How do I get into this filming lark and make money from it?

 

Sky News: Gaza 2004

Should I go to film school? I am 16 and want to be a DP, how much can I charge people with my T2i kit? I am a staff news cameraman and want to go freelance, what should I buy? I want to quit my insurance job and make a movie, how do I do it?… Just a small selection of some of the questions I have been asked many times. I hope to address some of these questions in this epic blog post. Sit down, get a nice cup of coffee and I hope I don’t waffle on too much!

 

This is part one and deals with what to do if you are a teenager and don’t know which way to turn…Part 2 in the next day or so…

Everyone from 12 year old kids to guys in their 50s looking for a change of career. Of course with gear now more affordable than ever there is of course a lot more people asking this question and because of this competition is increasing, for better of worse…So what is the answer? Well there is no simple solution. I think it makes sense to first explain my own history to see how I did it and how things have changed in the 21+ years since I started. Yes, I know it’s hard to believe looking at me that I can possibly have been doing this as long as that but it’s true. I just moisturise frequently! 😉

I bought my first video camera at the age of 16 with money I earned from my part time job at the supermarket Tesco. I bought it with credit as the damn thing cost over £2000 (a huge amount of money back then!) for a basic Sony Video 8 camcorder. But I had fun with it and it was by far the cheapest option for me.

At the age of 18 I had three options. I wanted to be a cameraman but couldn’t afford gear but I also needed to have a career and make money at some point and this could mean something totally unrelated. I hoped if I couldn’t do what I wanted to do straight away I would a find a way at some point…

The three options in England were this:

1: Attend Art school, I painted a lot and was the “Art prefect” at my school (google it!). Back then, when you attend art school you do a foundation course for a year which covers all sorts of art including photography you can then specialise. At this point I would go to a Film and TV school like Beaconsfield. This was the only way I could get to use proper gear.

2: Get a job in TV doing anything just to get my foot in the door. Once in I would work my way up.That would be the plan…

3: Take the job Tesco offered me in management training and put my filming dream to the side and keep it as a hobby. But without affordable gear I doubt I would have gone anywhere with it until probably now! Can you imagine? I could be an area manager for Tescos like one of my friends is now. Depressing as I really don’t like Supermarkets!

I wrote to every TV company under the sun back in 1989. Then it was around 18 regional and national broadcasters. That has dropped a lot since then. One company offered me an interview. The newly formed satellite TV station Sky TV. They wanted to offer me a starter job but because they were offering £5000 a year and I lived 2 hours away they knew all my salary would be spent on commuting and didn’t want to give me the job. I said it’s fine…I just wanted to get my foot in the door.

For me it worked a treat. I bugged the hell out of everyone. I learnt how to do everything there. From transmission, to vision mixing. I even did about 20 odd sports reports for Sky News (if i can find them I may upload one someday!)  I was keen, happy to do anything and it paid off. It was an incredible opportunity and I stayed challenged creatively for the 17 years that I was there until I left to go freelance.

California Fires. Sky News 2003
Taba. Sky News 2004

JUMPING SHIP AND GOING FREELANCE

It’s tough leaving a comfortable staff job with a nice salary, great benefits and 6 weeks leave a year but I always said when it got to the point where I needed to challenge myself more it was time to leave. I reached that point 4 and a half years ago. It was a scary decision and despite jumping into a short TV series after leaving I then had almost 3 months of very little work. A very worrying time.

I had been looking at going freelance for many years but the cost of the standard freelance camera, a Digi Beta with a good lens was around £50k. You had to work out a 3 year plan to pay it all off via a large loan. I really didn’t want this. A few years later I still ended up getting a sizeable loan to buy a DSR 450 and kit but a fair bit cheaper than the digi. Today things are even more different. Buying a camera, a big expensive camera makes little sense. Sure buy gear to help. A tripod, lights, sound gear, editing but a big expensive camera. I would say no. BUT there are so many really affordable cameras out there as I am sure you know that…

I’m still at School and don’t know what to do…

What would I do right now if I was 16-18 today? That’s a really tough question. I wouldn’t exchange the training and experience I had from my 17 years in news for anything. I learnt to shoot fast from some of the best cameraman I have ever come across. I learnt to light, record sound, edit and with very tight schedules. This really was the best training ground that I could have asked for. Of course that kind of opportunity is a rare beast these days. Few news outlets care about the quality anymore and those that do the whole be a sound recordist and work you way up route is pretty much long gone.

So…hypothetically. I am 18 years old…Here are the current options and this is where it gets complicated.

I go and buy some gear. A T2i, a couple of old lenses, some 2nd hand lights, a tripod, bit of sound gear. £3000 spent. I want to make £500+ a day as a cameraman…forget it. With no experience nobody will hire me for that much money. So what if i undercut other people and charge £200 a day? Well yes, I could but how good am I? I am 18 years old. No experience, maybe some cocky confidence but that’s it. Everyone I contacted to get work when I was charging £500+ a day now are interested as I am “whoring” myself out for a pittance and undercutting everyone. So, a company hires me to make a video for them for £200. Great. I made some money. But am I any good? If not, then I won’t be hired again. As a freelancer I am only as good as my last job! If I do a crappy job they won’t hire me again. No problem. Plenty of fish in the sea. Right?

Theoretically this approach could work. But it’s not good for the industry that’s for sure as I would be undercutting everyone and if lots of people do the same everyone suffers. But let’s say I am a selfish bastard and don’t care about anyone else. Sure, but don’t forget it’s a small industry! What sort of work would I be getting? Who cares, as long as they pay I get experience, credits and money…right?

The problem is nobody would hire me unless I could show them some work I had done. Hang on. I am 18 and not done any proper work yet…no credits no jobs and of course I cant get credits without being hired. Chicken and egg.

The other problem is are you learning? I guarantee you at 18 I was utterly shit! I look back at my first camerawork at 19 and I cringe. I learnt so much by shadowing much better people than me. By skipping the learning stage you miss out on much. Now learning isn’t as black and white as it used to be. The internet has changed everything. There are so many great learning resources online. Load of great mentors who can watch your work and critique it. I would just be incredibly wary about selling myself without really being any good! Of course there are loads of 18 year old people online making some great stuff. That’s because so much has changed. Gear is affordable meaning you can practice in your free time and get better that way.

But to be honest if there is any way you can get a job as an intern or an assistant to an experienced cameraman you will you benefit SO much. I promise you! It’s just hard to find those opportunities. I don’t have them for example as I travel far too much to hire an intern. But others might…

Getting a job in TV could work but there is no guarantee the training will be there or be any good. The days of broadcasters training up people are almost gone.

What you could do is get a job for a local organisation. Work for not much money on staff and work your arse off. Learning as you go. Again, not ideal as nobody to shadow. Unless there is someone with more experience there.

Another option is go to work for a local wedding videography company. Wedding filming is the hardest work I ever did and there are some simply stellar people working in this field (mostly in the US) and this would be a great training ground for you…almost like the news training I had. Work fast but make it good. Only one take…

You see it’s just not black and white. Things were a lot simpler back when I stared with the option of get a job in TV or go to film school…

So film school….good option? Yes and no…Of course it will cost you and you may end up after 3 years being in crazy debt and have no job at the end of it. BUT you could have three years of fantastic knowledge and hands on with all sorts of cameras…just make sure you go with a progressive film school. One that uses DSLRS and doesn’t turn their noses up at them in favour of shooting on film. Sure, shooting on film is great but just how much of that will you do in the real world with tiny budgets and affordable cameras everywhere?

Do I wish I went to film school? Yes and no. I would have LOVED the experience I am sure. It would have been a ball but I would not be where I am today if I had gone that route. I was lucky and got a job and worked my way up.

Does that help you? There are no simple answers to this one…I truly believe the revolution is with this generation.

One guy who I find inspiring is Josh Gooden. I met Josh when he was around 18. He saw one of my videos. A little promo film I made for a friend’s restaurant and took the concept and ran with it. I believe he was 17 when he made the below spot for his local Panera Bread. Today 2 years later he is making more of the same and filming lots of weddings beautifully. He is 19 and has a successful business going. But he has a natural talent. He has a feel, an eye, the pace. A gifted filmmaker. We are not all like that. But if you want to look up to someone, then look at what Josh is doing.

This is another option, approach your local business. Make spec web commercials for them or free web commercials to give you the experience. Do this in your free time. If you screw up, it’s fine. Nobody is paying you. Honestly the best way I learnt was by cocking up constantly. Different things each time. Cocked up. Didn’t make that mistake again. You learn from your mistakes and that’s why it really is best to practice and practice and practice before you take that plunge and sell yourself!

One thing I can say for certain. If you have that narrative taste and that is what you want to do then making money from it is WAAYYY harder. I know some very talented narrative filmmakers and they mostly just do corporates and they need to pay the bills! So don’t think making short narrative films is going to help you make money, one day maybe. But it won’t appeal to clients who you are trying to get bread and butter work from. Make them for yourself and then who knows!

The Fat Deli from Philip Bloom extras on Vimeo.

Short film made for my friend’s restaurant in Balham.

Shot on XDCAM F350

Panera Bread from Josh Gooden on Vimeo.

This is the promotional film I wrote, shot, and edited for the Blue Ridge franchise of Panera Bread located throughout Virginia. The store we shot at is located in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

Winner of Zacuto’s Z-Kudos Award:
http://zacuto.blogspot.com/2009/05/z-kudos-award-winner-4-josh-gooden.html

Technical Info:
Shot on a Sony PMW-EX1 with a Letus Elite. I used a 28mm 2.8 (Wide), 50mm 1.4 (Primary Lens), 105mm 2.8 Macro, and a 180mm 2.8. Then a Zacuto kit to keep it all together.

 

 

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39 comments

  1. Great post. As a freelancer, I agree 100% that the best route is to continually seek out great mentors throughout your career.

    Being around people who are as passionate about learning the same things as you also works well, as you bounce off each other and learn from each others mistakes and findings. A school environment is like this, but it can also be a buddy or someone you go shooting with (in weekends if you want to learn in your spare time) who is on your level or someone with more experience.

    Most important of all is practice. You can learn a lot (!) by reading and watching online, but you learn way more by doing it and spending the hours. Get up early every sunday and spend your day shooting somewhere till the sun sets.

  2. One strategy for changing careers into film is to begin by finding a bridge from whatever field in which you’re currently employed, or a hobby about which you’re passionate.

    For five years before going into film, I performed small animal surgeries and various other scientific protocols in cancer research. Video-wise, I had been doing small volunteer church projects for several months, and had an otherwise unused BA film degree. Shortly after a lab funding cut hastened my career change planning, I found a company specializing in documenting biological and medical research (jove.com). They seemed keen on my peculiar skillset mix, hired me on freelancing, and have to this date been my best client.

    Aside from the PhD-holding producers and editors at JoVE, I’ve also worked with a former HVAC installer who now produces instructional videos for HVAC products, a 4×4 offroad videographer who’d started by just bringing along a handicam on club rides, a retired Navy man who now produces internal videos for several service branches, and a “Government Security Consultant” whose films I’d like to someday see if I ever attained the proper security clearance.

  3. I am currently in a 17 year old wondering what on earth to do next. I live in England on the Isle of Wight, which is incredibly boring and small.

    I’ve got a conditional offer at university for a course which covers Film and TV as well as other areas such as Web design, Photography and Audio Design, so its quite a wide course, which I primarily want to focus on Film and TV in. The main reason I wanted to go to university is mainly build up a portfolio, and then be able to go “This is what I’ve done, hire me?”

    I am also trying to arrange an intern placement at a local film company at the moment, for July and August, which will hopefully go well.

    Due to a personal situation though, I think I might end up not being able to go off to university, and I won’t be able to travel much to find a job either. So I was thinking what advice could you give for someone who is looking at freelancing?

    I have a few projects in the summer, music videos and a small corporate video to use as a initial portfolio. Equipment I currently have the 550D, a healthy set of lenses and the essential gear to go with it, nothing too special – but want another camera, possibly more ENG style for weddings, corporate video and because of the whole “He has a proper camera, he must be someone who does good film” image.

    So yeh, what advice could you give? Thanks, and I’m looking forward to part two!

  4. really looking forward to reading part 2!!!

    I’m 25 and have been freelance for the last 3-4 years since finishing filmschool, I mainly do fashion and music based stuff but eventually want to get into narrative film.

    I think the best approach in terms of going from nothing to something is (provided you’ve got equipment) find a contact in your network of friends and acquaintances who works for the type of company you want to work for and then offer to do them a video for free (as you’ve said). I did exactly that and because they saw how hard I was working and were happy with the result they even gave me a couple of hundred quid and I’ve worked for that company many times since.

    The problem I’ve got is I produce, direct, shoot and edit all of my work, partly because I’m a control freak and partly because I need all of the money to survive. This means that I’ve been in London almost 3years now and know next to no other filmmakers, all of my paid work has been one man band apart from one or two times when I’ve needed an extra pair of hands.

    I’m in the position where I feel I need to move up to the next level and work as a director with a team but as that saying goes “if you keep doing what you’ve been doing you’ll keep getting what your getting”

    I have literally no idea what my next move to develop my career should be, I see myself as a director but just don’t know how to make that move from one man band to ideally a commercials and music video director and then eventually short and feature films,

    I feel my approach up to now has left me a bit stranded, as I said before “if you keep doing what you’ve been doing you’ll keep getting what your getting”

  5. sorry forgot this as well;

    before going into anything resembling paid work find a handful of local bands and offer to shoot for them for free, go to every possible gig and shoot and if you get some good footage then edit it, after you feel your getting good results shooting the gigs offer to shoot a SIMPLE performance music video for them, if that’s any good then try and do a few more videos for the other local bands you know and soon you’ll have a showreel, then you go after a real client and offer to work for them for free.

    The main thing that approach gives you is confidence and a safe place to play where you can screw up all you want,

  6. Great Article and advice, it is an excellent time to be a film maker / have a creative interest in film or video. Ideally a job in the industry is fantastic for the reasons Phil says – however if you are in a position where you cannot get close to or be involved in video to some degree – use any spare time and dedicate it to learning or practicing your work.

    Ultimately whatever path you choose doesn’t matter. What matters is how much passion and drive you have to do what you want. Give your work as much time as possible, striving to better it – constantly seek criticism / advice from as many people as possible – try to absorb as much information from those with many more years experience than you and always keep practicing and perfecting your craft – give it everything you can.

    Phil, that Cali fires photo of you is awesome! – hope you have a bigger version! Fat Deli looks great – gunna hit that up when I’m in London next…

    tell him to embed your vimeo version to his site tho!

    http://www.fatdelicatessen.co.uk/video.php5

  7. Awesome blog post Phil – probably one of the most helpful you’ve ever done! I’m 18 and have been making films since I was 13 and even earlier. Today, even at my young age, I’m working freelance for a few companies that pay very well and I’m also doing weddings about every weekend.
    It’s awesome how accessible the gear is now – and it gives young people a chance to really get involved in this like never before. I talk to people who are in their early teens today who are a lot further ahead than I was at that time simply because they now have the tools available to make things that look far better than what I could have done back then.
    I’ve been lucky to have supportive friends and family who have helped me along the way. It took a lot of practice – but after a few years of doing my own short films as a hobby, I had enough experience from that and volunteering as a camera op on a TV show to start getting some of my own clients, and have built it up since then. A lot of the clients I charged low prices to when I started have turned out to be great leads and have gotten me corporate and event work that has pushed me forward to the point where I can now at the age of 18 make a decent living doing corporate and event video, and I’ve never had to take a stereotypical teen job.
    I think that with the industry the way it is now, young people have more opportunities than ever to get out there and make stuff and get their career started. Those who stick with it and dedicate themselves to it have a good chance to go farther than ever before. It’s pretty awesome.

  8. Nice article!…another thought to remember is that there is not a one size fits all answer. But it is a lot of DOING, LEARNING, and MEETING people.

    In my case I started school with the idea of being an engineer and floundered for several years before I decided to take a video production class with a friend of mine. That changed things…just before I graduated an instructor of mine introduced me to a friend of his that was doing a long form corporate piece, kind of like a fictional documentary that followed a man once per decade throughout the hundred year history of a financial company…lots of period dress/varied locations…it took 3 months to shoot and several weeks to edit and I worked on it every minute as a pa,grip, camera assistant, assistant editor any possible thing I could do. It was unpaid but I didn’t care. I think I worked around 50 days on it. Just before the premier I was called to a meeting at the company…I sat down and all around were the producer, director, DP all the “big” guys and then little old me. I thought it was strange at the time. So the director turns to me and says that they would like to give me a stipend for all the hard work…I was thinking, wow a couple hundred bucks would come in handy…so they handed me a check, and it was for 3,000! That was about 6 dollars an hour…but what a great beginning to my career!

    For the next several years nearly ALL the work I received was somehow connected to that first project. RELATIONSHIPS are so important.

    And so I’ve always been a freelancer for my entire career…this is what worked for me…although I’ve always wondered what if: I had gone to film school or what if I had taken a staff job…but in the end its all those experiences that make you who you are.

    Sorry for the long post…but I love what I do! And I love that story! Such great memories!

    Bob

  9. Totally right on with this advice. One other thing I would suggest to a young upstart–go find out who is producing low budget independent films in your area and volunteer to work for free. Don’t expect to run the camera or anything but there is always a ton of grunt work that needs to be done on those productions and you will get a first row seat on all the problems, mistakes and creative problem solving that goes on at a low budget movie set. You’ll also make some personal connections which are invaluable to getting work later on. Which is also the one big advantage of film school (not that school is necessary at all–I tend to recommend NOT going to films school if possible) but the networking and personal connections you can make at film school is really valuable.

    Also start a videoblog/youtube/vimeo account and challenge yourself to post something creative to it on a regular basis. If you post good stuff some people will notice and you will develop a little following. Keep coming up with ways of challenging yourself by doing stuff you’ve never done before.

  10. well if you want to shoot news, there are certain cameras you you have to have to get the gig, period. at least for national level work. there are certain things about big cameras that just work for ENG like SDI out that are requirements for the job. ditto other pieces of gear like a couple small 400 or 800 joker HMI’s. do I like those lights ? no. do i think they are great ? no. but the are lite weight, travel well and are a defacto standard for new shooters. got’em ? yes we can use you. No got ’em ? call us when you do. there is no getting around having certain bits of gear. the same with XDcam vs P2 camera, ect. when it comes to news gigs.

    I’ve worked freelance and for my own company for over 20 years now. its not a lifestyle for some folks who can’t deal with not getting regular checks every week / month, who can’t deal with having to front at times, thousands of dollars a month in travel expenses, then waiting 2 months to get them paid back. you have to be disciplined and able to think ahead. This even comes to having a family / significant other who is ok with you being gone overnite often, or even being gone for a week or two at a time. that too can have its price. so its not a life for everyone, you have to be able to deal with all the downsides before you can enjoy the upsides.

  11. I think one of the most important things about all of this is that you have to work hard to achieve success. It doesn’t necessarily matter what you’re working on or how you got there, as long as you are working and learning then you are doing fine.

    One of my favorite quotes is that in order for opportunity to find you, it has to find you working. Then you just need to have the wherewithal to rise up to that opportunity.

    Anyway, love the CA fire pic. I got one pretty similar from the same time on my first DVX shoot!

    [IMG]http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y17/Irelandia/Scott_taping3.jpg[/IMG]

  12. Here’s my summary of this blog post:

    Back in the day, there were difficult (yet possible) ways to make a living. Today, nearly nobody cares about quality, nobody has a budget and nobody wants to mentor you. This is why there will be a revolution in the rising generation.

