We’re covering a different part of podcast production in this episode than we’ve discussed before. Tiff spends a lot of time on film and TV sets in LA as a production coordinator and assistant, so she’s bringing that perspective to help you understand what it takes to hire an outside film crew to create a higher end video production show. This is an option that can be a great fit for small teams that would rather outsource the production for a special series type of show.
In this episode Tiff and Christine break down the major roles you need to hire for when filming a special production, plus ballpark budgets and things to keep in mind.
“This is an emerging field. Traditional film and TV is starting to morph into the creator economy.”Christine Baird
- (2:15) The main positions to consider hiring for
- (5:30) Ballpark budgets to keep in mind
- (13:15) What to consider about hiring an audio crew
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- Tiff Tyler
- Christine Baird
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Transcription of this episode:
(auto-generated, please forgive typos)
Welcome to Think Like a Producer podcast. I’m your co-host Christine Baird.
And I’m your co-host Tiff Tyler. Being in the podcast industry, being in the content creation industry. This is what we learned, and this is how you can get out of your own way and get started.
You name it. We’ve probably done it. This podcast is about bringing all the wisdom to you. Tune in weekly, to learn how to think like a producer.
Welcome to this episode of think like a producer. This is one of my favorite topics to talk about where you’re going to tuck up hiring pretty much freelancers or contractors to come in and support you with the production of your show. Now previously on, you know, the last few episodes that we’ve had on season two, we kind of were really sticking to the strategy and what I like to call pre-production. I like to use terms with everyone because I want to make sure that we are all thinking like a producer. It’s the whole point of the show, pre-production strategy, everything that happens before you hit record. Now, if you’re ready to go, you kind of got, you got the first five episodes or really the last 35 episodes. If you were a great season, one listener too. Um, and now you just like, I’m ready to hire.
I’m ready to produce. I’m ready to start recording. There’s a chance that you’re thinking, Hey, you know, I want to hire freelancers. I want to bring other people in to come in and maybe record like a really cool high quality trailer or, uh, maybe a limited series. That’s going to be just very well done. Really meant for video. Maybe just online, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and doesn’t mean it’s going to outshine the audio, but you just may need a little bit more support on the video ends of things, because maybe your primary is video. We all know these apps right now are just pushing video so much. So some people are really investing in the production value of what they’re doing. Now. I have spent five to six years. In-house producing kind of taking on as a solo freelancer solo contractor at what a lot of people have to call a videographer shooting, editing, but there’s so much more that goes into that.
There’s lighting there’s sound. There’s just so much more that, uh, is actually split into different departments if you’re hiring a production company or if you’re hiring people who have experience on TV or in film. So even though videographers, you know, get pushed a little bit to kind of dabble into all these different areas, there really are. If you’re going to hire an outside source, multiple people that would be coming into your studio, or you might be renting a studio. Um, but there’s just different positions. And I think, you know, you don’t have to necessarily be an expert in all the little details of this, but knowing is really going to help you when it comes to the cost. So typically the first thing that people hire as the director of the producer, the director is the one who has the creative vision. For some people who are hosts of the show is a lot of times that you are the creative kind of visionary, but you don’t know the technical side of what it takes to create these well done, highly produced videos.
What it’s going to look like, who you need to hire. So having a director who can support you with that creative vision support, actually being able to verbalize it to other people and what that’s gonna look like, and then hire the crew and the people that are gonna be able to execute. It might be a really good idea for you. A producer is someone who comes in and takes care of everything that has to do with the money and the hiring. So if you say, Hey, I’ve got a $10,000 budget to do four episodes. What is that going to look like? So the producers not only going to go, okay, you know, you might be able to hire this many amount of people. They’re thinking, well, are they going to be eight hour days? When will there be food breaks? There’s got to be money for food.
There’s union rules, every six hours, the crew needs to eat. You know, so there’s there there’s rules and regulations that they’re gonna make sure that you’re following, especially for whatever state you’re in state of California, New York, Utah, where Christine’s at, everybody has different regulations. So you want to make sure that you’re hiring someone, understands ethically what your need to do when you’re hiring a whole crew of people on and you know, for the law, making sure that everything is done right. Typically once you hire the director and the producer, they’re going to hire the rest of the crew once you trust them. And you’re like, these guys really understand my vision. We know what’s going on. They’re really going to hire the rest of them. Because at that point, hopefully as the investor, as the entrepreneur, you can kind of sit back and let them do their thing.
