Filming for friends... at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > And Now, For Something Completely Different... > Taking Care of Business

Taking Care of Business
The pen and paper aspects of DV -- put it in writing!


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old April 18th, 2006, 02:24 PM   #1
Major Player
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Estonia
Posts: 214
Filming for friends...

Hello everyone,

It's maybe a bit strange question, but I really felt I have to ask it. This is probably a common "problem" for most of us - friends (good and not so good) want to loan our cameras and often us together with the equipment to tape some event. Many don't understand the cost of the gear (including the "fees" generated every minute the machines run) and they want to loan the camera for no cost or ask you to film something for a penny. I'm now getting into a situation where I must figure out a way how to explain to the friends that it's not that simple. So far I've maintained the rule inside myself that I never lend my VX2100 to anyone without my supervision at the filming place (although there have been a few exceptions), because I don't want to imagine the mess if someone breaks it and gets an invoice for 2700 dollars. However I'm getting too much requests from mates to film their happenings and I would like to know how you usually act in such situations? Do you have a fee that you gently ask from them? How much is it?

Thank you for the assistance & advice!
__________________
Panasonic GH5 V-Log L + Metabones 0.64x + Sigma Art 18-35 F1.8; DMW-XLR1; Panasonic HC-X1 camcorder; DJI Ronin MX - CINEFILM Estonia http://www.cinefilm.ee
Georg Liigand is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 18th, 2006, 03:31 PM   #2
Air China Pilot
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Vancouver, B.C.
Posts: 2,389
If they are really friends, do it for nothing or for a return favour.

By all means, let them know what the costs are usually. Then they may feel guilty and you can arrange some cost coverage in the same way that people feel like chipping in for gas if you help drive them somewhere. Just be sure that you can handle this 'favour' or can walk away if it looks like too big a deal.

If they are associates or people you know (not friends), sign a contract. Even if you are charging less, let them know it is a discount. But make sure it is in writing so everyone knows what the obligations are. Then they realize that this is serious for you.

The distinction is between friends and everyone else. How you distinguish them is up to you. Everything I've ever done for free is with my own understanding that I am getting something out of it that makes it worthwhile (experience, meeting people, portfolio). I would never do something for free that I thought was going to be painful (though, of course, sometimes it ends up that way).

There are a few threads here now where people have talked about this.
__________________
--
Visit http://www.KeithLoh.com | stuff about living in Vancouver | My Flickr photo gallery
Keith Loh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 18th, 2006, 03:45 PM   #3
Wrangler
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
Posts: 8,308
I've worked out a scale, after years of shooting for friends and friends of friends for free.

Friends: Free, regardless. They are your friends after all. However, I now accept donations in the form of Scotch for anything more than a few simple shots. Plus they have to help me move, including the aquariums and big screen TVs.

Friends of Friends: I charge depreciation on my gear. I explain that if I bring a $10,000 camera, and use up 1% of its working life by shooting 10 hours, than that is worth $100. If they don't respect that, then they can forget it. Those aren't the numbers I use, just an example.

Not so good friends of friends: A fraction of my day rate, unless I'm getting something great out of it.

All this changes when the project becomes for profit. If someone else is making money, then I'm not doing it for free any more.
__________________
Need to rent camera gear in Vancouver BC?
Check me out at camerarentalsvancouver.com
Dylan Couper is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 18th, 2006, 03:45 PM   #4
Hawaiian Shirt Mogul
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: northern cailfornia
Posts: 1,261
IMO - use the 2100 for paying gigs/work .. buy a 3-400 video camera to video friends & holidays ... be WARNED !!!! IMO it NEVER works out charging friends !!!
Don Donatello is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 18th, 2006, 04:57 PM   #5
Air China Pilot
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Vancouver, B.C.
Posts: 2,389
I have a "for-Dylan" fee schedule too. If Dylan annoys me I get to throat punch him like Jack Bauer.
__________________
--
Visit http://www.KeithLoh.com | stuff about living in Vancouver | My Flickr photo gallery
Keith Loh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 18th, 2006, 08:24 PM   #6
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Brooklyn, NY, USA
Posts: 3,782
You have to set ground rules or friends (and family) can walk all over you.

Here's some of mine but yours may be different.

If I'm really interested in doing the video I might offer it for free and/or barter.

Make clear to them that paying gigs take priority and if one comes in you'll have to take it even if it's last minute.

If you barter, ask them to return the favor in short order. If they don't, then don't shoot for them ever again.

If you're not really interested in doing the video you can simply ask them to pay for the cost of the gear since you have had to pay for that. It might be equal to what a local rental would be. Let them know that they're only paying for the gear and you're offering your skills for free.

NEVER lend your equipment to anyone. If they can't rent then they likely can't afford to pay you for the repair if they break it.

The ocassional favor can become a regular unpaid "obligation" if you don't draw a line. Be honest what that line is in advance. Not doing that is where problems can happen.

The above might be harsh but I've had to do it too.

