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Sound Recordist Rates, Terms & Conditions:

The most efficient crew is a happy crew, and on this page I give some top tips for keeping a crew happy. It also fills out some of the statements in my Terms & Conditions. Ironically, those who read this page are probably the ones who don't need to and vice-versa! All bookings are accepted on the terms and conditions set out here. While these are binding, I'd rather the column to the left was read and understood, rendering this column unnecessary!!
Possibly, maybe, sometime...

Producers and production managers have a tough job coordinating each day's filming, juggling the availablility of presenters, contributors, schedules and a host of other things, including important elements like the crew!
In order to help them out, most crews, including myself, are quite happy to accept 'pencilled' bookings. These mean that the filming is expected to take place on the day(s) in question and that the production team will be back in touch to confirm it as soon as the other vital elements are in place. As a result, I won't accept offers from other company's until I know whether the pencilled job is confirmed, and as soon as an alternative is offered, I will contact the first company to make them aware of the situation and give them the opportunity to turn a Pencilled booking into a Confirmed one.
'Pencilling' multiple days to cover alternatives is a practice frowned upon, as it makes a mess of the diary, and gives the impression of a chaotic and disorganised production team - doesn't bode well for smooth filming days! (see below)!

Sound Recordists, like cameramen should be contacted directly by the Director or Production Coordinator and sent the call sheet even if the recordist is booked by the cameraman - it can help spot potential problems, or extra requirements. It is courteous as well.


Bookings take two forms: 'Pencilled' and 'Confirmed'. Pencilled bookings are not binding on either party, but just an exchange of information regarding the possibility of a project. Bookings should state who they are for, and
'Pencilled' bookings should say why they are pencils, and when they will be confirmed.

'Confirmed' bookings constitute a contract to provide sound recording services and equipment on the dates given, according to the schedule of fees provided.
Cancellation: Confirmed bookings cancelled less than 72 hours before leaving base will be subject to a cancellation fee of £100 per day.

In confirming a booking, the client accepts these terms and conditions.

Cream Crackers!

Production teams are asked to take account of the fact that early starts mean very early breakfasts, and an opportunity for a snack before lunch-time is often much appreciated. Its amazing how many directors run off dry-cell batteries. Sorry folks, we crews are only human! On occasions where well planned, well paced filming days result in meal breaks at the appropriate time and lasting for a full hour, meal breaks may, at my discretion, be deducted from the working time before the calulation of overtime.

'The appropriate time' for meals is between 11-2pm and 6-8pm within a normal day.

If it is absolutely vital to work through the day without a lunch break, all production teams should ask first, and if, after a little cogitation a space for a break can't be found, provide sandwiches 'on the hoof'.

When working indoors with many lights or outside in hot weather, sufficient liquid must be available - without being funny, it is a health issue. Of course, responsibility is shared with the crew, but often we are not sure when it is convenient to slip away to find refreshment - the interviewee is always 'just about to arrive'! I often carry a bottle of water with me as I know I need to drink plenty of water, but in really hot weather it is not really sufficient to see one person through the day, let alone enough to share with a perspiring cameraman or a parched PA!

The Standard Day:

The usual working day is 10 Hours - this is the period encompassed by a 'day's rate' The time starts on leaving base (my home or hotel) and finishes on return to home or once equipment has been stowed in a safe room at a hotel. 10 hours, according to EC directive, should include a lunch break. Failure to provide a period of rest and an opportunity to eat will be charged as an hour of overtime (as well as falling foul of Health & Safety at Work regulations).

Flogging a dead Horse

Overtime is a penalty for exceeding sensible working durations. A 10-hour day is long enough for anyone, expecially when it has to be repeated for any number of days in succession. Even if you are out of the office filming for one day, the crew are on location day after day. Long days lead to tiredness: tiredness reduces concentration, enthusiasm, and possibly shorter tempers (not one of my vices!).

