re pushing a specific option to the exclusion of all others. If they say, “Only 25 out of 1,000 people will watch a video produced the way you want, but 700 out of 1,000 people will watch a video produced the way we suggest,” tell them you want to see where those statistics come from. It should be a reputable study by a reputable outside source, rather than an assumption extrapolated from 20 interviews with people on the street. Ask them if they’ve got specific examples of previous clients who have benefitted more from the approach they suggest rather than another approach.

Of course you’re coming to a video production company because you need professionals in that field to create a product for you. They are, or should be, experts. But remember, real professionals are sensitive to your concerns and willing to work with you, rather than trying to dictate terms. You are paying them. If they dismiss your opinions in the development phase, they are less likely to respond to concerns or objections you have once production is underway.

Tip #5:

OK, the video is done. Now what?

We don’t just produce a video, hand it to you and say, “Here’s your video! You’re on your own now!” Hencar provides a wide range of services including social media and Internet strategy consultation, marketing and delivery services to ensure you video or videos are given prime placement in relevant channels. Our goal is to make the entire process, from initial concept to final delivery and placement, as smooth and cost-effective for you as possible.

Red Flag #5:

The production company says, “Here’s your video! You’re on your own now!”

There are companies that will just produce your video. That’s their main focus, and many of them do it well. But once you have the final product, what do you do with it? How do you upload it to your website? To your YouTube channel? Do you even know how to create a YouTube channel? How about placement on social media? Can you come up with a clever Twitter campaign to get your video shared and noticed?

By the way, do you have time to do all of this?

This is why it pays to work with a full-service company like Hencar. When you’re calculating the overall cost of having a video or videos made, you have to factor in distribution. If you have to hire an outside company to do that, you’re spending more time and more money. While the video itself may have come in within your budget, suddenly you’re faced with more expenditures that can quickly add up.

From a time perspective (and your time is valuable, so you should always factor it in as a resource outlay) it makes more sense to work with a company like Hencar. We get to know your product, your goals, your needs right from day one. Once the video is complete, we can extend that hands-on interaction to include distribution and marketing campaigns. Rather than trying to get a second company up to speed to handle these areas, you’ll be saving time by working with a company that’s already familiar with your project and your objectives.

View our other pre-production services: