Insider Tips on Hiring a Reality Show Production Company

What to know when hiring a reality show Production Company.

There are many schools of thought on producing and pitching an unscripted reality TV concept, and what the cost involved might be. Beverly Boy Productions has been producing and filming both independent and network broadcast reality shows for over 15 years.  Below we will dive in to uncover some of the most important things you’ll need to consider.

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How much does a reality show cost to make?

The cost to produce a reality show can range based upon the concept of the show. Let’s say you want to pay bare minimum, you want to film your reality show for 2 to 3 days. You want to put together what’s called a sizzle reel. A sizzle reel will not demand as much time as a full 30 minute pilot in production. Most of the time will be spent in post-production.

How much does it cost to make a sizzle reel?

A sizzle reel is a great way to quickly get the attention of the networks while pitching. The idea is to put together something so HOT, it will be hard for them to turn away…hence the term “sizzle”. The cost to put together a 3-5 minute sizzle reel can run you between 15k – 30k, depending on a bunch of variables. This usually covers pre production, filming for 2 to 3 days, and full post production. If this is a competition show, where there are multiple cameras, large crew, and weeks of filming, your budget could balloon upwards of 100k – 500k again depending on a few variables.

Below is a sample of a sizzle reel we produced for an independent reality show.

How much does it cost to make a full pilot?

A pilot can have a total running time of 30 – 60 minutes. It is meant to demonstrate to the network what a typical episode will look like, if done right, the network could acquire the pilot as is and pay you for it. If you are looking to create a full pilot, you can expect to pay quite a bit more. Again depending on a slew of variables, the standard price for a pilot can range between 50k – 150k. This range is contingent on a number of things that will determine the end cost. Some of these things could be: how many locations? How many talent involved? Are we hiring actors or are these real people? What city are we filming in? Will we need permits? Are we renting locations? How large is the crew? To name a few.

Below is a full episode we filmed for a Chinese TV station.

Things to look for when hiring a reality TV production company.

When hiring a reality TV Production Company you’ll want to do your homework. There will be a lot of people out there who will tell you whatever you want to hear to separate you from your cash. Be cautious when choosing the production company for your reality project. Here are a few things to consider before you make your choice.

The price sounds way too cheap.

There is a lot to be said about an individual who charges too little for a project. Either you are dealing with someone who doesn’t understand reality show production. Or someone who is doing whatever it takes to get the gig. In either case, you will wind up paying for it in the end. Either the quality of the product will be so poor you couldn’t possibly pitch it. Or, once they realize they came in way to low they will keep adding on fees to make up for what they missed in the beginning. In either case you are stuck in an unfavorable position that could have been avoided.

They promise you they can get you on TV.

When hiring a reality show Production Company you’ll want to be vigilant. If an unknown person or company tells you they promise you will be picked up…RUN! If it sounds too good to be true, chances are it is. The only time someone can promise you they can get you on TV is if they work in development or acquisition at a network, or they are the production company of record for a network. In either case they will not charge you to produce your show, they will take the lion share of control on the production, and negotiate a fee for your participation.

Beverly Boy Productions - Film Crew for hire

Beverly Boy Productions – Filming interviews for a national TV show.

Check their references.

Any production company that claims to produce reality should have some sort of references. This can come in the way of professional references that you can call. If they refuse to provide you with any references, that’s a huge red flag. Prepare a list of questions, note some of the concerns you may have and ask away when you have the opportunity. Take copious notes and gage the authenticity of the answers given. Again trust your instincts though this process.

We shot the on location portion for the Steve Harvey show below

Ask to see their previous reality work.

Any production company worth their salt should have previous work to show you. You are spending thousands of dollars of your hard earned money, or your investors’ money. The last thing you want to do is cut a large check to someone trying to build their demo reel off of your project. You need to see samples to determine what they can do. Furthermore always ask for behind the scenes pictures or video.

Now this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t hire a young up and coming videographer or producer for your project. But you certainly want to weigh the risk involved with that option. Nothing wrong with someone needing a shot to get started in the business…we all had to start somewhere. But again, you can always check references and trust your instincts.

Below you can view some behind the scenes video of the reality show we filmed in above.

Never share your idea with anyone without legally binding paperwork.

Far too often people who believe they have the next big idea are willing to tell anyone who will listen. This is a huge mistake. You don’t want to have a 20 minute conversation with a production company outlining your concept to a T. It may feel good to share your great idea, but it will feel equally as bad to turn on VH1 and see your show on prime time. Once you have what you believe is a great idea, you will want to have an (NDA) or non-disclosure agreement drawn up. This will protect you and whomever you share the idea with in the future. There are free NDA templates available online if you do not have an attorney. It’s also a good idea to register your script with the Writers Guild of America.

Below you can view a Promo we filmed for a national TV show.

Reality Sizzle Reel Cost Breakdown:

  • Video Director: $26/hour to $250/hour
  • Script Writer/Marketer: $60/hour to $151/hour
  • Video Editor: $60/hour to $176/hour
  • Cameramen: $100/hour to $415/hour
  • Actors/Presenters: $55/hour to $500/hour
  • Equipment: $25/hour to $100’s/hour
  • Studio Shooting: $100/hour to $410/hour
  • Narrators/Voiceovers: $150 to $850
  • Audio Files: $30 to $1,000
  • Video Rendering: $30/hour to $75/hour
  • B-Roll: 10% to 50% addition to shooting costs
  • ‘Miscellaneous Fees’: $100 to $1000’s

So what’s next?

The best way to determine the cost for your show would be to start the conversation. Send out a non-disclosure agreement, or we can provide you with a submission release form. Once either of these documents are executed by both parties, we are both free to discuss your idea in its entirety. Once we fully understand your idea, and we are clear on your concept. We will estimate the cost for your reality and present you with a budget. Or feel free to give us a call, we can give you a better idea once we have a conversation with you.

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