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Bought an EFP, now what?


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#1 Elliott Yancey

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Posted 24 May 2007 - 01:08 PM

I just graduated from college in December, I got married two weeks later and my wife and I are about to move into our first house. (renting sucks) I live in Atlanta and have had the pleasure of training and mentoring under Mike Smith one of the best ops in the southeast. After having dinner with Mike to try and figure out if steadicam was a good way to go, it became apparent that steadicam could give me a real advantage in the Atlanta media market. A few days later I stumbled over an operator selling his EFP. SWEET! I bought it two days later. Now, according to Ted Churchill the phone is supposed to just be ringing off the hook and I am supposed to answer with "I'll take it!" (HAHA) This obviously has not happened and I was just curious how some of you guys got started and developed your reputations. I just finished reading the thread about that job in Louisiana (General Discussions) and I don't want to be that guy that undercuts everyone to get the job. Mike has instilled in me the idea of the steadicam brotherhood and I am not out to steal anyone's work. (Just ask Mike, I had a chance to get hired behind his back about three weeks ago, but I just happened to call him and ask him about the job. ;) ) I just want some help as to how to go about getting hired and developing a reputation, but doing it with integrity. Also if you are in the Atlanta area and would be willing to take on a assistant (or better yet an operator), I am just trying to learn as much as possible.


Thanks for your input and investment into my career.


-Elliott Yancey


Also, this post is not to say that I have had no work. (I just wrapped my first movie last week and everyone seemed to be very impressed with my work) It is just not as consistent as I would like. Thanks for your help.
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#2 Rob Vuona SOC

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Posted 24 May 2007 - 01:58 PM

Elliot,
Welcome to the world of spending, your first purchase will most certainly not be your last, unfortunately. Steadicam as you put it is a great camaraderie and brotherhood. All of us have done gigs for less on our way up to the "standard" rate and as your mentor Mike will tell you and most likely refer you to those jobs that just don't have the budget to afford a steadicam at the full rate. Hang on guys don't crucify me . . . .let me finish . . . .LOL . . .Maybe local cable, or maybe infomercials or whatever it is that would get you up to a comfortable level where you can step into a gig and charge the full rate. DO NOT take the gigs for as lesser rate when you know they have the budget for it. OK ok . . .so this is where you have to walk the line but you can always call Mike and make sure all is on the up and up. Just don't shoot yourself in the foot for the future . . . .it's a small community and even smaller in Atlanta.

Good Luck and welcome

OK . . .OK . . .I hear all of you clamering saying I'm a hypocrite, I just feel for the newbie and his new bride and his new house . . . .

Keep practicing Elliot and charge through the moon so we can all look up to you to set the rates . . . .LOL . . . .hahahahahaha

All the best!
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#3 Elliott Yancey

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Posted 29 May 2007 - 09:14 AM

Thanks Rob,

Sorry for the delayed response, I have been out of town. I really appreciate your input and advice. I am still curious how some of you other guys (and girls) out there have "made it." Should I try to work as a camera op first and build a client base with steadicam as an added bonus or should I just continue to push hard for steadicam jobs and make a name for myself as an operator. I have noticed that a lot of times the steadicam op is also the B camera op or is somehow involved in another aspect of the production. I have just got start making consistent money so I can pay for our new house and look my father-in-law in the eye. (and maybe order an Aston Martin DB9 :P )


Thanks for your time and input,

Elliott
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#4 Kris Torch Wilson

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Posted 29 May 2007 - 11:56 AM

[quote name='Elliott Yancey' date='May 29 2007, 07:14 AM' post='27904']
" Should I try to work as a camera op first and build a client base with steadicam as an added bonus or should I just continue to push hard for steadicam jobs and make a name for myself as an operator.

