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Old March 23rd, 2005, 02:06 PM   #1
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Is anyone here successfully doing video biographies?

I want to get started doing this and photo montages, but it seems very slow. Wait. Let me rephrase that. If I have one more cheap spaghetti dinner, I'm going to scream. Well, at least the cat eats well.

Is anyone out there making money with this type of thing, or do I need to adjust my direction and do something different? My experience level is a little better than beginner, to moderate, (isn't it all relative though?) with some graphic design background.

Your experiences and feedback with this? Business ideas? Brilliant and wise advice?

Thanks

ps did you know you can eat for three days on a jar of Ragu and a pound of vermicelli?
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Old March 23rd, 2005, 02:22 PM   #2
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Hmm maybe you can try doing it for dead people? As in for funerals.
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Old March 23rd, 2005, 02:36 PM   #3
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have you done that?
Actually I have been pursuing that.
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Old March 23rd, 2005, 02:36 PM   #4
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Most all the retrospectives that I have done for not famous people have all been relatives and they have all been done for free. And I tell ya, I pour my heart into 'em. Leaves 'em weeping all over the place.

If I thought I could get 500 to $1K for this kind of thing I might market it a bit, but when you toss it up on a 6'x8" screen in a huge reception for multiple families to witness and no one inquires about their gramma's legacy reel, you have to wonder...

After 5 years of many productions of all sorts, I have only ever produced one of these for a paying client...
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Old March 23rd, 2005, 02:43 PM   #5
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What type of things do you do mostly?
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Old March 23rd, 2005, 02:50 PM   #6
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Anything video. No pornos though. Wholesome family entertainment only.

Seriously though, find out which video category you excell at and exploit that one. Become the best at it so your competitors will remark with copious shagrin: "awshucks not them again" whenever they hear your name. This takes time and some unpaid hours and cold calls. Pull out the yellow pages for Lost in Space and start with a business category that you are very familiar with and begin the selling process.

I found a category that was being done poorly in my area and now I have the best in my marketplace. I am close to adding a second. Yesterday, I got a repeat call for a production that was viewed as a grudge purchase at one point! It's amazing what you can do when you specialize.
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Old March 23rd, 2005, 03:00 PM   #7
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It seems like it would be a hard market to make money in. First, everyone thinks that they can do it with their home computer and the free programs that come with it and so why should they pay someone else to do it and secondly, the amount of time it takes to scan in all the photos, color correct and touch them up and convert years worth of video in many different formats and then edit it into a decent presentation almost makes it cost prohibitive. I don't know of anybody that does this for a living but I'll bet someone is trying.
You could drop the word at local church functions or other places grandparents hang out at, as it seems this is the type of market that would be both willing, and able, to purchase an item like that. Grandparents like stuff about their children and grandchildren and when they buy something like it as a gift (perhaps for a child of theirs) the children get the seed planted for a future purchase about their parents. I've only done similar things like this as a personal gift because it was someone I knew, I couldn't imagine charging a decent rate for it because it would have been quite expensive. I think it's a neat idea but it hasn't been fully exploited as a viable market yet. Maybe you can be the one to exploit it.
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Old March 23rd, 2005, 03:12 PM   #8
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Re: Is anyone here successfully doing video biographies?

<<<-- Originally posted by Kell Smith : If I have one more cheap spaghetti dinner, I'm going to scream.

Your experiences and feedback with this? Business ideas? Brilliant and wise advice?
->>>

Spice it up cheaply with a can of tuna and some basil.


Apart from that, I'll seconds Jimmy's suggestions, and I'll add:

Working for free is better than not working at all while you are getting started. It'll help you build contacts, good vibes with future possible clients, and build a great demo reel.
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Old March 23rd, 2005, 03:14 PM   #9
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Rhett's viewpoint raised to the power of 2. And Dylan's work for no pay approach is part of the game! Every restaurant does it when opening day is approaching ... ok they might only be free for one night, but you get the point.

For every home computer that is firewire equipped and capable of smashing out a basic dvd, there are 10 that have powerpoint.

This is the consumer marketplace and enduser mindset that has put up a pretty big hurdle.

Since slideshows sync'd to music with K.Burns effect can be trashed out of a mac in about 15 minutes, you have a serious D.I.Y. component out there.

But every challenge presents an opportunity! You just have to key in on the moneymaking ones.
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Old March 23rd, 2005, 03:50 PM   #10
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Yes now if I can only nail just what the moneymaking areas are.

