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Existential Career Horror


fuzzynormal

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Tech moves fast.  Basically I kinda think we'll have Alexa level IQ in consumer grade stuff in -give or take- 5 years.

Can old dudes like me make worthwhile videos at career rate$ when EVERYBODY is making worthwhile videos for free?  Wondering if and how I can differentiate myself enough from the horde to expect someone to pay me for stuff.  Do I have the creative mojo for success -- since having tech-mojo is going to be (is) a mundane commodity.

...Wondering if legitimate work-for-hire might be a dead-end within the decade.

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I understand the fear, but luckily reliability, creativity, and being an easy-to-work-with person trump "free" in the long run. I've been slowly and steadily increasing my rate despite the barrier to entry getting lower and lower, and it's all because I focus on delivering more than just the video.

Ever since the 5D2/7D/T2i got popular there have been clients unwilling to pay for videos, but those aren't the clients we want. Clients who are worth it will be looking for things like consistency and long track record, so as long as we keep working we'll always have that leg up on the new kids on the block.

Having said that, we can't ever get complacent or sloppy or we'll get chewed up and spit out faster than you can say "vertical videos suck."

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There's no question that the technology is enabling a lot of people to make some very pretty looking stuff now.

But if you dig into a bit, its debatable whether that actually translates into them being able to produce cohesive work for clients on time and on budget and dealing with all that that entails.

You see stuff on Vimeo and YouTube that is pretty amazing but you often note of course that its a passion project about something or someone or somewhere that they have a particular feeling for. 

How they would fare when they're asked to bring that sort of vision and feeling to a corporate film about solvents is another matter.

More people will be be fancying their chances as Its unquestionably easier to make images that look professional but I think its still quite a leap to get to the stage of being able to be produce that sort of level consistently where you can be considered to actually be a professional.

Its definitely a case of many are called but few are chosen.

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When I left the country to study (and work eventually) abroad, there were 46 drama series the next year and uncountable documentary ones (that was the peak, in 2005-2006 I believe). After 5-6 years that I returned, were something like 4 drama series (could have been less), then a year later the whole national TV group closed (it is traditionally the biggest documentary buyer here) and most of the advertising agencies closed without paying our salaries. Before that, I was only working in TV series and films (a few features and short ones), but suddenly the market collapsed completely, so I started slowly to do other things too (performances, the occasional event), smaller jobs, less paid, but manage to survive. Most of the people from the "Golden Age" of the 90's and early 00's have already change their line of work.

Now the situation isn't any better, the collapse brought young people willing to work for almost 3-5 times less of what I ask, and depending the job, I have to say no more times than not. Exhausting work days (12-15 hours) and impossible requests are the norm, while the salaries are going down and down.

I believe basic video knowledge will be mandatory from a young age, that doesn't mean professionals will vanish. I do not see a lot of people having their weddings shot only by their friends iPhones, and when the budget counts, you need pro people that can do the pro stuff. The market is changing though, and equipment plays a major role of what we do and are. Sound is something that amateurs can't control easily, it takes a lot of experience, and not much reading (after a certain level of knowledge), light too. Additional equipment is another thing. Unlimited ISO performance, IBIS and a Rode microphone on top is not what makes a pro. 

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Coming from the corporate production world - here in Australia - There is a lot more to production crafft than pretty pictures - it is still rare to see producers who can create a tight story that is on brand for clients. Your high maintenance small business operators will go for things like Freelanced at a cheap rate -which is good because it weeds out the "scratchers" from the industry - you know the ones that think their amazing corporate event , product launch video should be shot and edited for $30. 

 

  Those that take pride in their brands are immediately suspicious of cheap quotes - in fact the cheap operators put them off.  Once they have experienced missed coverage, delayed turn arounds, low production value,dodgy sound and inflexible non client centric service the lesson is reinforced. 

 

There are plenty of businesses that have a real communication need and are willing to pay for a fast responsive  operator that anticipates their needs and exceed their expectations. 

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Here in the United States the Middle Class is rapidly disappearing. It is going back to what it was 100 years ago. Rich and poor, not much in between. So I don't see many Pros at Anything making it at all. The money has dried up. iPhones are good enough for people that have no money for a wedding. Good enough for photos of the kids. Probably aren't even getting Class pictures from school. Student debt out the ass for younger people. They are not buying shit. And they won't maybe Never. I would not want to be 20 years old again for nothing in this day and age in this country anymore.

