Ok, "Talking heads"

Discussion in 'Professional Video Production' started by Nancy C Kenfield, Jan 21, 2005.

  1. As I move into more serious work with larger projects, I need to start
    pricing out something that will actually "happen" down the road a piece, but
    I have never gotten "experts" to speak for anything I've done beyond the
    people who were involved in something for their own company, institution
    etc. When you contract for one of these "talking heads" - university profs,
    authors writing on obscure subjects like the French Reformation etc, what is
    the usual payment? Do they receive an "honorarium?" I will be dealing with
    people who don't normally do this kind of thing, so they won't know either.
    I know a lot of this is a negotiation thing between the "learned resource"
    and me, but it would help to know if anybody else here has had to set this
    sort of thing up. Up till now, on the scale I've been working, people are
    just sort of tickled to be on tape!
    Nancy C Kenfield, Jan 21, 2005
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  2. Nancy C Kenfield

    Steve King Guest

    You may find that such experts would be willing to be interviewed gratis so
    long as you make the process convenient and pleasant for them. However,
    judging whether to pay and how much depends on your use of the material. Is
    it for a commercial project? What is your overall budget? What will be the
    exposure of the project? And so on. For instance, not too long ago I
    interviewed on tape a university professor who agreed to appear without fee,
    because the program would be seen by industry people who conceivably might
    hire the interviewee as a consultant. For him it was an image building
    opportunity. I've found that I encounter the fairest fees, when in the
    initial contact I level with the interviewee about my budget constraints and
    expectations for the distribution of the program.

    Steve King
    Steve King, Jan 21, 2005
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  3. Nancy C Kenfield

    Steve Guidry Guest

    I think you'll find that these fees will be all over the map. In my
    experience, I've paid folks from $0 to about $1500, depending on the subject
    matter, and the intended use of the material.

    It would help if you could provide more information on the project . . .

    Steve Guidry, Jan 21, 2005
  4. Nancy C Kenfield

    nck Guest

    Well, I'd rather not discuss the specific subject matter, let's just say it
    has to do with the Reformation. I would be getting at least one friend who
    has written extensively on the subject as well as some other historians etc.
    Thanks for the input...I rather suspected that would be the answer there. I
    still have a lot of research ahead about sites etc. Really, everything I'm
    doing right now is sort of turning into "rough drafts" for this whether the
    subject matter is the same or not.
    nck, Jan 22, 2005
  5. Nancy C Kenfield

    nck Guest

    Thanks --see my reply to the "other steve". I was thinking also that, at
    least two of the people I want to use would welcome the chance to push their
    I hope this eventually comes off. I am jumping through every hoop I can
    find right now just to get everything clear in my mind and get the cv beefed
    up towards eventually begging for funding. I can finance a lot of it
    myself, but there will come a point when it would be better to have an
    affiliation going on.
    nck, Jan 22, 2005
  6. Nancy C Kenfield

    marks542004 Guest

    I think you will find fees to be very wide ranging. An expert in a
    specific field, published author especially published for general
    publication rather than text book will probably ask for a high fee.

    Professor at your local techical college may well do it for free
    particularly if you give mention in credits.

    All you can do is approach them and make your offer clear first. Then
    if they decline those terms you could start to negotiate. If the
    subject is of particular interest to your expert they may be able to
    assist you in gathering funding.
    marks542004, Jan 22, 2005
  7. Thanks anyway, but I don't think we have any published authors on the
    Reformation at the local technical college. (-;
    Nancy C Kenfield, Jan 23, 2005
  8. Nancy C Kenfield

    Toby Guest

    I know that news agencies such as NBC and CNN have a strict policy of *not*
    paying for interviews, as this could be construed as compromising
    objectivity. Even providing tapes of the finished spots was frowned upon
    when I worked for them, but possible if it would help seal an agreement.

    Presently I am working for German TV--we provide an "honorarium" of about
    $100 in some cases--if we are using experts or noted professionals in a
    field, or if we really need the bite and that will help swing it. If we film
    people for inclusion in a piece and take up some hours of their time I've
    seen it go as high as $300, but usually not. To be honest most people are
    quite generous and do it for nothing, even if (and sometimes especially if)
    the piece will not see air in their region.

    I recommend telling your subjects up front (if this is the case) that the
    budget is not overly large and at most you could provide a small honorarium
    for their time and go from there. Many times they will decline the offer of
    money. We always promise them a tape of the finished production and often
    that is enough even for experts. If not make a small offer and see what
    their reaction is--you can always up it (to whatever limit you have in mind)
    if the first offer isn't persuasive.


    Toby, Jan 25, 2005
  9. Nancy C Kenfield

    Bill Van Dyk Guest

    Call me crazy, but I don't believe journalists should offer any money to
    any subject of an article or film or tv interview. It provides an
    incentive to potential talking heads to tell you what they think you
    want to hear.
    Bill Van Dyk, Jan 25, 2005
  10. Thanks..this is what I needed to know. I suspected this to be the case. I
    once worked on an overnight arts programme for Manhattan Cable (NOT Public
    Access. This was an in-house production with commercial sponsorship) and
    none of our guests were paid...and we had some pretty heavy hitters like
    Allen Ginsburg and Antony Tudor etc.
    BTW, I am NOT easily impressed by celebrity but those two were people I had
    idolized all my life and it was neat to sit there breathing the same air for
    a couple of hours!!!!
    Generally, people who have published on a subject welcome the opportunity to
    discuss their subject when it might generate more interest in something kind
    of esoteric (like the Reformation).
    Nancy C Kenfield, Jan 26, 2005
  11. In the case of controversy, you have a point, but, when you are dealing with
    a published authority in the field (in this case, as historical event) who
    you ask to discuss the event in a particular context, or the historical
    characters involved or his opinion (published) of the significance of it, I
    think that is not part of the equation. You know his or her point of view
    based on the published writings, so you are not dealing with a wild card.
    Nancy C Kenfield, Jan 26, 2005
  12. OTOH, "Hear BS, Speak BS, CBS" has a history going back decades
    of being completely indiscriminant. 60 Minutes was widely criticized
    for paying for interviews of people like R.M.Nixon, etc.
    Richard Crowley, Jan 26, 2005
  13. Nancy C Kenfield

    nap Guest

    same thing as paying an expert for the defense.

    nap, Jan 26, 2005
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