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@Kisaha

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the money you are mentioning are just insane.

Nope. The money is neccessary to survive (as said, there are many additional costs for a one man band as medical insurance, pension, gear costs, etc. pp) and pay bills. As already said, I know people offering their FS7 camera services for just 75, EUR/hour. These are mostly people who have to sell camera and gear to pay a repair of their car.
Kisaha, I am still scholar...and wanted to make a carreer in filming. My father said "Never, ever!". And he was right. He gave me the possibility to take a look at the media and filming industry. And I took a look at the reality...sometimes I had to vomit (sorry for the drastic words but this is the truth)...

It's much better to practice filming as a challenging hobby, without the need to sell my ass for pennies. For sure I am not a experienced camera man, but I can do basic calculations. The filming industry is for many people "hunger games"...because they can not calculate their costs, spendings and earnings. Perhaps they are more artists than economists, but to survive we all need to earn money. Though I am young, I am not naive, so I will go to university, and get a master in engineering...With a good salary or good earnigs in a "realistic" firm, I can afford every camera I dream about...without having to work in slave conditions, only for paying gear and costs...without prostitution and carrying so many risks for just a few bucks...

gear300.jpg

Till two years ago, I did just stills...with the best Canon equipment possible, owning the major best lenses Canon ever made...BUT - all this was earned by my father with a six figures salary per year...All this very good gear is NOT earned in the media industry, but in a classical industry. If you don't have to care about return on investment, you can simply afford very good gear (as scholar I can NOT, I just have to use my family's gear) and have fun with filming....without having to care about people only interested in ROI, marketing and business. I think, artistic filming is a luxury and not just a job. As job, it's a mostly very bad paid job (not for all, but for a majority of market players)...If not, you have to calculate better than then guys doing FS7-jobs (plus audio, plus DJI Ronin, plus sliders, plus, plus, plus...) and charging only 75 Euro an hour...

PS: I talk about quotes for a ONE MAN band (with camera, lenses, simple stabilizer, slider. basic lighting, basic audio)...For assistants, you have to charge minimum of 75 Euro / hour...It's not insane, that's economic reality. And for sure, if taking a closer look, that might be too cheap...

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4 hours ago, Arikhan said:

I talk about quotes for a ONE MAN band (with camera, lenses, simple stabilizer, slider. basic lighting, basic audio)...For assistants, you have to charge minimum of 75 Euro / hour...It's not insane, that's economic reality. And for sure, if taking a closer look, that might be too cheap.

FWIW, I'm undertaking an effort to transition out of doing "work-for-hire" and going into producing and underwriting my own commercial projects.  The risk is greater, the pay is less, but the creative reward and personal ownership aspect of that possibility are too intriguing.

My wife and I have spent the last decade setting up our finances with modest passive income so we can pursue this ambition.

I'm also of the mind that the current democratization of imaging equipment is going to make technical accomplishments very very moot in the immediate future.  And the people that rely only on their expertise in using that technology might become moot as well (outside of the upper echelon of production).

So, I want to position myself for that assumption.

What I offer creatively HAS to be more valuable than the gear I bring to the table.  If I don't believe that, then I'm in the wrong biz'ness completely.

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6 hours ago, Kisaha said:

the money you are mentioning are just insane. 

A usual working day here is 12 hours, if you can charge 12 X 125 euros (I do not even mention the other crazy number just above) is 1250euros per day! while this is usually the pay for 2-4 WHOLE episodes of a TV production (for location sound) and with no pension/medical insurance/gear money. They just pay for your physical presence, expected to have most of the equipment, and you pay your own taxes. Of course we are talking about the poorest western world country, but still, 1250 euros per day for a technician that is not the chief producer, director, or dp, is unheard of.

The standard rate for a DIT in my market (wet hire with a computer) is $1200-$2000, for reference, $5000 for a DP (dry hire) maybe. But DITs don't get to work every day. 

In light of all the low pay work I've taken on recently, I'm wondering whether to try to bill by the job or just look for a 9-5. Post seems to pay much worse because you can work every day...

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6 hours ago, silvertonesx24 said:

$150k COL you must be either in SF or NYC.