All the Newspapers where I live there isn't enough pages in it to wipe your ass anymore. TV stations will be next to go.  There is ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and PBS in the Cincinnati, Ohio area. There is no way 5 different TV stations can last. The internet is going to kill the local ones off. Why listen to news you already know. The times they are a Changing and changing damn fast..

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I just got my son’s first school class group photo. By any standards it was terrible.Blown out white shirts, very poor printing and even worse mounting. It looks like one of those photos they stick on a plate and try to flog you at the end of a day trip.

On the plus side it was very cheap. So I would imagine the photog could have done a lot better. But it seems to me the most likely reason it was cheap is that the parents aren’t prepared to pay a premium these days. I guess they all have plenty of great photos of their kids that they are unlikely to treasure a class photo of their kid looking like a mannequin in a shop window.

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If you want to predict how the video industry will go, just look at the trajectory of the stills industry. 

As there is a lot of similarities there, except they're a few years ahead of us. Because stills cameras got dirt cheap and "good enough" a lot earlier than they did for video cameras. (and I think in general stills is easier to get the hang of at the entry level, than video is, because there are less moving parts to take into consideration: audio for instance! And camera movement, etc)

The high end photographers still survive and thrive, but almost all of the low end photographers have disappeared as a viable full time career (for instance who the hell sees mall photographers now?? They're as rare as hens teeth, and likely have minimum wage casual people. Yet twenty years ago a person could have made an almost ok income from that), and the middle ground is severely gutted out as well. 

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After many years of decline in in house production it is now slowly starting to shift to an increase. Most public relations and marketing job ads I see now asks for production capabilities.

I became a producer very early on since imo thats where Im allowed the most creativity. But I kept shooting and have played with YouTube to have something to fall back on, to be a better producer/buyer of services and because I "knew" this would happen.

So my tip to many is, look outside of freelance and production houses. When choosing college, consider PR/Communication. And understand that the specialist isnt necessarily in higher demand than an allrounder.

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Interesting thread, I can speak to what I'm seeing.
Despite the rising interest in documentary films, we have been witnessing the slow erosion of tradition market (ie broadcast and state media) funding. Many have been hanging up their guns and I'd be lying if I didn't say that it's got me deeply concerned and a cinematographer and director who is carrying a long term passion project to the finish line. As a point of reference, the Documentary Association of America (and German equivalent) did a study a little while ago and determined the industry to be largely unsustainable. Poverty actually.
It seems to me that the pressure is on to somehow develop a new funding model from some kind of web based model before the broadcasters fall apart or are able to transition... to what? Even lesser funds? The real here trick is to find funding in non-traditional ways... for example, building in a story angle and using it to approach NGOs. But that could suck hard also.

Things still looked reasonably ok up until 2010, not so anymore. The good news is that a few years ago I caught wind that it was possible to make a decent living working as an actor playing a Christian church minister at Chinese weddings in China. I know this would be far less demanding and probably pay better than doc film. Grow a beard and get laid all the time. Develop a drug habit... start really living again. You know.

Your film buried by a Netflix algorithm where retards click whatever they see first: http://www.indiewire.com/2017/07/netflix-amazon-algorithms-destroying-the-movies-1201853974/
 

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While the barrier to entry is getting lower gear-wise, the about of media consumed is going up astronomically, thanks to social media.

This is baseless speculation on my part as a non-pofessional, but more and more on my Facebook and Instagram feed I'm seeing promoted posts from companies of all sorts putting out photos and videos professionally made for that specific medium. Everything from big brands to local weed shops.

There could be a growing market to make 30 second type videos for businesses to fuel the content machine. If you're looking for business, you could try reaching out to businesses that you see are trying to grow on social media with a proposal to schedule some time to make x amount of videos that they could roll out on social.

Just a thought.

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If you want to predict how the video industry will go, just look at the trajectory of the stills industry. 

You're absolutely right here. In the noughties my wife and I had a nice little side business doing wedding and events photography and we were soon able to charge £1200 - £2500 a pop, depending on the coverage - and make a profit from prints and albums until we stopped doing them. By 2010 that market had pretty much dried up in the very prosperous southern seaside city in which we live. The lower end were leaving the photography to an uncle with a DSLR while the higher end were booking nationally-known wedding photographers. Of course, part of this was no doubt due to the financial crash, but a lot was to do with the fact that an amateur uncle could produce images that were 'good enough' for people to whom wedding pictures were of lesser importance.

