Let me start by saying video isn't expensive. Including the companies that spend a million dollars on a thirty second commercial. It's all about value. If you don't consider value as your top priority (or as the producer can't communicate valu), the numbers really don't matter. Value can be had for $1,000 or $1,000,000 depending on your situation and perspective.
But to talk about some numbers for a minute, video production is very similar to photography. Especially in today's world where so many videographers (myself included) actually shoot video on a DSLR, a lot of the equipment and costs are the same.
Here are some things to consider when looking to schedule a video shoot:
The camera. That's the most important thing, right? good, professional (and current model) camera is going to cost at least $3,500. Many production companies and people with the money to afford it are moving to the Canon C300 or RED cameras. They cost the equivalent of a new Honda Civic (or more).
You can get by on less. I did for awhile. Eventually it will catch up to you, usually at the worst possible moment.
The lights. Lighting is the single most important thing in making a video look great. To get a professional kit, you're looking at another $2,000 or more. There are lights for photography that can cost over $10,000 a piece. Crazy, huh?
The audio. This is actually the most important thing to a great video. Wait, did I just say the camera, lights, and audio are all the most important things to a great video? (Yes.)
A basic audio setup ith a professional grade microphone and recorder is another $1,000. If you want to get wild, well, the sky is the limit.
The people. The people! They are the ones you've hired, after all. It's their years of experience that you're relying on, the mistakes they've made in the past that they won't make again, their efficiency, resources, quality, and creativity. They're the real secret sauce!
But before they can even walk in the door, they need that experience, and all the equipment listed above. And batteries, memory cards, enses... you get the idea.
The time. The big multiplier in the equation. A small production will usually take a half day, anywhere from 3-5 hours. Other productions may require much more time, and possibly travel.
After the production is complete, on to post-production. The editor can spend anywhere from a single day to weeks mporting, organizing, syncing, editing, color grading, adding graphics, exporting, revising, exporting, revising, and exporting again. All on a computer powerful enough to render high definition video and software ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
This isn't to say a good video needs to cost $20,000. Quite the contrary. The point is those budgets exist, and are often totally justified. The key is to recognize and respect all the components that go into a production to determine its true value.
If the goal is to attract new customers with your video or to remember your wedding day forever, consider the true value that represents to you.
Just don't be surprised if you contact someone and their rates are much higher than you expected. They probably wouldn't be asking that much f they weren't confident in their abilities and of the value they have provided previous clients. Chances are, if you want to hire them, a lot of other people do, too.
We also won't be offended if your budget just doesn't match our rates. Just don't ask us to sacrifice the quality of our work in order to get a discount. And never ask someone to work for free. We value our time as much as you value your own.
The point here isn't to talk down to anyone. It's also not about trying to nickel and dime a client. The point is that there is fair value for everything. What you can afford may not match up, so it's a matter of determining what is most important to you.