Move somewhere cheaper. So much post work is done remotely these days. Unless you're doing ADR

I'm in a cheaper city, though top three or four in terms of total COL. About $80k if you're frugal, own your own car, have no debts, and have a very inexpensive apartment, as I do, but that's almost subsistence and with no savings. If I want to buy a house I must find a way to get to $150-$200k, or realistically twice that for a decent house. As I am now basically surviving, I need to figure out how.

Arikhan, I wouldn't take that dire a view. Do what you love, either as a hobby or a day job. But I do think buying your own gear in a major city is a foolish decision. As a one-man band in a smaller market it can work out where you simply buy what you need to produce content that is at the level your client requests. But if you are being judged by your equipment you are being used, simple as that. Most red owner/ops in LA and NYC are simply cheap rental options. Don't get used. 

I do know people who have made it in major cities in media simply through education and talent without starting with any connections or having any family money. A grand total of two of them but hey it's something! Neither bought a cinema camera, both worked in post.

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@Arikhan Where do you live?

I am checking the forum mostly on mobile, so I do not know everyone's country, it would be nice to mention your country, city, so to get an impression of your market.

Obviously is different to work in Greece, where there is 30-60% unemployment (depending the age group), and almost 10% of the higher educated work force is an economic immigrant, different to work in Finland, different in Mumbay e.t.c

In the end, everything is a life choice, I choose to do what I like and what I have invest on (I have 2 diplomas on this field, a bachelor degree from a UK university, and 17 years of experience), and I was a mechanical and electronics engineer in the energy department but I couldn't pretend to be something I wasn't feel like. My choices were only 2, immigration, or staying put (unlike 90% of my friends) and try to do my best in a ruined economy.

I would like to earn 100.000euros per year.

Well.. this is unachievable!

I try to be smart, not over invest, and try to cooperate with the "right" people and rent the "right" equipment, my wife does something completely different, and we both help one each other.

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12 minutes ago, Kisaha said:

@Arikhan Where do you live?

I am checking the forum mostly on mobile, so I do not know everyone's country, it would be nice to mention your country, city, so to get an impression of your market.

Obviously is different to work in Greece, where there is 30-60% unemployment (depending the age group), and almost 10% of the higher educated work force is an economic immigrant, different to work in Finland, different in Mumbay e.t.c

In the end, everything is a life choice, I choose to do what I like and what I have invest on (I have 2 diplomas on this field, a bachelor degree from a UK university, and 17 years of experience), and I was a mechanical and electronics engineer in the energy department but I couldn't pretend to be something I wasn't feel like. My choices were only 2, immigration, or staying put (unlike 90% of my friends) and try to do my best in a ruined economy.

I would like to earn 100.000euros per year.

Well.. this is unachievable!

I try to be smart, not over invest, and try to cooperate with the "right" people and rent the "right" equipment, my wife does something completely different, and we both help one each other.

That sounds like a good situation. I considered learning programming and moving to the Bay Area but there rent is $3000+/month for a one bedroom in a bad location.  A friend is a young multi-millionaire having studied at MIT and Stanford, and selling a successful company in her 20s, and has still yet to buy a house as they are too expensive. I have friends making $40k/year and living very comfortably in less expensive cities. The US is quite diverse and much of it is a matter of social capital, not quality of living. I believe one friend there has a house, but he worked at FaceBook before it went public and is a multi-millionaire.

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The beauty of the internet is that you don't have to live in the big cities anymore.  I enjoy smaller towns and wouldn't move if I had to.  My wife and I bought a house on the Oregon Coast, the mortgage is $1,600 a month and we rent it out on AirBnb when we travel for filming.  That ends up covering the mortgage.  So we live for free in an area that we like and we travel to the bigger cities for work.

Obviously won't work for everyone but...there are ways to make any situation work.  You just gotta be flexible.

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5 minutes ago, Neumann Films said:

The beauty of the internet is that you don't have to live in the big cities anymore.  I enjoy smaller towns and wouldn't move if I had to.  My wife and I bought a house on the Oregon Coast, the mortgage is $1,600 a month and we rent it out on AirBnb when we travel for filming.  That ends up covering the mortgage.  So we live for free in an area that we like and we travel to the bigger cities for work.

