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Old May 11th, 2007, 08:12 AM   #1
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Is there any job security working in video?

The following question has been riddling me for several days now and I'm torn- your opinions are needed. Do you think there is any job security making a living with video work? The reason I ask is it is becoming easier and easier for one to get started in the business and produce video that is fairly good even at a beginner's level. A double-edged sword as I am glad I have been able to learn and begin. But also worry-some as 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... I have a cousin who is not even through with grade school who can edit with movie maker. Yes, windows movie maker is super easy to learn but you see where I am going with this. I'm thinking about five years from now when who knows what is available to the masses. Will this negate the need for our type? Or is there enough to go around? On a positive note video is going in different directions and subsequently new work has been created- the internet for example. I'd like to hear what you all think. Has this crossed your mind?
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Old May 11th, 2007, 08:14 AM   #2
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job security? whaddat?
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Old May 11th, 2007, 08:17 AM   #3
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I feel like I should be more specific. One can employ themselves so it's not like getting fired is a worry. Rather the fact that it seems there could be 8 million videographers in a year and therefore no work.
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Old May 11th, 2007, 08:24 AM   #4
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Don't quit your day job! Although Tom Clancy didn't quit selling insurance until HUNT FOR RED OCT. hit big. : )
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Old May 11th, 2007, 08:54 AM   #5
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I have shared your concern as well. You are correct that descent quality equipment is coming down in price and that more people have access to it and along with that more avenues are opening up. I guess the way I look at it is most industries are flooded with people competing for work. The video industry was maybe not as bad because of the cost of the equipment, now that is changing. But the one thing that isn't changing is the way you succeed. Which is being better than the next guy and treating your customers right. Just because someone can plop down 3K and get a camera does not make them good nor does it assure they are going spend the time it takes to get really good. I think in any industry the people who truely succeed are the ones who love what they are doing and take the time to get really good at what they are doing. If you love it who cares how many people are doing will do it anyway and that tends to lead to sucess.

My two cents anyway.
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Old May 11th, 2007, 09:03 AM   #6
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What are you "torn" about? There is as much job security in freelance video work as there is in any other kind of creative, work-for-hire industry. It's not for the faint of heart. If you want a more traditional job still working in video, with a position and salary and benefits, those jobs exist too, you just have to find them and possibly relocate.

I'm not worried about spiffy cameras and entry level software taking away market share from professionals, because there's so much more to this work than just being able to hit "record" or burn a DVD on your computer. As long as people are demanding compelling video content there will be work for dedicated professionals.
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Old May 11th, 2007, 12:06 PM   #7
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If you can make decent videos and market yourself successfully in an area with a large population you may find plenty of work, but competition is making it difficult to charge a fair price. Plus most people don't have any clue how much work goes into making a good video after the initial recording is done, so they often don't understand why video costs so much. It's a tough business with lots of potential but plenty of risk too, so the advice "don't quit your day job" is a good one until you get a better sense what's possible.
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Old May 11th, 2007, 06:28 PM   #8
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The only job security is to be absolutely brilliant, and even then it's iffy.
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Old May 13th, 2007, 05:13 AM   #9
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There are no "safe" jobs anymore.

It's not unknown for large companies like Boeing to lay off thousands of workers at the stroke of a pen.

Even in the newspaper industry where I was employed, a job at a major daily in town meant "employment for life". Not anymore.

Now that I'm freelancing here's the issues to face:

Find a way to rise above the rest. Graphic artists worried that the advent of desktop publishing would put them out of work. But I told friends who were doing that kind of work that the amateurs who created horrible newsletters with crooked lines will now be creating horrible newsletters with straight lines. You still need a designer. And with advances in video technology it's the same way. You still need a good production crew.

Getting called for work. There's some agreement among those in the industry here in Hawaii that those who work well with others are more likely to get called than more talented folks who are a pain in the butt. It's probably the same elsewhere.

Developing a show. If you can sell the idea of people giving you money for your product, you're going to do well. If not, then you won't.

Partners. It's all fine and dandy until you run into a disagreement. And if you don't have an operating agreement -- well, that will be a problem. Take it from someone in that exact situation right now. Get your expectations in writing and have them sign it in indelible ink with witnesses. You might be good friends now but you'd be surprised at what can make some people crumple.

After a quarter century in a large company and a few years as an independent here's my take: You can get a job in a "safe" place and that's OK if you can accept corporate boundaries. Or you can take a major gamble and do what you think is worthwhile and reap the benefits. Thrash in the lows and revel in the highs.

If it doesn't work out, you can always find some other line of steady employment. Be a welder for the federal government at a shipyard. Become an active member of the stevedore union -- some of those guys get six-figure salaries!!! But if you have the skill and willingness to take control of your own destiny, then by all means do so.

Most of all, never be afraid to fail a few times. Learn from your mistakes. Plan well. And go forth with intent.

And for chrissakes have fun with it! :-)
Dean Sensui
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Old May 13th, 2007, 01:20 PM   #10
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The camera and lens part of video production is quickly becoming a commodity. One sure sign: trade school TV ads promising a career in video production ("You like to watch TV? Why not make your passion a career! Enroll in our video production school today kids!").

