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Old August 14th, 2015, 11:23 AM   #46
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Re: Second Shooter Add On

Steve, I'm glad you analysed my post and disagreed with a number of my points, which is exactly why I posted what I did. It emphasises that no two videographers will work the same way, so advice about a second shooter is totally dependant on how the enquirer tends to shoot the wedding. It could be that a gofer is all that's required for a few pounds pocket money, or a skilled cinematographer at a much higher cost, or of course none at all.

Roger
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Old August 14th, 2015, 02:29 PM   #47
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Re: Second Shooter Add On

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Originally Posted by Roger Gunkel View Post
Steve, I'm glad you analysed my post and disagreed with a number of my points,
Sarcasm Mr Gunkel, I do love a nice bit of sarcasm. :)
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Old August 14th, 2015, 03:00 PM   #48
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Re: Second Shooter Add On

(Disclaimer) The following is only my opinion. I have been wrong lots of
times before so feel free to disagree....

I think the problem is, lots of people on here want to run their business
by themselves (keeping all the profits and not hiring employees), yet they
want to have 'second shooters' for weddings when needed. There is a
fundamental problem with this approach. Yes, many people can 'make it work'.
If you live in an area with a film school, you can often find college kids or
recent graduates who are glad to work as second shooter. It's just not a
general good model for doing business. You know little about these second
shooters. When you find a good one, they are usually a short term employee
at best. You can't give them full time work, so it's hard for them to commit to you
at the level which you need. And if they are really good, they will often go into
competition with you down the road.

The way I see it, you basically need to decide what your business is going to be.
Are you going to offer multiple shooters and high end weddings? Look at the
companies that do this successfully. The businesses that do this are most often
not 1 person video companies! They are either some form of partnership or LLC
where there are 2, or 3 or 4, sometimes even 5 or more people working at that company!
So, it's not hard to gear up for multiple camera ops. Of course, they also charge accordingly,
as they may have a camera operator, focused only the bride, one on the groom, one on
the audience/family's, and sometimes a steadicam op as well. And charging what they charge,
they tend to attract only high end clients as many cannot afford them. The problem is,
many brides see their films, and want a 'steak dinner' when they have a 'fries and coke'
budget. And then some of the one person video companies try to give it to them.
You either charge what you need to charge to attract and be able to pay others to
work with/for you, or you do not give the bride multiple manned cameras at her
wedding. I would possible do a couple 'lock down' shots as a solo op, but I see
so many 'single person' wedding companies trying to do the work of a full service
company with 5 employees,......all for a $1500 wedding and I just shake my head.

People will ask for the world, it's your job to bring them back to reality.
As an example of this, a few years ago, I had a bride ask me for something
lower than my lowest priced package.
"We just need one camera recording the entire ceremony on a wide shot", she said.
"We don't have the budget for anything more, and we just want to be able to
have something to look back on."
Like a dummy I agreed to do a cheap, one camera version. And after it was done?
She refused payment until her and her husband could view the video and 'suggest
places where you could edit to another shot'. Like what? What shot am I going to
edit to when you specifically ASKED for the cheap one camera package?
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Old August 14th, 2015, 03:18 PM   #49
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Re: Second Shooter Add On

Quote:
She refused payment until her and her husband could view the video and 'suggest
places where you could edit to another shot'. Like what? What shot am I going to
edit to when you specifically ASKED for the cheap one camera package?
We call that time shift video, instead of editing linear you just mix it all up, something like they did on teh film memento, the bride will have to watch her video over and over again to understand what is going on but it certainly will never bore her :D
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Old August 14th, 2015, 03:20 PM   #50
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Re: Second Shooter Add On

Gabe, I agree with some of your points, but your issues in the last case you quoted was down to the foolish decision to accept payment after delivery. In my case, all money is paid to me before the day and why; because when couples want you to turn up, they are very accommodating. After the day, its hard enough to get them to supply you with song choices, let alone payment. Its like these buy now, pay later schemes. Who wants to pay for something after you have received the goods.

Paying in order to receive something is as easy as pie, but paying for something you already have takes a good conscience. Not many are blessed with such a thing.

There's no doubt there are risks in hiring a 2nd shooter. However I see many companies offer it and yes it can lead to stress. You either accept that and the risks or not offer it at all. Simple as that.
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Old August 14th, 2015, 05:02 PM   #51
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Re: Second Shooter Add On

Gabe, I agree with just about everything in your post, although I agree with Steve that you don't leave it with them until they have paid.

Steve, no sarcasm intended, just an observation! Sometimes we have the same point of view, sometimes we differ, be boring if we always agreed on everything :-)

Roger
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Old August 14th, 2015, 10:57 PM   #52
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Re: Second Shooter Add On

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Originally Posted by Steve Burkett View Post
Gabe, I agree with some of your points, but your issues in the last case you quoted was down to the foolish decision to accept payment after delivery. In my case, all money is paid to me before the day and why; because when couples want you to turn up, they are very accommodating. After the day, its hard enough to get them to supply you with song choices, let alone payment. Its like these buy now, pay later schemes. Who wants to pay for something after you have received the goods.

