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Old October 29th, 2002, 12:08 PM   #1
Major Player
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: London, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 484
What do you do for a living?

We all come to DVInfo to

Some DVi members actually live the film making* dream every day. Others like myself have to keep trodding along in our 9-5 jobs hoping one day we too can turn a passion into a career.

I'd like to hear from everyone, exactly what it is you do for a living. To you guys who are in the film industry, how did you end up there?

I'm an IT/network tech for the Canadian government. Save me.

* - I know, technically DV = video, but leave me alone :)
Andrew | Canon XL1s, ME66, Vinten Vision 3, GlideCam V16 (for sale!)
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Old October 30th, 2002, 02:14 AM   #2
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 6,750
Hi Andrew:

Well, for one thing, you live in a country that has seen its level of film work increase radically in the last few years--between the government incentives and attractive exchange rate, a massive amount of film, episodic TV and commercials have moved up to Vancouver and Toronto from the U.S. If you really want to get into it, maybe it's worth getting over to those cities and making some new friends.

Breaking into the film industry is a lot easier when you have connections, but starting at the bottom is usually the way. Try to finagle an intern position at an equipment rental house, look for ads on the net or elsewhere about low-budget films needing crew for free, these are ways to get a foot in and start making those all-important connections. If people like your personality and drive, and if you exhibit common sense and commitment, the ball will start rolling for you. It may be tough going for a while financially, though. Save those IT pennies!

(Oh, just read your post again, wondering how we make our various livings. I make mine working as a DP and camera operator on features and episodic television, in Los Angeles).
Charles Papert
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Old October 30th, 2002, 02:56 AM   #3
Regular Crew
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Borås, Sweden
Posts: 167
well, i'll add my life history since i am still on my journey away from the horrible world of IT (this is a joke btw :).

I started in 92 with playing around with 3D Studio R3 and 4 and quickly got interested in 3D Graphics. This was while i was studying to become a Systems Architect in college. After aquiring my own copy of Lightwave 3D i began to try to teach myself all the different aspects of visual effects, both computer generated and non-cgi. Since we didn't have any schools back then which could teach you this (in sweden), you had to do it yourself. I did this by looking at effects in films and sit down and try to figure out how to do them myself. It also landed me my first (and so far only =) screen credits with a film called Designer Baby where i got to do a 1 minute long CGI scene where a fetus is "created" in a artificial tank. I know the film got a few rewards on different festivals but the funny thing is that i've actually not seen it myself yet :)

During all these years (and now im starting to feel old) i worked as systems developer, systems architect, technical project manager, network engineer and such, building me a little career doing this. But all this time i felt that i wanted to do something different. Not the best of situations at all times.

Anyway, the 3D path was in retrospect pretty good. It taught me the basice cinematography, lighting, storytelling, and gave me a good foundation to jump over to film/video industry. And in 98 i got the opportunity to start working (as a programmer) at a company that actually did both film/video production aswell as software development (web mostly). This was a great opportunity for me since even though my primary job position was not to do anything with film or video, i was at the right place at the right time. And you learn a lot from discussing with your co-workers. The film/video dep saw my 3D work and all the stuff i had done on my spare time and after 2 years there, i was offered the chance of moving over to editing fulltime. So i took a course in Softimage|DS (in London :) and after that was a full time DS operator. My editing i learned both from watching others work (films, video, tv, etc) and from working alongside our other editor who had about 20+ years of experience as an editor.

Now it would have been nice to end this with "and he lived happily ever after" but unfortunately life isn't like that. During 2001 and up til today, the video/film industry in sweden has really declined. Mostly because of the bad financial times. So earlier this year i had to leave the company since they were having financial difficulties (And today they are no longer active as a company). At that point i couldn't find anything "solid" in the business so i went back to the IT biz and are currently working as a senior systems developer.

But all is not bad. I started my own company this year, got my camera (PD100) and editing station (G4) with FCP. And currently im about to finish my corporate showreel so i can hunt for clients. The industry here in Sweden has now moved back to the good ol practise of using freelancing production staff for almost everything. The big production companies had a little stint with trying to get everything inhouse but they discovered that during bad times (as we have now) its to expensive with full time editors & photographers. So everyones going back to using freelancers and smaller production teams. This i hope will be great times for smaller guys like me with a good network of producers, editors, directors, DOP's, sound technicians, musicians, actors and vfx artists. Even though my company is just 1 person, i can get together a good crew of 10 people if i need it for a project. Doing everything from video to 35 mm.

Oh to end this somewhat long and not concluded story, during all this i also started with scubadiving and got my instructor level last year. During this time i also took up underwater videography which is also a good extra skill to have these days.

