10+ steps to becoming mega successful in video production and probably winning many awards whilst becoming super rich!!

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EDIT: I have decided to repost this as I have been getting many questions about “making it” and I think this post needs to be read by a lot of people who missed it the first time. 

WARNING: There will be adult language in this post. A lot. Sorry!

A bold title for a bold post. Of course it’s absolute nonsense! I see this sort of thing everywhere! 10 steps to losing weight, 10 steps to increasing your mental capacity, 10 steps to pleasing your woman! There is no magical list to follow, BUT there are many things that you should think about that will help you stand out from the crowd. I am not going to ask you to sign up for one of those annoying exclusive mailing lists to access this. Like everything on my site, the info is free for all…and of course most of this is actually pretty obvious!

Now, of course if you all follow my steps and for some reason all of you live in say Muncie, Indiana, we will have a problem as there may be some competition… But generally most of this really is common sense and you should know it already. If you don’t then please go to your nearest fishmongers and get someone to slap you with a wet kipper. Very invigorating but smelly. Then take the kipper home, smoke it and have it for breakfast. Lovely.


I will go through these points from personal experience. I have been lucky enough to have been doing this for over 23 years and have learnt a shit lot in that time, and my innumerable screw ups whilst learning may help you!

1: So, number one is: There are no top ten steps, and if someone tells you otherwise they are talking bollocks. There are COUNTLESS things you need to do to succeed. I will go through some of them based on personal experience.

2: The work will not come to you. Getting the big break while sitting around waiting is about as likely as winning the lottery. No matter how well your student film from film school was received, Adidas is NOT going to call you up to make their next spot. You will need to put in a lot of hard graft. Getting your name out there may never happen. I know countless talented directors and writers who are not doing what they should be doing, as there simply is not enough work in that field to support their families. They make corporate films, anything to bring in the money.

3: Don’t be a snob. Very little is beneath you. Even though you shot some fancy short film on the Epic last week, if someone offers you a gig to film a corporate event then unless you are rolling in cash take it. Why? It’s money. Money pays the bills, rather important. Also this client may be giving you a crappy job today, but next week may offer you something super cool. Act like the job is beneath you, and that 1 week in the Seychelles they were going to offer will go to someone else with less attitude.

4: ALWAYS give every single job your everything. Look at those wedding filmmakers. A potentially soul-destroying way of making a living in this business due to repetition and the damn hard work needed. But by making every one better than the last, your reputation will grow as will your skills as a filmmaker. Anyone can go and shoot a beauty film of the Alps. Not everyone can make a small, dull wedding into a beautiful film. That is talent and much of that can be learned. This can be applied to anything! Make that corporate film of the manufacture of ball cocks for toilets the greatest thing ever. Make it Paul Thomas Anderson good! Well, as good as a corporate film of ball cocks for toilets can be! ?


You see, one of my favourite challenges in filming 17 years for news was not making long form docs, or travelling the world. It was making something of nothing. Given a story with NO pictures, come up with a treatment on the day, film it, edit it and get it out by 5pm that day. Now that was tough but enormously satisfying. Another example is there is a lobby in the Westminster offices of the broadcasters in London. It’s not especially sexy. Large frosted daylight windows, tungsten light, a fair bit of space. The problem is, it is used around 9 times a day on the program. You can see package after package go out with the SAME background. Why? Lack of imagination and creativity. My biggest challenge was to be told to do an interview in this incredibly overused location, and my challenge to myself was to make it unique. Is it possible? Yep. Lighting, camera position and much more. Compress the background using the 2/3″ lens by positioning the camera a long way off. Use the daylight to bring in a nice blue-ish background whilst lighting for tungsten. There were hundreds of ways of making things look different. You just have to make an effort and think! I always said that the day I am no longer challenged by my job is the day I leave. The moment I leave my lights in the car and stick a camera light on the top of the camera is the moment I need to change jobs. Always put 100% into every job you do. That is what being a professional is.

5: Don’t do it all yourself, find a good team to work with. Whether its other cameramen, a good soundo, good editors. You name it, find a team you trust. You most likely won’t be able to use them a lot of the time. Often it’s just you, but ask their opinions on stuff. Find them and use them. A team you can trust is worth its weight in gold.


6: You WILL fuck up. Guaranteed. Accept it. Fucking up whilst in a staff job is better since, unless it’s pretty serious, you will still have a job. Fucking up as a freelance is tougher, as your client will need to be forgiving. Ideally you already have a relationship with them and they will understand. Don’t blame someone else. Take responsibility. It’s your mistake and you won’t make it again. That’s the great things about fuck ups. I fucked up SO many times in my news career. Mute sound, wrong colour, crossing the line, forgetting to hit record, handing over a blank tape and recording over the rushes. You name it and I have done it. But you know what? I only do each mistake once. The only way you will learn is by making mistakes, admitting them, and learning from them. Don’t go though life thinking you are perfect and never make mistakes. That doesn’t happen in the real world. Don’t make excuses. You fucked up. Take the blame and move on. I still fuck up to this day.