    I’m a bit depressed, now! Time to move to Libya and start learning how the revolution can take place….

  13. very good article, well said. As someone starting my own production company, and having worked for a large production house, DSLRs are making the field a bit more competitive, but content and reputation are still king. Our production company saved about 40,000 a year by switching from a red pipeline to a 5d pipeline, but at the same time we spent several hundred thousand paying employees and for our office. It’s a lot about getting established and trusted, which often means doing your first few jobs for minimum wage or for free

  14. Great post, Philip. I guess it is a wake up call for some of us: you do have to work hard to achieve something, in any business!

    You have been a great inspiration for me, and though I have never been paid for any of my videos, I have become pretty experience by doing ‘charity work’:
    1) In the village where I live, there is a group of guys like me making local reports about community life. First we had a website, and now we are also on digital tv! One of us is now the official reporter/camareman/editor for a football club in the premier league!
    2) My wife is an amateur musician in a symphonic orchestra. I’m now their ‘official’ film maker. All for free, of course…

    greets,
    Ivan

  15. Brilliant post, it’s helped me a lot, mainly because I was one of the people who emailed you asking about this!

    From what everyone has said, the best way to get work is to network and meet people. I live in Sheffield, there are no TV studios and 1 film company who take on Uni students but have 3 spaces a year and 100’s apply, but it’s still a option for when I’m at uni.

    I’m just wondering though, would it be a good idea to get like a ‘first stage’ network online? I can’t find anything like it (at least not in the UK) where people in this specific industry can network, I’ve done work in the past doing web developing, and on one project someone wanted to do a similar thing but for the music industry, there were some incredibly talented singers, producers and mixers who all had never even had the chance to meet with someone who could help them.

    Half way through the project the guy ran out of cash and abandoned the project, but I finished the site and asked him permission to use the site under my own name. I launched it and a year later sold it for £1200 (while it was still tiny) they spent £800 or so on marketing and now it’s one of the most successful UK industry networks, based around forums.

    Just wondering if anyone else think that could work, it’d help people like me who would literally do anything to get on some work experience or internship within the industry to get some experience and meet other people in their position and people who can help them out.

    I only know of 1 other person in the whole of Sheffield who is in a similar position, but I know there are 100’s.

  16. Hi Philip – I’m 24 and I’ve had to address this problem head on. I worked in a completely non-related field and majored in Economics, but found that I truly loved film. The problem? How am I going to live off it??

    I took a leap of faith and decided to buy equipment and learn as I went – and kept a blog specifically addressing how someone with no background in film or formal training can succeed, and HOW I went about doing it:

    http://steltmanblog.blogspot.com

    My intent is to help give young filmmakers a tangible path to the film industry from the VERY beginning, literally from the very first time I picked up a camera seriously. I hope this helps!

  17. Good stuff Phil as usual.
    From someone who went to grad film school at UCLA and is now dealing with a lot of crap from that crazy debt which has just mounted over the past 6 years and is slowly being paid off…I would just say — SKIP FORMALIZED FILM SCHOOL. It is a vested financial interest for the college system.

    This is the digital age and world. And it’s changing like no tomorrow.
    All the time.
    You can take a week or 2 week seminar on learning basics; buttons to push, etc., or can do it on your own. On line advice is everywhere.

    Put your own money into your own equipment…even if it’s in bits and pieces.

    Learn editing above so much when you start…because EDITING WILL CHANGE your view as a director and writer and overall creator of content. My way of doing all this is truly about creating and thinking outside the box.

    And start doing your own stuff.
    Distribution is fragmenting more and more and a good 50 percent of it is going to be about going directly to the audience via VOD on HD in audience’s homes. HD tv screens are getting better and bigger. and more importantly…cheaper. And that is the diversified, global audience, more so than America.

