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Old April 3rd, 2005, 05:07 PM   #1
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The future in this field

Let me throw out a question here. What do you guys feel is the future in this field now that every kid with a Mac is a filmmaker?

Do you think it will go the way of the field of photography, where it's really hard to make a living and people go get portraits of their kids at Wal Mart for five bucks, or where a few people who dream of being photojournalists are successful, but most live on mac and cheese?

Or do you think that technology will open up new doors that make for good, viable, strong livings?

What do you think will separate the amateurs (ie neighborhood kid with camcorder) from the professionals or do you see a merging of the two (think, again, photography, where only professionals had professiona equipment, but now everyone has a camera)?

But I am concerned that as things become more accessible, more people will work for nothing, everyone wants to be into video, and it will be harder to make a living. I hope I can be creative enough to find a solid way to answer that as I build my business.

Finally, what do you think the best and most stable areas of the business are and will continue to be?

What do you think will be the most important thing when it comes to remaining competitive in the long run?

Personally since I'm just getting into the field I would like to maintain an optimistic approach. I would like to think that being creative, and taking advantage of new opportunities as technology affords, and being good at what you do, will pay in the long run.

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Old April 3rd, 2005, 05:45 PM   #2
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I've worked for more than twenty years in various professional aspects of 'the media'. Television, radio, film,theatre. And I've seen this discussion come up at various times in each of the professions. And the answer basically lies in the last paragraph of your post.

"Professionalism" wins out. Professionalism is more than technology, its a combination of EXPERIENCE and ATTITUDE. Does that mean that a newcommer to a field can't be 'professional' without enough experience in that field. Granted, it's hard, but not impossible. Especially if you bring enough LIFE EXPERIENCE to your new endeavor.

Here are my personal thoughts.

Basically, there are two markets for what we do. (and I've worked in both) One of them is "Product oriented" - and this is the so called creative sector. This would be the documentary(including news) and narrative sector, where your end product has to be good enough to sell. It's sink or swim buddy, and content is king. IF your story is compelling or unique or extremely well told (Hopefully all of those) you won't have any trouble selling it. The costs can be high, and the rewards great. But it's a crap-shoot requiring you to juggle enormous ammounts of contacts and connections, and MARKETING SKILLS.

Then there's the 'service' market. Commercials, Industrials, Weddings and Events. Yes, yes, the content quality should be just as high, and just as important. But the difference here is... what you are selling is NOT THE CONTENT what you are selling is the SERVICE. You are selling the buyer an aspirin for their headache. They want to know that you can deliver a good product at a fair price. There's always going to be somebody's uncle 'willing to work for free' or next to free. Your job, if you want to make a living, is to convince them that you will deliver WHAT YOU PROMISE.

And here's where the rubber meets the road my friend. Are you willing to stand behind your product? Can you say. "It will cost this much, and it will look like this." Can you show examples of what you've done. Can you show that YOU ARE INSURED IN CASE SOMETHING GOES WRONG. That's a big difference that seperates ams from pros in my book. If there's a problem and it's your fault, you will reshoot at your own expense (or your insurance company's)

Because in the end, as in all service sectors, it's word of mouth that makes or breaks you.

Don't want to make that offer? The guy who does will get the job. People want peace of mind when they buy your services. That's why a pro can charge what he does.

The cream will always rise to the top. There's just a lot more milk out there now.

But that's just my experience.
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Old April 3rd, 2005, 08:30 PM   #3
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I went thru a technology shakeout in the computer field. WHen I started, it was multi-million dollar facilities and everything was about optimizing hardware utilization to make money. Bigger was better. Then came mini-computers, then PCs, then networks, then the Internet. People who protected their niche survived (some of them) and people who adapted survived. Lots of newcomers made lots of old-timers unemployed too, as cost of entry came down and people did not differentiate between hiringa high school kid for $8 an hour to design their system and hiringa pro at $100 an hour. Many of them learned teh hardway, or never learned at all. They just put all computer people in teh category of the high school nitwits, but eventually things found anew balance (albeit one where many/most companies still are not tapping the full power of the Internet 12 years later). But every ocmpany makes much more use of computers and teh Internet than they did.

Expect the same from video. As costs come down more people are entering the field. Ask yourself what made you enter it (Same for thousands of others), and what your advantages are over the established players with their higher overhead and possibly fragile business models. You can try to attack their markets, which will be hard or easy. Or you can seek out markets they ignore (due to their opinion that no one wants their $5,000 video biography or $10,000 wedding) and figure out how to make money serving them. Figure out how the business will change as it becomes affordable for more and more small companies and people to have their own 30 minute product marketing DVD or instructional videos or web-based customer instruction videos. Look for where lower costs bring in new users and position yourself to serve those markets. But if you thought that you could come in with lower priced equipment, less training and experience, and still get the old-timers hourly rates, think again. It might happen for some, but there are LOTS of people entering video every day. To me it seems better to aim at new markets (rather than lowball existing markets) and own them before anyone else does.

