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Threw together a Reel, criticize it!


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#1 Darren Levine

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Posted 12 September 2010 - 08:54 AM

After doing on and off steadicamming over the years but never focusing much on it, i may just have the urge to go more mainstream with it, so i put together a Reel. Annoying shame i couldn't get the footage i did for NBC...


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#2 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 12 September 2010 - 11:23 AM

After doing on and off steadicamming over the years but never focusing much on it, i may just have the urge to go more mainstream with it, so i put together a Reel. Annoying shame i couldn't get the footage i did for NBC...




Just a few points. You have way too short of a drop time on your rigs, that's the annoying short period side to side motion in all of your shots. Reels also show work, not behind the scenes shots. and the music.... well it's a little in your face.
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#3 Christopher T. Paul- SOC

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Posted 12 September 2010 - 07:51 PM

Since you asked, I would urge you to take out all shots that feature yourself in them, and I agree with Eric here- all other behind the scenes shots as well. The music was "In your face" as Eric suggested, but the first thing I do anytime I look at reels is turn off the sound anyway...

You have also posted a rant to encourage others not to lowball, yet provide a link to your SOA profile where you quote the rates of $700 w/ gear, and $500 w/out gear. These are well below the NYC standard rates- since that is your market (and also happens to be mine as well).

CP
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#4 Tom Wills

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Posted 12 September 2010 - 08:31 PM

Darren,

I agree with Eric, in that your reel shouldn't have shots of you. I think it's important to point out that it's not just a convention to only include your shots, but there's a very concrete reason - it can do a lot to turn off clients. Especially if you're working your way up (as I am trying to do at the moment - so I feel your pain!), or looking for a big break, a reel like that could really turn off a producer. The first shot, the one of you talking into the camera, was what got me at first. It practically screams "I'm a newbie!". While I'm sure it was an attempt at humor, you don't have the opportunity to make sure the producer knows that. It'd be really easy for someone to watch that, think "This guy seems really full of himself" or "This guy isn't a team player", and then stop right there.

In the world of low-budget production, Steadicam often costs a lot - money to pay for you, for your rig, the time it takes to set up your more complicated shots, the list goes on. Being professional, cool, calm, and collected, can assure a producer that you are indeed worth hiring. Just like you wouldn't show up to a first meeting with a producer hung over in a dirty T-shirt, you shouldn't make the first thing the producer sees of your work be anything but professional.

In terms of your actual footage - there's a lot that could be cut from that reel. Put your best footage at the beginning - if you don't "hook" people in the first few seconds, they'll turn it off immediately. If you waste a producer's time waiting for your "good stuff" they're liable to just skip your reel. They've probably got a stack of them to watch and a bunch of other things to do, so you want to make sure you give them what they need to see first. Your first shot after all of the shaky, slightly off-putting BTS stuff is shaking all over the place, and it's taken me 3 watches to see the "handheld" text written in the bottom. (if it's handheld, why is it in a Steadicam reel? Also, the "doc style" shot is off-putting.) So, even if the producer has sat through the beginning, the first impression becomes "Oh, this guy can't do his job". Don't make the producer have to think about it. Show them the beautiful, nuanced shooting that Steadicam is really designed for. If they want something else, they can ask you for it.

I'm sure there's a lot more that could be delved into, but there are people more qualified than me to be doing that. Hopefully my advice helps.
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#5 Darren Levine

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 09:07 AM

Thanks for the input guys, a lot of which i already knew but wanted others to confirm.

All the behind the scenes will be chopped

The music will be subtlized

I will bitch and moan to producers who haven't yet given me footage that belongs in there.

