When you want to buy something, you have a very clear idea of how much you want to spend on it. You can buy a car for $1000, $50,000 or $500,000 — these options are all legitimate, but they are not equivalent. You are not indifferent to the options: you know exactly which category is relevant to you and pursue it to the exclusion of the others.
Unfortunately, prospective clients who are investigating the possibility of producing a video or TV commercial do not have the same mindset. They typically ask production companies how much it would cost to make a TV spot. That’s like calling up a car dealer and asking how much cars cost. That question is simply absurd: do you want a 20-year-old Toyota, a new Lexus, or a Ferrari? You simply can’t ask how much a car will cost until you specify which category you are interested in. In other words, I cannot answer the question until you disclose your budget.
But they just don’t get it. You politely ask them about the budget, and they repeat the question: “How much will it cost?”
If you take that kind of attitude, the only answer we can give you is this: the floor is the limit. If you go in with the mindset of wanting to spend as little as possible, things are just not going to work out. That is simply not how production works. You must have a specific figure in mind and then shop around for the best value, just as you would with buying any other product.
My advice to production-service providers is that when they come across a client who won’t answer the budget question and simply keeps asking how much it will cost, they quite simply don’t know what they’re doing. There is a very high chance that these guys will never produce anything, because they can never find a quote that is low enough — until, of course, they hit rock bottom and they get Uncle Bob to shoot it with his camcorder and then put it on YouTube.