Posted 28 January 2010 - 06:00 AM
Here I am, sat at my computer on a Thursday morning wondering what the heck to do next. I have my rig downstairs, all set up and ready to practice with, however, no matter how much practice I do, I don't have anyone to show it to... I have no work at the moment. I am the new kid on the block here in the UK, I feel as if I'm a really small minnow in the bloody Atlantic Ocean, it's extremely daunting. Nevertheless, I am a motivated operator and I'm willing to do anything to work.
I'm only 22, and going to meet people face-to-face, lets say meeting the 'Head of Cameras' at an outside broadcaster - Immediately I feel as if he's going to take one look at me, realise I'm still wet behind the ears and not even give me a chance. Some people say 'who cares' but in 3 or 4 years time will that guy remember me as the 'guy who came begging' for work? Is he good enough? etc etc. I don't want to seem desperate at this stage if it's going to ruin any prospects of future work? Am I thinking about this in completely the wrong way?
A kind chap at a football match I met who works for a British TV company over here said give Alf Tramontin a try! I've been thinking of doing that for a while now, but again, what would I have to say? 'Hey, I'm a newbie, I have my own rig etc etc....'' I just don't want to embarrass myself. However much I'd love to work the broadcast side of Steadicam, I can't bring myself to email people who's reaction will most likely be 'Who the hell are you!?'
I've also written about 20 letters to different production companies/broadcasters which I might send off along with my CV, I guess letters are more personal than emails.... Is that a good idea or am I way off with that one?
What did you guys do when you were in my position? I know I can't sit around here and wait for a job to come in, because it won't. I'm just running out of ideas at the moment and it's scary.
Are weddings a good idea? (I could have done Weddings with a flyer, is what I think to that) I'm not willing to give up yet. I've got my gear, I know what I'm doing, I practice all of the time and I'm confident in my ability to work on set.
It hurt my pride a little bit to write this here but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.
Posted 28 January 2010 - 09:42 AM
I want to start by saying that you are correct in that nobody comes and bangs on your door. You are self employed and as such you make things happen. I took a look at your site, simple, effective a good start, maybe even better than mine:) My first question is how do you make money now? In my case I have corporate work that makes me money and it was only last year that I scored a feature film. The only reason I got that film is because the director knew me and liked my style, he also was taking a chance on me.
This business is really about networking and meeting people, the right people. This forum is a way of networking. Writing letters and sending out emails is a good way of getting your name out there, the next step is getting people to see your stuff. Go find some local acting school or whatever it is you want to shoot, and get them to be willing participants in front of your lens. Next time you are at a football match if there is an op there ask him how he got that particular gig. Ask him if he needs an assistant, although that might look a little like you want to poach his clients. This is the diplomatic part of the career, when approaching other operators for advice as they see you as more competition. That is the way of the world, you will be his competition one day.
It sounds like you know what you have to do and don't worry about rejection, it will happen, A LOT. The last thing you need is a strong belief in yourself and your skills, even though you are the "new guy". This is not the easiest business to be in so you really have to want it, like a famous cinematographer once said, you gotta eat, sleep and breathe it. But if you make it, and i'm sure some of the pro's here will tell you, they can't imagine doing anything else.
My 2 cents. From one fairly new guy to another.
Almost forgot, don't sell yourself or your gear short, we need to make money in this career. Don't forget, this is a career not a job, you want to be doing this until they pry the gimbal from your cold dead hand.
Posted 28 January 2010 - 10:43 AM
Maybe my opinion will be different than others here, but lock yourself in your place and practice, practice, practice. When in public don't be a geek and wear "steadicam" t-shirts/hats trying to catch somone's attention. When you do meet a dept head or a potential client, talk about anything but the business unless they bring it up. Bottom line is (as I see it anyway) they will be stuck with you on a set for long periods of time and want someone they like to be around. You don't have to be the best (though that will help you stay there once your foot's in the door) just a cool guy they can spend 12 to 14 hrs with and not want to strangle you.
Word of advice...again, some here will dissagree, but don't take a job you are not qualified for. They will remember you character and honesty later.
Posted 28 January 2010 - 10:50 AM
Posted 28 January 2010 - 11:16 AM
As for the clothing I have to confess for a love of hats, whether they are from my favorite sushi place or a camera company. A good first impression is really really important.
