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Old January 3rd, 2009, 04:12 PM   #1
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Buying a Sound Rig and Moving to Italy

" They say I shot a man named Grey, and took his wife to Italy,
He had inherited a million bucks, and when she died, it came to me-
I can't help it if I'm lucky" -Bob Dylan, plagiarized by Hootie and the Blowfish"

Well, I don't have quite a million ( or a tenth of a million) bucks, but I am on a slightly odd mission:

I want to get a location sound rig and move to Italy.

Comments on the following basic rig, please?

Recorder / mixe--r Sound devices ( 702, 704, 744?)
Neumann KM81i short shot gun
Lavs?Help? Are wired lavs ever acceptable, or do talent/directors just say no way?
is acceptance of wireless ones much better, or do they get rejected too as annoying?
Gitzo 8 foot carbon boom.
Wind reduction for both high and mild winds? For the lavaliers as well as shotgun.

IN particular, does the 4 channels recording of the SD 422 really help marketability as a location sound recorder in the movie field?
If they want 5 channel sound for Later surround, it doesn't do it any way, and I can't afford the 8 track product.

Everyone says "Wait 'til you get there," but if I had any brains
I wouldn't be off on a harebrained scheme like this
at all. Would I.
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 05:45 PM   #2
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I think you need to pin down what market you're aiming for. The requirements of bag-based ENG/EFP/EPK shoots are markedly different from cart-based, multitrack, feature productions. Your Neumann short gun is a good choice for outdoor booming, IMHO, but you need to think about interiors as well and hypers rule the roost there. The 8 foot pole is fine for ENG but features are going to require much longer reaches - 12' to 16' are common, even 22' are sometimes used.
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 06:15 PM   #3
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Start-Up Consulting for Rig Selection

Excellent suggestion about targeting market.

I think the segment I would be targeting would be the bag-based indie features, and any other more portable interview-type affairs. I'm too green to be working on a big feature.

I have quite a lot of music small recording studio experience and live sound reinforcement ( mixing) experience, but I want to get into more low budget indy film production / interview work.
I do recognize hum, hiss, ambient noise, digital clipping, analog overloading. I've used compressors. limiters, parametric and graphic EQs, and recognize overcompressed sound, as well as inadequate levels- so I definitely can do this at least as a beginner, which I'll tell people I am- perhaps doing a few jobs free to make sure I'm on the ball. I certainly would be better than no sound man at all!

I'd actually would be interested in hiring someone experienced from this forum to do perhaps 45 minutes to an hour of phone consulting on basic setup configurations.

I guess anyone interested can email me, let me know the hourly rate you need to get paid for a 45 minute session where I get to pick the brain of someone experienced.

I'd like to get your ideas of:

1) Basic components needed to bring to a shoot to appear credible as a midrange professional.
Off the top of my head I'm guessing:

(1) outdoor shotgun with-- high winds and-- low wind protection,
(2) Indoor condenser cardoid
(3) Sound Devices recorder/mixer minimum 2 channel --I'm leaning towards the 702 2 channel.
(4)12- 16 foot boom ( is carbon best/necessary?)
(5) two wired ? wireless lavaliers?
(6) cables to connect all together and to feed camcorder
(7) zipties, gaffer tape,four sets headphones ,headphone distribution amp, mic shockmounts, recorder bag
(8) small set self-powered speakers for demoing

I'd like to discuss:
--the most important things to NOT do when starting out. ( The common bush-league mistakes)
-- The most important things TO MAKE SURE TO DO when starting out.
--War stories illustrating important things as mentioned above. ( Horror stories are only fun when they happen to someone else!)

If I understand the implications of the previous poster's comment, I am probably not experienced enough to get major feature gigs yet any way, even if I had the equipment. Also, that type of situation has too many people waiting for anyone not totally "on."

Thanks!

Last edited by Alain Lumina; January 3rd, 2009 at 07:15 PM.
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Old January 4th, 2009, 02:34 AM   #4
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Alain, I'll ask you the same question many Italians living in Philadelphia had asked me prior to relocating to Milan, Italy:

"Have you lost your friggin' mind?"