Paying in order to receive something is as easy as pie, but paying for something you already have takes a good conscience. Not many are blessed with such a thing.

There's no doubt there are risks in hiring a 2nd shooter. However I see many companies offer it and yes it can lead to stress. You either accept that and the risks or not offer it at all. Simple as that.
Not quite. I was dumb but not THAT dumb. I didn't
make her prepay, but I certainly didn't let them do what
she was asking for! I still had possession of the video
as even back then I knew better than to turn over the
video without payment! Instead I forwarded a copy of her
email to me (where she specifically asked for one camera)
and politely reminded her of her decision, despite
being informed of the drawbacks of this approach.
I informed her that I had the 1 cam video done, it was
what it was and if she wanted it, she could submit payment
and then pick it up. Which she did.....the point wasn't that I
was 'screwed' out of money, but rather that clients can and
will make crazy requests. Like wanting 5 different camera
angles of their wedding for $1500. My point simply is
if you want to be a company that offers multiple shooters,
then you need to 'step up' your business beyond the 'one
person' company status....and charge accordingly. If you
decide not to follow this advice, well, then you have only
yourself to blame when you can't get a good 2nd shooter
to commit 18 months in advance.
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Old August 14th, 2015, 11:47 PM   #53
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Re: Second Shooter Add On

You know you can set yourself up as a dual shooter company, charge accordingly and still have stress and hassle with hiring a 2nd shooter. I've spoken to a number of freelancers and Wedding video companies and the issues are simple. You need someone competent, reliable and conscientious in their work. Someone who will turn up on time is a must, but also care enough about their work to do a good job despite it being for another business.

It sounds easy on paper but those most competent and experienced will have their own business, so you're looking at someone who is perhaps starting out, someone who has a natural talent for it but not yet established in the Wedding industry so will be happy to gain experience working for you. You can then mould them to work to your style. However how long can you keep such a person. Most will eventually want their own business at some point then you're back to square one.

The only reliable 2nd shooter is a spouse or life long friend, but the moment you resort to hiring, you have all the potential issues of working with employees.
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Old August 15th, 2015, 04:06 AM   #54
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Re: Second Shooter Add On

I do think that this whole subject of a second shooter follows along the lines of what Gabe is saying.

A wedding videographer needs to decide what type of business he actually wants, as that will dictate how many shooters he needs and how much work he would need to take on. Forgetting partners for a moment, you either hire someone who is experienced and will probably require a substantial payment, or a student/beginner who will be cheap but probably unpredictable.

The business needs to be built around what the core aim is, is it going to be a multi shooter higher end business or is it a one man setup or something in between. If the requirement is to be for a permanent multi shooter setup, then the core prices and number of weddings need to be built around having a permanent and reliable crew. Anything less than that is going to be ad hoc based on who happens to be available for the wedding, with the risk of unreliability that brings. The only other reliable alternative is a competent partner/spouse who is always available.

For me, I aim to earn enough income to be able to do the things I want with my life and have the time to do them, so the solo shooter or working with wife is perfect. As soon as you start building a higher level business, then the costs increase rapidly. I long ago found that I could get excellent results for weddings using good quality consumer gear rather than spending a fortune on equipment that may well be over specified for my requirements. So for instance I have just bought to FZ1000s that are perfect for my needs and cost me 1000. I could have spent 15000 on two camera bodies and lenses, but that extra 14000 would have to come out of my profits, which would mean charging higher prices. Higher prices also applies to hiring a quality second shooter and more equipment for them to use. Then there is the cost of more upmarket promotion to put yourself in front of bigger spending clients, perhaps even premises to raise your profile.

There are many things to consider beyond just hiring an extra shooter if you are going to run a profit making business rather than an expensive hobby, and that also includes whether you need extra equipment for that cinematic look or artistic satisfaction. In my business I target what I see as the biggest sector of the market, which I enjoy filming, doesn't involve outside personnel hiring or big equipment cost and allows me to satisfy the requirements of 95% of the enquiries that I get. I also have time to enjoy life :-)

Roger
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Old August 15th, 2015, 02:21 PM   #55
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Re: Second Shooter Add On