Obviously won't work for everyone but...there are ways to make any situation work.  You just gotta be flexible.

This is a very good way to approach things if you can make it work. I wonder sometimes if freelancing in the big city is a bad idea. Maybe it makes more sense to try to get in with the biggest agency possible full time in a big city despite the lower wages, work locally with a low standard of living, network to the top, then quit, move to a small town, and freelance from there.

Sounds like you skipped a few steps, but arguably there's no need to take them. 

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8 minutes ago, HockeyFan12 said:

This is a very good way to approach things if you can make it work. I wonder sometimes if freelancing in the big city is a bad idea. Maybe it makes more sense to try to get in with the biggest agency possible full time in a big city despite the lower wages, work locally with a low standard of living, network to the top, then quit, move to a small town, and freelance from there.

Sounds like you skipped a few steps, but arguably there's no need to take them. 

The biggest asset we have is an online audience.  You could probably make it work without one.  The main thing you lose is connections and networking but if you build an audience of any kind you can find them that way.

Live just outside of the city limits and advertise yourself inside of it.  Then commute.

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7 minutes ago, Neumann Films said:

The biggest asset we have is an online audience.  You could probably make it work without one.  The main thing you lose is connections and networking but if you build an audience of any kind you can find them that way.

Live just outside of the city limits and advertise yourself inside of it.  Then commute.

I live in a city with bad traffic. As in... the worst in the world. :/ Even far outside city limits a small two bedroom house is $600k.

I suppose if there's anything to take away from this discussion it's that the one advantage of a big city is the network. 

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Just now, HockeyFan12 said:

I live in a city with bad traffic. As in... the worst in the world. :/ Even far outside city limits a small two bedroom house is $600k.

I suppose if there's anything to take away from this discussion it's that the one advantage of a big city is the network. 

Ugh.  I would move just for some sanity.  Yeah, at least with purchasing a home you aren't throwing money away.  You can always sell and recoup most of your mortgage payments (barring a '08 esque collapse).  If your rent is $3,000 a month, that's $36,000 down the drain every year.  If your mortgage is $3,000 a month and you end up selling the house eventually (for close to what you paid) you will see a return on most of that $3,000/month.  

I agree, networking is big...as long as you're out there doing it.  If you cast a wider net and network online, you won't be limited to just one city.  

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Everything is relative these years; obviously we are living on a era that everything chances, and the world will be unstabilized for the next decade or so. 

Years ago I had the option to stay in London for work. For me London was the place to be career-wise, but the quality of life it is just terrible. Most of my friends have stayed there and now they have issues with Brexit (especially the ones working in universities are in limbo, and they are not sure if they will have permit to stay for the next year) and also, they have to work just to pay the rent. 

Also security and safety is relative as well. We all know what is going on with the world right now, and it is scary that not even in the greatest European capitals one can feel safe. The world is in motion, money and careers are not the most important aspects right now. I see it that we have to have a defence stance, to try to save some dignity for the next generations.

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19 minutes ago, Neumann Films said:

Ugh.  I would move just for some sanity.  Yeah, at least with purchasing a home you aren't throwing money away.  You can always sell and recoup most of your mortgage payments (barring a '08 esque collapse).  If your rent is $3,000 a month, that's $36,000 down the drain every year.  If your mortgage is $3,000 a month and you end up selling the house eventually (for close to what you paid) you will see a return on most of that $3,000/month.  

I agree, networking is big...as long as you're out there doing it.  If you cast a wider net and network online, you won't be limited to just one city.  

You can't buy a house if you can't afford it in your market. But otherwise, I fully agree.

Luckily I have very low rent for where I live but still about what you're paying for a mortgage. The network thing is real... within a year of moving to a large market, my resume has completely transformed. Unfortunately, quality of life even at twice the pay is not different and it's not even that rates are better, just that there's more work. I think the only advantage of a big city is networking and that's pretty meaningless unless you're out doing it.

The more successful people I know run their own production companies in smaller cities and enjoy a higher quality of life. Their networking options are limited, however. 