The crew don't finish work when the camera is switched off, but when they return to base. Driving whilst over-tired has been shown to cause more deaths than drink driving. It is a very serious Safety issue, and therefore the reason that overtime is expensive. If I consider a day to be too long/tiring to be able to return to base safely, I will book into local accomodation and pass back the bill.


Overtime is always charged at 1.5T (ie 15% of the 10-hour rate per additional hour).

All in a day's work? No crew or production personnel should be required to spend any significant period travelling after a long day filming. If hotels haven't been pre-booked, then just dropping into the nearest motel is a life-saver. These wise words from a colleague sum it up:

"I will not drive home from any shoot if that drive will mean that I am still at the wheel 14 hours after I started work.
I think I owe that to myself and my family, as well as to the innocent party into whose path I would veer, to absolutely refuse to do that, even if it means I lose the job.
If this was pointed out by more freelancers more often, maybe the message would eventually get home to the would-be employers who consider carrying on regardless to be part and parcel of making telly programmes."

Travel Days: A fixed fee is applied to a day or part-day when no filming takes place but is spent just travelling to or returning from a filming location.

All travel from departing my base to return (including journeys to collect/return additional equipment) in my own vehicle is charged at the current mileage rate.

Anorak and Kitchen Sink

I have everything you'd expect to find in a sound kit for normal documentary, factual and corporate production. As an experienced and professional recordist (a feat only achieved by anyone after acquiring a thorough grounding in the theory of sound recording and video production and a number of years of experience) I have assembled a complete kit, that enables me to work through most sitautions I encounter and I don't want to be picking and choosing: I prefer one price to provide stereo as well as mono boom, two uhf diversity radio mics. I will include transcription to minidisc or cassette providing I provide the blank media and basic adaptors, leads to get me out of holes. The 'standard' set up from local hire companies costs over 100ukp per day. Hire a real soundman(or woman) and benefit from professional experience and all the extra gadgets and gizmos we acculmulate.

Of course, there are times when other specific equipment is needed, and I can provide any of these easily:

  • DAT recorder (with or without timecode)
  • extra radio mics
  • radio mic links to camera
  • playback equipment (from MD, CD, DAT or other formats, using battery powered hi quality speakers or mains powered PA for larger situation)
  • addtional headphone feeds (cabled or wireless)
  • feeds to multiple cameras
  • walkie-talkies
  • telephone interface

See the Kit page for a run-down on my preferences

The Standard Kit:

The standard PSC sound kit comprises of: four-channel stereo mixer, two lapel/radio mics, stereo boom. Transcript cassette.


Insurance and Liability

While I, like all responsible professionals, carry adequate insurance for our activites, the client also has a duty of care with regard to the equipment present while filming.

In particular, the client must take responsibility for any situation where the standard terms of my insurnce will not cover - where filming requirements require me to leave elements of kit in insecure places (eg corridors while filming is small offices), unlocked or unalarmed cars, or in aircraft/airport baggage systems, locations where the equipment can't be monitored and any location outside Europe. They must also accept liability for the actions of production staff, presenters and contributors who may have eg radio mics fixed to their person or in their possession.

"The job isn't done until the invoice is paid" I was told when i joined the industry. And payment is the vital part of the arrangment. After all, neither the supermarkets nor utility companies accept goodwill in return for their goods and services. They require sterling as you leave the shop, or direct access to your bank account!

And payment is required on time. Perversely, it is the large organisations, handling huge budgets annually that seem to be least able to manage their debts. Or do they presume that small companies and workers don't mind providng unofficial overdrafts?

It's a pleasure to work in an industry where the huge majority of individuals and small companies are scrupulous in paying their workers on time. Shame the likes of the BBC think they're above the law...


Payment must be made within 30 days from the date on invoice. Failure to do so (apart from being an offence under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998) will result in interest being charged in accordance with that law (8% over base rate on that date, calculated daily, interest paid before the debt).

Any queries regarding an invoice must be raised within 7 days.

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