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Forums Business & Career Building I QUIT…. Working for nothing.

  • I QUIT…. Working for nothing.

  • Andy jackson

    July 24, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Anyone Else feel the same that the video industry has had its day.

    Your input would be much appreciated.

    Cheers Andy

  • Scott Sheriff

    July 24, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    Over a year ago I wrote about the industry going the way of neighborhood print shops and such a couple of months before apple rolled out X and killed FCS.
    This was in response to many threads over the previous year that were pining for lower cost simpler tools (as if FCS wasn’t cheap enough or easy enough to use), plus the gradual acceptance, and even justification of low production values as being the new norm.
    When I started, a day in the linear online bay would run you about 4K. Now we have a literally millions of freshly minted DP’s and editors that are happy to get ten bucks an hour, or a day rate comparable to working at a fast food restaurant. This is because their total invest in equipment is nothing. Their investment in seat time learning their craft is also nothing, so they charge nothing, and for the most part the customer has little in the way of expectations and receives nothing.
    So now, thanks to all those that have helped, nourished and encouraged this low quality behavior, when you show up with a real camera, tripod, lights and finish your work on a system with things like proper monitoring or storage and expect a real wage for your efforts your called a snob, or a Luddite.

    Scott Sheriff

    “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.” —Red Adair

  • Andy jackson

    July 24, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    Hi Scott.

    Thanks for your input.
    Just been reading through your other threads and it seems you have come to the same conclusion as myself.

    What i can`t understand is the fellow cow users who try to give a positive outlook to the doom and gloom ahead.

    They are all kidding themselves.

    All I hear is quality quality quality- people will pay for that.
    For crying out load, anyone can get the quality now with the cheap dslrs and pc editing software.

    Then you hear editing is a skill to tell the story and not everyone can do it. That sentence is RUBBISH!!!!!
    People have been brainwashed from the crap we now see on cheap TV programmes, wobbly shots, bad focus, stitched shots to an irritating voiceover to focus the program.

    I have see alot of changes over the last 20 years and it has never been on a positive scale.

    Newbies come into this industry expecting the jewel at the end of the road…. Sorry to say its not there anymore… Was 30 years ago.

    Please take my advise if you want to survive in this hard world we are now trying to survive in.

    Get a job that has nothing to do with the digital era.. DIGITAL REALLY MEANS – DANGER AND DEATH.
    Get a job with a guaranteed hourly wage so you have something to look forward to at the end of each month.

    If you want to keep doing free labour videos just do it part time… I guarantee you will enjoy it more.

    Sorry all for the doom and gloom in this post but I want you all to have a good, happy life.

  • Bob Zelin

    July 25, 2012 at 1:59 am

    Maybe this will catch up with me one day, but it hasn’t yet.
    My first job was with Tasco Sound in Newberg, NY in 1977. I made $90 per week. My next job was with Ken Schaffer Group in NY – I worked for free. My first video job was in with EUE Screen Gems in NY in 1978. I made $346.15 per week. In 1981 I started to get fired – by everyone – and could not find a job, so in 1982, I started my own company. I perceived it as “getting part time jobs” until I could eventually find a full time job. I never found that job.

    Over 2000 studios and facilities later, I am still self employed. While I am terrified by “young kids” that know more than I do about computers, I struggle every day to keep up with new technology, and struggle every day to get new clients – even when I am busy – even when I am overbooked. I live with the fear that I will be unemployed, and so I always solicit, I always look for new clients, I always answer my CEL phone, and I always say yes when someone says “can you come in to work for us” – even if I have already worked that day.

    Perhaps I am very fortunate to be 56 years old, and booked every single day. I see no shortage of work. My clients that hire me also see no shortage of work, while I have seen countless companies go out of business.

    While I see countless people unemployed, I look at other trades besides our business. It is very difficult to get a plumber, an electrician, a roofer, a carpenter, or an air conditioning guy to show up at your home. They are all booked, all making money, all busy – yet there is so much unemployment – how can that be, if it is so difficult to find someone willing to take your money ?

