This doesn’t really need a lot of explanation. Charlie Kaufman articulates very well the artists’ wound at a BAFTA event on screenwriting. All I can say is watch and be blown away. Thanks Charlie. What I have to offer is me…
Sometime last month Jason Fried (@jasonfried), co-Founder and President of the web industry standard-bearer 37Signals, decided to break new ground and hire a full-time filmmaker. This is nothing new for a company that has prided itself on always jumping on trends before others: It’s flagship project BasecampHQ was one of the earliest mainstream web-based applications. Not only that, the code Basecamp is built on has become an internet juggernaut forming the backbone for sites like Twitter, Soundcloud and Hulu.
Needless to say, there are plenty of reasons why new-hire Shaun Hildner with a camera at the ready will add much to 37Signals’ brand and following. According to Jason in his Inc. Magazine article, “Video is a great way to show off a company’s personality, people, culture, and customers. It helps humanize a business.” And he’s right; it’s super affordable to shoot, produce and edit micro documentaries nowadays thanks to the HDSLR movement. While a website, twitter account and even podcast appearances can do much to project a company’s “essence” it can be argued that a 4 minute web doc can do all that and more.
Why should this matter to you? Well, more than likely this is the beginning of a trend for regional urban filmmakers. First, companies are more image conscious than ever. The business transparency movement is gaining steam so thousands of startups and media savvy companies may look to hire similarly – or at least short-term contract work. Secondly, as the mobile smartphone revolution continues, a splash video for any website, social media account and business that lays out: Who we are, What we do, How we do it – in a concise, professional video will be essential.
This promo video for the Evernote app is a great example.
But that won’t be the only gig goldmine. With the news from The Daily Beast that Google is finally spending real money on original content, we are entering an age in which web video will finally be taken seriously for media consumption. Big rumors remain that Netflix may follow. In the Tech TV world, there are already shows with a great following on web network Revision3, notably Tekzilla and including Film Riot. As freelancers, you’ve probably already worked on plenty of web promos, ads and testimonials. Soon are the days where you will be working on full-fledged web series, online indie film premieres, and subscription webstreams. The best thing you can do is position yourself to get these gigs and learn or buy the technology necessary to stay ahead of your competitors.
My advice? Dive into the web television culture any way you can. The desktop Boxee app is free and syncs with a lot of the content. A Roku is very affordable and allows you to stream content to your regular television. And of course, you can pore over popular YouTube series as well. My personal favorites being the thought provoking “TED Talks”, indie music art of “La Blogotheque”, and comedy puppet show “Glove and Boots”.
How about my readers: Any web trends you’re noticing? What are your favorite web shows?
Thank you Doug Bayne!
”I had dreams of making cinematic masterpieces, for less than the price of a new dog”. Haha
All jokes aside I think that’s the major misconception from many people who go out and buy a real nice HDSLR and expect it to spew out pure effortless gorgeousness. Now, in fairness, these cameras make it MUCH, MUCH easier to create professional visuals. But, like any thing that is worthwhile and artistic, it is still a craft.
Passion will take you really far, but nothing will ever overtake talent, experience, knowledge, and lots and lots of lessons learned mistakes and failure.
Do you agree with Doug??
About a month ago, DP & Director Philip Bloom posted on Twitter a screengrab from someone’s online ad offering a Sony F3 Package with Shooter for an unheard of rate of 200 Euro per day – roughly $284 American-. We’re talking an entire kit of gear as well including: a Zeiss Lens set, an LCD Monitor, a Rode Shotgun mic, and 2 Sennheiser Lavs. Philip had this to say: “…if I were to take them up on that offer, I would give the cameraman a chair to sit on and ask him to get me a coffee every now and then whilst I used his gear!”
-Insane visual proof
This got a lot of people talking on Twitter about freelancer rates and what to charge, especially so as to not undercut the competition – usually your fellow colleagues. So since the topic has been breached, and will remain a hot topic amongst freelancers for quite some time, I will begin by talking about one of the first things you will encounter, “What are your rates?”
Now, the first thing everyone will tell you is that rates are always a challenge. Not only do you account for the regional cost of living, but also: market saturation, competitive rates, cost of overhead or gear, experience, talent, and your own availability. The first thing you should really do in this situation is to take a look at your competition. Some people post their rates online but a majority will smartly list them as: negotiable. On a sidenote: a lot of people will say posting a rate will help weed out cheap clientele. I have always believed that the quality of work on your website and client list should speak to what potential rate you will be charging. Plus, there are the rare gigs that have a far better tradeoff of exposure, a client relationship, or a barter of services.
If you are without a professional network, then you most likely will end up cold-calling or emailing area filmmakers and TV industry professionals. You can even use this as a networking opportunity. Make sure to ask how many years of experience they have on the job. This research will allow you to create a baseline for yourself. You can also call local Production companies and Post-Houses and see what they pay their freelancers.
In Bloom’s article about rates he had a good point about someone just starting out. He lays out a path in which a shooter does around 3 jobs pro-bono of differing styles, for example: music video, commercial, and video podcast. Once those gigs are under your belt they become a marketing tool to acquire paying projects. Obviously at an early stage in the game, you are in a weakened position. My advice, is to choose the 3 clients you would like to offer pro-bono work to, as opposed to answering online ads. The people actively looking to give someone “experience” are probably just looking to exploit a young pro.
The major key to all of this that baseline to go off of. Not only are you not underbidding yourself, but also your area colleagues. Situations like the above with the Sony F3 and shooter will only dilute the rates for the true Pros who have bills and a family. And once you set a bar with a new client so low, it’s hard to get a legitimate rate out of them in the future. Keep that in mind.
It all comes down to knowing your worth. Your skill level, your enthusiasm and creativity all matter in this math you are attaching to yourself. Also realize that freelancing is like your social world. You’re going to have your blind dates, acquaintances, best friends, and long-term relationships. You can tailor your rates higher for a one day gig and a little lower if it’s a 3 week one.
How about my readers: How do you/did you go about defining your rates?