Common daily rates for Camera Operators, Cinematographers and Digital Image Technicians (DIT) vary according to the type of production they’ve been hired for (Commercial vs. Independent) and whether the job in union or non-union. Each job and average salary range will be explored here in detail.
A non-union camera operator's daily rate is dependent upon the type of production they are working on. On an independent film shoot (short or full length), they will typically take in somewhere between $400/$500 per day, whereas on a commercial production (Corporate/Brand) they will make somewhere between $550/$650 a day. Union Camera Operators typically make more money an hour, between $750/$1000 a day. These rates are based upon the industry standard 10 hour day for any commercial production. Any overtime beyond 10 hours tends to be paid at 1.5 times the hourly rate, unless negotiations are worked out for a different rate. Standard Independent productions revolve around 12 hour days plus time and half OT.
Cinematographer (Director of Photography)
Non-union DPs' average rate is between $650 and $750 per day, for any commercial production. Independent productions tend to land within the same range when it comes to cinematographers. Union DPs make around $1,200 a day or higher for any given commercial or film production. OT works the same for the entire crew. An extremely seasoned DP with an impressive resume has the room to negotiate a higher rate and is hard to say what they actually bring in on average.
Digital Image Technician
Non-union digital image technicians make around $550 per day. Same OT rates apply for the DIT. You have to pay for the kit fee as well which typically goes for $350 a day unless you're providing equipment, which isn't recommended. A Union DIT averages a slightly higher rate for both day rate and kit fee. You will typically need a video village for producers/stakeholders, that will run you around $700 on top of the kit fee.
When beginning your journey as a filmmaker and attempting to traverse the landscape and gain your footing, it can be challenging at times and it is our hope that this can help you gain your bearings when it comes to these rates and what you should charge or expect to be charged. Always hold your integrity and choose wisely when agreeing to a lower rate on a production.
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