I don't think it will go quite so far with video. Producing good video of something like a wedding takes a lot more concentration and effort, not to mention skill, both on the day and after it. Uncle might have a great hybrid mirrorless, but he does also want to get drunk, eat food and chase the bridesmaids - none of which activities mix at all well with shooting the wedding video.

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1 hour ago, User said:

Things still looked reasonably ok up until 2010, not so anymore. The good news is that a few years ago I caught wind that it was possible to make a decent living working as an actor playing a Christian church minister at Chinese weddings in China. I know this would be far less demanding and probably pay better than doc film. Grow a beard and get laid all the time. Develop a drug habit... start really living again. You know.


This sounds like the beginnings of a movie script. 

 

1 hour ago, Mattias Burling said:

And understand that the specialist isnt necessarily in higher demand than an allrounder.


Unless you're going into one of the less "sexy" areas, such as soundie or gaffer ;-)

 

 

16 minutes ago, Tim Sewell said:

I don't think it will go quite so far with video. Producing good video of something like a wedding takes a lot more concentration and effort, not to mention skill, both on the day and after it. Uncle might have a great hybrid mirrorless, but he does also want to get drunk, eat food and chase the bridesmaids - none of which activities mix at all well with shooting the wedding video.

Yup, video is greater complexity, and also takes sustained effort vs getting lucky (on the low end) with a few snaps that turn out "right".

So video is a little bit more immune to it than the stills world (plus it is happening later the tech development), but the general principle will still hold true. 

 

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16 minutes ago, TARS said:

While the barrier to entry is getting lower gear-wise, the about of media consumed is going up astronomically, thanks to social media.

This is baseless speculation on my part as a non-pofessional, but more and more on my Facebook and Instagram feed I'm seeing promoted posts from companies of all sorts putting out photos and videos professionally made for that specific medium. Everything from big brands to local weed shops.

There could be a growing market to make 30 second type videos for businesses to fuel the content machine. If you're looking for business, you could try reaching out to businesses that you see are trying to grow on social media with a proposal to schedule some time to make x amount of videos that they could roll out on social.

Just a thought.

Absolutely right, that is a new thing, social media content. That is happening in Canada for a few good years now. Unfortunately, here, anyone with an iPhone will do. I have spoken to companies with thousands of euros profit, to millions, and all have the same response "we shoot our media with our phones". One of the greatest agricultural exporting company, the "boss" does his own videos and edit them through a phone app! and no, they are not good. I mean, they are really really bad!

Old minds do not die fast enough it seems.

@IronFilm There are no specialists. Most people (in business) believe that IBIS can replace an assistant, AF a second one (focus puller), high ISO capabilities a gaffer (probably an electrician and a couple other specialists too), and a Rode shotgun and/or a lapel the sound man (true story, I have told that here before). Also, the same person probably will edit, do color, sound desing/mixing, do the dvd or blue ray case, print everything, etc

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Yeah the tech is moving fast. And I know guys lowballing the market with their DSLRS and getting projects. But most of them have got no clue how to shoot anything, they talk big and dreamy to clients telling them they can pull it off for a very cheap price. Then they show up on shooting day, shoot without any prepwork, put a cheap LED light at a random place(see I brought a light, I know what I am doing). They do all the editing, grading themselves. And then deliver a subpar product. You would think they will go broke anytime soon, but I know guys doing this for years..

On the other end the knowhow is out there on the internet, like never before. What took of days/months/years experimenting is now available on youtube. So its easier to get into.

And for Event videos the tides have already turned. Event videos now are better then they ever were. People with DSLRS are creating the most amazing event video's, because they are easy to handle and they are extremely low light. 

8 minutes ago, Kisaha said:

@IronFilm There are no specialists. Most people (in business) believe that IBIS can replace an assistant, AF a second one (focus puller), high ISO capabilities a gaffer (probably an electrician and a couple other specialists too), and a Rode shotgun and/or a lapel the sound man (true story, I have told that here before). Also, the same person probably will edit, do color, sound desing/mixing, do the dvd or blue ray case, print everything, etc

yeah thats complete bull. People who think that, deserve to go broke. How is IBIS going to fetch you your lenses. How is AF going to make creative decisions? How is high iso going to mod the lights... and I hear ya man, I hear those people too, and yeah its the same kind of people I was talking about above.

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