Elliott,

Here comes the lecture. You must be an operator first. That is what we are. How can you be taken seriously as a steadicam operator if you haven't perfected the art of being a camera operator? Framing, decision making, on set behavior, all the things that make one a professional must be accomplished before you strap on the beast. The steadicam is one of our tools. Granted a very specialized tool that most conventional operators cannot use but I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to be a really good camera operator first and foremost. That being said, by all means don't put your new rig in the closet and forget about it until someone hands you a varsity operator's letter. Practice, take workshops and sell it on jobs that you can handle without ruining your rep if you fail. If you don't know which jobs you can fail on and which ones to say no to, then you may very well have answered the question. Damn, that third glass of wine made me wise. Good luck,

Kris
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#5 Rob Vuona SOC

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Posted 29 May 2007 - 02:24 PM

Thanks Rob,

Sorry for the delayed response, I have been out of town. I really appreciate your input and advice. I am still curious how some of you other guys (and girls) out there have "made it." Should I try to work as a camera op first and build a client base with steadicam as an added bonus or should I just continue to push hard for steadicam jobs and make a name for myself as an operator. I have noticed that a lot of times the steadicam op is also the B camera op or is somehow involved in another aspect of the production. I have just got start making consistent money so I can pay for our new house and look my father-in-law in the eye. (and maybe order an Aston Martin DB9 :P )


Thanks for your time and input,

Elliott

------------
I don't know about the other guys, But I personally don't know any steadicam operator that wasn't a cameraman of some sort first. I does no good to know how to operate a steadicam if you can't compose a shot!

As a matter of fact, pretty much all the other operators have done some sort of other camera such as Jib or Dolly etc. Me personally, I went from Still camera work as a Photo Editor of a newspaper and magazine to video (Hand Held Camera, Ped Camera, Jib, Steadicam, POV, Chase Cam, Underwater, basically whatever the challenge was to shoot I wanted to do it) Shoot pictures and shoot video of anything and everything then get proficient at it, then go steadi.

All the best
Peace Out
Rob
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#6 Elliott Yancey

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Posted 29 May 2007 - 02:43 PM

Thanks for all the responses guys!

I don't want anyone to think that I have no camera experience and just bought a steadicam so I could say to a DP "just slap it on and tell me what to do!" I just have not developed my "professional" reputation because I am only 22 years old and 5 months out of college. I was trying to see if on a professional level it is more feasible to try and work as just a camera op or really push the steadicam thing. I own my own rig but I also have a great High Def. Camera (Canon xl-h1), so I am wondering if I should start trying to get hired with just the camera or stay dedicated to the steadicam. (I will always be dedicated to the steadicam :P ) I really just don't know how to get people to trust their production in my hands. (you know how great that feels when the director calls for steadicam and all eyes turn to you, and for the time being the entire budget of the project is riding on your shoulders. I love that pressure!) It seems in Atlanta everyone already has their guy that they call and I am struggling to get on the call lists. I am willing to work in almost any position just to be working and networking. It truly is all about who you know it seems. I just want more chances to prove myself. I studied hard in school (I know, along with about a million others), practice steadicam all the time, and now I am just looking for the some ideas as to how to get out there and do what I already know how to do and continue to expand my knowledge learning from others with more experience. How do I get started? How do I start to become someone's guy that they call?

Thanks guys,

-Elliott
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#7 brooksrobinson

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Posted 29 May 2007 - 05:08 PM

Elliott,

Despite what others have said, it is possible to be a successful steadicam operator without working your way up every rung of the camera department ladder?although I don?t know if I would recommend going that route or not.

I bought my first rig 15 years ago when I was 23. I was two years into an illustrious PA career (didn?t seem funny then either), when I met Dan Kneece on a movie. I had been fascinated by the steadicam since entering the business (my Montana State University ?film school? background didn?t mention such an apparatus). Dan spent a lot of time answering my lame, endless questions and mentioned that if I was interested, he would be one of the instructors at the Malibu workshop a week after the movie ended. I took all of the money I made on the film, and put it towards the workshop. I fell in love with the steadicam at the workshop. About 6 months after the workshop wrapped, I figured out how to buy my first highly modified model 2.