The next piece is usually the DP that’s called the that’s, the director of photography. That’s the person who usually behind the camera and hires the lighting and the grips. If there’s needs to be, like I said, if there’s a studio setting, if you’re going to have, I just got off a car, commercial, so it was like ridiculous. How many different lights? And people’s like an 80 person crew. This is probably not what you’re hiring, but there’s so many different things that go into, depending on the extent of the production. So if you’re like, we’re going to be in one room round table style. Maybe you don’t need so many people, but if you’re like, we’re going to be out in the street, we’re going to be, you know, going down different blogs. We’re gonna be talking to the people and all these different things, just having correct lighting, having correct releases, having all the correct permits and things that you need, having more people, always going to help with that.
So like I said, the DP typically hires, if there’s any, um, camera operators that need to be involved and you lighting in grips that need to be involved, they’re going to help with the look of what’s going on. Then you have other things like production assistants and people who can help support. Usually they’re the ones going and grab the food, the coffee, make sure everybody’s happy and hydrate, especially if you are going to be kind of out in the bout. And then there’s the art department. Now, some people don’t really realize this, but if you kind of like watch a movie or a TV show and you just see like wonderful plants everywhere, she was like, oh man, this person’s apartment looks so nice or so messy, depending on what the story that they’re kind of tell that’s usually all the art department, they’re kind of creating the characters and the look and the feel of what’s going on.
And truly I’ve seen, um, some music videos that mostly with our department it has is just plants because they’re like, we just need this to feel more homely, they just have a whole truck full of greenery that they’re putting around and just making sure it looks homey and natural and this like, there’s just color going on within the scene that just doesn’t have to do with the lighting. But like I said, just the feel and the look of what’s happening. Okay. So those are, that’s kind of a layout. There’s so many sub departments and sub places and everything, but I just want to give you an overview of when you watch, you know, a TV show, a movie, those, these are the different departments that are working. You know, I’m sure people skip the credits, but you know, the credits on a film can go for six, seven minutes, all those names that are happening, there’s a lot going on.
But I think if you’re kind of keeping it small skeleton crews, what they call it, you’re at least looking about four or five people who can come in I’m in LA. So these rates, you know, I’m just going to give you a couple of ideas of what I think numbers could look like, but everything’s going to be different for your state. You know, usually the person who’s making the least amount on set is at least making 300 bucks for eight hours a day. Uh, that could be the production assistant. That could be a camera assistant, someone who’s got not as much experience, but it’s definitely going to be helpful when it comes to moving things quickly, I’m going to get back to the money. But I’m just kind of thinking of the, some of the people I’ve worked with in wondering like, you know, well, I’m going to hire the unicorn and have that one person do those four or five roles.
Like I got people who can do it. The problem with that one is overworking people, of course. But the second thing is timing. The reason why there’s always so many hands is because if you have one person who’s setting up lights, getting food, uh, setting up the sound, setting up the camera, you’re you need a long time for that person to get that look in and things happening. And if you, as the creative director, which a lot of entrepreneurs like to take on, have multiple changes, you have to wait for one person to take hours that could take minutes. If there’s four or five people who are really specialized in doing this. So I will talk about this over and over again throughout our show, but there is a, there’s a very good reason to invest in people who are masters at their skill. It does save you time.
It does save you energy when you’re investing in people who are good at what they do. Can you get away with less money and hiring less people? Sure. But are you going to have the product that you want in the time that you want it? Probably not. And I’ve seen it happen over and over again. So this is just, you know, a cry to you. Pay people, well, hire a crew. If you want something done well, invest in it. If you don’t have the money yet save until you do and create what you can on your own until you can really continue to invest. The thing that we like to promote here is slow growth and practice and mastery of your own skill set and what you want to do these businesses and these people that we’ve interviewed Christine and I have over 500 interviews and stuff that we’ve done.
