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Taking Care of Business
The pen and paper aspects of DV -- put it in writing!

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Old May 29th, 2009, 09:46 AM   #16
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Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Chicago, Illinois USA
Posts: 692

Good points.

I think it is important to think not only about actually producing a finished video, but also being open to give talks, or a workshops, if you will, at assisted living places, schools, and actually describe to folks how THEY and their families can do this themselves.

I am willing to bet that after hearing what does go into it, there is your opportunity to say, hey I'll do this for you because I have the knowledge, equipment, and expertise to craft a well edited story. Obviously there will be family members thaat take this on themselves which is fine. Will it be as good as yours or mine? Who knows.

Will a photographer just starting out doing weddings who advertises on Craigslist and offers their services for an unprofitable low price be the same quality as a pro wedding photo/video person that has been around the block. A roll of the dice on one of the most important occasions in a persons life. Will the Craigslist guy still be in business in three years if I need "customer service"?

It is a lot of work for the family to pull out the boxes of photos, awards, and so on. but I'd also try to sell them on idea that it is a great time to get to know and ask questions about that family member and learn things they may never have know. I'd sell the therapeutic aspect as well as having a visual history.

And on one other note, I'd also be open to just creating a very simple slide show, using X amount of photos, some music, titles and thats it. Or like you said, a short milestone video/slideshow for an event: a 16th birthday, a 50th anniversary, some thing that could be shown at an event/party. It's just that someone needs to do it, and if done professionally can be really compelling. And watch what might happen with word of mouth for m a satisfied client. (The phone in my head is ringing off the hook!!!)

I am think that the way to be REALLY profitable in this line of work is to have multiple projects going on at the same time. Obviously this gets into a full production studio team where you hire a videographer/interviewer, and editor, a designer to packaging, but that is WAY down the road. I'm happy to concentrate on one at a time right now.

Like I said, at the moment I'm keeping my day job.

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Old May 29th, 2009, 11:00 AM   #17
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Novato, CA
Posts: 1,774
Again thanks for some great input and many things to think about.

Like many people, this isn't my primary source of income (at least for now). I also seem to be producing projects at opposite ends of the spectrum giving me a chance to continue to improve my skills and artistic abilities. For most of the income from my video ventures I do medium sized stage shows and produce DVD's where speed and maximum mass appeal is a must and really dictates the success of the end product. On the other end, I am involved with a small independent film maker coop where we produce movies all based on ideas coming from member within the coop.

As I mentioned this idea of doing these Personal History Documentaries came about due to a friend who has done similar work but without the quality of work. Basically a camera running while the subject is talking. In almost every case the family members were willing to pay for he video. As has already been mentioned, there probably won't be a mass market for these products but there maybe enough of an interest where I could do at least a few per year. Without sounding like a minimalist, I think the key is to find the right balance between how much I try to make the pieces look perfect versus keeping the cost reasonable. This is honestly where I have the hardest time. It seems, at least according to my wife, that I have yet to learn the point at which diminishing returns kicks in. Especially once I'm in the editing suite I tend to want to continue to refine.

I do agree with Jonathan that being able to offer a variety of services is key and honestly I don't think I would want this to be my main product offered. I do think there is a market for it but it may be small. I've begun moving forward in developing this and plan on doing one for free if necessary or maybe only charge enough to recoup some small costs. That will give me a chance to see what doing one will actually take. I have made some documentaries and done interviews but those were for much larger projects so this will be interesting.

I think if there is a way I can make gong through all of the photos and memorabilia a fun and nostalgic experience for the people, that process will become part of the cherished experience. I really think that it will be important for me to make the potential client understand that this can be a fun experience.

Hopefully I'll be able to line one up soon and have a demo together.

Thanks again,
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Old June 24th, 2009, 12:32 PM   #18
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Phillipsburg, NJ
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Late reply, but lots of background

I've been doing this kind of work for as long as I can remember.

Everybody wants a video of their life, or that of someone close to them.

Here is the reality: to do a good job on these takes a lot of time. If it is only you, and you're using 100-200 pictures, and digitizing what will undoubtedly be shakycam vhs footage or 8mm film, you can look at between 3 and four weeks to do a good job-- in the kind of ken burnsian style that people expect. And if you like to cut to the beat of the music, add a week. You'll need more pictures.

My experience is that the range people are willing to pay-- I've done these both in the New York area and the Midwest-- is anywhere from 1500 to 5000 bucks. 5000 is reserved for the bigger egos or those with real dough. 1500 to 2000 is more for the average grandparent who wants to do a legacy video for the kids, or a tribute to mom.

It's not that I'm afraid to ask for big money-- I've done corporate work in the six figures. It's just the nature of the beast. By the way, the same video, in the corporate world (say a retiring President of a company) can easily get you 20K in good times.

Back to individuals-- So if you booked yourself out for the year, your income before expenses would be--- 24K? 40K?

That's a lot of work for the money.

On the other hand, I don't think there's anything MORE rewarding creatively and personally than this kind of work.

Brien Lee
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Old June 24th, 2009, 03:52 PM   #19
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Novato, CA
Posts: 1,774
Thanks for the info Brian. Looking at it in those terms it definitely doesn't seem to be economically viable as my main product to offer. I was actually thinking more in terms of it being something to offer if anyone is interested. As you said, I think it could be a fun project to work on and could be very rewarding.

As another thought. I was also thinking these personal videos could be a good way to advertise and possibly lad a larger client.

Thanks for your advise,
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