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Old July 26th, 2013, 05:41 PM   #1
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Producing/Selling School Concert Discs where Uncle Bob already Posts YT versions

I shoot, produce, and sell DVD/ Blu-rays of school choir concerts. My productions sell well. So far, I've targeted the middle school level, but I'd like to expand into some area high schools that would command higher volume of sales. Several high schools, which are understandably more sophisticated than middle schools, maintain their own YouTube channels that host a blizzard of "Uncle Bob" style videos of songs for a given year's concerts. I appreciate that these are made by loving, dedicated parents, but they scream amateur: most are tripod mounted, but they feature the usual fire-hosing, zoom-in-zoom-out, and use of on-camera audio that picks up camera flashes, gum-chewers, and audience murmurs, to say nothing of the poor audio of the concert. I'm not aware of anyone who produces professional videos of concerts at these schools.

Before I approach the school's choir directors with my commercial aspirations, I'm wondering about any sales-oriented issues to flag. I don't intend to "compete" with or event prevent Uncle Bobbers from bringing their cameras. Yet, for instance, would a parent prefer to click through Uncle Bob's videos on YouTube or purchase a professional disc or two from me? Any thoughts? Some informal polling by me indicates that (1) permanency of a professional disc and (2) convenience of popping it into a set-top player would trump the "free" version I describe above.

I operate in a very affluent swath of suburbs in metro D.C., to the extent that demographics might influence any advice a reader here can offer me.

Thanks,
Steve
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Old July 26th, 2013, 07:26 PM   #2
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Re: Producing/Selling School Concert Discs where Uncle Bob already Posts YT versions

Hi Steve,

I have been filming school productions for a number of years and have a very simple business plan for it. I film it for free, but the school are committed to buying a minimum number of dvds from me at a fixed price. I keep this to the sort of price that parents would pay for a school photo, and the school sell them to the parents at that price. The minimum number covers the minimum amount that I am prepared to accept for the job.

As the productions are rarely more than about an hour long, I film with 4 cameras, 1 full stage, 1 centre stage and two manned cameras (myself and my wife). For editing they are all paralleled on the time line and I can edit them very quickly in multi camera mode. They are supplied with wrap around cases and on body printing, with sleeve inserts printed with stills from the video.

Now the smarter bit is that as it has been filmed with four cameras, parents all see it being filmed and at a price comparable with a school photo. They all want a permanent professional memory of their little darlings and Uncle Bob's wobbly single camera video doesn't get a look in. To seal the deal with the school, any sales over the minimum number, cost the school half price, so extra sales means that they raise money. This encourages them to publicise the dvds and they are responsible for sales and collecting the money. They also discourage parents from videoing to protect the school sales.

I have filmed about 70 of these productions and every single one to date has raised money for the schools concerned. It's a win win all round, as the school raises money and has a permanent record of their hard work, the parents get a professional multi camera video and I get extra income for a basically easy filming and editing job. Once parents have seen the first one at a new school, they know what to expect for the production and sales increase. Christmas productions also have extra sales to Grandparents and other family members, all handled by the school.

Roger

Last edited by Roger Gunkel; July 26th, 2013 at 07:28 PM. Reason: Spilling mistook
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Old July 26th, 2013, 08:29 PM   #3
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Re: Producing/Selling School Concert Discs where Uncle Bob already Posts YT versions

Steve,
I did this for a number of years. Similar to what Roger described but we always got a $1000 production fee up front. Then the school committed to a minimum.

Ours was always shot in 2 cameras. I know a lot of guys who used Rogers model, but for me there is always a cost for my time and equipment, setup etc. And that's on any kind of shoot. You deserve a production fee.

When we started doing college graduations which was far more lucrative the school put the cost of the DVD into the graduates exit fee. So if you had 300 graduates you automatically sold 300 dvd's which were $40 bucks each at the time. We used 4 cameras live switched for a college graduation. 2 long shots side by side, one 22ft. crane shot to do the money shot on the hand off, and one hand held.

That was good business $22,000 for the production plus DVD sales.

That inspired us to buy our own HUGE dvd burner printer. Drop 200 in when you leave the studio at night.
Unfortunately that all dried up after hurricane Katrina.
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Old July 26th, 2013, 08:52 PM   #4
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Re: Producing/Selling School Concert Discs where Uncle Bob already Posts YT versions

Hi Steve

I don't do a lot of concerts or recitals but at the last one we had cameras set up right at the top of the theatre and the MC came on stage and dozens of parents hastily brought out cameras and camcorders, some even with tripods. The first welcome announcement mentioned that photos had already been taken of the dancers so kindly put your cameras away! She then said "We have official videographers who are recording the entire concert and DVD's will be available ..sign up in the foyer but no private filming will be permitted"

I dunno if the organisers are allowed to do that but these one's did it and we were the only cameras allowed to continue during the night. It certainly solved any Uncle Bob problems and we sold a ton of DVD's of course. Maybe talk to the organisers and ask that the "official" film crew be allowed to exclusively film the event?