7: Love your job. Absolutely essential! Do you hate filming? Then do something different. I am lucky enough to be doing what I love. I never believed this was possible growing up with a father who hated his job. I assumed that was what was expected. I never realised you could do something you loved and get paid. This is a wonderful creative career, and if you are making money in it they you are damn lucky! Embrace that!

8:If you are not getting creative satisfaction out of the work that pays, your bread and butter, what is stopping you making something that fires you up in your own free time? A huge amount of work on my site under films is just that. Personal films done to fulfill my creative urges. Doing these will make you happy and maybe you can bring some of that creativity into your mundane work? Trust me, without these personal outlets I would have felt stifled.

9: You don’t need a Red. You don’t need an Alexa, you don’t need a C300. Any camera will do, to a degree. Don’t listen to the chattering masses on the internet who say you MUST film on X camera as your Y camera is shit. X camera has .5 stops more dynamic range and Y camera has more noise than camera X, using camera Y would be INSANE!  That is nonsense. Yes, some cameras will make your life easier and some will make your life harder. I don’t subscribe to the idea of using the shittiest camera you have because you are an artist and you can make anything shine. Nonsense. Use the best camera you have access to. The camera is NOT the most important thing. You and your ideas are. But don’t be a camera martyr and say “my work is what is important hence, not the camera, I shall film this on my iPad!” Don’t be silly now!!


10: An expensive camera won’t make you a better cameraman. It will make you more broke! Want to upgrade your T2i to a Scarlet? Why? Skills are learnt with lesser tools. Not expensive ones.

11: Learn how to do EVERYTHING. Learn how to produce, to direct, to edit, to shoot, to do graphics etc . Why? It gives you a greater appreciation of what everyone does. Don’t do it all, but knowing what is needed to do a certain job will make what you do better.

12: If you really have no talent at all yet still enjoy shooting for fun, keep at it. Eventually you will get better, and if it makes YOU happy who gives a crap what the critics say?

13: Gear…do you need it to make yourself better? Of course not. It may lift your production but it won’t make the content any better. Remember if you polish a turd it will still always be a turd. Concentrate on content, that is where the value is. Then if you have some extra cash go buy some nice toys and bits of kit that can make your life easier!

14: Promote the crap out of yourself, make specs spots. Do people favours. Do anything you can (almost) to get the work. Share your work on Vimeo, ask for critiques, accept them. Make changes. Improve. The list goes on and on.

15: Don’t listen to the trolls. I myself have issues with listening to that advice. But it’s not worth it. Anyone who takes the time to be nasty online to you is not worth your time of day. Leave them to their mother’s basements and you go out and make your next film, whilst they eat their next bag of Cheesy Puffs whilst sitting their y-fronts.

16: Don’t listen to anyone, including me! Let me rephrase that. Don’t listen to just ONE person. You are your own person. Never believe one opinion. Have faith in yourself and it will pay off! Advice from others with more experience is essential. Just don’t let one person get you down. I was told I would never make it 20 years ago by one person senior in my company and was laid off. A few months later his replacement said, “you have something, I believe in you, come back.” That was my mentor and friend Gerry Williams.

17: Do not give up if the work isn’t coming in when you start. I had 17 years of a highly paid, comfortable job that was still challenging me to a degree but not enough. I needed to spread my wings, so I had to give it all up to go into the scary world of freelance. I jumped straight into a network current affairs series, then had 3 months of almost nothing. Terrifying. Did I give up? Nope. I pushed harder, searched for more contacts and eventually the work came. Scary at the time but have faith in yourself. If you don’t nobody else will.

18: You NEVER stop learning. I learn something on every shoot, through a cock-up or by seeing how someone else does something. Never believe you know it all, because if you do believe that then you need to urgently get yourself to the nearest hospital to have your head removed from your anus. ?

See. I got to 18 and I can keep on going, but I think you get the idea. I hope some of this was useful.


Below is a personal documentary I made. For fun, for passion and it remains one of my favourites. Shot on the NEX 5n. Go figure!


  1. Excellent list.

    I am always amazed at the amount of work you get done while also able to do your own projects. Your world traveling these last few years is so insane that sometimes it looks like you have clones to do it all.

    Try to get some rest on your time off.

  2. Philip I agree with everything you said.

    I’ve read a lot of bad things about TV rating are now getting really bad. Here in Boston the local new stations are lucky to even get 30,000 views. The only station in Boston that does well with the local news in Channel 5. Its because everyone that works there is old and all the old people are still watching TV.

    What I want to talk about is I think its very important to post on both Vimeo and YouTube if people are looking to get noticed. I have two friends that give out FX tutorials on YouTube so they get filmmakers checking them out and then they post their short movies they make on YouTube. Here is one of their films.

    Green Lantern fan film


    Plus by posting on Youtube you can get ads and make a little money to pay for your gear.

    I think the kids that made Bad is Bad made the best move by giving out the movie for free. They did a amazing job and when they did their kickstarter for their new movie they got the money they needed because people saw what they could do.

    “Bad is Bad” full length feature film on Vimeo for FREE Shot on 7D


  3. This is the truth. Although I don’t have your experience yet, I’m learning that all points are true.

    Let’s just hope people take it to heart.