Steve, you are still kind of missing what I am saying. You talked about
hiring someone 'starting out' and 'happy to gain experience'. This is
exactly my point. If you want to be a company that does multiple
shooters, (maybe even steadicam/3axis gimbals and so on,)
you do NOT hire someone 'starting out' or 'happy to gain experience'.
You hire someone good (and probably end up having to pay
them a lot of money, because you need to pay for talent!)
The really good wedding companies (at least the ones I've
observed in action.....say at the level of StillMotion or so) do
NOT have people 'starting out and happy with experience'
employed as camera ops. They have people who are really good.
Because they get paid really good. If you want to be a company like
that, you aren't going to get by paying your second shooter $300
per day. If that shooter is good, they are either going to want more
money, or want to eventually move on. It's like owning a McDonalds
and wanting to hire less high school and college kids and wanting
responsible adults because they just help the place run so much
smoother. Of course they do....but when you offer peanuts you get
monkeys. It's an easy problem to solve.....offer more money and a
full time position. Second shooters that can't make a living working for you,
just aren't going to prioritize your work the way you want them too and
really why should they? You are just some extra beer money for
them on the weekends. Now say you are paying 60-80k per year.
Do you think you might be able to attract a good shooter for that?
Probably, but now your problem is it ruined your business as you
don't make enough money to pay this.....which is why you need to raise
your rates if you want to be a business that offers this. If you offer a
premium service, you need to charge a premium price, it's as simple
as that. Problem is, brides have convinced many of us that they want
that level of service.....but only want to pay $1500 for it. So people
try to go hire 2nd shooters for $300 for the day and complain about the
2nd shooters they get. I'm sorry but that's just gonna be a crapshoot.

Now I sympathize, I too am a one person video company, asked
to do more and more for less and less. But the few times I have
taken on big projects requiring additional shooters, I have paid them
what a professional shooter might charge in LA or NY to shoot network.
$1500 a day. Because I paid that, I was able to get someone good
that I didn't have to hire on a full time basis. But if you are going to
make a habit of doing weddings that need more shooters that are good,
the best way is to hire them full time and pay them. You might think
what you are offering is 'good money' but if they can't make a living
off it, it's honestly more of a hobby for them. Say you pay someone
$300 a day and hire them 4 days a month for the 5 months you are busy
doing weddings. They made 6 grand off you for only 16 days....but
they certainly need another job to pay the bills! So how important
are you really to them? Probably not as important as their normal
job, so you are in danger of being ditched, any time there is a conflict
with their other job (or really, even if they are tired that weekend from
working all week at their real job.) So there you go. You are either a
business that pays and employs others at a good enough rate to make them
'invested' in your business.....or you are trying to 'bit hire' and
'farm out' ocassional work at rates that cannot support a person full
time. Which is fine, but don't be surprised then, when you receive
less than stellar work. That's just the way the world works.
You want someone 'competent, reliable and that cares about
their work?' You can find that person.....but it's hard when you
are offering 'bit work' that can't support that person.
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Old August 15th, 2015, 03:39 PM   #56
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Re: Second Shooter Add On

Gabe, I agree with what you say. What I'm saying is that the really good Wedding Videographers are more likely to have their own business. Okay so say these Videographers can find a good company they can work for, pays well, no hassle or stress advertising, just regular work. I can see the point, but for many it's working to someone else's rules and creative style.

Those companies I have dealt with both hiring and being hired usually prefer to train and mould the Videographers. I know one high profile company that works this way. Okay so those they hire don't have the experience straight away but they also don't have their own way of doing things and creative style.

Money isn't always the answer. I've hired Videographers and from experience, it's those that charge the most that have the ego to match. They're inflexible, set in their ways and difficult to adapt to my way of working. On the other hand, 2 guys half the price were open to suggestions, easy to train and now do great work for me. Took more effort but in the long run it pays dividends. Problem is keeping them and being sure they're available when needed.

I suppose if I offered full-time work I could, but I don't. As I said I agree with your assessment regarding the methods needed to run 2nd shooters professionally. However you need the right market to have the regular work to support this. No point raising your prices if the local area isn't interested in what you offer.
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Old August 15th, 2015, 04:28 PM   #57
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Re: Second Shooter Add On

You're right, many good shooters already have their own
business. You are not guaranteed anything, but if you
offer good paying, full time work, you will be able to recruit
outside your immediate area as many skilled people would move
for a good job. But it's hard to do this, because you now have to make
much more money....I get it. I'm just saying that if you are going to
be small, this is a problem you will constantly have. Trying to hire
people who are 'good' for 'bit work' isn't a recipe for success. Just like
offering minimum wage at a McDonalds ensures you will constantly be
training new people. Your or my second shooter 'bit work' is just as much of
an 'entry level' job in this business, as fast food worker is in the general
population......with all the corresponding trials and challenges.

As for the hiring of others, I have had the direct opposite experience.
Hiring professionals who charged a lot, results in me getting people that
bring me good shots, with plenty of coverage of what I send them out for.
Hiring inexperienced so I could 'mold' them got me a hot cup of jack squat.