One good news is that everyone has gone thru the computer decade and learned that anyone could buy equipment, but it took a LONG time to learn to use it. SOMe people have had computers for years and still cant do any more than email. Having experts is really valuable, and it will be easier to make the case in video for new clients to hire a professional instead of doing it themselves. In fact, some people say to me "Can't I just use my home computer to do this?" Answer: "Sure, because I do just that. But you need about another $6k worth of stuff (mics, lights, software, DVD burners, etc) , and about a year at 20 hours a week to learn how to use it all and your end product still won't be as good as mine will be today." People understand this when you relate it to computers. Its not hard, it just takes time.

Video is much more easily comparable than computer programming, which is good and bad. But at least what people see is what is important (vs computers, where it is the exact opposite).
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Old April 3rd, 2005, 09:08 PM   #4
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Something I've noticed is that there sure seem to be a lot of people who get the filmmaking bug so that they can be story tellers. Nobody reads anymore, and video, for better or for worse is the new medium for personal experession. I think that's wonderful, but with this burst of creativity, the market for new material hasn't opened up at all. Everything you see on TV is coming from the same old, tired sources. I think that's one reason for the success of reality programming. TV can't keep up. People are tired of the decades old story lines that keep getting regurgitated. Will the day come when the DV project you've poured your soul and all of your money into has a chance of getting on the air? It's already happened in the film world, although it's like panning for gold. Why not TV? With so many new channels popping up as the world converts to digital who knows. They're going to need content from somewhere. It's impossible to guess where things are going to end up.
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Old April 3rd, 2005, 10:21 PM   #5
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I think the Internet will open up new possibilities. I hope one day people will be used to buying video off the Internet, just like they buy books and music now. First we need broadband Internet to become entrenched. Next we need TV technology to converge with computer technology (because no one is going to pay to watch on a monitor.) I think the future is bright.
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Old April 4th, 2005, 10:10 AM   #6
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I could be wrong since I don't have the experience behind me to back up this statement. But I haven't really considered thinking of producing content for broadcasting as an independent (as opposed to as a paid employee of a company whose job it is to produce shows) as a money making proposition. When it comes to actually making a living in the field as an independent, don't you generally needto be doing weddings or similar things? Short of being in the freelance area as a camera operator, editor or graphics person on live shoots?

I really have pictured the idea of producing say, documentaries, as more a labor of love rather than something you can make an actual living at. This is the arena i want to get into, but pictured it more as a hobby and an art, such as doing B&W photography.

As far as market, in this political climate and these turblulent times there is a hunger out there for real information as opposed to the endless drone of car crashes, celebrity scandals, and packaged White House press conferences we are constantly being fed by the news. This seems to be manifesting itself in journalistically based documentaries that fill that void and present information we are not really getting here, such as alternative coverage of the war in Iraq.

The other trend that seems to be happening with this is that documentaries are starting to reflect the very charged political climate. You get someone from the left with their self expression documentary, then someone on the right combating the first documentary. So the facts get lost in the opinions.

I really would like to produce documentaries that examine the sides of an issue, in the future once I get the business going.

But I never imagined actually making money at it. Realistically, unless you happen to be Michael Moore, would producing documentaries be a food-on-the-table kind of career?
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Old April 4th, 2005, 10:39 AM   #7
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<<<-- Originally posted by John Galt : To me it seems better to aim at new markets (rather than lowball existing markets) and own them before anyone else does.


So....if you were a newcomer today, in what markets would you position yourself?
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Old April 4th, 2005, 03:17 PM   #8
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Several recent projects I have done are intended for the internet only,---one a promo for a bed and breakfast,---another of a sales professional introducing herself and offering answers to FAQs on her website,---and of course real estate virtual showings.
But a client recently told me the internet is ineffective.
Did a promotional video for him that he sent out on DVD,---hundreds of them and a few VHS copies.
Quality is better on the other end.
But if he streamed it to potential customers, the cost would be 6 cents a hit for band width.
As it is he paid 4 and a half bucks a pop.
Now, it strikes me that a streamed QT or.wmv is more accessible to potential buyers.
Soon, and maybe we're just about there in some lab somewhere, quality will be flawless and with the growth of wireless communication we'll send and access high quality video files anywhere any time.
The internet or what it's evolving into will be the medium.
I'm no futurist, but that's a pretty safe prediction.
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