First off, let me state this…I love the Epic. It’s a wonderful camera. The best I have ever owned, also of course the most expensive. I love the image, the features, the look of the camera, the way it operated, the resolution. I spooned it every night.
I bought one this summer. It was fully mine. Not co-owned. My biggest investment since buying my house 17 years ago. I used it for 2 paid jobs and numerous personal ones. I stopped using it though for paid work as I was having some technical issues with it and it had let me down twice. RED were very supportive and helpful in trying to figure out what the issues were. I should mention that the Epic M is classed as a BETA camera by RED.
RED took my camera in for repair at the beginning of November, where they were trying to figure out what was wrong with my camera after shooting the short film “Host” which we had HUGE technical issues with. In the meantime they kindly supplied me with a loan camera, with that I shot a music video, the Homeless video for Turin Brakes and the Redneck Hippy. I had sound issues with the latter but the other two were fine. I had also shot with Eric Kessler’s Epic and had no issues on the two projects I shot with it.
So why don’t I have it anymore?
Well it comes down to a number of things…numbers 1 and 3 being the major ones, 2 being the irritant…
1: I was no longer comfortable with using the camera on paid jobs. I had the camera back but they could not find the fault, they did a full rebuild, but it would mean I would never know what the issues were and if they really had been fixed. I have never shot with a camera where I was so unsure of it to the point if I took it on a job would it work?
I had some incredibly unhelpful remarks from people (not RED) saying it was my fault for going on a paid job with no second EPIC as a backup. I am sorry but I am not rich. I can only afford one (barely as I had planned to pay it off over the next year) and if I went to client explaining what that extra £1000 per day on my quote was for (an extra rented EPIC as mine was unreliable) that would simply not wash with them.
2: I wrote a blog post, a very balanced blog post in my opinion, about why you should or shouldn’t get a RED Scarlet. It was for the most part very well received. Especially by current RED owners and for people sitting on the fence. I explained whilst it is a great camera make sure you are budgeted for the extras and are well aware of the method in which it records higher frame rates. I also said that I had one on pre-order and was looking forward to it! Whilst is was well received I was also subjected to a lot of abuse from, let me just call them fanboys, who did not like me saying anything negative about the camera. Ridiculous. This went past that though with an insane thread on REDUSER.NET which has mostly been cleaned up but at the time was completely out of order. It was offensive to me, rude, nasty and then it became libellous when some bright spark asked if I had been paid by Sony…yep that is what he said, to write the blog post. He was citing my recent competition I was involved in with Sony to win an FS100. For the record, again, I am not, will not and have never been paid by any camera manufacturer to give a public opinion, a review or anything close to that. The only time I have been paid by a camera company is to do the odd job for them at shows or like the FS100 competition. So, that comment on the thread crossed the line by and I had to act upon it.
3 I emailed someone very high up at RED complaining about this being on that thread. That person did act on it thankfully on reduser quickly and shut them up, but then he also subjected me to a LOT of emails which were more and more upsetting to me due to the words being used and what was being said. I had also literally just stepped off a transatlantic flight when I was getting them. Bad timing!
This person said me talking about the issues I had with the camera (completely ignoring all the wonderful complements I had given the camera too!) was against our “agreement”. He said when I got the camera early it was on the agreement that I would not talk about it’s issues. This was not the case. First off…I didn’t get the camera early, I got it when the Red.com website said “Buy today, shoot tomorrow”. The Epic M was in stock and it took 3 months for me to get my bits for it. Secondly… I have not and would never agree to be silent about any issues I personally had with a camera, especially one that ended up costing me close to $80k with accessories. I of course paid the full price for the camera. That is not who I am, I am open and honest about my experiences. My whole website, facebook and twitter is about sharing my experiences. How could I possibly do a blog post about a shoot, share the footage and NOT mention I had serious issues on the shoot? Sorry but that is not me. I had no written agreement. There was also no verbal agreement as I had never spoken to that person. There is no way I would not be honest on a product and if someone asked me to not to post negative issues then I would not get involved with said company.
As the emails went on that person DEMANDED to buy the camera back as they didn’t want me to have it anymore. I of course was utterly shocked. I tried to explain the value of me talking about the good AND the bad and how I got past the issues, I explained the value of having openeness about my experiences, after all RED have been great in helping me get it up and running each time and this was a huge positive!
I could not believe what I was reading. For me this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I put up with the issues as I loved the camera, for the most part I loved the support I had received from the community (owners not fanboys), some in particular were fantastic. They know who they are. But getting abuse from this high up when I should have had support was not on. I decided if I was to be treated like this by ANY company, I wanted nothing to do with them. Especially one that I had invested in so heavily. I accepted the offer, which also very generously I must add, included taking back any 3rd party accessories I had bought for the camera. At this point I was also banned from REDUSER permanently (considering the emails I was receiving I do not believe this was a “mistake” but a deliberate ban.) I was reinstated two days later without an apology. I have not posted there since.
This person did two days later apologise for his completely out of order actions and I accepted the apology. He also retracted the demand for the camera back, asking if I wanted to keep it but understood why I would not want it anymore. But I was done. I had dealt with too much. After all it was just a camera and no camera is worth the amount of grief (listed above). No camera. All I want is to shoot and create. Not deal with this nonsense.
I have a lot of respect for RED, the camera, Jim Jannard and what they have achieved. I hope they understand why I had to write this and my name is not dirt now for them. I do hope to rent Epic’s again in the future and I hope things like this never happen to anyone. It certainly has made my time back home since this happened on the 22nd of November very stressful and time at home with my family is precious even more so at this time of year. I wish I didn’t have to write this, but there was too much false information circulating and I certainly did not appreciate my integrity being questioned. It is everything to me.
At least I have my fond memories of the time with my Epic and of course the work I did with it. Host was rescued in post and will come out in January, please check out the teaser below. One music video is still to come out and the documentary I shot mostly with the Epic for Eric Kessler is currently in post.
I know I am going to get a lot more abuse from writing this but I need to put this to bed and draw a line under it and unless I do this it won’t go away.I just wanted to get the facts out there so I can close that door and move on. Of course I have cancelled my Scarlet too. I still have many other cameras to shoot on and after all, remember….it’s not the camera…it’s the person! But bloody hell will I miss it!
I appreciate the support in the comments but if we can refrain from RED bashing I would appreciate it!
EDIT: Big props to Jim Jannard who has made a public apology on REDuser. Be good to put this all behind us and move forward.