I've been a wedding videographer for a while and am considering working freelance as a steadicam operator. I am wondering, however, about the typical work schedule of a steadicam op and travel requirements. I would like to have as much control of my hours as possible for another job and from what I have seen, it looks like the operator's schedule is pretty much full-time 9-5 (or even longer, in the instance of shows) once a gig is booked. Any thoughts on this?
Posted 13 February 2015 - 07:00 PM
Hours are often long, 12-14 hour days, sometimes 6 day weeks. Doing commercials or music videos that could be for just a single or a few days at a time or for features and TV it could be a month to many months at a stretch. Also not any easy or cheep thing to get into.
Posted 13 February 2015 - 10:04 PM
What is your background? What are your motivations to becoming a Steadicam Operator?
Are you already working in the film industry? If you do, then you should already be able to answer your own question.
Being freelance Steadicam Operator is the farthest you can be from a 9 to 5 job. Days can be long, at least 10 hours (union) or 12 hours (non union) often longer with over time. You get call times at the weirdest hours; really early 6 am is common (I even get 3:30 am), or very late, with night shoots ending with sun rise.
Your schedules will always be different and changing on a daily basis. As said above, you might work for a single day on some project, to months at a time (6 days weeks) for TV or feature.
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Posted 16 February 2015 - 12:36 AM
There is a good chapter on the business of Steadicam in the Steadicam Operators Handbook, which is available on Amazon and well worth the money. To what has been said above, I would add that it is very difficult to make a fulltime living at Steadicam, especially outside of major production centers of NYC, LA, Atlanta, Chicago, and a few others. Many operators I know do a lot of traveling. The investment in training and equipment is far from cheap, and it can take three to five years to get a toehold in the business as an operator. In the meantime you will need a plan in place to make money while you practice and learn, preferably on the same kinds of shoots where you want to be a Steadicam op. (Live TV, sports, music videos, narrative film, etc.) Hope this helps. Get that book.
Posted 16 February 2015 - 04:03 AM
welcome to the forum.
First, what all gents above state is correct. Long hours, little control over your own hours, traveling etc.
Gear; don't know the market you're targeting. If you're goal is still to do wedding videos, a Zephyr would be more than enough to meet your needs. They cost around $10k new, but they are often listed here as used, and can be acquired for considerably less. If you´re aim is live tv or features, expect to use at least $20k or more.
Making a living as an operator is tough, it requires years of practice before the jobs come in steady. I would strongly advice you to take a workshop if you're serious about your steadicam dreams. Likewise, I would strongly advice against buying anything expensive before taking a workshop.
Even though it is very difficult becoming an established operator, never let anyone say it's impossible, if its what you want to do. Anything is possible.
Posted 16 February 2015 - 02:48 PM
Posted 17 February 2015 - 01:27 AM
Is your intention to work as a Steadicam operator for weddings mainly ? Then I suppose you could control your hours and travel.
However if you intend to get into working for television drama and movies then things change. I work primarily on movies and a day that is less than 12 hours long is a short day. You will have to travel to where the filming is happening and its tough if you have a family. However the work is rewarding, and to be honest I feel like I get paid to play. You also make good money. But like any freelance work, it is uncertain and can be stressful. There is always competition, and there are many things that make the going tough. There is a lot of competition, and its a cut throat game. Weigh the pro's and con's and decide if it is for you.
But 9 to 5 ??? Forget about it.