Honestly, there are many good reasons to move to Italy. I am relatively well-off and I happened to marry a gorgeous Italian woman and we had a daughter in the US. I thought she would have a better life if raised in a European environment. This turns out to be true. Another good reason was to escape the 8 years of Bush. Of course there's the Italian women and the whole "enjoy life, not your work" culture that exists here.

It is a really bad idea to move to Italy for work, especially if you don't already have something stable lined up. This country is a real disaster and it is very difficult to do anything at a professional level. There is a reason the most promising Italian professionals all try to move to the US or Germany or the UK. One hard lesson I learned is that you can't apply the American way of doing things in Italy. Italy plays by a completely different ruleset that is probably closer to Columbia or Bolivia than the US. And then there's the language barrier. Few Italians are fluent in English, and maybe 2% are proficient. You will have to learn Italian which is a very difficult and confusing language.

Most importantly, Italy is WAY behind with indy production and video production in general. I think you really need to go to the UK for that. There is not that much demand for professional scale video in all of Italy and there are literally thousands of "videomakers" in Milan alone. They all have other jobs that support their videomaker activities. For example, I am a marketing consultant and am starting to offer web video communications as part of my offering. You will find that many of your better competitors here will work for free just to get some work to beef up their resumes or in hopes that eventually the client will start paying them in the future.

A great suggestion would be to produce your video here in Italy but target it at international markets. Use your english as a competitive weapon. This is my strategy.

As for equipment, buy everything you can in the US that is independent of electricity and national standards. An easy example of a national standard is that everything in Italy is PAL. Also wireless transmitters may be a problem. You will save a lot of money with the weak dollar. Here the Euro is strong and the sales tax alone is 20%. And there isn't the price competition that exists is the US. Expect to pay much more for equipment here.

The moral of my story is this: Look before you leap. I suggest you do a short 2-3 month trial before you jump. If you move close to Milan we can keep in touch and I will do my best to help you get oriented.
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Old January 4th, 2009, 06:23 AM   #5
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Ken,

Thanks so much for sharing your take on Italy. 20% sales tax! Wow. Do you have income tax on top of that?

If I were going to take a flying leap from the US, one of the areas that *seems* interesting is to the east of you. The coast of what was Yugoslavia; from Fiume down to Dubrovnik. I was there as a nine year old and still have pictures in my head. Obviously it's very different today, but they seem to be trying to develop the coastal cities, if not the whole country.

If I spoke Serbian or Croatian or whatever they speak there these days, (and a lot of money) I'd be more inclined. :)

Regards,

Ty
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Old January 4th, 2009, 06:59 AM   #6
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Thanks Ty, and by the way I really learned a lot from and appreciate your posts here!

There is 20% sales tax on just about everything except bread. Then there is the "Social Security Tax" which is 19% or 22% I believe. Then there is Income Tax wich starts at 20% and quickly rises to 40% and I am not sure what the highest bracket is. Then there are a few other stupid taxes that account for about 5%. If I were to bill a client 1000 that includes the 20% sales tax, I would see around 300 of it at the end of the year. Then there's housing taxes, car taxes, and it never stops. And I look around and I just don't see where that tax money goes. Economically speaking, the country is falling apart. Italy is ranked 49 on the Global Competitiveness Index. For comparison, Tunisia is ranked 36.

This is why I caution the OP to think really hard before committing to Italy.
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Old January 4th, 2009, 08:34 AM   #7
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Ken,

Thanks for the compliment. I do what I can.

So let me add this up. That's like 60%! So as a business owner, if you charge 1000 euro, 600 of it you pay in taxes? Is that right? How can anyone afford to toss money into Trevi Fountain.

You said, "at the end of the year." Do you get money (that 300 euro) back? How does that work?

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old January 4th, 2009, 10:53 AM   #8
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Ah Ty, you are reminding me that I should start my book on my experiences here...

I'd try to explain it to you but I haven't completely figured it out yet after 8 years! The bottom line is that I found a professional, responsible and honest accountant that takes care of everything for me. Unfortunately, like every other honest person in this country, I just have to periodically turn around, bend over and take a pounding up the you-know-what while the other dishonest 50% of the population laughs. But hey, that's Italy!