    If you have unique skills that you offer, that the young kid with his Canon 5D graduation present doesn’t have, then perhaps you can find clients. Of course you have to LOOK for those clients. While I am booked solid, I LOOK for clients every damn day. I keep on my daily schedule people who I have to solicit, and contact, so I can beg them for work (I would really like to work for you, I will do a real good job if you hire me) – EVEN THOUGH I am booked, and have no time to do jobs for them now. This is a mindset I have kept since 1982.

    There are a lot of TV channels, who need a lot of media. There is more corporate video than ever before. There is more educational video, more training video, more web shows than ever before. Every company has an AV department, every magazine has a web magazine. Every company has a YouTube video for their products. Were they all done for free – shot, edited, web encoded ? Is it a LOT of work to solicit all these companies that you have no contacts at, to get this work – YOU BET IT IS. Am I sick and tired of soliciting strangers, only to have more than half of them hang up the phone – YOU BET IT IS. But some people call me – and this kept happening my entire career. And I stay busy. AND I have to keep learing all the new crap, that I am too old and tired to learn anymore. But I do it anyway. SCREW those young kids that will do it for free. Real companies want someone responsible. That should be you. And that is me.

    Bob Zelin

  • Scott Sheriff

    July 25, 2012 at 3:22 am

    Hey, I feel your pain.
    There are defiantly those in the biz, that think the goose that lays the golden egg can never die and all the noobs are not hurting their business. I’m glad for them, and happy they have plenty of work. I just hope they don’t spend every dollar they make. Because I remember the days when every big city in America had several of these huge shoot and post facilities, with lobbies filled with awards. That was in addition to the local TV stations also doing the same. And now they are as dead as the dinosaurs. Killed by the noobs that came in and undercut their rate.
    And yes, there are people still doing quality work for clients that want quality, but those jobs are in the minority. Perhaps if we try, we can change that. Or not.
    I think one possible approach is to shun the low quality jack-offs, and try to move in a different crowd if possible. That crowd is quality crowd.
    And by low quality, I’m talking specifically about morons that do things like insist on shooting 1080 24p with the ubiquitous 5D II, to get the ‘film look’, even though their dog shampoo spot is playing on the web at 320×240. Then at the same time, they’ll light their set with a couple of 20 dollar work lights they bought at Home Depot. That is if they bother to light at all. They’ll shoot long focal lengths hand-held with the camera is set to “auto-everything”. Take audio with a 60 dollar shotgun mic gaffed to the camera, and have more money tied up in Red Rock and Zucato then they do in the camera or support gear, because it looks cool. These are the same folks that are trolling the forums with all this smack talk about being an ‘artist’ (LOL), or brag about what great glass they have. And then in their next post, ask about “the best plugin for this effect” (posting a clip of some no-name groups new music video) or how to fix blown out shots, or hollow sounding audio because they don’t have a clue. Thats because they think slathering cheesy FX plugins, and shooting 1080 is all it really takes.
    Nine times out of ten, they are also the same people that are posting with a deadline tomorrow, having a hundred different problems with basic concepts like keeping their audio in sync because they can’t be bothered to understand something as basic as frame rates, or how they are going to fix the jelly look from the CMOS sensor camera every time they make some huge camera move. Hey, they’re artists, they can’t be bothered to RTFM.
    This is the world we find our self in with the 5D, and Final Cut X for $300. A world in which any trust fund baby with 2 grand is now in the video and film biz.
    Any of this sound all too familiar?
    What to do??? Here are a couple of thoughts.
    First, don’t be that guy! I know your not, but never give in. Even if other well know contributors say “it’s just the way it is these days”, “there’s nothing you can do about it”, or my favorite the proverbial “new paradigm”.
    There should be a stigma on this type of work, and we have been far too tolerant, for far too long, and it is coming back to haunt us in the form of low rates, and clients that except shite work for those low rates.
    Second, let them rot. Only post help responses for other like minded individuals that deserve help, and let these johnny come lately types twist in the wind. Don’t work with them or for them on gigs. Don’t hang with them at meetings and UG. They are dead weight dragging the rest of us down.
    Third, if you’re on a gig, and the client thinks using the sticks and proper lighting is overkill, because the last guy didn’t do that, fire the client and move on if you can’t educate them. Let them have the 20-something artist, and find better clients. Some day they will figure out why these guys are only charging ten bucks an hour to shoot and post their stuff.
    Well, just a few thoughts. I’m sure this will push some peoples buttons. Oh, well. If it does, you’re probably the person I’m talking about.
    Done ranting…for now.

