questions about freelance trailer



I am not sure if I am posting in the right place, please let me know if this doesn’t belong to this section.

I am a fresh CG generalist. Recently I have a client who asked me to create a movie trailer for his independent movie. I have searched through the internet trying to find information about freelancing in making movie trailer and the standard charge of project like this.

Can someone give me some advice where to find these information? Thank you.


While I haven’t done any trailers for anyone else, I wouldn’t think it’s a matter of “what do I charge for cutting a trailer” but more of generally what you’d charge to edit ANYTHING.

He’s got a lot of footage, and you need to cut something that’s x-amount long (30 seconds, 1 minute, 2 minutes, etc.). Get the parameters, find out if you’ll be needed to do graphics, compositing, etc., and guestimate based on your experience of how long you think it might take to put it all together and give him/her a flat rate or something.

Do you have an hourly rate for this client - a day rate? Figure out it would take you a day, 2 days, 3 days - whatever you think it will take you, and that’s just what you charge. If this is a favor kinda thing, or you think this might lead to a greater amount of work from them in the future, maybe consider giving them a slight discount or something (but be CLEAR that this would be a discount for ONLY this project - give the client an inch…).

Hope this helps-



Thanks Lewis,

Your advises are really helpful :slight_smile:

And, the projects is around 4 minutes and on top of compositing and editing, I also have to do modeling, texturing, lighting, animating and etc. Basically I’ll be the person who do all these works. Actually instead of cutting a trailer, I am creating this trailer coz this independent movie has not been shot yet.

And I read from other forum saying the standard charge for creating an animation work is around $10,000 per minute (and $150,000 per min for Commercial). Since I already know the length of this project and I am still a fresh artist, I don’t want to rip off this client, and I do want to give a discount him (he is really passionate in making this project happen).

Do you think it’s reasonable to charge by minutes of the trailer or, like what you said, charge by hourly rate?
And what would be a reasonable charge for each minute (if the standard is really $10,000 per minute)?



What you both need to do is to work out exactly what work needs to be done. How much footage is there, how much has to be gone through to pick out the shots, and what subsequently has to be done once you’ve chosen them. Don’t forget meetings, review sessions, and hours spent getting things “just right.” Consider the music and sound, as well. Explicitly deal with who owns the copyright to the finished work. Make sure they can’t use it until they’ve paid-up, and make sure also that you can use it yourself as a promotional piece whether-or-not the picture gets released.

Then … write it all down, attaching your price to this detailed estimate, make two copies, and both of you sign it. Each of you keeps a copy bearing your two original signatures.

As work progresses, keep a detailed daily work-log including actual time-stamps. Write down exactly what you did and when you did it, day by day. Be truthful and meticulous. Submit a regular progress report to the client. Your contract should have stipulated that he or she will make regular “progress payments” to you.

There are plenty of books, most notably those by Herman Holtz, on “consulting contracts” and other forms of working agreements. Both of you need to be familiar with them.

The purpose of this advice is not that you should be “confrontational,” but let’s face it, no one expects trouble when they’re starting out. You must set expectations, look for contingencies, and address these issues b-e-f-o-r-e you set sail. This is “good business practice,” and it means that you are professional. Those things get noticed and remembered.

P.S.: 90% of all “gonna be’s” aren’t “gonna be.” It’s just the way it is. Dreams are cheap; film is not.


Yeah - that’s a whole different set of parameters than what I took the post as. Re-reading, I get it now - I thought he needed you to put together a trailer based on what he’s got in the can - NOT completely create it yourself (I’m guessing this is going to be his route of getting investors).

sundialsvc4 is right - both of you need to have a LONG sit-down and go over what needs to be done for this project, what his budget is, and get this all in contract.

This will take long hours (I’m thinking weeks, possibly coupla months if there’s a little character work) of work that you could be paid by another client to do other work - that’s a lot of little jobs doing flying logos and brochure illustrations you’ll be missing out on (don’t know what you do in the commercial world, but you get the idea?).

And yes, you should retain all rights to use whatever you create for personal promotional purposes.

Hope this helps-



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