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Old October 4th, 2006, 10:51 PM   #1
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Whats a newbie to do?

Hi everyone. I get alot of information from this site and I greatly appreciate and respect everyones advice on here. I have an XL2 and Mac fully loaded with Final Cut Pro Studio and am doing a few things on my own, but nothing that I would consider a demo reel yet. I post on Craigslist looking for people who needs an extra camera or editing and I will work for copy and credit because I am new to the video world but no takers or the message gets flagged and I get email from people who tell me that I cannot offer to work for copy and credit because it cheapens the image that they work so long and hard to get people to pay them a fair rate. I dont want to cheapen anyones work, because one day soon I hopefully will be at that stage also. My question is how did others start? Where should I be looking that is a better and less volatile than Craigslist? I figured that in the shadow of Los Angeles that I would be able to find some crumbs...LOL Is offering to work from the bottom for copy and credit a bad thing? If so set me straight at the beginning before I do too much damage. Thanks for everyones input.

Tom
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Old October 4th, 2006, 11:09 PM   #2
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Nothing wrong with what you're trying to do. Most folks starting out get paid little or nothing, and that's just the way it is.

Rather than shotgunning on the internet though, pick a few local people and production companies that are using the same gear and tell them you're looking for experience. Calling them and keeping in touch over a period of time will let them know you're serious, and eventually somebody will take a chance on you and your XL1 or Final Cut rig.

That's one part of a two-pronged approach. The other part is to call local production companies a little higher up that are shooting maybe Beta or HD, and tell them you want to P.A. I see a lot of people that buy a camera and then eventually work in the lower end of the business, without ever having the benefit of learning how things are really done in the business. This is how you learn, by being a P.A. Doing anything else is like trying to learn how to ski without ever taking a lesson....it's painful, unnecessary, and eventually you'll wish you had.
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Old October 4th, 2006, 11:09 PM   #3
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If you were in MA I would certainly appreciate your support! There must be loads of film-makers looking for a free DP. I see nothing wrong with it; keep looking. Make a reel, make a Web site...
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Old October 4th, 2006, 11:41 PM   #4
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Thanks for the thought guys. Actually I do know my way quite well around a film set, I went to NYU Film School. But have been out of the film arena doing dot com work for the past 10 years. After that amount of time I have the itch to get back into the arts again. So bought the XL2 and editing suite in preperation for doing my own stuff. Most dont even want to talk about my working in film before, video is different.....even though they are all striving for that film look.....Networking it key though, that much I know and thats why I feel like starting from scratch. Its not that I am adverse to working as a PA and working my way up, Im thinking that any true filmmaker will see that my talents lie a bit beyond the typical PA and use me for future work. I have applied for PA work also and most of the time dont even get a courtesy email back saying no thanks, and other times getting email that would best be described as slavery. LOL, but thats the life of a PA, and the reason why no one wants to make being a PA a career.

I just wanted to make sure I was not alienting myself from the film and video community by doing it this way. Anyone need a PA?
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Old October 4th, 2006, 11:49 PM   #5
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Ah. My bad then.

I'd say you just need some basic work to show people then to get the ball rolling. I guess the first paragraph I wrote is more applicable than the first.
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Old October 5th, 2006, 01:53 AM   #6
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I too have had problems with posting on Craig's list, going in with a great deal of enthusiasm on some project and being flagged off by trollers who apparently just want to keep the competition out...or distrust any fresh new faces trying to get ahead.

Better to make contacts with people locally than open yourself up to that! One thing I did was volunteer myself to more than fifty local projects (well, this is Los Angeles, not sure where you are) and that got me off to a rolling start.

Overall, just learn your tech, know your job and do it according to the tech of that job, people will start calling you or coming back to you more and more often. Be a professional by being one at whatever level you are and work your way up from there.

Another thing, after film school I was only a PA on one or two projects, because I realized right away that if I was going to be a filmmaker I needed to learn lighting and camera. Directing can come later, if at all...I volunteered mostly for lighting crew work and got to know that area well, and then bought a camera and a few used lights I could use to practice lighting my own scenes and with and started hiring myself out cheap via Mandy.com as a "DP". One person responded and hired me as DP of his DV feature and though I'd never DPed anything before, he loved my work!

The trick is to start out at whatever level you are at and work it up from there. So what if it's not a theatrical release, so what if it's not even in Blockbuster, maybe it only gets onto YouTube for a few thousand views...if your director or whoever hires you is happy with your work, you have something to stand on and you can go up from there.
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Old October 5th, 2006, 02:23 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate Weaver
I guess the first paragraph I wrote is more applicable than the first.
Nate, this is what happens when you sit around the damn house smoking ganja all day. I keep telling you this, but do you listen?

p.s. how's the XDCAM? loving it?
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Old October 5th, 2006, 05:44 PM   #8
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Good luck with your re-entry to the field.

