Filmmakers, screenwriters and other production staff should expect to make a flat salary. Although it makes most sense to think about a fixed salary for the duration of your film, many freelance editors and script professionals have seen their income skyrocket as they’ve moved up the ladder (from assistant to assistant editor, assistant to post producer, post producer to editor, etc.).
The only way to keep up with the rising costs of shooting and editing a film is to use editing, editing, and more editing. And if you know anything about Hollywood, you’ll know you can’t afford all of that editing as you’re not a full-time job, so you end up working less and sometimes for a fraction of the hours that you used to (especially in LA).
I’ve written in the past that you shouldn’t expect to walk away from your film with the biggest paycheck. It’s more likely that you will be paid in stages depending on the stage of your film and the budget.
What is a professional film editor’s salary (or compensation) relative to other freelance editors?
While a “director’s rate” (or salary) is a common number used for freelancers, it should be considered a rough estimate that must be applied to any given individual. As a general rule, you should expect to make between 20k-40k/yr plus your expenses.
Are you paid on a project-by-project basis? Do your work assignments have a project-to-project basis? In general terms, if you are on a “per script” basis, then the project-by-project work schedule is what is important.
How much money does a professional film editor make?
A basic breakdown of all costs is as follows for a 12-18 scene cut film for an indie director:
1) Production and post-production expenses : 15-20k
2) Film costs : $500-$2500
3) Insurance : $200-$750
4) Equipment expenses : $75-$2k
5) Casting fees : $2k. This is based on how many extras you can expect to rent or buy (depending on your production budget)
6) Post production : $15-25k
7) Post-production costs : $25-150k
8) Editing costs : $500
9) Production: $500-800k
10) Financing: $50-1000k
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