Pre-Production: Understanding Crew Costs

Paying your crew is a huge expense of production. Though you may want to cut corners with this cost, remember that you get what you pay for.

Above the Line

Above the line crew members are people who will receive a cut of the profits from the film. This includes the producers, director and sometimes the actors. However, they will also require some compensation for their work during the film.


Certain top crew members, such as the DP and production designer, will negotiate a weekly rate for their services. The rest of the crew rates are usually set by the day. Normally, a day is defined as either 10 hours or 12 hours. After this time, you will need to pay overtime at the rate of 'time and a half' per hour. Not everyone on the crew will get the same rate. "Key" crew will usually make $25 more per day than the person immediately below them.

Size of Crew

When determining what you can afford to pay people, you should first determine how many crew members your project requires. Once you have this number, you can determine how to allocate the funds.

When determining rates for your crew, try to be as generous as possible in order to get the best people and to keep morale up.

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