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Old May 15th, 2007, 12:08 PM   #16
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Here's my .02

In the early 90's I went to Vancouver film school in the evenings and then started taking time off my regular job to work on commercial productions. One of my instructors was a fairly steady working DOP, and I had some other contacts. The commercials were great because they generally were only a day or 3 at a time. The time came though where I had to make a decision to work in production or keep my job (paying 40k back in the day). I asked my DOP friend what he thought, he said if you want to work in production, you've gotta 'wait tables', 'drive a cab', or do whatever to make ends meet between gigs.

Well, I decided to play it safe, and just did film/video on the side. Got married, bought a house, had kids... video work started to become less and less a priority. Then 2 years ago, I realized that I wasn't living the life I wanted to live. After 20 years, I realized my supposed 'secure' job wasn't, and I was really pretty miserable. So I started making plans, and a year ago got back into video in a big way.

Now, I'm still working my job, and running a fledgling production company, but I'm really stoked everyday about being able to be creative, expressive and sometimes even relevant.

My goal is to be financially self-sufficient in Video, though I love to make (non-paying) socially conscious films.

There's an old saying, 'If you love what you do, you'll never work another day in your life.'
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Old May 15th, 2007, 01:18 PM   #17
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I think that what might be throwing you is the fact that this isn't just a localized professional shift, at least not in my view, but a real cultural shift. It occurred to me at some point that what all this "democratization of technology" stuff was really contributing to was the development of a new literature, a new kind of letters. This might sound a bit grand but I think it's on point. How many hours a day does the average Joe spend watching moving images as opposed to reading books? We all know the answer to that one. This is the medium through which most of our information is received. This is something that has been ingested, absorbed, a visual and audio "language" that has been learned by several generations. It's only natural now that when people go to communicate that this would be a language many would choose to use. If a picture is worth a thousand words consider thirty per second combined with sound.

I don't know exactly when it was that scribes began to hit the unemployment lines. I can imagine them carping about the ready availability of paper and pencils and education. No one needed them anymore to sign for them, write their love letters, or take care of business records. But did the art of writing disappear? Obviously not.
No one needs a videographer or film maker to take care of the ordinary things anymore. That's history. Do they and will they still need artists and professionals to take care of the more demanding tasks? Of course. Will there be jobs for moving image workers? Yes, if they're up to the task. Will there be job security? Fergedaboudit.
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Old May 15th, 2007, 01:25 PM   #18
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This may be only tangentially related to the question, but take it as you wish.

A friend of mine gets occasional pieces of work as assistant to local videographers. As a result, he's seen some interesting (and apparently successful) business models.

There's a fellow in my area who tapes local 'color guard' events - the young women who twirl the batons and catch them? He then sells the dvds to the parents who are there watching their kids. When I first heard this, I thought 'oh, a parent hires him to come with his camera' but I found out later he just shows up. No editing whatsover, no closeups, just a big wide shot. Parents are apparently happy to part with $ to get a video of this.

Also, another fellow cold calls local businesses and convinces them how much a promotional video will help their business. Apparently, he's been doing it successfully for years.

I'm posting it here because it struck me how creative and determined people can find niches where they can make a living. I'm not a full time videographer either, so take whatever I say with a plus-size grain of salt.

But I do feel inspired when I think it's possible to create your own opportunity.
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Old May 16th, 2007, 06:23 PM   #19
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In this biz, it is a trade off. The more job security you have, the less money you make. I ONLY do freelance work for other people and when I do, I generally make 2X to 5X what a staff person would make. The key is relationship and positioning. I dont even touch jobs that arent either $500 a day or a $3K total project. I have less people to deal with and higher income per hour worked. I live in the 60th or so ranked market and I generally have a 2-3 month backlog of work and there are currently 2 guys that are making most their living on referrals from me. This could all vanish tomorrow as I have VERY few longterm clients so... that is the risk.

As far as gear getting cheaper? Big whoop... guitars getting cheaper didnt make a bunch of great song writers or more rockstars. You could give everyone in the world an F950 and it wouldnt change the dynamic much.




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Old May 17th, 2007, 12:42 AM   #20
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I first picked a camera up for pay in 1975, and I'm still going. The industry was up, then way up, then down a little, then way down, then way, way down, then middling for a long while, then up, then down...

you get the idea. Actually, over all this time I'm just very glad and not a little proud to say that only once, early on, did I actually get a day job working as a temp tech on computers, and that was for a month or so when a critical (to me) job start date was pushed back. For all the rest of the time I've been making movies or television, pretty much continuously.

For the past dozen years, I was solidly employed in TV post production -- right up until last Thanksgiving when the network job spot I had dried up and I found myself in mid season without an editor's chair. And I had long ago lost the freelancer's nimble mind, mouth, Rolodex and dialing finger...

That was very, very hard. Still is, I'm definitely feeling the tail end of the effects of that particular lean period. Selling stuff to make rent and to pay your kid's school fees really makes an impression. Real, lasting friends make another.

