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Techniques for Independent Production
The challenges of creating Digital Cinema and other narrative forms.


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Old October 26th, 2006, 07:52 AM   #31
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yes, experience is king, or queen.

It's going to be a DVX100b, a HD-110 or a V1. Probably the JVC will be the one.

Thanks for all your comments.
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Old October 26th, 2006, 02:02 PM   #32
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"it's pigeonholed me. There's a lot of guys out there shooting only the big guns that are worse than me"

i think what happens is ( lets say a person ) if you shoot $2500 music video's for a long time you do get stuck in that price... looking over the past 25years + i have to say if a producer has 2500 to do a project and you worked for him 5-6 times, that when that producer has 15k for a music video they are NOT going to give you a call - they are going to go to those that work 15k music video's all the time ... once you move up to working in 15k music video's with different producers and then one day they have 50K again they are NOT going to call on you because you are a 15k music video guy/gal .. your work may look excellent but bottom line for most Producers if i need a 500 day guy/gal i hire a 500 a day guy .. if i need a 2500 a day guy/gal i'm not hiring a 500 day guy/gal - i'm getting a 2500 day guy/gal ... now one can argue all they want that it's not the camera BUT most that shoot DVX are getting paid on the lower end of the scale and most producer play it SAFE - do i take a chance with person that shoots $2500 projects for my 100K project ? or do i get the guy that has shoot 100k projects ... every now and then you get somebody that will take a chance ...
one of my breaks came shooting a Nike spot .. the director wanted me - the ad agency said there was nothing on my reel that looked like what they wanted .. for days the director and ad agency went back and forth - 2 days before the shoot the Director said this is my DP you either go with him or find another director .. went out to texas for 12 days .. it all went very good ... when i was supervising CC the spot with the ad agency producer another producer from a different ad agency was there with a director - they mentioned to the nike producer that their DP for a spot that was shooting in 2 days backed out - did they know a DP - Nike producer introduced me to them and i shoot the spot - they never saw a sample reel - they only saw the clips we were CC'ing .. once you get into that circle you charge the going rate= $2500 day without camera( you do have to produce good images) - you do NOT go back to charging 500 day ( unless it's a friend) ..Producer's feel more secure if they know others pay the rate ( plus you have to have spots that are near their budgets)
i know a excellent film DP that was getting 2500 day back in early 90's .. they moved out of LA to SF .. they started shooting Video for video rates ( think it was 800 day including camera) after 14 years out of LA they are making 1200 day including camera ... nothing wrong with 1200 day BUT 1200 day DP'ing project do NOT look like $2500 day DP'ing projects - you can say the 1200 day guy/w camera can light better then 2500 day DP BUT it's the WHOLE project .. more then likely if you are doing a $1200 Dp rate video spot
the total budget might be in the 10-20k range ... $2500+ day DP might be shooting a 150k project ... and in the end many can say well the 20k spot looks like a 50k spot AND i usally find the 150k spot has much more production value ...
i usually find those shooting with DVX type camera's are shooting with it not by choice but because of budget ... at some point in ones career you will get to choose the DVX over cineAlta because it suits the project ...
AND all projects have their budget restrictions doesn't matter if it's 100k or 1mil budgets you're still asking for this light or that camera thing and being told it's not in the budget ...
in general you have a circle of friends .. you all tend to be working in the same budget area .. to move to up to the next budget area you ( or one of your friends) get into the next circle of higher budgets .. you/they bring along your friends a few at a time into that budget area etc ...
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Old October 26th, 2006, 02:22 PM   #33
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Thanks for sharing your experience with the "unwashed" Don. It is indeed helpful with regard to our next steps and what we should look out for.

Many thanks indeed.

Tim
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Old October 26th, 2006, 04:04 PM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Donatello
"it's pigeonholed me. There's a lot of guys out there shooting only the big guns that are worse than me"

i think what happens is ( lets say a person ) if you shoot $2500 music video's for a long time you do get stuck in that price...
And I let it happen for just a little bit too long.

I re-read my post last night and had an overwhelming urge to edit it down and take the crybaby aspect out, but there's not an edit button anymore. Lots of people would be quite happy to be where I am.

To clarify my earlier post, my greater point was many people who take the path I did (Assistant Cameraman to DP or director) never take such a dip in their projects/income because they maintain their standards ("F900 or bust"). I did not, and I regret it. What seems arrogant to some people is just making sure they stay where they want to be. My situation isn't so dire. My biggest music vid has only been $8k, but my concerts are getting much much bigger than that, so it's ok.