Last edited by Craig Seeman; April 19th, 2006 at 06:44 AM.
Craig Seeman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 19th, 2006, 12:57 AM   #7
Air China Pilot
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Vancouver, B.C.
Posts: 2,389
Quote:
Originally Posted by Craig Seeman
NEVER lend your equipment to anyone. If they can't rent then they likely can't afford to pay you for the repair if they break it.
This is one of my WTF stories of when I did video. I had started using my brand spanking new XL1S when a friend of a friend who was also doing films asked to borrow it so that he could use it as an EDITING deck during a 48 Hr contest. Even then I was willing to let it be used if I could be in his crew; not even as a cameraman but as a grip just so I could get experience and of course keep an eye on my camera. To me that was reasonable. But he said NO! Uh okay dude. You want to put hours on my camera, take it away to do who knows what to it, and you admit that you just want to use it as an EDITING deck, thereby stressing out the heads. And you don't even want me to hang around during your precious masterpiece film shoot. Wow, that's respect! We were actually polite in that discussion and he understood my point of view when I explained it to him. After that I hung up thinking: wow, what nerve.
__________________
--
Visit http://www.KeithLoh.com | stuff about living in Vancouver | My Flickr photo gallery
Keith Loh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 19th, 2006, 04:30 PM   #8
Major Player
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Estonia
Posts: 214
Thanks for all the great information! Certainly there are exceptions if the friends are very good and doing favors to you as well. However, I must get more strict with the projects I'm not interested in. Would be great to know what is an approximate normal price for VX2100 daily rent. I believe that I should always at least take the camera rental price if not charging for my work. Craig, your phrase about lending was really a good point. Those who would be able to pay in case it breaks, usually don't lend such things at all and buy one themselves if they need it.

Keith, I absolutely know the feeling you had in that situation. Some people really have to use others without choosing the ways and they can create stupid moments I so much hate. Myself I would never ask anyone to lend me some equipment without asking how much it costs and I wouldn't want to take the responsibility either.

Charging friends is indeed not a good experience, but what are the approximate usual fees you charge from not so good friends or friend's friends?

I'm just rather new to this business and I have to figure out some rates that I use. Additionally I must learn to ask money for my work and start skipping filming the stuff I'm not interested in and which don't make me any income.
__________________
Panasonic GH5 V-Log L + Metabones 0.64x + Sigma Art 18-35 F1.8; DMW-XLR1; Panasonic HC-X1 camcorder; DJI Ronin MX - CINEFILM Estonia http://www.cinefilm.ee
Georg Liigand is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 20th, 2006, 05:35 AM   #9
Major Player
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Portsmouth, UK
Posts: 611
Georg,

My personal rule are:

Never lend kit unless you're going to be there on set with it at all times

No free work unless:
  • It's a really interesting project that deserves "pro bono" work.
  • it's a chance to test out kit/facilities that I don't have time to get my own project for (I do a lot of this, my idea being if it all goes wrong - vit's someone else project I screw up on and if it's late/not up to scratch, hey, it was free).
  • I'll get my hands one someone elses kit that I'm particularly intersted in playing with
  • It has the chance of looking good on a CV/showreel
  • they're a REALLY good friend and I owe them a favour or they'll make good on doing me one later.
Usually I'll want to check at least two of these columns.

And with the last one, if it's for a friend, do a good job, but minimum service. i.e if it's a event, they get one camera, minimal reframing, from one position, and the final DVD will be just the whole thing with MAYBE only a minor bit of trimming with no menu.
__________________
Shorts::Cut - www.shortscut.org.uk
The Short Film Festival for Portsmouth & Southsea.
Dylan Pank is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 20th, 2006, 09:38 AM   #10
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Brooklyn, NY, USA
Posts: 3,782
Rentals vary by market. I see PD-150/170 ranging around $150-$200 in NYC. VX2100 would probably be a notch lower so one might guess $120.

Doing something for a really good friend is one thing but in a business where word of mouth is the best marketing, people brought to you by those friends should expect to pay.
Craig Seeman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 20th, 2006, 11:23 AM   #11
Major Player
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Estonia
Posts: 214
Thanks again! Dylan, your tips are very useful and I'll start using something like that.

The rent of VX2100 is still pretty expensive so they indeed owe me a big favor if I do it for free :) And there's really no reason to bother doing anything for free which is not for very good friends and doesn't create interest in me.
__________________
Panasonic GH5 V-Log L + Metabones 0.64x + Sigma Art 18-35 F1.8; DMW-XLR1; Panasonic HC-X1 camcorder; DJI Ronin MX - CINEFILM Estonia http://www.cinefilm.ee
Georg Liigand is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 22nd, 2006, 01:38 PM   #12
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 47
lending

I have 3 cameras:

Sony TRV900 miniDV
Sony TRV120 D8
Panasonic ? VHS

Guess which one I'll lend out, yep, I'll gladly lend out the Panasonic. The others stay in their case in my house until needed.
Michael Dempsey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 23rd, 2006, 09:34 AM   #13
Major Player
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Whidbey Is, WA
Posts: 326
I think Dylan & Mike Have pretty much got it.
But I will add a couple of other things.
Let them do some work even if it is not necessary (storyboard script etc.)
More often than not, you'll never hear another word (I want this done, but I can't waste any of my time on it kinda thing)
My brother wanteg to film his son for a "cooking pilot" - I said set it up & have him talk to you though the process to see how he does - never heard another thing about it.
Anouther friend wanted me to help with a reality TV show, said there was not much $ available. I was thinking of doing it for a few hundred bucks & expenses, but found that there was plenty of $. Though I did give a break in my rates I'll make about $8,000 & get 1/2 the sales after expenses.
A true friend will not want to see you work for little or no compensation.

Trade hour for hour. If they outright say no, don't do it. If they say yes then do it & forget about if you ever cash in on the time, they valued yours & thats what counts.
Chris Korrow is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > And Now, For Something Completely Different... > Taking Care of Business

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 01:00 PM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network