I'm back locked into the next season now, but there was a while earlier on this year when I started taking whatever I could find that I could do, and somehow in the midst of all of that, I wound up behind my cameras again, after many years of not.

And the crazy thing is? I woke up the morning of the first shoot day feeling something I'd not felt in so many years that I had real difficulty identifying what that feeling was.

Excitement.

So now, yes, I'm still doing my day job. But I've taken one that lets me edit at home, so now I have no commute and my evenings and weekends free.

Guess who's just finishing building a new 35mm lens adaptor??
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Old May 18th, 2007, 06:46 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brandon T Jackson View Post
I'm torn- your opinions are needed. Do you think there is any job security making a living with video work?
In the last eight years or so, I'd say 'Job Security' is a bit of an oxymoron, a bit like Military Intelligence. One has to get used to being fluid. Go where the action is, or even create some action and see who comes to you.

I'm somewhere between freelance and a small production company, and I never want a full time job, or to work for a company ever again - they don't pay enough, the hours suck (even though my hours at the moment are extreme - but every hour is billable!), and I wouldn't get an appropriate share of the rewards.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brandon T Jackson View Post
I can see how easy it would be for others to do the same as well. Quality equipment is now affordable. Even consumer cameras are becoming respectable...
Rule 1: Give a CineAlta or even a Z1 to an inexperienced user, and you'll get awful images. Give a handycam to a Pro, and it will look great. Feed rushes from a Pro shoot to someone without awareness of the power and responsibility of an editor, and you'll get a string of shots glued together with transitions. Provide holiday footage to an editor and you'll get a compelling story.

It's not the kit that counts. The newer lower priced kit will enable those who were once priced out of the market to develop their craft. The work I do now simply did not exist 10 years ago. Which segues neatly to your final point:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brandon T Jackson View Post
subsequently new work has been created- the internet for example. I'd like to hear what you all think. Has this crossed your mind?
Almost all my work is for the web. Broadcast work doesn't pay enough.

There's a fascinating market that's begining to open up for 'movies' on the web and for mobile devices. Check out Prom Queen and TikiBar (www.veoh.com I think) - maybe not to everyone's taste, but the folks behind them are doing well. Then there's the viral market. I'm exploring the corporate side of the < 5min genre - stuff that's episodic, works well on the small screen, compelling content and so on.

One thing you'll notice is that ideas win over raw tech quality, but most importantly, the best ones are made by very talented professionals: 'Human Skateboard' is by the animation master PES, 'that treadmill video' is for a well established band called OKGo, and so on.

And my tape's about to finish ingesting. HTH.
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Old May 18th, 2007, 08:01 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brandon T Jackson View Post
TQuality equipment is now affordable. Even consumer cameras are becoming respectable... I have a cousin who is not even through with grade school who can edit with movie maker.
Just because I can read and write, doesn't make me William Shakespear.

I'd have thought that it being easier to enter the industry would be a cause of celebration. When I started everything was unionized and jobs were few and far between and it was really tough to get started (cue strings).

If you're any good, and you market yourself properly you'll be fine. The cream always rises to the top, mind you, I'm rubbish and I've survived in this industry for well over twenty years.

Good luck,

Liam.
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Old May 18th, 2007, 02:04 PM   #23
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If you're any good, and you market yourself properly you'll be fine. The cream always rises to the top, mind you, I'm rubbish and I've survived in this industry for well over twenty years.

Good luck,

Liam.[/QUOTE]


To the OP, see. THIS is what I was talking about.

When you KNOW what you're doing, that confidence lets you post something like this "mind you, I'm rubbish" and nobody takes it seriously.

The fact that Liam can publically SAY something like that, is awfully good evidence that it's patently false.

In the same way that needing to discuss about whether "job security" exists is de facto evidence that someone is feeling insecure about their ability to attract and hold clients.

Nothing wrong with feeling that way now and again - we've ALL been there.

But my advice is when you find yourself spending much time thinking about stuff like this that isn't really about MAKING VIDEO - get you're butt up and go make a video! ANY video. At the end of that experience you'll be better - and do that enough and you'll be good - and the job security thing will take care of it self.

For what it's worth.
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Old May 18th, 2007, 02:31 PM   #24
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There is no job security in working in video.
There is no job security in working in entertainment.

Unless you have a steady job working in video. Or entertainment.

They do exist. And they're highly sought after.

So - I guess your question boils down to something like these -

Are you better than the others to get those few jobs? More skilled? Smarter? More experienced?

Do you bring something extra to the table that the others don't? Are your stories powerful, moving, impactful, marketable?

Is your technique so impeccable that people don't even see it, they're so engrossed in your stories?

Are you clever at business? Can you see a scam coming a month away? An impending layoff? A bounced check? A downsize?

Know how to dodge those bullets?

Know anybody else who does?



This reminds me of another thread in the aviation industry fora...

"There are three absolutely foolproof, sure fire ways to make a perfect landing, any place, every time.