Also, to respond to christopher's valid point about my rant about lowballing and consequently my posted rates: i wish there was a place to stipulate different rates for different circumstances, the rates i listed do not include a director's monitor, wireless video, wireless follow focus, as well as being a rate for lighter camera rigs. There's nowhere on the site to clearly list that type of info for what the rate includes, and it's obviously better to start at base and add what they need ala cart then to list the heavens and be ignored. I also stipulate to the producer that i will not kill myself for the base rate, frequent breaks is required in the scheduling. Again, i wish i could be clearer on this site, but it's just not possible. I won't go near the other guy on here who's operating for 475/day, does he realize that's a rental price?

not sure why i even list the without gear price, no one i've ever encountered provided a rig. Like most of us here, our rig is our tool, and we own the tool and know the tool.


Also to respond to fletcher about my drop top. Back when i was inexperienced and ignorant my drop times were indeed absurdly short, those clips will be replaced with the ones i need to rip out of some producer's hands. i now feel cozy with a drop of 2-2.5
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#6 Janice Arthur

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 09:58 AM

Darren;

Couple of points.

I haven't looked at the reel so I'm not commenting on that; the others have done that well.

I am commenting on your last post.

One thing is that you tell them you'll need plenty of breaks.

I don't tell them that, the UPM, Producer hears that and says "This guy can't cut it." I do ask what the day
is going to be; "Is it running through the woods or is it walking in a house?" Then I know what to expect and if I want the job. Directors and ADs know about breaks, don't clutter up the Producer with that "demand."

My plan for the day is that the 'Steadicam should go together as easily as a tinker toy and I should have a seamless show in front of them'. (Obviously that's what you said but by saying "I need breaks." you just killed that whole thing.)

What you are saying with your base rate is 'Make my phone ring'. You're trying not exclude yourself from
any phone calls, I get that but all that add-on stuff is annoying to callers. You may have "read" your caller
and see if all that is making them annoyed.

They want a guy/gal who can do the job and will show up with all the stuff. Great now Steadicam is off his/her list of things to do.

Good luck.

JA
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#7 Brandon Zachary

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 10:07 AM

You may have to "kill yourself" for your base rate. I just worked a 14 hour day where I basically lived in the rig. It was the flyer, but the only real time I actually was able to remove the gear was lunch! I took a few moments here and there, but I killed myself for the rate I agreed to work for. Most of the people on this forum have a ton more experience than me and I'm sure they could do a better job at advising you in this area. But keep in mind, if you agree to do a job (for whatever rate) you better work like you're getting paid the best rate on set.

Just my 2cents
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#8 Lohengrin Zapiain

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 10:33 AM

You may have to "kill yourself" for your base rate. I just worked a 14 hour day where I basically lived in the rig. It was the flyer, but the only real time I actually was able to remove the gear was lunch! I took a few moments here and there, but I killed myself for the rate I agreed to work for. Most of the people on this forum have a ton more experience than me and I'm sure they could do a better job at advising you in this area. But keep in mind, if you agree to do a job (for whatever rate) you better work like you're getting paid the best rate on set.

Just my 2cents


I've had my share of low budget shows where they abuse the use of Steadicam and one valuable lesson I've learned is that one thing is what you negotiate with the PM and another thing is your work on set.

You should never do second class operating for second class rates. When people see you on set or see your work on Tv (or the big screen) they are not thinking "oh.. well this guy was getting paid under-scale so that is why his work is so lame" they just think "this guy is just not good enough". Don't let the feeling that you are being abused interfere with your work as an operator. If you blew it during the negotiating process just suck it up, learn and go and give them the best work you have in you!

and fly safe...
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#9 Darren Levine

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 10:48 AM

To the point of "i need breaks" of course that's not how i articulate it to the UPM or producer, it highly depends on who i'm talking to, but keep in mind the market that usually finds me is the lower tier director who heard about my work or whatnot and wants to work with me, so when i tell him that to get as good of shots as possible, regular rest time is needed, usually the time between setups is sufficient, and they usually completely get it, that hauling 80+lbs around isn't easy.

Last gig i did was an unorganized music video from an old associate who i worked with before, and he happened to find that reel online and he called me up. He was fine to work with, it was the rest of the operation that was shambles, and at least he knew that and was working on the fly and although i'm sure he preferred to have me operating every shot, he asked regularly if i could use a break, and for the most part on that shoot i lived in the vest, most of the breaks i'd take the sled off and unbuckle a few straps to let air in.