I rationalized my purchase by convincing myself that by the time I started my career in the camera department and worked my way up from loader to operator, I would be too old to want to run up and down sand dunes all day in the sweltering heat of August (not that I like doing that now). If steadicam was what I wanted to do, then I was going to find a way of doing it. This was probably flawed thinking, but being young and exuberant at the time, it made perfect sense.

I spent the next two years making almost no money. Scary! I did a lot of practicing in the back yard shooting flowers and plants with a consumer video camera and weight block, as well as USC, and AFI thesis films. I then got a ?break? from my buddy and got into the loop at Concorde (Roger Corman?s company). I made a lot mistakes working on many atrocious films, but nobody seemed to notice as they were all moving up as well. I never billed myself as something I wasn?t, and it never came back to haunt me later on?except when someone out of the blue says ?Hey didn?t I work with you on Bloodfist 6??ouch!

One thing led to another, and when I was ready to start doing bigger projects, they started to happen. My time toiling away in the low-budget exploitation, slasher, and sci-fi genres made it possible for me to work on much bigger shows down the road. They provided a solid foundation to build on, and I now look back fondly on that time (well?sort of).

I?m not saying that by any means this is the smartest path to take. In my case, I was just young, eager, and ignorant. Knowing what I now know, I?m not sure I would do it the same way if given the chance. There are many things I missed because I didn?t work as an A.C. It took me a long time to be a good and confident conventional operator outside of doing steadicam. There are things you pick up on working your way up the totem pole that you miss by jumping head first into the world of steadicam. In my case, that was a fair trade-off and it has proved to be a great career choice.

Good luck, and remember, you never know which gig is going to lead to the big one. Be ready. Be prepared. And practice, practice, practice. Good luck!

Brooks Robinson

PS Someone early on in my career warned me about taking on projects that were over my head, and I always found that to be wise advice. People always seem to have a great memory for steadicam operators they didn?t like for one reason or another. Make sure they remember you for the right reasons.
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#8 Elliott Yancey

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Posted 03 June 2007 - 03:06 PM

Thanks Brooks! That was a very helpful responce! I had been advised by some people not to take the slasher sci-fi type projects because those projects had the potential to ruin my reputation. I took a zombie movie (Dance of the Dead) anyway and found it to be a very positive experience. The whole crew was great to work with and the DP had a great vision for the look of the film. I really think that project only served to help my career. It was encouraging to me to look you up (Brooks) on IMDb and see how your resume progressed. I just want to be the best I can and function with integrity throughout my career (a trait that seems to be rare in this industry). I am just trying to find my path to success. Thanks again for the input and for taking the time to invest in me.


-Elliott Yancey

P.S. - I got two phone calls yesterday for steadicam jobs, one red carpet event for no pay and another for a 12 hour plus night shoot for $400 flying an F900 with a PRO35 adapter. Watchout boys, I am on my way up the ladder of success nipping at your heels! :P

...I turned down both jobs. <_<
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#9 Charles Papert

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Posted 03 June 2007 - 04:21 PM

I will second Brooks' story as mine was pretty similar. In fact, there are quite a lot of succesful Steadicam operators working in the big leagues right now who did not come up through the ranks, often because they came out of smaller markets (where the division between job categories is more blurred and you need to be a jack-of-all-trades). There are even a number who learned to frame while learning the Steadicam.

It's definitely noble to turn down jobs that don't pay enough. But it is probably true that most people on this board who preach this took jobs just like those at one point or another in the beginning of their career. I know I did. Some of them I truly regret, others led to much better things.

In any event, Elliot, it sounds like you are off to a good start and well-equipped with the proper "knights of the green screen" philosophy!
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#10 Rob Vuona SOC

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Posted 04 June 2007 - 03:25 PM

...I turned down both jobs.


--------

Bravo Elliot . . .
I second what Charles said as well . . . .

And, Forget nipping at our heals . . . . .use my gear and we'll both make some money . . . .LOL . . .

Keep on keeping on!
Fly Safe

Edited by Rob Vuona, 04 June 2007 - 03:26 PM.

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