Well, hopefully my little story might inspire someone or give you an idea or two. It IS possible to exchange careers, even as different ones as going from IT into film&video. Im not 100% there yet but i'm getting there :) And since im only 30 i still have some time left :)
Henrik "HuBBa" Bengtsson, Imaginara Fotographia,http://www.imaginara.se
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Old October 30th, 2002, 11:16 AM   #4
Air China Pilot
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Vancouver, B.C.
Posts: 2,389
the story of me

Right now I am the in-house designer and client services (graphics and web) guy for Destiny Media Technologies http://www.dsny.com, a small web technology company that is into internet radio and Java playerless video and audio streaming. Although most of my work is web and multimedia graphics, a significant amount of my job is presenting and encoding video in our proprietary streaming video format. A lot of video produced out of house crosses my desk so I have a good idea of the quality of business video and obviously Hollywood trailer quality.

When I started out 'multimedia' was the big buzz word and I thought I would be doing Macromedia Director stuff for CD-ROMs. Actually I was hired out of school to do 3D and 2D graphics for a 'Myst'-style game that was never released. That company was bought out by a larger multimedia title producer that did value titles and graphics technology.

I did assorted graphics for that company until they added a special effects studio with high end SGI workstations. Fortuitously, none of the original artists from the previous firm wanted to move to Vancouver (silly them) so I was given a chance to learn Alias PowerAnimator. We were thrown into modelling and animating for a cheap science fiction movie "Laserhawk" starring Mark Hamill and Jason James Richter (kid from "Free Willy"). I flew spaceships and shot lasers for most of the year and then went on to commercials and some TV.

I quit that company to pursue an opportunity for starting a games studio in Malaysia. That was actually a very near thing and funding was quite close. However, the Asian economic flu put the body slam to that. Good learning experience though.

I contracted to another small studio and made some small money writing business proposals for technology companies and learning web site creation. That got me hired by my present company. That was almost four years ago. Now, with my handy XL1S, I'm trying to get back into content creation. As you can see, I've done a lot of everything. Game graphics, 3D, business development, web creation and now digital video.

You can read more about me here: http://www.keithloh.com
Visit http://www.KeithLoh.com | stuff about living in Vancouver | My Flickr photo gallery
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Old October 30th, 2002, 01:32 PM   #5
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Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Whidbey Is, WA
Posts: 326
Hey Andrew,

I'm a organic/biodynamic farmer in KY. My wife's just got a job editing a mag (from our farm) so I'm taking taking this next year to pursue making some documentaries. Since we grow our own food, have a solar house and very cheap taxes, we can get by on a very little bit of $, which gives me the opportunity to (for the first time in my life) Think purely of what I want to create without thinking that I HAVE to make $ from it. So I may have plenty of time to film the caterpillar changing into a butterfly.

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Old October 30th, 2002, 01:58 PM   #6
Air China Pilot
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Vancouver, B.C.
Posts: 2,389
That sounds totally idyllic.
Visit http://www.KeithLoh.com | stuff about living in Vancouver | My Flickr photo gallery
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Old October 30th, 2002, 02:08 PM   #7
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
Posts: 8,254
I own/operate a start-up video production/independent movie company. I've been doing event/corporate stuff to get some money in the bank, but my first sports video is being duplicated as I type, and should hit stores Monday. My ultimate goal is to produce feature length movies.

Video production is not my main business. I also own and run an aquarium installation and servicing company called Living Art Aquariums, which still pays my bills.
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Old October 30th, 2002, 05:01 PM   #8
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Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 301
I'm the Deputy Director of a state youth sports organization (60,000 members, state-wide). I'm sure dealing with the public is always going to have some drawbacks, but when you start dealing with the public's CHILDREN, then you potentially have problems to the tenth power!!!

Working in a non-profit environment, you have to wear many hats to 'get the job done', but despite the few pain-in-the-a$$ people you have to deal with, there are many jobs that I would NOT want to have (and at least I have a job!).

I'm only recently into mini-dv (GL1 and Premiere 6.0) and shot my first short (9 minutes) two months ago, but I have to admit, I'm a much better writer than a filmmaker.

I've had several short plays produced locally (no pay) and have plenty of scripts to choose from for my next project - I just lack the filmmaking (am I going to start an argument here?) : ) experience.

However, with the youth sports job, I'm in a good position to shoot some training videos, CDs, etc. for the association and get plenty of experience, along with a little extra pay!
Mark Moore
Sugar Free Productions
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Old November 12th, 2002, 05:54 PM   #9
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Barrie, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 1,922
I'm a crusty 57 year old field engineer for a large refrigeration manufacturer. I live for all things technical and have made systems and control my specialty. I travel North America, teaching, diagnosing and fixing other peoples mistakes.