Eventually I'd like to move toward different markets, more documentary-oriented. And I think ultimately, once I learn to use After Effects, I will probably be pretty good at motion graphics, esp with the graphic design background. I'm still not sure how to market that one though, or where the niche would be for one independently employed. Another area eventually would be videography, although I am concerned about wear and tear on my back with heavy cameras so hopefully weights on better-quality cameras will come down by then.

For right now the pressing question is, where is the money for an independently-employed, moderately experienced enteprenurial type?

I have no problem doing free work and have actually been doing some barter. I do have to eat and pay rent though, so I need to clear about two grand a month right away and I'm out of resources. And walking away and getting a job in hopes of coming back to it later doesn't solve the problem, because I will have to quit that in order to start this again, and no job working for someone is going to pay what I need to make to save up money to fall back on. I really want to do this now, not later but am up against the wall coming up with options. I would also go sell graphic design work and am open to business ideas in that area, as well.

I have one luxury in life, and that's cable, and that's being turned off today.

I've got to do this now, not later but am just trying to figure out how. I expected work to come in if I got out there and put out brochures and maybe it still will but I'm thinking I need some more solid options for doing this. literally, there has only been one call in two months, looking for a price.

Hey this is an awesome board. Thanks so much for your feedback.
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Old March 23rd, 2005, 03:51 PM   #11
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Tuna? In spaghetti? Aaargh.
Does it really work?
Hey but the can of tuna in there is for the kitty. Could get ugly if I try to keep it for myself.
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Old March 23rd, 2005, 03:53 PM   #12
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"Legacy Videos"... is what I call them. I've done a couple. Ton's of work if you want to do it right, because you have all sorts of legacy footage from super 8 to vhs, to godknowswhat.

Personal experience? People expect 'Ken Burns' quality and can rarely afford it. My advice is to NEVER work for free. It only makes it that much harder to start charging for it. Now, you might have a discounted price, you might do it for some sort of exchange of services... but never, ever EVER work for free. People do NOT appreciate it in the long run. IF you don't value your work, why should you? And when you DO discount or barter your services, be sure to present them with a Full Bill, AND the discount. In other words, bill them the full six grand... THEN print out the family discount or whatever. That way when you finally get around to asking for six grand from them or someone else, it's no surprise.

Just my business experience.
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Old March 23rd, 2005, 04:00 PM   #13
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Is six grand about what you were getting for your legacy videos?

Or for whatever you were getting ... how did you go about bidding? I was planning to post a different thread about that, after a forum search. It does seem that people don't have any clue how much work is involved once the shoot is done and I wasn't quite clear how to explain it to them and bid without being murky, and without them thinking I was taking them for a ride.
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Old March 23rd, 2005, 04:04 PM   #14
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yeah, i haven't done any absolutely free work. I have done some barter which is fine, it's a fair and useful exchange.

I did one band shoot for practically free and I wasn't clear, i just wanted the experience and now he wants a bit of editing for it and it feels like he wants the moon for free. But really he doesn't -- it was my devaluing my services because of my inexperience, and my not being clear with him regarding time. So I asked for it. But next time I will spell things out a lot more clearly. It helps when you know what to expect though in terms of your own time and I am still learning to gage that.
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Old March 23rd, 2005, 04:30 PM   #15
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<<<-- Originally posted by Kell Smith : Tuna? In spaghetti? Aaargh.
Does it really work?
Hey but the can of tuna in there is for the kitty. Could get ugly if I try to keep it for myself. -->>>

Switch to rottini and you are golden. In fact, I think I might have some right now...


To offer a counterpoint to Richard's "never work for free", here are some situations where it works:

Every job I've done for free has led to benefits; some led to paid work, some led to meeting actors, some lead to meeting sales people, producers, and future clients. If I had not taken every free job I had, I would have about 30% of the work/resources I have.

And a good true to life example; I met forum member Keith Loh on here. I needed a website built. He offered to do it for free. I accepted. Since then, I've got him at least three web building jobs at full price.

My suggestion is to, since you have the time, get some business cards, go to any type of event you can get into (with permission) with your video camera; sports, concert, plays, etc... Make a video. Give the event producers a short clip which you've edited and polished, as well as your rate sheet. Offer them 50% off any job they book with you in the next 2 weeks.
If you do enough, that might get you some steady clients.
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