Chris
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Old July 26th, 2013, 09:01 PM   #5
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Re: Producing/Selling School Concert Discs where Uncle Bob already Posts YT versions

Chris,
We used to put that in the contract, but after a while in a big venue it became to cumbersome, and besides I didn't really want to stop parents and relatives from having their own memories. They still wound up buying dvd's from us anyway.

I mean if you're going to call them "Uncle Bob" why worry about them?
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Old July 26th, 2013, 10:03 PM   #6
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Re: Producing/Selling School Concert Discs where Uncle Bob already Posts YT versions

A tip of my hat to you, gents. Just the sort of input to push along my thinking.

A threshold issue that I resolved was to not forbid, or ask a school to forbid, mom and dad videos. I have a profile in my community, my kids know others' kids, and I just don't want to cultivate a reputation of a person who says "no." Shoot if you want, but if you want quality, buy from me. Simple. In other venues, however, I might require "no video" by contract.

For those like Roger who shoot for "free" and then require a minimum order from the school, how hard of a sell is that? From the school's perspective, I imagine they shoulder (1) all risk (of low sales and, hence, loss of money), (2) commitment of human resources to marketing, advertising, transacting sales, and (3) distribution. (At the moment, I do all three and it's a TON of work.)

And, Al, how did you convince a school to pay a production fee? I understand and agree with your reasoning for requiring one, but why would a school not hesitate to pay the fee?

In other words, I'm going to engage a species of human who is already fantastically busy -- the choir director -- and spread onto their life another layer of complexity. I'm being purposefully pessimistic in wondering why a school would jump at that. Is it the allure of raising funds stemming from sales that exceed the minimum order? Something else?

Obviously, I'm reconsidering an improvement to my nascent business model, so I'm more than curious to know how you make yours work.

Thanks again,
Steve
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Old July 26th, 2013, 10:07 PM   #7
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Re: Producing/Selling School Concert Discs where Uncle Bob already Posts YT versions

Thanks Al

I never worried about it and it never in our contract and I was actually quite surprised when the audience of close to 600 were told to put away cameras and camcorders. We were right at the back so they wouldn't have worried us anyway!

Doing school gigs here is close to being an enormous pain!! You have to get a police clearance to prove you are not a sex offender and then every single parent has to sign a release. As a photog in the old days I used to do photos of school concerts and there you just showed up and shot the dress rehearsal and on the big night had pics on a board with order forms ..no red tape and no hassles! Today here it's a completely different story ... even parent fall foul of regulations now taking pics of their own children at school events as it's possible other kids might be in the picture. Totally overboard so I don't do school events any more ... Is the USA a bit easier???

Chris
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Old July 26th, 2013, 10:21 PM   #8
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Re: Producing/Selling School Concert Discs where Uncle Bob already Posts YT versions

Wow...that's a enormous hassle.

It wasn't like that when I used to do them. But the climate is changing everywhere in regards to working around kids.

I can't say for sure about now though. Hurricane Katrina was in August of 2005 and that was the end of all those gigs for me. Been doing corporate gigs ever since.

No more studio , but a lot of airplanes and hotels.
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Old July 27th, 2013, 06:05 AM   #9
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Re: Producing/Selling School Concert Discs where Uncle Bob already Posts YT versions

In my case, I film, edit and package it, that's it. Marketing for the school is simple, they just make a quick ad in the programme that they are printing anyway, that is put on every seat in the auditorium, so that everybody sees it. Release forms work in reverse, where a note is sent to parents telling them that the show is being filmed and that parents should sign and return if they don't want their children to be included and an understudy will be used. No parent wants their children to miss out though.

Distribution and marketing rights are given to the school to allay any fears of improper use of the footage. A CRB check is not required, as at no time do we have contact with the children. As the school is selling them, we also don't have parents coming back to us with various problems that they have with their DVD players, which is always the reason that dvds don't run. One school had 5 dvds returned recently as faulty and I tested each one at the school to find that they all worked fine. It's always dirty players, so I have now started to include a note for things people should do before assuming that the dvd is faulty. I also state that any faulty dvd will be replaced free of charge, but a charge will be made to cover costs and time if a returned dvd is found to have no faults.

