Pricing your work as a small-scale filmmaker or videographer is not that straight-forward, because it has many nuances that are specific to the type of work, style of work, and type of client. Here are my 10 suggestions for items you may probably miss from your estimate.
We all know that we need to include day rate, rented gear, travel costs, a fee for post processing, and licensing. Based on my current experience I am adding a few more.
Time for Packing and Unpacking Gear
That's time and hard labor. Especially with those heavy hard cases designed to keep your precious items safe, it's usually a very physical job to move gear to the car or the truck, from the vehicle to the client's location and then back to the vehicle and back to your studio or your home.
Amount of Gear and Size of Team You Will Use on the Job
You have to charge by the piece of gear you're using on the job, because it's the same like renting it from a third party company. It's a one thing to agree you're going to film it with a camera on a tripod and a reflector. It's a totally different thing if you need to carry a slider, a small jib, a few lights, light stands, and let's not forget about sandbags. Remember to always give a quote for the gear you can do a decent job with. It's not about being cheap, but about having a great result at a fair price. The same goes for the extra people you may need to add to the team.
Most of the video editors are usually taking up the majority of your computing resources not only during editing, but especially at the rendering phase. While a project is rendered you may be able to work on something else, but you'll probably not be able to render or make anything that demands more computer power at that time. Usually it takes at least several renders for even a simple project, because you always find something to tweak after you watch the finished result or the client does (if they get a chance to see a draft version). This is especially valid if your project requires VFX work or 3D where render time can grow exponentially. Remember the fate of Rhythm and Hues where because of working on fixed-price contracts (demanded by the production studios) all "last minute changes" reflected on the time it took for changing and re-rendering VFX scenes without any extra compensation for the VFX company.
Extra Changes Required By The Client
This is a tricky one. If you're working with a commercial client it's more likely for you to send them draft versions which in turn may result into more changes than your usual post-processing time. For that reason, I would add a fee that would cover small tweaks, but will make it clear in the contract that there will be an extra fee will be applied over considerable changes the parties haven't agreed upon yet. This can include small motion graphics, captions, different animations in the beginning and ending screens, VFX shots like removal of items from the shot or more complex items. Sometimes these changes will require extra meetings or online screen-sharing with the client. Such gatherings can take hours for tweaks that seem trivial.
Today's cameras are very disk space-hungry and this must be an asset you ought to consider. The file format you are going to be shooting at will dictate the amount of storage the project will take. Will you need a 4K ProRes HQ for a seven-day documentary film, or 1080p AVCHD will be good enough? Will this project expire (will be deleted from your archives after some time) or you have to keep the unprocessed footage indefinitely? Don't forget to at least double that space (depending on your storage facility, RAID level, etc.), because you are determined to keep a back-up as well.
Organizing the Footage in Your Brain
That's probably the most important part before starting any cutting. You need to get everything organized by folders, which, I think, everyone does. Then comes the part with watching the footage you're about to cut so you can pick the good portions of it and keep it all in your brain. If you switch projects at that time you will easily forget what you've been watching so far. For that reason you need time to focus back on that project, "upload" the footage in your brain "RAM," and continue cutting. This requires time, because your brain can't simply switch to another task immediately.
Synchronizing Audio and Video
There are automated ways to do that, but it depends on your workflow and the software and hardware you're using. Timecode is great, but it will bump up your gear expenses and client's invoice. On the other hand you will have to rely on plugins or in the worst case - manual synchronization.
A few years ago I thought color grading is just for films, while on small projects you just put a layer on all the similar shots and you're done. I wish it was that simple. Sometimes you need to grade a clip technically wrong to make it feel right with the clip that's before it. For that purpose you need to carefully process every single clip and re-watch it with the previous and the next one.
Reserve Time For a Second Look
Try to never deliver the project right after you've rendered it for the first time even if you think it's perfect. Take some time away from the computer screen, or better, wait for the next day and re-watch your masterpiece. More often than not it won't look as a precious gem on the next day. Add at least an extra day in your delivery period for that purpose.
Food and Beverages
As trivial as it may sound, if you're spending a day at the client's place, you need some time to feed yourself and your team and get refreshed with beverages. If you decide not to eat during the day, the day for filming will be shorter, but at your health's expense. You better include that in your quote both as time and expenses.
What Would You Add?
All those above are based on my personal experience and workflow. Do you think there are other important items that you include in your estimates? Such may be helpful to me too. Let me know your opinion in the comments below.