I knew very well there's pigeonholing in all aspects of the business, I'm guilty of doing it to the shooters I hire for concerts. Sometimes I suspect I'm right to do so, other times I imagine I'm being shortsighted.

So my very personal post above is a little embarrassing, but I thank you Don for pitching in and sharing your story too. A thread full of opinions is much more meaningful with some personal experiences included to back it up...and generally, because of the competitive nature of our business, it's very difficult to get the real deal out of people.
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Old October 26th, 2006, 04:10 PM   #35
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No Offense Meant, But!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Donatello
"it's pigeonholed me. There's a lot of guys out there shooting only the big guns that are worse than me"

First of all, that opinion is yours, and probably yours alone. It may be and probably is quite true, but I would think that if it were the opinion of many others, you would be getting offers to shoot on the "BIG" cameras.

You must progress with your skills and your range, even if know one is handing you the opportunity. Just like getting out of film school, no one is going to hand it to you just like that. To move up you must get "lucky" or you must make your own "luck!"

Think about when you first started, did you just get offered a job straight out of school? Or, did you get some equipment on your own and do some self-promotion, and a lot of work for free. If you need to do work with the "Big Guns" to break out of the "pigeonholed" area, just do it! Do the work for free again, and maybe you'll have to supply the camera! Remember your humble beginnings and work the same way. At least you have other work to get you by. Few people out there want to pay you to learn!

It's like someone on welfare, sitting on their front porch and waiting for someone to come teach him or her a skill. It ain't a gona happen!!!! Get out there and do it yourself!

If that person wants to do a $2,500 music video, fine! Then ask them how they would like to do it with a Cinealta or 35mm instead?!?!?! Pay for the camera upgrade and get it on your resume! That's how life works sometimes.

Your complaints about being pigeonholed, are equal to those who would complain they are just out of school and can't get a great job as a DP!

I may know little about being a DP, or for that matter just a decent camera operator, but I taught myself and propelled myself into being a very good industial machine shop owner. By persistance and very hard work, studying at every free moment, promoting myself, buying equipment I could not really afford, and taking on jobs that I was scared to death of, I did make it. I did many a job for a loss to learn or promote my shop. In the end, I was the go-to-guy for many other machines shops in town, when they couldn't figure out how to do a job.

Come on Don, get out there and hustle! Rent, borrow, steal, (OK-don't steal), but get your hands on a better camera and promote yourself. Sacrifice like you did before!

:)

Mike
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Old October 26th, 2006, 04:23 PM   #36
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Mike, that was my quote Don made, so your commentary is to me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Teutsch
First of all, that opinion is yours, and probably yours alone. It may be and probably is quite true, but I would think that if it were the opinion of many others, you would be getting offers to shoot on the "BIG" cameras.
Well, I dunno, you tell me. Go to my site, watch my stuff. I maintain that I'm not doing more work with big cams because I've failed to 'make it happen', not because my skills are insufficient.

There is truth to your admonishments. The film school student part is a little rough though...I've 34 now and my first paid gig was Rescue 911 when I was 16.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Teutsch
If that person wants to do a $2,500 music video, fine! Then ask them how they would like to do it with a Cinealta or 35mm instead?!?!?! Pay for the camera upgrade and get it on your resume! That's how life works sometimes.
Absolutely. The other way to get to the same point is not to accept the jobs that are not on the cameras/gear/budget level you want. One method is much cheaper.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Teutsch
Your complaints about being pigeonholed, are equal to those who would complain they are just out of school and can't get a great job as a DP!
I disagree. Pigeonholing happens to people who have done a great deal of work. A student has done none. Whining is annoying for sure, and that's why I wanted to edit my post. Instead, I clarified in my post above this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Teutsch
I may know little about being a DP, or for that matter just a decent camera operator, but I taught myself and propelled myself into being a very good industial machine shop owner. By persistance and very hard work, studying at every free moment, promoting myself, buying equipment I could not really afford, and taking on jobs that I was scared to death of, I did make it.
I think both myself and Don could say the same.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Teutsch
Rent, borrow, steal, (OK-don't steal), but get your hands on a better camera and promote yourself. Sacrifice like you did before!
Good advice, seriously. I did. I took a large chunk of my billables this year and bought an XDCAM. Forcing the issue, basically. I have the skills to back it up, so hopefully this will make something happen that should have happened in 2001.
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Old October 26th, 2006, 04:26 PM   #37
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Make it happen Nate, make it happen!