I don't know if I agree with the free student thing? I have done my share of student things and they never led to more work. Most of my paying clients have been acquired with the old fashion door to door "Hello my name is_______ and here is what I can do for you!
The footage can be useful, but Jamie could get these people and self produce some shorts. Bottom line is if you do it for free now when it comes time to ask for money will they pay you what you are worth? A slippery slope to start a career on. You know I am annoyed now, can I go into a new dentists office and say Hey buddy do this one for free and the next time I need work I'll look for ya, grin grin wink wink!!
In my opinion the only time you should do something for free is when you are working with more experienced people and you are making some industry connections OR learning tips and tricks from the pro's. Might as well get those students acquainted with the real world ASAP.
Ok, calming down, the rant is over.
Edited by Douglas John Kropla, 28 January 2010 - 11:22 AM.
Posted 28 January 2010 - 11:28 AM
I can't desagree more on this one. This let you being the guy that works for free and you'll stick to it. My suggestion is for building up a self confident op and not a begger among the big guys. Do as you like.
p.s. self produce?!? is not enough learning steadicam?!? let others do their stuff and concentrate on your skills that is what is going to get you jobs
Edited by Matteo Quagliano, 28 January 2010 - 11:31 AM.
Posted 28 January 2010 - 12:18 PM
I do carpentry work,handyman stuff. If Norm Abram, you US guys know who he is, if he called me and said "Hey Doug, would you like to come and learn at no charge a few tips and tricks from me?" If I could afford it I would be there in a second. That is what I meant about learning from a pro and working for free. This does not make me some Pro-ops bitch. It gives me something valuable, a contact and knowledge.
That being said, if any of you upper level guys, you know who you are, come through Montreal on a shoot, I would love to shadow you for a day. No annoying questions, just me, a well behaved stalker:)
Posted 28 January 2010 - 12:32 PM
I know exactly what you feel like at the moment. I'm almost in the same spot. I have worked in the camera department as 1. AC, 2. AC and dollygrip for some time. I have some contacts (not as many as I wish to have) but of course they just see me for what I did until now. So I guess since I don't have a reel yet it's back to the student projects again to build up knowledge and a reel I can show someone later on.
Hopefully it will lead to a paid job in some months or so and I can start paying back the money I borrowed to buy a rig. In that sense I also think it's not a good idea to work for free even on a student project. It's ok if you don't get paid but you should at least get the rent for the equipment you brought on set.
Hope it helps that you see you're not alone with your concerns for the future.
Posted 28 January 2010 - 12:42 PM
Who was Jack the Ripper?... I'll stay with "Before they were famous" for $200 Alex
a well behaved stalker:)
Posted 28 January 2010 - 01:18 PM
I've hounded so many people and funnily enough, I started to get some replies today.
Getting your foot in the door in a different network is pretty hard, it's coming, slowly but surely.
Posted 28 January 2010 - 10:25 PM
Posted 29 January 2010 - 02:17 AM
This doesn’t help in the immediate future, but when I was starting out so many years ago, the best thing I did was make friends with fellow operators who were at my ability level. It was beneficial for several reasons:
The first was that when gear went down (as it inevitably does), I always had someone to call who was willing to help me out, knowing that I’d return the favor down the road. This was important for many years until I was able to afford back-ups of everything.
The second (and potentially most helpful to you now), was that my friends would get double-booked, and pass along jobs to me. My career basically sustained itself during my first year or so of steadicam by working jobs that my friend Steve Adelson didn’t want. He would get double-booked, take the better job, toss me the other gig, and we’d both work. I’d return the favor whenever possible, but it was a one way street for a quite a while. This can also be a good way of keeping rates up, since you begin to know everyone at your level that producers will be calling. This can work wonders to keep the Man from pitting you against them from a rate standpoint.
One important thing to remember is that steadicam isn’t an easy endeavor to jump into. There is a lot to the business besides pointing a camera (although those monkeys in the other thread may prove me wrong), but it is very rewarding to those who succeed. Keep working at it every day, and don’t be discouraged. It is frustrating when the phone isn’t ringing, but do a little every day (practicing, networking, working-out), and before you know it, you’ll be fondly reminiscing about the slow times. Hang in there and good luck!
Posted 29 January 2010 - 10:28 AM
Having known you as an gifted student at 2 workshops, and now following your progress through Facebook, I think you are already doing everything you can to succeed.
All the best,