  18. thanks phil,

    I’m weeks away from graduating from film school and am trying to make the decision to either go freelance, or move to LA and work as a PA and work my way up the film industry ladder. Maybe I can do both? There must be places where finding Freelance work is easier/harder than others. I suspect LA freelance work is hard to find? Anyways….great read, cant wait for part 2

  19. This was a great piece and I check back everyday for part 2. I am one semester away from getting my film degree. And after almost 2 years without a job I can finally start building up my gear. I have had ups and downs throughout film school and I am always going to be a person that doesn’t think it is necessary at times. You can only learn so much sitting in a classroom. Its a true test at times when you have all these ideas but your stuck working on a project you normally wouldn’t. But even then you can learn something along the way.

    A couple of questions though…I know when starting out you can’t be so choosy but what if its material you just cant see yourself doing such as promotion for alcohol. Will putting your name on something that doesn’t sit well with you so early in life come back to haunt you?

    Is it difficult to get film permits in the US? I know you can film in certain areas without worry but what if you need to film at a location or in my case an abandon warehouse. Who do I speak too and how much can I expect to spend for the permit? I am still just a 24yr old college kid after all.

    Please bring on part 2!

  20. Great post Philip.
    I have one question – do you need to be academic to get into the television industry. Do you need high qualifications or do they mainly look for experience and quality of work.

    I am really not academic, I cant do maths or physics to save the world, but I feel I have the creative abilities, technical knowledge and have that ‘eye for film.’

    where/are academic? or just creative? or both

    thanks a bunch

  21. Here is my take on getting work and I’m kind of coming from Philip Blooms point of view but from a photographers point of view from back in the day.

    Like Philip Bloom said you get one take on a wedding. If you mess up you can get sued if you mess up. So you better know what your doing and becoming a assistant is what I would recommend if you can get your foot in the door if you can.

    Now if you can not get your foot in the door. Get some training videos on weddings. And offer I’ll film your wedding for free and post some of you work on Vimeo and YouTube. Use craigslist.org to get the word out or other sites.

    The problem with weddings there are a lot of different wedding ceremonies because of different religions and if you do not know the wedding ceremonies–then you need to go to the wedding rehearsal and believe me it helps to go to the wedding rehearsal.

    Catholics have two different kinds of wedding ceremonies one that is 15 minutes long and the other one that is 45 minutes long.

    I’ve found people often have a better wedding when the quests are comfortable. You’re asking a lot if you want people ti sit in a wedding ceremony for 45 minutes on a hot summer day.

    There was a photography studio in Boston back in the 90’s I heard about. The photographer used Mamiya camera a gear broke in the camera and the photographer did not know it until it was to late.

    The photography studio got sued for $150,000 dollars.

    Weddings are even harder then working in the NEWS because its always in the back of your mind I hope something does not go wrong.

    I know one wedding photographer that trades in his car because he wants a working car that he can depend on.

    One other wedding photographer I know his Mercedes Benz that was only two years old would not start up. He found out there was a problem with his model of car. He used his wife car to get to his wedding job.

    So if there is a second car in your family ask please do not go out until I leave if there is a problem. The other thing to do like a said is leave two hours a head of time and if there is a problem and your car will not start up, well then go rent a car. Do not wait for the last minute to find out you have car problems.

    Another scary thing about weddings is that you sign your life away kind of. Because you better not get sick no matter what and you better go to work.

    If you can make friends in the field if you need a bailout you can have a friend do the wedding for you. This is what most photographers do.

    When I did weddings I always made it a point to be at the house two hours before I had to be there. Keep in mind this was before people had GPS devices. I had to use a old fashion map book and a lot of people that live deep in the suburbs live on streets with no street signs.

    In Boston there was three studios that took almost anyone that had a camera a MacDonalds wedding studio. People just went there to get trained and get their feet wet.

    Someone said to me you know what all these studio have in common? I said no. The owners are all dead.

    Stress killed the wedding photographer.

    Today things I would say are a little safer as you can see your photos or videos in real time as your working.

    Always have back up equipment even if its not as good as you main camera.

    Just do not use a cheap camera as a back up like a FLIP or a cellphone.

    If you live in NTSC and your second camera does not have 24p then always film in 30p. These are weddings people do not want a film look but that want great wedding video.

    You could put 24p in a 29.97 rapper but then you will have ghosting.