The money, and what job security there is to be had (not much), is in the control of rights. And it does not hurt to be brilliant.
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Old May 14th, 2007, 02:40 PM   #11
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Having run a company, worked for myself and worked for a large company (which I do now) I can say none of them come with security. However, working for yourself or running a small to medium sized company means at least you call the shots and can see things coming. My background previously besides chemistry \ biology was in both photography and computing. I ran the technical side of a decent sized hosting company and I saw the market turning from needing 50k to even think about starting anything serious to kids being able to start a company on paper route money. Their formula was simple, buy a server, buy in some talent to dig them out of trouble when it did occur and oversell. They simply didnt have business plans. However, I got out of that market at the right time. Photography, the drop in the price of decent kit has meants that yes it is cheaper to get the kit, however, you cannot buy in the skill without turning yourself into a middleman. Yes people have more expensive cameras at home, loads of people have dslr's with half decent lenses and take them along to weddings. Thing is theres always a professional photographer there being paid big bucks. Sure the odd guest gets the bride to thinking why pay when uncle fred had a canon eos big tonka until he gets the shots back and the dress is gray and theres no definition in the highlights and her teeth show nicotine stains.
Kit is only part of the story, I'm playing about with video and my dads wedding is coming up in two months, I have no objections to photographing it, thats my game, but I wouldnt dream of shooting the video.
I understand your concerns, and to some degree you will lose a bit of business at the lower end of the market, but seriously, if you have talent and a bit of luck you will get by and eventually do quite well. Cheap kit does not mean.
In all the years I was shooting the best shots I ever took (and I would rate my skill as mediocre \ competant) were taken whilst on holiday with a canon 10d (maybe 1200 bucks?) and a sigma 28-300mm f6.3 lens (about 90 bucks off fleabay) which was without a doubt the worst lens known to man (only benefit was weight and zoom range). I got asked at short notice to cover an event for a hotel on a beach at sunset in hawai'i. Because I had half a clue how to work around the mediocre kit I got some shots I loved, so good kit does not equal good results. Give me a video camera and I would probably film the sand and the lens cap and drop it in the ocean with nerves. The same will happen to all the guys who run out and buy a hv20 and all of a sudden are wedding videographers. Three bad jobs and they will give up and go home.
At the end of the day your talent will be your job security. If you arent talented you simply won't last, if you are it will take a while for you to build up your reputation and client base, then when you have a mature business you will be fine. Just don't lose heart in the lean patches, they happen to everyone, just flip burgers a while till it picks back up.
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Old May 14th, 2007, 03:27 PM   #12
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My Advice..........

Dont make it a full time job if you have a family, or a mortage. I just came off of decade in the music recording industry and at the end, no matter how "brilliant" i was, Business was slowing becuase Companies were making software so affordable and easy to use that artists started realizing that for the money, they could buy gear and do it themselves anytime they wanted. What is killing the industry is software that not only gives you the recording basics(8tracks) but loops of royalty free beats to use so there goes the producer. now Im new to video, but I wont quit my day job even though i have a gig to shoot almost every weekend. Its great xtra cash, love doing it but I would need to feel secure enough to leave a job that i know will pay me at the end of the week. wife, kids and mortage!
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Old May 14th, 2007, 10:40 PM   #13
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Harsh, but here's the reality as I see it.

As a rule, it's difficult to work with people who fret overmuch about anything - including their so called job security.

The people who others can't wait to work with are the people who walk in, exhibit competence, humor, ease, and confidence.

And nearly everyone I know who exhibits these qualities do so because they at some point got over thinking about "if" and changed their heads to start planning for "when"

I know it's hard when you're starting out. It's SUPPOSED to be hard. If you make it PAST all the hard stuff, BINGO you're a professional. If you don't, you're not.

The irony is that people who spend too much time thinking about "job security" are precisely the ones who hardly ever have any.

For what it's worth.
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Old May 15th, 2007, 08:11 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Brandon T Jackson View Post
I feel like I should be more specific. One can employ themselves so it's not like getting fired is a worry. Rather the fact that it seems there could be 8 million videographers in a year and therefore no work.
It might seem like it, but think about this...

Many years ago, I heard a motivational speaker refer to a business plan that looked like it was the best thing since sliced bread. A mathematician analyzed this business plan, and decided that since it was so good, literally everybody would be involved in a very short time, leaving nobody to be the customers. Now, if this were true, you and I would both currently be involved in that business, and we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

Like I said, just something to think about. Really, I think if you have good work ethics, you’re honest in your dealings and you do a good job, you’ll have plenty of work now, and in the future. Like someone else said, it can’t hurt to be brilliant!

These are my own opinions, based on my own mistakes...
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Old May 15th, 2007, 10:29 AM   #15
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Here's the way I see it,

There are different levels of video production, as a videographer.

I straddle them, at a low level.

You have videographers who are also their own production company, and deal directly with a client (e.g. if Joe's Cars wants a commercial, you write a script, shoot it, edit it, etc.).

You also have videographers who never deal with the client (original client, that is) directly, and whose clients are production companies.

I do both.

Now, the guys that deal directly with clients, like wedding videographers, are the ones who compete with all the newbies buying gear and putting themselves out there. The ones working for production companies really don't, because no production company of any repute is gonna hire someone who just up and bought a camera. The people they hire will have reels and established levels of work that they can provide. If you happen to be one of these videographers, then even some guy who just started, bought his own gear and offering low rates (or works for free) isn't going to sway a production company from using the DPs/Videographers they've been trusting for years, 'cause they know it'd be a bad idea. Only people who don't know better will see the better rate and jump on it without doing research.

In a way, a freelancer has MORE job security than someone who works as a staffer/fulltime for a production company, in that if you work at one place and lose your job, that's it, you're unemployed. If you're a freelancer with a stream of multiple, steady clients (this takes a while, though), and one drops you, you still have the others, and you'll pick up new ones. The downside is how long it takes to get to a steady client base.

Another thing is to diversify. For instance, I shoot, teleprompt, occasionally grip, and very occasionally edit. The more you do, the more clients you can have, as they'll need for you different things, instead of just one. Some people, of course, just want to do one thing, and that's fine, it's just going to be harder to find work that way.
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