Art Producer Michelle Chant Sheds Light on the Estimating Process

I received a call a few weeks ago from an Art Producer friend for a fun project.  As we chatted, she let me know what a fan she was of the blog.  I was excited of course to hear that she enjoyed it, but mostly because people speak up about their love for the blog are great contributors.  Needless to say, Michelle Chant, a freelance art producer in NYC, did not hesitate to say yes.  Thank you Michelle for your insights.   I personally like #3.  🙂

1) How often are you asked to triple bid a project?  And, if there is a clear first choice, do you let that person know they are the recommend?
I haven’t had to triple bid in a very long time.  Personally I like to always get two bids in for two reasons. First, it’s always good to have a back-up in case one photographer doesn’t work out. Secondly, I like to compare the estimates to see how they’re each approaching the job.  Yes, I do let people know if they are the first choice.
2)  Sometimes after a photographer bids a job, they will not hear back in regards to the outcome.  Can you shed some light on why that may be?
That never happened with me, I always get back to them,

3)  We all know there are many reasons for a photographer not getting a project.  Besides the obvious of price or creative, can you share some other reasons that they may not be awarded a project?
Since clients haven’t held me to the lowest bid, other things factor in such as how the photographer allots the budget.  How much money is going into casting, scouting, model-making, travel?  What kinds of fees are they looking for? What usage are they including?. The creative call/treatment are very important too. Are they connecting with the art director and how are they approaching the job?   Are they (or their agent) flexible regarding any changes in usage or scope?  Let’s be honest here, if I like working with their agent I am more likely to recommend them for the job.

4) What sort of things are you dealing with on your end to get an estimate approved?  We all know it is not always as easy as presenting a photo estimate for approval.  What other things could your client be considering at the same time that could hold up the process?
When I worked at w+k the biggest challenge to getting estimates signed was the lack of approved creative concepts. Things were often being revised up to the last minute.  Also, we shot a lot of athletes and airplanes; not easy to secure!  Their schedules were constantly changing and that made it really hard to get estimates approved.  The clients did not have all the information we needed.  Sometimes, when the photographer was chosen, we got casting or location scouting approved before the rest of the estimate. Then we got a jump start on those time-consuming parts.

5)  Do you share budgets when they are available?  Why or why not?
Sometimes.  If I’m given a budget I’ll usually share it.  Why make people guess? But if this job is for something I’m not at all familiar with – a process that’s new to me or an artist or technique I’m not familiar with – I may let them start the estimating process.

6) What is your client’s/agency’s policy surrounding advances on projects?  What do you do as an art producer to help facilitate that process?  And, what can a photographer do to help it along as well?
75% of expenses paid prior to the shoot.  I always contacted finance and the account team early on alerting them to a potential advance needed. They usually need to pre-bill the client in order for advances to be paid.  Photographer’s can get those advances over asap.

8)  What misperception about the estimating process from your end would you like photographers to have an clearer understanding of based on your experiences?
It’s not just about the bottom line, how you bid is just as important as how much you bid.

2 thoughts on “Art Producer Michelle Chant Sheds Light on the Estimating Process

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