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#1 Shawn Sutherland

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 01:31 PM

Hi folks.



Lately, I've done a couple of freebies for a local video outfit here in town. I offered to shoot a couple in exchange for a demo reel. Since they made money using my footage, I figured it was the least I could ask for.



I made it clear that I would not be shooting freebies for the rest of my life.



I didn't invest $25,000 just to work for nothing.



When asked what my rate would be, I answered this:



I have a PMW-EX1 camera, a Steadicam, an on camera LED light, a shotgun microphone, a wireless microphone system, a dolly system with a Steadicam hard mount, and the means to transfer the footage to any hard drive of their choosing.



Oh, and I also have a used cop car to drive myself and 4 crew members around. (Did I mention I drive professionally at my day job?)



So...



If anyone wanted to rent the same gear their own, they would have to pay at least $300 a day for a rig that's nowhere near as good as mine, no operator, no car, and no driver.



Now I realize that I'm just starting out and my framing isn't the best in the business.



I know that.



But I'm pretty sure that it's a hell of a lot better than the guy who's never strapped on a rig before.



Let's face it: It must be good enough, or the folks I shot the footage for wouldn't be making any money from it.

And the client sure wasn't complaining. They loved my footage.



So... My plan is to charge the same rate anyone would have to rent the equipment on their own.



Does this sound reasonable?
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#2 Brian Freesh

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 04:32 PM

So... My plan is to charge the same rate anyone would have to rent the equipment on their own.



Does this sound reasonable?


Hi Shawn,

You've asked an odd question, it basically asks: Should I charge as much as the equipment is worth?

The answer is: Yes, plus your day rate.

Not sure what, if any, point you were trying to make with the rest of your post. It didn't seem to lead anywhere. Are you saying they are too cheap to pay what you are worth? Glad you're working hard though, that's what it takes!
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#3 Sanjay Sami

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 10:16 PM

I didn't invest $25,000 just to work for nothing.

So... My plan is to charge the same rate anyone would have to rent the equipment on their own.

Does this sound reasonable?


Then why are you working for nothing? It does not sound like anyone is objecting to you charging money.
You must charge for your services, and charge properly, or you do yourself and the other operators in your neck of the woods a disservice.
The other part of this, is that as someone who does this for free, you will always come across as an amateur hobbyist.

Regards

Sanjay Sami
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#4 Shawn Sutherland

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Posted 27 June 2010 - 10:19 PM

You're right. "Should I charge as much as the equipment is worth" is an odd question, to say the least.



That is, until you know the full story.



Like I said before, I shot a couple of freebies in exchange for help with a demo reel. I wasn't asking for any money.



I also made it clear that I wouldn't be shooting freebies for the rest of my life. One or two, but that's it.



Everything seemed OK until I started shooting.



During both days, the DP would criticize my work endlessly. I guess he was used to working with seasoned veterans with years of steadicam experience.



I understood that I wasn't the best operator on two feet. But at least I provided an extra camera on set to take footage from at his discretion, along with a steadicam. What could he possibly have to lose from that?



I took it all in stride thinking the criticism was constructive.



Apparently my amateur steadicam work wasn't bad enough to stop the DP from asking me to do a third freebie. When I refused, he stopped returning my calls.



No help with the demo reel either.



After several failed attempts, I finally got him to answer his phone.

When he asked what my rate was, I gave him an offer only a fool would turn down: I offered to charge the same rate anyone would have to rent the equipment on their own, until I got good enough to justify charging more.

He never called back.


What gets me about all of this is that both clients really liked my footage. So what was the DP's problem?

I dunno.

What do you make of it?
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#5 Kevin Andrews SOC

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Posted 27 June 2010 - 10:42 PM

They won't respect you if you work for free. It reflects poorly on yourself. Not even fast food workers will do it for free, and they aren't very good at what they do.

Think about getting an onboard recorder so you can get material for your reel. It is sometimes impossible to track down footage after you work.
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#6 Shawn Sutherland

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Posted 27 June 2010 - 11:58 PM

I couldn't agree with you more. But I after two freebies in exchange for my demo reel (which I still never got) I stopped working for free.


I offered to charge the same rate as anyone would have to rent the equipment on their own.


That's not free, that's just breaking even.


Apparently this DP doesn't even want to do that.


When this guy wants free he means no money whatsoever.


Not even help with my demo reel.


I'm still trying to chase him down for the footage.


At least it's on his computer so transferring it to a USB hard drive should be easy enough to do.


Or so I'd like to think.


In the mean time, I'm helping a buddy of mine set up a non linear editing system.


Once he's up and running, I'll just get him to make the demo reel with the footage I already shot on my own.
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#7 Nicholas Davidoff

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Posted 10 July 2010 - 01:52 AM

Newbie ops are selling their rigs in record numbers these days. It's simply not a profitable venture anymore. And there are thousands of idiots out there who have no idea what they're doing, working for free and making a pathetic joke of the whole profession. Unless you have a fanatical devotion to the craft and lots of money to risk, I don't recommend operating to anyone as a way to make a living. There are much easier ways to make money with much lower startup costs. Newbies be warned.
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