    Scott Sheriff

    “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.” —Red Adair

  • Tim Wilson

    July 25, 2012 at 7:10 am

    This kind of thing happened in the early 90s when assmunchers like me got our hands on “cheap” UVW 1800 decks and UVW 100 cameras and could deliver broadcast quality BetaSP masters…from my “cheap” NLE ($30k for the board, $8k for the computer, $20k for 30 gigs of storage) that could only do 640×480, but stations didn’t care. I got a gig for American Express, where they said, “This better not be any of that 640×480 desktop crap.” I sweated for a heartbeat but said, “Hey, I want to work for you again. It won’t be crap.” I left out that it WOULD be 640. They were delighted with the results. I should have charged more.

    So that’s what I did. Here I was competing against guys who spent 10x or more to get started than I did, and I charged MORE than they did. I didn’t want to be the must expensive guy in town, but I never wanted to drop into third place either. I weeded out a lot of nonsense that way.

    But more than one thing is true at a time. People like Bob and me were no different than these punks today. We worked for zero, and worked our way up to peanuts, and worked that way for YEARS. In a way, its kind of cool that kids are using 5D cameras to fight for their scraps. I used a $10,000 camera to compete with $100,000 cameras, and my competitors came after me with DV cameras that cost $1000. The nature of the beast, but ironically, there aren’t many $1k cameras out there, any more than there are many $100K cameras out there, proving the old axiom that things are getting cheaper, unless they’re not.

    re: Web videos, back when people were shooting film, 5 years ago (hahaha), I knew guys shooting film for the web. The fact is that lots of web video is HD, and there’s no reason NOT to shoot that way. It doesn’t cost any more, and better images compress faster and smaller. Look at RED forums. Assloads of those people are shooting web video. I’m not convinced that most PhantomHD video doesn’t wind up in YouTube. Again, nature of the beast.

    But that’s another aspect of Bob’s post. Hustle up or hustle out. It may seem like its getting harder, but I swear it has always been hard. not that it’s getting easier either of course…

    But as much help as I got from the COW and its antecedent for my own business, and as much help as I hope it provides, I think there’s something to be said for not helping anyone to cannibalize you or crater your business. They ARE gunning for you, just like Bob used to do, just like I used to do. That’s just what this business IS, chewing your way past the people in front of you, trying to stay ahead of the people wanting to do exactly the same thing to you.

    And trying to have fun, be creative, be collaborative, be nice, blah blah blah…but mostly trying to keep your blood out of the water. As Bob has noted in this forum many, many times, nearly any job you can think of is easier to make a living with than this one. But the field is growing, not shrinking, and every field has room for the relentless.

    Tim Wilson
    Vice President, Editor-in-Chief
    Creative COW Magazine
    Twitter: timdoubleyou

    The typos here are most likely because I’m, a) typing this on my phone; and b) an idiot.

  • Al Bergstein

    July 25, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Well, you are all right (correct, that is). If you can’t make a living, then you should get “another” line of work. If you are going to stay and compete, then find your niche and work it. This business has always been very hard and super competitive. But like all other businesses it’s about professionalism, too. Showing up on time. Following through on committments, doing great work, going out and selling yourself. Same as it ever was. Think our industry has a low entry cost? Try plumbing!

    It’s ok to quit professionally, and sometimes it’s the best thing you can do for an attitude readjustment.

    Too many arts schools, even the best ones, don’t teach you how to make a living with your craft. They don’t want to cross that line into ” trade” school. Shame on them,and on you for not demanding it. Just look at Columbia College’s course list. Any classes on the business side of production? I didn’t see any last time I looked. They are one of the top colleges to churn out working pros too!

    If you are fed up with working for free, then don’t! Raise your prices, and go out there and sell,or get a new line of work. No harm in that!


  • John Grote, Jr.

    July 25, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    Old guy, well not that old, but old in this business.

