Non Union Day Rates. Part 2 Of 3. Ins, Day Rates and Rental Rates.


It’s almost impossible to sum up years of experience, months of research and countless hours in the field into a simple day rate. Yet we are asked to do it all the time. A typical gig for me will start with an availability check. Then it’s followed with how wonderful and easy the project will be. Then we finally get to the dreaded question of how much do you charge? If this is a brand new client then I will typically respond with a “Make me an offer” reply. This works most of the time. It’s a pretty safe way of saying that you are open to all offers. I will also consider lower paying gigs if the budget is low and the project has merit or will benefit my demo reel.

Local 600 provides a “Rate Card” with a pay scale for specific types of positions and productions. This can be used as a baseline for most of the camera work that we do. Top DOP’s get around $2500 per day, not including camera or L & G rental. A fair price for a brand spanking new camera operator can be anywhere from $250-$500 per day base pay rate. If you add a camera package to this I would suggest a ball park $1K day rate. I would also suggest looking at rental house rates to help determine kit rentals for your gear. It’s important to remember that most rental houses will discount up to 30% from the list price and will typically charge a three day rate for the entire week. It’s important to stay competitive with your areas rates. I would also stress that this type of work is lucrative but never about the money for me. It easily creates problems and I for one would rather work for less with a positive crew than make a ton with a bunch of bitter assholes.

Here are some suggested non union day rates per position. Most day rates in the US are based on a ten hour day. Overtime at 1.5X the hourly rate after ten hours unless otherwise negoiated. This does not include kit rental.

Director Of Photography                     $1000-$2500 per day

Camera Operator                                $550-$1000 per day

First AC/ Focus Puller                          $350-$550 per day

Second AC/ Clapper                             $250-$500 per day

Loader/ DIT                                          $250-$500 per day

Camera PA                                            $175-$250 per day

Camera Intern                                       $125-$175 per day

***These are only suggested rates and are soley based on speculation.***

Jared Abrams is a cinematographer based in Hollywood, California. After many years as a professional camera assistant he switched over to still photography. About two years ago a new Canon camera changed the way the world sees both motion and still photography. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
  • Jeremy Widen

    Thanks Jared. All three of the topics in this series are things I’ve been struggling with for the last few months. This helps a lot. 

  • Derek T.

    Thanks Jared, these info are very helpful for anyone dealing with rates or questions about it. We all come into the business as an opportunity to display our abilities and tend to forget the business side of thing. 

  • creepyTexan

    Have rates not gone up since the 1980’s? As a PA in the 80’s I made 125 a 10 hr. day – what is it now?

  • Dylan Phillips

    as of 2016 $150/12 hrs.

  • creepyTexan

    wow! not a good amount for this time for sure.