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Old October 26th, 2006, 04:43 PM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Teutsch
Make it happen Nate, make it happen!
And to that end, one of the philosophies and my original point is, the method is "F900 or bust", sometimes. As arrogant as it may seem.
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Old October 26th, 2006, 04:47 PM   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate Weaver
And to that end, one of the philosophies and my original point is, the method is "F900 or bust", sometimes. As arrogant as it may seem.

But to that end, do that with people you do not know or work with already. What I mean is that the only person or persons who can pigeonhole you are yourself and those who already know you. Strangers do not know squat! That's why I said to do your own stuff and present that to them. A mix maybe, but put the BIG camera stuff in there too.

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Old October 26th, 2006, 04:57 PM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Teutsch
But to that end, do that with people you do not know or work with already. What I mean is that the only person or persons who can pigeonhole you are yourself and those who already know you. Strangers do not know squat! That's why I said to do your own stuff and present that to them. A mix maybe, but put the BIG camera stuff in there too.
Exactly, and you just spelled out what I already knew, but wasn't consciously thinking about. That's helpful, for real.

So hopefully, between the lines, we've illustrated in a way when it's appropriate to stick to your guns.
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Old October 26th, 2006, 05:29 PM   #41
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I don't know if this comforts you, Nate, but I didn't think your original post had 'cry baby'-effect, but it was just personal and honest and sincere real information.

You are right that posting such personal information can be very useful on boards, when it's not used wrongly, as with your post.
It's like a teacher that I had, that used to always tell personal anecdotes from when he was on a set. Some other students resented it, thinking: "I don't need to hear this, just give me my lesson", but I always found it interesting and I could learn from those anecdotes, because it gives you a sight on what can happen on a set.

Best regards,
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Old October 26th, 2006, 05:51 PM   #42
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also another thing that happens when we get into a working circle .. we get use to the income , we become comfortable knowing work will be here each month ... when you decide to make a change from AC to operator , or operator to DP or change your day rate from 500 day to 1000 day - that regular schedule and income $$ may change to slower/lower $$ for a time ?? and that is a little scary for many especially if one lives from paycheck to paycheck... i find those that are ready for a change & hang in there are doing very good within a year ( 1st few months can be rough)

you have to be open to when opportunity knocks ...
some never hear the knock ( many times it's not a knock- more a light tap).

i think it always good to look back over ones career every few years and look at different angles .. look at whats working and not working for you etc ...

"there's pigeonholing in all aspects of the business, I'm guilty of doing it to the shooters I hire for concerts. Sometimes I suspect I'm right to do so, other times I imagine I'm being shortsighted"

if i was director or DP on a concert i would surround myself with the BEST persons i can get ... it's a little easier to give a new person a break/chance if you have worked with them before ( maybe there were 1st AC 2nd unit on one of your projects) , if you haven't then you could be putting yourself at risk !!! every now & then we all go for it and give somebody new a chance -some work out, some don't ... Producer hire us because they know we can do the job - producer expects us to recommend persons that can get the job done ... we all tend to play it safe ... AND we all play it unsafe once in awhile ...
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Old October 26th, 2006, 06:25 PM   #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Donatello
if i was director or DP on a concert i would surround myself with the BEST persons i can get ...
I've been bringing up as many people with me from the DVX days, but I'm learning the hard way that not all of them are sharp enough. In fact, I'm looking into replacing damn near everybody save my producer and 2 or 3 other people. $80k concerts should have the guys that shot Rattle & Hum, not some of the guys I've hired that can't be bothered to treat 90 minutes like my life depends on it.

Despite that, that part of my life is moving upward.
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Old October 26th, 2006, 06:26 PM   #44
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Cinealta? Phooey. I need a DP who specializes in cellphones:

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/...s/4282265.html
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Old October 26th, 2006, 08:34 PM   #45
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Nate and Don,

Awesome insights. If the guy Andrea is working with had the experience, insight and patience that you two have, then he's got every right to work on a specific level. Lord knows I plan to. If he is fresh outta school or a student, then he better get much better at selling himself and working on projects that match his vision.
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