I mean, Christine, you’re probably way, way over that number now, but, um, all the things that we’ve done, you know, people, it takes a decade just to even get into like a good spot in your career, a good place in your business. I always think about it like a toddler. Like my business is eight years old, still a child is still developing. It’s still learning. So don’t think after three years of trying this out, you should be, you know, in the millions of dollars or have this huge budget budget. It’s not the way it works for everybody. So just be patient with yourself and let yourself learn and just do really well quality things as you’re investing. So like going back to the budget, I’m done with my speech, going back to the budget. $300 is typically the lowest for a 10 hour a day.
Usually in people’s contracts, they’ll have it eight to 10 hours. If you go over there’s overtime, pay and fees that you can pay people. It could be time and a half. It could be an hourly rate. These are the individual contracts that hiring a producer is really going to help you with because they’re used to having these conversations. These are negotiations and you won’t be surprised if you hit our 11. And all of a sudden you’re paying a fee that you didn’t realize you were going to have to pay. It’s contracts. It’s very, very important to have. Usually the highest person at your paying on, and this can really range, but it’s going to be the director and the producer for what I mentioned before, they’re really helping with the creative vision. They’re hiring the other people. They are taking care of your budget and making sure that you’re handled.
So they’re usually the ones you’re paying the most for. I don’t quite have the number cause they don’t want to like shortchange anyone. Those are the ones that just, they can be as high and low as they want to be. But I think that most people typically hire people that they know or who are recommended to them. This is what we do. I mean, most of my work always comes from recommendations. People kind of saying, Hey, this is the person that I know who you should work with. And so I say, trust your network. When you’re looking to hire a director or producer as someone in the film industry. I mean, of course, Christine and I always here, we both have lived in LA here and lived in major cities and know some really cool people too. So feel free of course, to always contact us, but just, you know, sometimes people in your network are great to have some people who are just looking to learn and have a good group of friends who are also looking to learn can come in and support.
And like I said, the more experience, the more money, but the better quality of the production typically ends up being. And the last thing I’ll say is, you know, when it comes to your budget, when you’re trying to figure out how long is it going to take you? I would say commercials that I’ve worked on, that’s like a few hundred thousand dollars would be two days to 10 to 12 hour days typically. And you know, there’s a one hour or two hour lunch break, depending on if people go over time, if you’re doing three, four episodes, I would think you probably have about four to five days that you’re putting aside. You could do half days. You could do 10 hour days. You can really figure out what’s going to work best for you. But I say set aside time to only focus on this.
If you’re dealing with a book launch and a membership and a course, and you’re trying to like, and you’re spending tens of thousands of dollars on this production, it’s too much for you to focus on and to really appreciate the creativity in what you’re making with the money that you’re investing in. So I suggest whatever time you do set aside, have nothing else on your schedule, nothing else going on, let your team really focus on what they need to focus on and understand that the pre-production which I talked about, right? The strategy, everything before you hit record before you’re hiring this crew, all that stuff, that’s going to take a few days in itself too. So make sure you’re putting the time and the effort in that’s to me, no matter how much money you’re spending, if your full focus and attention is on it, you’re going to really feel your investment, come through that return on your investment because you know, the work that it took and if it’s your first time doing it, it’s going to seem very stressful, but you’re going to love it.
I mean, I love film. I love creation. I love collaborating with people. It seems like a lot, but once you’re in it and you understand the terms and you understand how it’s produced, it’s just something fun to do over and over and over again. So I can talk forever. But, uh, that’s more on the video side, one department that I did forget, I apologize the sound department. So yes, there are sound engineers and sound department that you can hire. They’ll mic people up, they’ll have the boom poles if you’re doing interviews. Um, and they’re kind of like making sure that everything is, uh, you know, if an airplane’s flying over, they’ll stop the production for a little bit. If there’s anything really messed up. So having somebody just focusing on what’s going on and listening, and you don’t have to think about, oh God, this, you know, imagine tens of thousand dollars in the whole sound is off. We don’t like that. So there is also sound apartment that would be hired. And like I said, usually the DP, the director of photography, other producers, the one who’s finding those sound guys or sound gals who are going to come in and help. But talking about sound Christine, if someone wasn’t necessarily going to do a full video production hire crew, but they still were looking to hire out an outsource a little bit for just their audio podcast. What’s something that they should know.
