Freelance Film/Video Editing: How Much To Charge



How much to charge as a freelance editor is a question that boggles upstarting freelance editors. Therefore in this post we will address this question and give you insight as to how to and how much to charge for your editing skills.


Exactly how much to charge as an editor can vary depending on several factors. For example, your level of experience. How many videos/films have you previously edited? Other factor can be, how professional looking are your videos/films, how confident are you, etc.


Generally speaking, freelance editors charge one of the three: 1) hourly rate, 2) daily rate, and 3) flat/fixed rate. Let’s get more specific with these rates:

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Hourly rate is exactly that, how much you will charge for each hour you work. This rate varies drastically depending on the location and/or market you work in. For example, the hourly rate to edit a five minute video in on state or country will most likely be different from another.


With that stated, it’s encouraged that you not charge your clients an hourly rate. It’ll get very tedious. Allow us to explain.


Let’s say you charged your clients for 8 hours of work to edit a 5 minute video. However, that video ended up taking you 8 hours and 20 minutes to edit. Do you really want to go and ask your client to pay for the additional 20 minutes of work? Probably not.


An hourly rate is more for you to know how to calculate your daily rate, which makes more sense than an hourly rate.


The way you calculate your daily rate is to multiply your hourly rate times 8. Therefore, if you’re hourly rate is $50.00, your daily rate is $400.00 (50×8=400).


It’s better to charge a daily rate vs. hourly rate. With a daily rate if you work 6 hours or 8 hours, you charge the same.


However, charging a daily rate can seem like too much to a customer. Therefore be open for negotiating. You may arrange with a customer that if they hire you for a minimum of 3 days that you will give them a full week of work.


Ex, can offer them 1 week at the price of 3 days. Therefore, you’d be getting paid 3 days ($1,200) to work for five days. Sounds way better than not getting the work at all, right? It’s an industry practice.


A flat rate is as simple as you setting a price on you complete edited work. For example, $1,500 a video or $3,000 for a short film.


Now that raises the question, how much do you charge for a flat rate? It’s a question honorably raised and the answer is not set in stone. But a standard for some people is $100 dollars per minute…of the finished product.


For example, a flat rate for a five minute video would be $500.00. Or a flat rate for a 10 minute short film would be $1,000.00.


Additional costs to keep in mind are stock photos, stock images, music, etc. Factor these in to your cost or let the client know that these are separate costs.


Will you be saving the files on you hard drive or that of the clients? If additional hard drives are needed then the client needs to pay for them.


Also, prices differ based on the complexity of the project. For example, a video or scripted film can be edited more seamlessly compared to a documentary with lots of footage that requires you piecing the story while you edit.


No two editing projects are mandated to have the same price. After all, the demands for each project can be different.


With that said, don’t be afraid to set your price and sticking to it. It’s your work, you know what it’s worth, so don’t let others put a price on it.



Walter Murch is a recognizable, highly praised and Oscar award winning editor and sound designer. His work spans decades as he’s worked on award winning films from The Conversation, Apocalypse Now, The Godfahter (II and III) and The English Patient.


His highly praised and highly reviewed book, In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing (2nd Edition), is an absolute must read for filmmakers and editors.



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Zandir Santos is contributing writer to In addition to filmmaking, Zandir is a website designer and editor.

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