Roger
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Old July 27th, 2013, 02:15 PM   #10
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Re: Producing/Selling School Concert Discs where Uncle Bob already Posts YT versions

Quote:
Originally Posted by steven reid View Post
a tip of my hat to you, gents. Just the sort of input to push along my thinking.

And, al, how did you convince a school to pay a production fee? I understand and agree with your reasoning for requiring one, but why would a school not hesitate to pay the fee?
******steven, i'm not convincing a school to pay a production fee. A production fee is the normal course of business for any professional service. I go in like a business, like any other business. Schools are used to paying for everything that they deem worthy. It's typically the videographer that compromises himself. Are you honestly saying that you don't think you deserve to be paid for your services when you are shooting a play, concert, graduation, etc. I'm a production company that will produce your dvd's as well. I am not a dvd duplicator who does video production. I need to be paid for my production services.

Put it like this if you go in as an amatuer with one camera, no experience, shaky tripod, maybe you don't deserve a fee. But if you go in like roger, 4 cameras, nice tripods, 2 shooter, years of experience and don't charge a production fee. Is it the school telling you ,that you don't deserve a production fee, or is it you telling yourself that.

You see "uncle bob" and the parents have created a market for you. They have shown the school that parents really want this event documented. So with all your equipment that is going to get better pictures, better audio, better angles, better storytelling and you ask me how can i can i convince a school to pay a production fee?

You know i keep asking on this forum why is it people can't see themselves as a legitimate business. They keep reducing themselves to this "please give me the job at all cost "strategy.

Steven you say you are servicing an affluent area. Do you see any benefits in that for you?

I would ask this to everybody here. If you were sitting with a client and trying to gain their business and they asked you what makes you a professional? What would your answer be?
And if you can answer that question then you probably already have the answer to how you convince a school to pay you a production fee.

Unless of course you guys are saying, i know i have this huge value over "uncle bob" because i make fun of him all the time, but i just can't put it into words?

Thanks again,
steve

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Old July 28th, 2013, 05:10 AM   #11
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Re: Producing/Selling School Concert Discs where Uncle Bob already Posts YT versions

Al, I think that perhaps schools work on a different funding basis in the UK, which might help explain my approach.

Funding is very tight in UK schools, with constant cutbacks and no money available in most schools for outside professional services such as filming a school production. My strategy was to create a small opening for something that didn't already exist, so although in any other area I would charge a production fee, schools just wouldn't buy something like that in most cases. I did a product costing and the material cost of each dvd that I sell to the schools is 0.29 per dvd and packaging. Filming is typically 1 hour, with 1 hour for setting up and 30 minutes for take down. Editing and copying takes me about 5 hours, sometimes less, so I would class the whole as about one day of work,

Let's assume an average of 100 dvd sales, with a commitment to half that number by the school and let's go for a low price of 10 per dvd for the commitment quantity. That gives a guaranteed return of 500, but with an expectation of an extra 50 orders at half price for another 250. So a return of 750 less 29 material costs and a little for fuel and electricity. That gives 700 gross profit, which I would consider a worthwhile extra income for a midweek off season booking.

I of course have my wife as the second shooter and helping with duplicating, but a second shooter for an hour is not going to be expensive. I also simplify everything at the shooting stage, with two portable recorders on or near the stage, plus camera mics, two mini monitors so we can each see what the other is shooting to avoid duplicating shots and a clear plan that one is shooting close ups while the other is covering close groups. We always shoot from behind the audience from a raised platform supplied by the school, of which they usually have plenty. I also get the school to email me a list of cast members, thanks etc as they can then be cut and pasted in seconds, rather than having to be typed individually with the risk of mistakes and sometimes 70-100 names.

I only supply dvd, never Bluray and bulk buy wrap around 14mm cases and cellophane sealing slips for the finishing touch. Sleeves are quick printed from a still from the video.

I don't see any of this as undervaluing my business, simply creating work where none previously existed. Most Schools in the UK won't take risks by paying up front for something like this, but will show an interest if they see a risk free chance of raising extra funds.

Roger
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Old July 28th, 2013, 07:19 AM   #12
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Re: Producing/Selling School Concert Discs where Uncle Bob already Posts YT versions

Hi Roger

That sounds about the same as my last Dance Recital. I did the shoot for free and then sold the DVD's for $20 which equates to about 12 pounds so it's close. As far as I was concerned I made a nice profit from an evenings work (again in the off season) The dancing school also committed to take a minimum quantity and they also distributed and collected the cash for me and transferred direct to my account for initial order as well as extra orders.

