How Much Does a Video Cost to Make per Minute?


eImage has been in the video production business since the 1990s and while much has changed, one stubborn myth hasn’t: the price-per-minute of video production. It’s always been $1,000 per minute. And that suspiciously round number hasn’t changed for decades because it’s meaningless.

Can you make a video program for $1,000 per minute? Absolutely! But in 2014 a gentleman named Ryan Thomas Andresen produced a 30-second Doritos commercial for $300 (that’s $600/minute) that aired on the Super Bowl. Three years earlier Chrysler aired a 2-minute Super Bowl ad that cost almost $9,000,000 (that’s over four million dollars per minute!) to produce. If you figure that a high school kid can make a video program on their phone for nothing, you have the full range of video production prices.

Of course knowing a range of $0 to $4,000,000 is not helpful if you need to budget for a business video production. Where to start? The only way to get a truly meaningful number is to talk to a video production company.

A professional video production company will break your video production idea into its elements:

  • What needs to be shot?
    • Where is the location?
      • Does the location cost anything?
    • Who appears on camera?
      • Are they paid professional actors or free volunteers?
    • Are props, sets and other on-camera things needed?
  • How long will it take to shoot?
    • How many locations will the shoot involve? (Moving from place to place is very time consuming.)
    • How much material needs to be recorded?
    • How complex is the material?
      • Will it take a lot of takes to get a good shot?
      • Is it pre-planned or documentary style?

This list can go on and on. Notice that each point has sub-points, everything just brings up more questions. And each point carries a part of the cost of video production. Here we just considered a small part of the shoot. How about pre production and post production? More questions requiring answers.

It may seem daunting, but a simple conversation with a video production company quickly focuses down on what’s relevant. The bulk of corporate video projects can be priced out after a fifteen minute conversation.

If you still need a rough figure with which to start a conversation, consider these ballpark rates from 2021 in the San Francisco Bay Area:

  • Videographer with a basic camera package $ 1,500/day
  • Sound recordist with a basic sound package $ 650/day
  • Other crew members $ 400 – 800/day
  • Editing $ 150/hr

When all is said-and-done, your project may indeed work out to $1,000 per minute, but program length has very little to do with the final price of a video production. Talk to a professional to get a meaningful starting number. I’d be willing to bet every production company would be happy to chat about a potential project. Then you can calculate it yourself to see how much your video cost to make per minute.