I think my preferred way to work was another set which had a russian DP Serge, with two cameras, and i cannot possibly describe to you the odor that came off of this guy, but that's another story... the director had many of his shots dollied, static, or otherwise operated by serge, and with several steadicammed shots planned here and there. that type of set obviously lends itself to rest and refreshment, and the best part about that was, when serge was screwing up, the director would turn to me and i'd say let's get it done.

Another thing is that, yes, i may even want to see how annoyed a producer might get when inquiring about my services, in the same way i use contracts, to scare them away. yes i said it, scare away work! why? because i've been around long enough to know that to live a happier life, draw out the difficult people before agreeing to work with them. i'm very straightforward and easygoing, but also very specific, and if i'm speaking to a potential client who obviously isn't someone i'd like to work with, then i'll let it go. Keep in mind i'm talking along the baserate lines here, obviously if it's a big budget project i'll bend to their wind a bit.

I should also point out that i have yet to really define what my target market is. i'm not entirely sure whether i want to do feature, tv, music video, union, non union, etc... for the moment it usually starts out with a client hiring me as a regular DP and then asking about steadicamming, and i'm OK with that, because if they can afford it great, if not, i still have a gig. It's all about diversifying in these competitive times. I may be different for many of you established operators who do just operating for your income, whereas i've been a DP/Editor/Doitall who has the occasional client who knows i can steadicam and requests it. I may opt to do more operating or i may choose several other things i want to do with my life, i've got quite a few plans :)
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#10 robert weldoff

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 12:21 PM

hauling 80+lbs around isn't easy.

. I may be different for many of you established operators who do just operating for your income, whereas i've been a DP/Editor/Doitall who has the occasional client who knows i can steadicam and requests it. I may opt to do more operating or i may choose several other things i want to do with my life, i've got quite a few plans :)




first of all i think u are a clown
that reel was shocking,
u are using a glidecam smooth shooter, and u want rest time! please what a joke, Hauling 80lbs around try fly a 3d rig for 14 hrs

jack of all trades and master of none,
i would never hire somebody who did it all as you say, especially from a steadicam side
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#11 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 12:45 PM

hauling 80+lbs around isn't easy.



Where? You fly a Glidecam not a 80+ lbs rig.

Your attitude sucks, much like your reel.you make excuses for everything others have commented about and you insult the people you work with. You do realize that this forum is read by thousands worldwide....

Good luck...
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#12 JobScholtze

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 12:47 PM

I never knew you could slap 80 lbs on a smoothshooter? Hell, if thats so, i am selling my stuff.

( Darn you eric, you beat me on this )
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#13 Fabrizio Sciarra SOC ACO

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 03:21 PM

This is going to be fun!!!!
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#14 Charles Papert

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 05:50 PM

As can be seen in the first few behind-the-scene shots, Darren is flying the venerable Flycam 6000 with the Proaim 7000 arm. According to the manufacturer's site, the rig will handle a 41 lb camera payload.

One of my students at the Sonoma workshop had one of these rigs and it was somewhat heart-wrenching to see the poor guy wrestle that POS around. It's right up there with the Basson in build and design. I would shudder to think what would happen if it were loaded to the max. I would imagine the snapping sound would be heard from here to Calcutta, and it might be coming from the operator's own anatomy.
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#15 Darren Levine

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 06:20 PM

I'll bid thanks to those who put in their constructive criticism, it was much appreciated and helpful.

As for those who seem to be out on a witch hunt... Don't worry guys, as i clearly said i don't have a defined interest in operating, i'm not looking to fly for hollywood, let alone 3D rigs...(i do have smooth shooter, but i also have a large hunk of junk from india that tops out at just over 80, i wasn't trying to brag about that...) Apologies for ruffling your more experienced feathers, i thought i made it clear that i'm not dealing with the same market as the veteran crowd.
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