Unfortunately, nobody knows exactly what they are."
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Old May 18th, 2007, 10:44 PM   #25
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One more thing about job security... make sure you widen your areas of expertise. Outside of the high end graphic guys, most the guys making a good living are doing it by being diverse. In the last 6 weeks I have been hired on different projects as a director, DP, cinematographer, first AC, consultant and editor. I have also rented out my gear in that time. Cast your web wide and you will catch more fish.



ash =o)
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Old May 19th, 2007, 07:48 AM   #26
 
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Ash, what's the difference between a DP (director of photography) and a cinematographer?
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Old May 19th, 2007, 12:13 PM   #27
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Ash, what's the difference between a DP (director of photography) and a cinematographer?
About $800 a day:)

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Old May 20th, 2007, 04:54 AM   #28
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There's no job security in almost any profession, period. Job security is an illusion - social needs change making particular jobs obsolete (seen any applicants-wanted ads for buggy-whip craftsmen lately?), companies go out of business, get restructured, change directions all the time. You'll be going along after 20 years thinking everything is peachy and you're set until retirement then BOOM you show up to work one Monday to find a padlock on the door and as you start to digest the implications of this, your cell phone starts ringing with the bank calling to tell you last Friday's paycheque bounced. Think it doesn't happen?

But if you follow your passion with what you choose to do in life you'll get by okay.
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Old May 20th, 2007, 09:27 PM   #29
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Discussions like this could go on forever because everyone involved in this industry has had so many different experiences with success and failure. So, I'm not even going to begin trying to explain potential ways to be successful. I think one of the biggest propagators contributing to the flood of interest of this industry are these colleges with advanced production courses and the non degree art institutes with flashy promos stating, but not promising, would you like to get a great job in the film or video production industry? Well, you can do it and we can help. I was lucky enough to attend NYU film school but not one my employers in this industry has ever asked where I went to school. All they want to see is a reel and/or my resume and sometimes they will check references because anyone can recut reels that aren't theirs and/or exaggerate a resume. Now, there's nothing wrong with providing training and showing such a positive message toward success in this industry but I bet these colleges and art institutes don't talk much about the placement and success of most graduates from their programs. If they do, it's an exceptional case and not typical. They sometimes place Results not Typical in little bitty type at the bottom of the screen or the announcer says it real fast. They also may say that a certain percentage go on to work for some big names like any of the news networks or on network shows. However, what they don't tell you is that most of those people are working as unpaid or lowly paid interns and/or pa's and sometimes the overrated "producer" title which carries many duties these days. I have worked on some shows where the field producer, our boss, was made to shoot B-roll on their way out of town just to keep us shooters from getting OT. They didn't get paid any extra to do that but were expected to do it in addition to their already insane workload. My point is that just because you work on a big project, that doesn't mean it is paying the bills well enough to make it a career. I will say that the hands on experience with equipment, although sometimes outdated, provided by these colleges and art institutes is better than nothing though.

As strange as it sounds, the order of how successful employment is achieved is a little backwards and can be very frustrating. It's not necessarily what you know as much as who you know in this industry that determines if you get the job. The what you know part will come after who you know offers you a job. Your skill set is very important but it can't be used if you don't know the key players. So building strong relationships with key players is the path to success in this industry.
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Old May 23rd, 2007, 07:25 PM   #30
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I've asked myself the same question and still do every day. The problem, DV cameras are cheap, NLEs are cheaper, and egos just get bigger. IMO what once was a place to make a good living is now saturated. Everyone and their kid owns a $200+ DV cam and some sort of editing software. EVERYONE is a filmmaker now. This totally devalues what we do, as many of those folks now think they can do it just as well (with no experience or education). Many delude themselves further by actually believing their work IS superior.

Now I'm referring to the actual work many of us get paid to do -events, weddings, shows, small corporate stuff etc. I HAD a graduation to film tomorrow, but instead I get a call from the client saying her oldest nephew is going to shoot it with his "camcorder". I was amazed! They are going to trust a once-in-a-lifetime event to a 17 year-old with a Hi8 POS camera! Why? Price. I don't know about the rest of you but here in Phoenix there are a million videographers and a million want-a-be's who undercut the seasoned and educated production folks. This is a HUGE problem. I didn't buy $8K in equipment to film a graduation for $50!!! (hell the tape is almost 10% of that cost!) This makes it really hard to bid on jobs when some schmuck is charging 80% less just because he can!

My point? Find a niche, something no one is doing yet or no one is doing well, yet. Seriously, why would I want to call you for the same work over the guy who charges 80% less? BUT if you are one of the only people doing X type of work, guess what? - you are the go to person. I found a niche and to this day I am the only one in AZ that is doing it (don't look, I am not advertising it yet).

If you are in this business to make money, get in line with the rest of us, lol... buy some real estate, you'll make a bigger quicker profit. Can you make a daily living in this biz, heck yeah! The bigger problem is HOW.

James makes a GREAT point. It is almost entirely about who you know.
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