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2 minutes ago, HockeyFan12 said:

You can't buy a house if you can't afford it in your market. But otherwise, I fully agree.

Luckily I have very low rent for where I live but still about what you're paying for a mortgage. The network thing is real... within a year of moving to a large market, my resume has completely transformed. Unfortunately, quality of life even at twice the pay is not different and it's not even that rates are better, just that there's more work. I think the only advantage of a big city is networking and that's pretty meaningless unless you're out doing it.

The more successful people I know run their own production companies in smaller cities and enjoy a higher quality of life. Their networking options are limited, however. 

Totally agree.  I know myself and I know I wouldn't be out networking enough to justify the higher cost of living.  

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@Kisaha

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@Arikhan Where do you live?

I live in Germany near Frankfurt...As I understand, you are living in Greece. But in Greece (let's take my example mentionned, a guy with a FS7) a FS7 surely costs about 11.000$ (without needed basic accessories or lenses)  too, there you have also to pay a rental or the costs for a house or appartment, alike costs for medical insurance, pension, etc. too.

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I would like to earn 100.000euros per year.

So, 100.000 would be income, not profit. The earning would be about 35% of the income (please consider costs and taxes). Considering the skills a good camera man / DOP has to have and the entrepreneurial risk, I don't think that 34.000$ is a exagerated high yearly profit... ;-)

To compare what other people charge, take a look here...It's about wedding photography, but in this industry people bill reasonably calculated prices more than in other creative industries...

@fuzzynormal

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but the creative reward and personal ownership aspect of that possibility are too intriguing.

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What I offer creatively HAS to be more valuable than the gear I bring to the table

If your creativity is a strong asset and your unique selling point, that's the way to go. My experience during assisting projects: Clients always take used gear in consideration. The bigger the used cameras and more spectacular the gear, the better - clients consider you as a "pro". Clients do NOT associate DSLR cameras with professional filming. Only "serious" camcorder or shoulder cams...I hear many people saying, their clients don't care about gear used by filming team. I can not confirm this statement. There are such clients too, hiring the famous DOP XYZ because of his/her fame...but 95% of  clients take a look at your gear and project their perception of film making on your gear. Big cameras, lenses, etc....

The industry denies this aspect, but it's the reality....Clients are not evil, they just don't have any clue, that a today's 1.000$ DSLR camera would deliver better IQ than a 25.000$ cam from 2008. And most clients still think, filming is mostly a matter of gear (mainly camera) quality...

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53 minutes ago, Arikhan said:

@Kisaha

I live in Germany near Frankfurt...As I understand, you are living in Greece. But in Greece (let's take my example mentionned, a guy with a FS7) a FS7 surely costs about 11.000$ (without needed basic accessories or lenses)  too, there you have also to pay a rental or the costs for a house or appartment, alike costs for medical insurance, pension, etc. too.

So, 100.000 would be income, not profit. The earning would be about 35% of the income (please consider costs and taxes). Considering the skills a good camera man / DOP has to have and the entrepreneurial risk, I don't think that 34.000$ is a exagerated high yearly profit... ;-)

To compare what other people charge, take a look here...It's about wedding photography, but in this industry people bill reasonably calculated prices more than in other creative industries...

@fuzzynormal

If your creativity is a strong asset and your unique selling point, that's the way to go. My experience during assisting projects: Clients always take used gear in consideration. The bigger the used cameras and more spectacular the gear, the better - clients consider you as a "pro". Clients do NOT associate DSLR cameras with professional filming. Only "serious" camcorder or shoulder cams...I hear many people saying, their clients don't care about gear used by filming team. I can not confirm this statement. There are such clients too, hiring the famous DOP XYZ because of his/her fame...but 95% of  clients take a look at your gear and project their perception of film making on your gear. Big cameras, lenses, etc....

The industry denies this aspect, but it's the reality....Clients are not evil, they just don't have any clue, that a today's 1.000$ DSLR camera would deliver better IQ than a 25.000$ cam from 2008. And most clients still think, filming is mostly a matter of gear (mainly camera) quality...

I was talking about profit, not income. Though in my field (post, dry hire) they are not as far apart as for a cameraman.

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