    One other thing about weddings that you sign your life away a year or two before the wedding. So if you want to move on in life or something like that your going to have to wait it out or find someone that will take your jobs off you hands.

    I’m not trying to sound like a downer but these are the hard facts of weddings.

    philip Bloom is right your will get some great training on weddings if your up to it. Just try and find a good studio that will train you.

    If you unable to find a good studio take even a average studio and learn from the masters that post on Vimeo like

    http://vimeo.com/joshgooden

    http://vimeo.com/orangewedding

    http://www.orangefilmsny.com/index.html

    http://vimeo.com/keymoments

    Also type wedding in vimeo you’ll find a lot of other great videos.

  22. A few other things about weddings.

    Depending on your location that you live in can determine your income. Keep in mind this is back in the day. With what I’m about to tell you.

    Some of the photographers I know their income was determined by their location of the town they are in for the most part.

    One photographer his girl friend makes more money then him because she lives in a much higher income town. So people are willing to pay more for the same about of quality of photography service. Both him and his girl friend are very good photographers.

    Now some of this might have changed since I left weddings with people posting their portfolios online like with YouTube Vimeo Flicker and so on.

    When a bride called a studio for photography most of them are calling within a 20 miles radius give or take. To make a appointment to see your portfolio.

    One way to get work in a higher income town is to do trade shows but that will cost money up front for a table. I say they might be worth it but wait until your making some money before you start spending a lot of money.

    Bridal magazines would change 250 to 500 to 1000 dollars a month just to place a add some some of them do run some trade shows. So look into the prices before you decide if its a good move at the time.

  23. hello . I’m from Myanmar .I was working as a freelance music video director in Myanmar . I saw your video at vimeo and follow here . Anyway just want to thanks for this article and a lot of information on your site .

    nice to meet u Philip . u are my great mentor . Thanks

    Sai l k

  24. Damn, I wish there was Philip Bloom, good Internet Optics and 5Dm2 when I was 18 :))))

    The answers up there are totally valid. They are useful in every freelance field. I’m coming from the graphic design area and I can confirm that.

    May be I can make a small contribution by adding that there’s also an option to work for barters. It’s not like you are working for nothing – it’s like people are not having too big expectations and you can develop with every new project. Big painters painted once for their bread. Why not we 🙂 ?

    I basically build my studio and my work around barters and recently I’ve renewed my Open Design Barter Project – http://www.desbar.com . It’s not exactly for cinematographers, but everyone is welcome to sign and promote his/herself.

    Also it’s not exactly dumping of the prices when you are doing the job cheaper.. because as a newbie – you are selling product that’s with less quality. And as long as you clarify that to your client I think you are morally free. The problem comes later when the same clients asks for your services and you’ve already invested in some gear, you’ve improved your skills… then you have to be a real salesman to sell yourself on the higher bid :)))

    Thank you Philip!

  25. Problem:

    lets say you can have only one camera. The use is to communicate to the most people in the world in the least time. Which one would you get…?

    I would think Rick Young would say EX1R. But now today? Before cannon pops this next week. Cannon 105- 50 megs, EX1R, Dslr 5D, or 7D, 60D, ninja,
    go pro. Zi8.” 3 Zi8’s two go pros one D60, and EX1r.= used 12K$ maybe.”

    lens changing maybe more important big sensor. Lets say a kit for this for 10K$. What kit, this is the way it is going. Iphone. paint it with brushes cost to much now. To say what is movie pictures, is just as you read this is really a video of sorts. A sort of modern cave drawings is what we are all talking about here. hand prints on the wall of a video cave. keep on the good work bloom! you make us all think video in our heads. thank you. mickey 🙂

  26. I know its an old Post but still found it interesting as a 16 year old making films and trying to get into the industry 🙂
    The only question i have is, well who do you approach that you could make a film for, i never know what sort of people want films being made for them, im not talking weddings, im thinking businesses?

    just to show my work, shows how a T2i and some old lenses can help, a little interview i did of my grandma, practice makes perfect as i say 🙂

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Od5gs6QnNJA

    Jed

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