OP are you listening?
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Old January 4th, 2009, 11:44 AM   #9
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To summarize; a guy from California wants to move to Italy and get in the film sound business.
Because he wants to work in film in a temperate climate? This brings Italy to mind?
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Old January 4th, 2009, 08:43 PM   #10
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Yes doctor, the patient is happy... happily insane.

Ken:

Thanks a lot for the sobering yet humorous reminder, and your kind offer to let me contact you when I get there: America really is a more efficient model, when someone isn't stealing all the profits. We mistakenly think our mindset is more widespread than is realistic.

Since my main goal is actually to go to Italy and make a digital film, the sound man idea is only incidental to that and I realize it is not that likely to work on its own.

As Tom Verlaine put it, "Because I love disaster, and I love what comes after."

The backdrop of Italy is an irresistible lure for the kind of magical realism ideas I work with as a screenwriter.

As far as being "friggin crazy" - does a guilty plea get a lighter sentence?

I basically am a worker drone/screenwriter who has saved up enough money to live in Italy for a year; film one of my scripts with actors if they'll work on spec, and work on my second screenplay.

I also have an advanced degree in a health care profession, which means if I delusionally blow all my money- a worthy goal in itself- I can pretty reliably go crawling back to the US and get a job even in an economic depression.

Camera equipment is really in flux now. The Canon 5D MkII is a portent of all price-performance rules soon changing. Any camera one buys now except perhaps an already devalued film camera will really risk losing value quickly over the next 18 months.

I need to own equipment to work the way I want, so I'm hoping sound equipment will not lose as much of its value fast as 24/192 seems pretty solid for at least the next few years, so i want to focus on buying that first. Maybe I can collaborate with other filmakers and exchange sound man work on their feature with camera work on mine.

Thanks again for your input, the more info I have about what I don't know the better!

Alain

(P.S. Ken, they said you were crazy, but you went anyway, didn't you? ;) )
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Old January 5th, 2009, 03:07 AM   #11
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OK, if you aren't planning to relocate permanently then I think you are in for a great life experience. When I first got here I bought a big Motorhome and toured the whole country and then most of Europe. There are sights here that will blow your mind. Just beware that there will be a lot of confusion as things are remarkedly different here. I would also suggest taking a crash course in Italian.

Again, try to get here with as much standards-independent equipment that you can. Expect a hefty premium on video and audio equipment here. I'm outfitting a commercial videography studio at the moment and the bills are impressive to say the least.

By the way, marrying an Italian woman led me down a path of insanity that still continues to unfold...
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Old January 5th, 2009, 04:09 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alain Lumina View Post
I need to own equipment to work the way I want, so I'm hoping sound equipment will not lose as much of its value fast as 24/192 seems pretty solid for at least the next few years, so i want to focus on buying that first.)
You don't really need 24/192 for dialog or a full soundtrack, for that matter. 24/48 willbe fine.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old January 5th, 2009, 11:30 AM   #13
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Lugging equipment to Italy

Ty and Ken, thanks again.

Ken,
I also have another agenda- I am probably entitled to Italian citizenship via my grandfather (" De Jure Sanguinas"), so I will be working on that too when I get there. That would allow me to work anywhere in the EU. You don't happen to know any relatively honest lawyers in Milano do you?

Ty,

Thanks for the dialog bitrate/depth tip. Sure you don't want to quote an hourly rate for phone consulting for a greenhorn? I saw your seminar offer but am in Western US.

Alain
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Old January 5th, 2009, 11:50 AM   #14
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I think you will have to scour the entire planet to find an honest lawyer, and certainly you won't find one here...

Just kidding, there should be no problem finding a good one to serve your needs.
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Old January 5th, 2009, 07:14 PM   #15
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Caro Alain,

buona fortuna!

(this coming from a Swiss-Italian dude who left a steady, well-paying
job at Swiss-Italian Public TV to move to the States
and work as a free-lance... during the Bush years!
And doesn't regret it one bit)

ciao e divertiti!

Vasco
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