As for "paying dues", I myself am well into that stage, and, I believe, making progress. More than 1 yr ago I called a local indie out of the blue to learn what I could, expecting nothing more than a short phone conversation. So far, I've found myself working for him once or twice a month, and learning the business as a novice. Pay has been very small up til now, but the most recent job required me to manage the scene/shot list. We ended early on both days of that shoot, which earned me more than normal. (The client was on hand, and I was politely "pushing the next shot" even before the final take of the previous shot). The indie was so impressed that we finished early, and with how things went in general, that he's offered me triple for the next job.

Try to connect with someone who's currently "in the business". And, post your questions here. The responses are based on others' experience, and even if you choose to ignore them, they are at least thought provoking.

Good luck.
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Old October 5th, 2006, 11:08 PM   #9
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Make some lemonade. If you're going to do some freebies to get the ball rolling, then look into charity organizations. The local United Way, for example, would be happy to get some of your 'volunteered' talent to promote in their local area.

Maybe a church you know needs some support.

Cut a few weddings or edit some family event video for some friends. In any case it will show that you are a charitable person and not scrounging for scraps.

In any case, you'll meet respectable folks, and if your work is good, they'll talk about it, and it might land you a paying gig. In the meanwhile, you'll gain insight and experience.
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Old October 6th, 2006, 12:25 PM   #10
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I'm fairly new at this as well. I graduated with a graphic design degree and a concentration in photography and broadcasting. I landed a job with a small agency in town as a graphic designer, and when a job in the production department opened up I took it.

It's taking some time to learn the lingo and the equipment, but I'm getting there. I guess one of the biggest challenges for me yet has been seeing a shot and telling everyone exactly what to do to get this shot to work. I don't have much experience speaking in front of alot of people so it's been an adjustment. When I know what shot I want, it makes it much easier!

Probably a matter of gaining experience and confidence.
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Old October 6th, 2006, 12:47 PM   #11
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there are a million little local non-profits out there who would love to have you volunteer to make a short video (web, promo, etc.) for them. if you're willing to give away your services for experience, this is a great way to build a list of references and testimonials and you end up giving something back to your community. you can use these to build up a demo reel in a fairly short time. pick an area you're interested in: i've volunteered to do work for a buddhist center, a bilingual school, and a wildlife rescue organization. these are all projects i've enjoyed and was happy to do, and these are all fledgling organizations with no money to pay for anything.

if there is a cause you believe in, there is an non-profit waiting for you...it's a good way to get your name out in your community, to build a list of people who will vouch for you, and to generate demo reel material.

also, you are not under-selling any of the professionals because you're doing projects for organizations who would never have had the money to accomplish the job in the first place. anyway, under-selling loses karma points (or, at the very least, you undermine your own eventual marketplace when you get your business up to speed...), whereas volunteering is loaded with great karma! and you can actually make some very absorbing projects....
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Old October 6th, 2006, 02:16 PM   #12
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Thank you all for your wonderful suggestions. I will look into the non-profit sector and see what I can do for them. Its not that I WANT to work for free..LOL, its just that I will to get the demo reel up to speed. I know I can just grab my camera and film things myself and cobble them into a demo reel, but I dont think its showing anyone anything other than my sense of shooting and my style. Am I wrong or is it better for potential employers to see that I have worked with others and made projects for them instead of for myself? I would think that if I were to hire someone I would want to see what they have done for someone else, but then if their reel was strong enough on their own I would work with them also. Being in the shadow of LA, there are alot of us out there, and quite a bit of work to be had, although most of it that I see is low or no budget even for the established guys. I thank everyone again for their advice and their support. You guys are awesome.

Tom
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Old October 6th, 2006, 06:56 PM   #13
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There's a fine line. On one hand you have to deliver what the client want's, and on the other, many times they don't have a script and will rely on your expertise to walk them through it. It's a great relationship if they think your both a master at the craft, and a butt saver in getting another headache off their 'to do' list.

Many times I feel that I'm doing their job, and then realize that's not a bad position to be in. It's repeat business.
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Old October 6th, 2006, 11:51 PM   #14
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You don't need those people. Do your own stuff. Offer bands to do music videos for free. Offer small businesses to shoot a commercial for free, offer a broke bride to do a wedding for free. Offer to shoot an event or two for free. Offer to shoot some stuff for a church for free.

Doing all those and doing it well will show you're a man of many talents and not "just an editor". Plus if will give you experience and you'll learn a lot.
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Old October 7th, 2006, 10:56 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Bray
You don't need those people. Do your own stuff...
Just whom are you referring to Adam?

Do not offer free rides to folks who can pay the entrance fee. If your going to do free work, then do so where it matters the most. Many of these charities are well connected to afluent people in various industries (business owners, executive board members and other professionals), whom also provide monetary, moral, and other forms of support. These folks, or ones like them, will hopefully be your clients one day.

You and your name would be put in good light and these folks will see that in the credits, and by word of mouth. At the very least you'll know your work is for a good deed and much appreciated, (theres more to satisfaction in life than money).

Everytime you pull a freebie for someone whom can pay (unless it's a relative or very close friend), they in turn will tell someone else that you did it for nothing. They will be the "lucky dog", and you'll be flooded with requests to do the same for others. Then you'll offend by having to charge them or turn them away. Your reputation will be hurt.
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