So this is actually a great option for a lot of my clients. I’m working and living in salt lake city now, which is not where most of my clients live. And so I’m often supporting them. If they don’t have an at home studio recording setup for their audio, we often have them go to a professional studio space in the city they live in. And those are truly like growing as all the time, because this is a growing industry. There’s more demand. So you can absolutely look up, um, audio studios, podcast studios, oftentimes it’s voiceover studios, audio book studios. These are multi-purpose studios. Typically they might be used for music, recording, vocal, recording, audio and podcast. But typically depending again on the city you live in, you might be able to book time for as low as like a hundred dollars an hour. And obviously it can go up from there depending on, you know, the environment and the stylizing.
And if you want it to be filmed and audio recorded, or if you have a guest coming in, so you need two people miked versus just you there. And then your guests is coming in remotely on Zoom or another platform. But that just kind of gives you a ballpark. Like you might realize, you know, I’m going to do a limited series show, but I want my audio to sound really good. Um, let me go actually, just book time at a studio where an audio engineer on site will handle all the tech and recording all sound amazing. You know, if you have a guest in person even better, you’ll both sound amazing. Or if you need to have the guest remotely, you know, then the audio engineer can facilitate that. So that’s a really great option for a lot of people and is obviously way cheaper than video, but it can make a huge impact if you’re not looking to create like a whole in-house production yet, or you want something to feel elevated from just a home studio, you can book time at an audio recording space and the audio engineer is onsite, which is awesome.
So yeah, I would say kind of starting rate is a hundred bucks an hour for studio time, and then it can go up from there depending on if you want them to do, you know, editing or mixing or how long you go or how many mics, et cetera. Um, and I’ve had a lot of clients use those, especially if they’re traveling to another city and they want to record an interview with guests in that city, then they’ll book studio time because they obviously aren’t in their home studio or their home space. So don’t, don’t overlook that option. Um, I think just to maybe wrap this one up is your head might be reeling if you’re like, oh my gosh, this is an emerging field kind of traditional film and TV is starting to kind of morph into this world of the creator economy as we call it where like a lot of the clients we’ve worked with, they’re independent creators who have very small teams and this is like a new frontier.
And so we don’t want you to feel confined by like the numbers we’ve thrown out at you or the level of production. We also don’t want you to undersell yourself or to under hire and put money into production that literally didn’t have the support it needed to create what you wanted. So we’re just trying to give you a helpful perspective here that yes, you could spend tens of thousands of dollars on producing just a few episodes of a podcast, or you could spend a few hundred, there will obviously be a big difference in the output, but we want you to feel empowered that if you have the vision of creating something really beautiful high-end, and you don’t have an in-house team yet you can hire professionals to do this. And people do it all the time more and more, and there’s all different price points, but I really appreciate Tiff that you just broke down.
Like, Hey, here’s like some big picture stuff to consider. And if you decide you do want to produce your podcast at a high level on film, and you don’t have an in house team yet plan on a few thousand dollars an episode, like that’s a good starting place. You’re probably going to be hiring at least three people. You know, a couple of video videographers, a sound person. One of those people is going to be working with lights and plan on paying them a few hundred dollars a day. So just kind of get started with that. And then you can work from there now, not to spoil what’s coming, but next episode, we’re going to be diving into how to do this in house, which is Tiffany’s background. So keep this all in mind and then be sure to subscribe to the show and tune in next week when we drop our next episode about building an in-house team and how to really understand the mechanics of that. It obviously saves you a lot of money in the long run, but there’s a lot of things to consider. So be sure to subscribe to the show, as Tiff mentioned earlier, if you’re looking for consulting and pro resources about how to do any of this, we are always available for that. You can see ways to work with us by clicking on the link in the show notes, and we’ll see you on the next episode.
Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Think Like a Producer. This has been a Worthfull Media production. Massive thanks to our team who makes the show possible. Worthfull Media for audio editing, Jorge and Veronica from Mosaico Productions for video effects and Amela Subasic for our amazing artwork and graphics.