Don't ask me how i got into this as a hobby cause I can't remember (oldtimers disease). I do know I progressed from a TRV20 to a VX2K in about 8 months and i'm loving every minute. It's something I don't get paid money to do. I work for smiles and laughter.
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Old November 13th, 2002, 08:33 AM   #10
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Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Chesapeake Virginia
Posts: 6
I enjoy hearing people's storys. If you believe, and I do, that film is a mirror, then a part of what is reflected in it is the background of the film maker. Another way of looking at it is film is a handmade product and our finger prints are all over it.

I started in the early 70's when a Prof offered me work at the TV station he was on staff with. My next jobs were with contacts that I made through school or work. Then I moved across the country to a new market and learned the critical lesson of how important receptionists and secretarys are. I got a entry level postion at a TV station in Dallas, Texas in the "Film Dept". We prepared 16mm prints for air, cutting them for time, cleaning them and putting in cue tabs for the projectors. One day, after only a week or so,I met the station's Lighting Director and he asked me what I had done. I told him. He asked if I could run a followspot. I asked what kind? a supertouper or a gladiator? He booked me for a freelance gig that weekend. That relationship resulted in a mentor, master/apprentice relationship and my next job at a national cable company as a Lighting director.

I have since worked on staff and freelanced and back on staff. I have shot two films that aired on PBS and a film for Africa and one that aired in India. Every project that I have done has been a result of people I have come to know and work that I have done.

I teach at a grad school part time and have seen a lot of students come through and some make it in the industry and some not. One of the things that those who make it have in common is that they are willing to work hard on other people's projects. Gaining a reputation as a responsible hard worker and gaining friendships is priceless.
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Old November 13th, 2002, 10:50 AM   #11
Hawaiian Shirt Mogul
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: northern cailfornia
Posts: 1,261
commercial/indie DP 1982-1997 based out of LA but lived in SF area - shot ONLY FILM - no video = YES i was a FILM SNOB ..actually just never came in contact with video persons/work .... was only offered maybe 2-3 video jobs during that time ..

retired from FILM BUSINESS Fall 1997 .....

summer 99 ..friend showed me his XL1 ... i like the image/look of frame mode and the size ... so now i'm a hand size DV snob !!!
no shoulder camera's , no film camera's ..OK for $XX,XXX day i'll shoot anything !!!

have shot 3 documentary's on GL 1 .... a feature , B' camera on several features ... i work 2 ways .. either NO lights or with 5 ton grip/light truck ... it's either nothing or everything .. still in retirement so i still get to CHOOSE the projects i work on ...
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Old November 13th, 2002, 12:27 PM   #12
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Los Angeles (recently from San Francisco)
Posts: 954
I'm an intellectual property litigator (copyright, trademark and patent) with a major international law firm. I bought my first camcorder (a Sony TR600 Hi8) for my wedding 8 years ago. Since then, my little hobby has evolved to include a Sony VX2000, a 1.4 GHz computer with 1/4 terabyte of hard drive storage and a Pioneer 104 DVD burner, a Pinnacle ProOne realtime board with Premiere 6.5, After Effects 5.5, Pinnacle Commotion, Pinnacle Edition, and Pinnacle Impression Pro for DVD authoring. My primary interest is shooting travelogues, though once a year I direct a three-camera, live-switched shoot of a 4th of July show that my friends have produced for the last 29 years.
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Old November 23rd, 2002, 06:07 AM   #13
Outer Circle
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Hope, BC
Posts: 7,527
I started out with shooting promotional and instructional videos, and now shoot funerals, the odd wedding, accidents/news stuff, family stuff and fun stuff. Video is mainly a hobby for me. I shoot more stills than video, but it kind of overlaps.
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Old November 24th, 2002, 05:17 AM   #14
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Location: Brisbane, Australia
Posts: 8
I first picked up an 8mm movie camera in 1959 (I was 14). This created a life long passion with an industry that I have passed through, over, and beneath. After finishing college I entered the world of finance and stayed there for twenty years but never far from film and television.
When I was twenty one I made a series of four 1/2 hour doco's on 16mm with my trusty Bell & Howell. Well, they were promotional films for the navy reserve but good enough for our national broadcaster to televise. I got $200 for all four.
Until I turned 40 I made a stack of short films and videos (amateur) until I got the guts to follow my passion. I turned in my career and with a friend, started a production company. That was 17 years ago. I've now produced nearly 3000 doco's or short films (corporate, event, commercial & broadcast), six have been aired in Australia and many more in the US and Asia.
I downsized my company to one (me) and independently produce only documentaries and corporates now. But you never lose your skill or passion. This year I won 3 out of 5 catagories at an international film festival and best film at festival.
The moral of this story is - for those with the true passion - You never fail until you stop trying. Go to it and succeed.
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Old November 24th, 2002, 06:16 AM   #15
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Location: Austin, TX USA
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That's probably the most inspiring thing I've read here yet. Thanks.
John Locke
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