As an aside, most of the 'big companies' I see doing high end weddings
work well outside 'their local area'. They are booked to fly to other
states and countries because people value what they do to the point of
flying them to exotic locations to perform their magic. If you are good
enough, it doesn't matter where you live, your market will be well beyond
your immediate area in which you live.
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Old August 15th, 2015, 04:38 PM   #58
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Re: Second Shooter Add On

I put out a Craigslist add one time, and some of the responses I got were comical. One guys hourly wage amounted to more than I make myself. Always interesting being the boss.
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Old August 16th, 2015, 01:07 AM   #59
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Re: Second Shooter Add On

I think Gabe its a simple solution for you. Pay good wages and start hiring people who'll stay with you thick and thin and do great work. Maybe that works where you are. In the UK finding good video professionals is hard enough, finding good Wedding video professionals even harder. There's a reason a high profile company I read about hires University leavers and trains them rather than simply advertise at a high rate for full-time employment. The reasons she gave weren't about money as she pays a full-time wage.

People moving for a job. Most have a family and are already making a living from video or other employment. To give that up and move say a couple of hundred miles for work that carries no guarantees. Do you offer sick pay, redundancy payment in the event of a bad season.

I agree there is a market for such companies but probably over here anyway, not enough work to accommodate those companies that are already established let alone a new one. Theres a good market for solo Videographers with the occasional 2nd shooter. Employing someone full-time and upping your prices would therefore put you in a different market, which you have to be sure is there to keep you in business.

For many of the Weddings I film, working solo is fine. Yesterday I could have used someone from 11 till 4 as the Bride wanted her departure filmed and although I did visit the church before to set up cameras, it did mean missing the Brides reveal of her in her dress to the Bridesmaids and caused me issues at the church with parking arriving late and putting a mic on the Groom. I had to get an usher to pass it on. A lot of stress that even with planning led to difficulties that would have been avoided with a 2nd shooter. Frankly the role this person would have had would be quite minor but even if just to stand outside and call me when the Bride approached would have helped enormously, not to mention parking the car. I did use my brother last week and that helped a lot despite his lack of video knowledge.
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Old August 16th, 2015, 03:41 AM   #60
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Re: Second Shooter Add On

One thing that has helped me, is my wife is a business owner.
She has been running businesses for a long time and owns a
business currently that has nothing to do with video. She knows
a LOT about how to make a business successful. I have seen first hand
how to make a several million dollar (gross) business with around 50
employees. What challenges you face. How to position yourself for
success. What not to do. Dealing with the 'entry level challenge'
which is what I was trying to discuss earlier.

One thing I've found, is that most video guys are good at what they do (video)
but not very good at business. And we are also good at making excuses.
'Brides in my market won't pay' or 'There is a lack of qualifed people to hire'
....'you couldn't charge those rates in MY market, you'd starve' and a million others.
I've said all this and more. After all, I live in a tiny town in Alaska. Basically an island,
no roads in or out, you have to fly or take a boat to get here. And prices to travel
are horrible. I was contacted to quote on a job in a town 90 miles away. I had to add
about $900 to my quote because that's what airfare and a hotel cost. So
I felt justified making excuses as I'm in a pretty unusual situation.
Then I read about Polar Art Productions. Living in Kaktovic, Alaska,
population almost 250. About 650 miles by jet from the Anchorage road system.
And not only running a video production company, but one that is
rocking a Red Epic while shooting for Nat Geo, BBC and Hollywood.
Well, so much for my excuses. There's a company in an even smaller,
more remote Alaska town doing much more than me. Then I talked
to a DJ in my town who is hired to fly over to Thailand, Japan and
other countries to do weddings. And a photographer who flies all over
to do senior portraits. And these are just a couple of many people running
a small business in the middle of nowhere Alaska. We often put artificial
limits on ourselves. Because honestly it's scary. Scary to risk the
possibility of failure. I'm not telling you what you should or
shouldn't do. There are valid reasons to stay small. And hey, I don't
know for certain what would work or wouldn't work in your
market. There is a lot of stuff to deal with when you start hiring
people. And legitimate reasons not to. But I understand business.....and
I'm just saying there is a 'line in the sand' here. On one side are small companies
who occasionally hire help and usually have a hard time finding it. They charge
less money....and have less overhead. On the other side are the 'big guys' with multiple
shooters, sliders, 3 axis gimbles and so on. They charge a lot and fly all
over the world doing weddings. You aren't going to be on that side of the line
if you are hiring second shooters every once in awhile paying $300 a day.
It's the same challenge other businesses face with entry level
workers. That's ok, but if you are going to be a McDonalds, be a good
McDonalds. Too many of us are trying to offer a Benihanas menu but
charge McDonalds prices.

And I also do know this. Many more of our limits are
'self imposed' than we want to admit.

For more on this, I highly recommend Den Lennie's book
'Business for Filmmakers'.
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