    Too many arts schools, even the best ones, don’t teach you how to make a living with your craft. They don’t want to cross that line into ” trade” school. Shame on them,and on you for not demanding it. Just look at Columbia College’s course list. Any classes on the business side of production? I didn’t see any last time I looked. They are one of the top colleges to churn out working pros too!”

    Yes colleges and trade schools alike are not teaching the basic fundamentals at all for the video world. Not in AVID or Final Cut, not in Photoshop, and sure as hell not in After Effects. Plus on top of that our industry has all but done away with the assistant position for almost all of the jobs in on the video side.

    No more E2’s or even A2’s. So what we have now is no structure what so ever. We have people that have no idea or act like they have no idea that someone else may and probably will have to work on the project they are working on. It may be to add, fix, recreate or revise at some point what they have worked on or are working on and their organizational skills suck!!! They think they are the only damn person on the planet and act with complete and are oblivious to their surroundings. So when you are asked to fix or change something in their project, it takes hours just to figure out what the hell they did or better yet, “Oh yeah, I forgot it is on my hard drive at home.” REALLY, Well that is just great, but it doesn’t do me a hell of a lot of good sitting here wasting everyone’s time, because you thought you were they only damn editor on the planet!!!

    Sorry for the rant there, but it is frustrating what our industry has become at this point. More flash than substance, but I do have many clients that actually do care about their projects and are willing to work within my rate range. I see some kids that have potential and talent and I try to foster and mentor them, just as the people I learned from did. But for the ones that think they know it all and think their crap doesn’t stink, guess what you won’t get a lick of help from me. I don’t have time for that arrogance, I know how good I am at my craft, but I don’t stick it under peoples noses or act like I am better. I have and continue to improve what I do because I know there are people much better than I am at what they do and would rather be humble and learn from them. This makes me a better editor and also one day I hope that I can return the favor.

    In closing, lol, always wanted to say that. Our industry will always be forever in flux with new people and new technology, so make the best of it and no one would fault you for making a career change.

    J. Grote, Jr.

  • Mark Suszko

    July 25, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    Truck driving.
    Child psychology
    Skilled machinists.

    Any of these trades make very good wages, and the demand for new practitioners is very high. And they don’t require marketing or salesmanship skills.

    The video business IS glutted with competitors. To stay in and prosper demands herculean marketing efforts and canny business skills, as well as talent. It’s not for everyone.

    So, maybe go get a welding job to live on, and make your own videos for your own reasons, on your own time and terms, without compromises, to make you happy and satisfy your own creative vision. Seems like the best of both worlds for you. And we’ll all likely be lining up to pay to see the outcome in a theater some day. You don’t need anybody’s permission to be sucessful, but your own. That’s what I get out of Tim’s and the other stories.

  • Al Bergstein

    July 25, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    Wish I could find someone to be an E2 or A2, but I find that many folks here in the Pacific NW don’t want to work cheaply, maybe there is a lot of jobs for them up here! there is an expectation that “I’m worth more than not much” when really, they aren’t. I was guilty of some of this myself as a 20 something. Many younger filmmakers have a much higher opinion of themselves than their experience dictates.

    I (as the business owner), *find* the jobs. It’s called sales. I sell myself, my business and my experience. They don’t hire my E2 or A2. They hire me. I had one A2 working for me that actually went up and gave the customer her business card! WTF! I almost immediately threw her off the set. She has not been asked back. Go out with the crew and the client afterwards for drinks? Sure. But give them a card? That’s stepping over the line.

    In the *old* days, I would work for cheap to get the experience. Apprenticed for a time for free as well. I still give away some work if it seems interesting.

    So to the point of the OP, yes, you are apparently not valued enough by the clients for whatever reason. You might be looking in the wrong places. There might not be enough work in your local world. Charging more might help, but might not. You likely have some issues that maybe a consultant in these things might be able to point out and help you change.

    As mentioned before, if you are really fed up and don’t want to try something new, we seem to be in agreement that it’s likely time to move on, do something that makes money, and do video for the love of the medium. That’s what I did for 25 years, after selling my company to my partner when we lost our major client to an economic downturn, and I came back after I got to the point of wanting to do it again. Worked for me!


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