It's a nice variety and better than sitting on your backside doing nothing

Chris
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Old July 28th, 2013, 11:33 AM   #13
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Re: Producing/Selling School Concert Discs where Uncle Bob already Posts YT versions

Roger, I very much appreciate your start to finish elaboration. Having thought on Al's excellent points further above in light of your remarks, I believe that a "production fee" equates (very) roughly to your example minimum order of 50 discs. The label is different, but at day's end you're getting paid something for compensation, a lump that makes your time and effort worthwhile.

You pegged "about one day of work," calculated that value to you, and set a realistic minimum number of disc sales to realize that value. Any overage is gravy for you and for the school who, fortuitously, is incentivized by your model to boost sales. Maybe I'm still too myopic, but in my approaching a public school, that just makes most sense to me: I'm professional, here is why, this is what I'm worth, and we and parents stand to benefit.

Despite a difference in geography and culture, public education budgets here generally are not that different from what you describe in the UK: cutbacks, running lean, etc. As I hinted above, disposable income in my area ranges from plentiful to obscene. However, it is folly to think that parlays into school budget excess. (Ironically, the poorer schools can command good state assistance/subsidy, whereas the "richer" schools are saddled with fundraisers galore because the populace can afford to buy fundraising items!) I digress. The point is that the schools in my area bear little risk in buying a minimum number of discs because parents can easily afford to purchase that number, and probably buy more with appropriate marketing. This is certainly a practical benefit of the demographic in my area, as Al noted above.

Thanks for input, gents.
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Old July 28th, 2013, 12:21 PM   #14
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Re: Producing/Selling School Concert Discs where Uncle Bob already Posts YT versions

Let me make this clear, in my model I get the dvd sales as well, the parents are notified long in advance that they are available and we even have pre-order which does quite well. The school does not get a cut. They have never asked, I have never offered.

We even have a nursery school that pays the up front fee as well, although I reduced it to $500 because it's much smaller and not a lot of special shooting. The owner loves it, as she feels that I am a service that she can offer parents. It gives her little school a higher profile. She runs a first class nursery and wants to have first class offerings. And there's no prouder parents then nursery school parents.

It's funny how we can come up with all these scenarios to avoid asking for the money you deserve. But there's always somebody in your market doing the same thing as you for 3 times as much. The difference is this guy doesn't use the litany of excuses that you do;

Just to touch on some things Roger said:
1. School budgets are worst in the U.K. (yeah right)
2. My wife is second shooter (theres no value to her time)
3 My wife helps with the duplicating (again she has no value)
4. A paid second shooter, (that's nothing, just barely worth more then my wife.)
5. Setup and tear down,no time at all. (yep 4 cams audio devices etc.. a cinch)
6. Editing thats just 5 hours ( and how much mileage does your car get?)
7. Sleeves are quick printed from a still from the video. (as opposed to what)

If that doesn't sound like your own admission to I'm not worth much , what is?

Rather then building demand for yourself, all you are saying is I am better than the so called "Uncle Bob".
Uncle Bob doesn't have all these cameras and all these angles and all these recorders like me.
Besides that I will not charge to shoot this, I will be your duplication service and split the profits with you.

So the point is if you are using 4 cameras and free labor, who is your competition? Uncle Bob?
With him being your only competition you mean to tell me that you can't portray yourself as being more valuable? Your product doesn't scream "I'm worth it"?

The point is you should be producing a product that the school is proud to "invest" in. And obviously they are not.
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Old July 28th, 2013, 03:06 PM   #15
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Re: Producing/Selling School Concert Discs where Uncle Bob already Posts YT versions

Well Al, I don't really know how to respond to you as your post is frankly astonishing. I really didn't expect after joining this friendly and professional forum to be the subject of a personal sarcastic attack on boh my way of carrying out one aspect of my business and my personal integrity. Especially in response to a genuine enquiry from the OP.

Some of your comments are clearly sarcastic, arrogant and unneccesary, when you could just as easily state that your way of working is different. You seem to doubt the honesty of my answers and make wild assumptions about my values the quality of my work and how I approach my clients when you know nothing at all about any of them.

After successfully running my own business for thirty years in video and 45 years in audio recording , I really don't think that I need to justify my abilities in my field to you. I simply offer the benefit of what I have found in the hope tha it may be of interest or help to others on the forum, whilst I also pick up useful advice.from the majority that offer it.

I would like to bow to your superior US knowledge of what is required to get business from state run schools in the the middle of a UK council estate, but I think that is unlikely.

I'll leave it to forum users to take what they want from my experiences and yours.

Roger
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