    Personally, I hope they don’t, so I can have their clients in the future.

  4. I really enjoyed this whole post. My favorite part is “Skills are learnt with lesser tools. Not expensive ones”. It’s so true. On a camera like a t2i you MUST know what you are doing and have absolute control over the image. You can’t get away with putting it on auto and expecting a refined image. It forces you to learn.

  5. Great advice (as usual) Philip especially ” I always said the moment I am no longer challenged by my job is the day I leave.”

    I don’t agree with #15. DO listen to people who have been doing this for a long time (including Mr Bloom). If you have a future in this tough business you will be able to sort out the good advice from the bullshit.

    Oh and cameramen/women should go into edit suites every now and again. We editors don’t bite (often) and you’ll be amazed how much it helps your shooting. This from a cameraman friend.

    1. Fab advice (as always). You are a real inspiration to me. Sounds like you need some well deserved R&R as they say!
      Looking forward to my FS 700 arriving in a few days – Your excellent review clinched the deal for me. Saving up for the Pix 204 now! zzzzzzz Thank you again. Scott (Matthews).

  6. I think anythings possible and anyone can do it if you use common sense, determination and hard work and a single minded attitude as well as putting your life on hold you will get you there.
    Well done Phil on making something out of nothing!.

  7. thanks so much and just what i needed to hear… works not coming in at the moment and i’m giving everything i have left to put myself out there. but you know what? loving every moment of the whole thing and writing a short in the meantime! i have a crew i trust and i dropped people i can’t with more skills… i love reading this stuff, and i’m so grateful to be doing what i’m doing.

  8. Hmm, a lot of use of the word shit and turd.
    Could one make a move about a turd ?
    Now that would require talent !

    Seriously, great article and good advice thanks Philip.

  9. Hi Philip.
    I can see why it is still one of your favorites. A wonderful example of the power of visual storytelling. Your inventive, interesting and dramatic framing for the talking head scenes alone are a lesson in themselves.
    I have been shooting for 35 years and I still love it too.
    I try to pass on what I have learned to others and I agree whole-heartedly with all of your words of wisdom. It is less about which camera, lens, software, type of light, visual effect and more about the attitude, skills, work ethic, passion and commitment. These cost nothing and can be honed every day.
    Learn, practice and have a good attitude, this will give anyone a good head start. Shoot stories, any stories, the more boring the better, as it will make you think extra hard about the shots you need to come up with to make it interesting.
    As you know as young TV cameramen we shot around 15 to 20 stories a week and most of them were boring so our brains were the biggest asset we had to making a story visually interesting. So practice, practice, practice. Here’s a secret, “see what Philip has done in any of his stories and try to copy some of it”.
    Thanks once again for another great article and for sharing your beautifully told and filmed story.
    Geoff Stock

  10. Good mojo Philip. But honestly, I think I’m pretty good with all of them… except #14. I’ve been saying I need to do this better. Truth is, I really don’t know how. I think for most people it’s second nature, or at least they know what they should be doing. But I really don’t. I believe my work is pretty good (here’s a couple links – https://vimeo.com/18023173, https://vimeo.com/27671087, https://vimeo.com/11911414) but promoting myself is foreign to me. Don’t even know where to begin. So…

    Here I go, I’m putting myself out there. Can anyone help me with this? Advice/ideas on promoting yourself and getting yourself out there. Links to articles and videos would be great. Thanks.


    1. I wish I could help, but the truth is you’re way ahead of where I am. All I can say is that your videos are really awesome. Luggae Teaser and Brutalis especially! Keep at it!

  11. Thanks for the wonderful advice Philip. I had been making videos for a little while, and you inspired me to start filmmaking with a DSLR a little over a year ago, and I think it might be what I do when I grow up. I especially agree with what you said about exploring your creativity in your free time. It is very valuable, and I think you are probably best known for your creative works. Loved your Skywalker Ranch one. I’d rather be known for producing amazing works of art than make big bucks on a hollywood film no one would remember me for. Keep up the amazing work!!!

  12. If you don’t have the opportunity to do it personally, make a phone call to all members of the crew to thank them for their hard work (providing they deserve it)! A quick word of thanks goes a long way.

  13. Really true, and like Adam said, it always helps to hear it all again. I want to add something that I learned.

    It’s very good to be a competive cinematographer. But only competitive with yourself. There is (and will be) always someone that’s better than you! Always push yourself to be better. But remember that there’s absolutly no room for an ego. Don’t compare your work.

    Thank for you “Blog” Philip!

    1. Actually, mythbusters have proved that you can make a turd shine! 🙂

      As to Philip: thank you so much for your time and effort, much appreciated!

  14. Thanks for the pep talk.

    Much of this is applicable to any arena of life – learn as much as you can, love what you do, do your best with whatever you have, and be at peace with whatever you’ve done.

    Mind if I add one to the list? Pity I’d think it needs to be added, but even five years in this industry shows me not everyone honors it:

    #19: NEVER LIE and NEVER screw anybody over. Keep to your word, even if it’s an immediate disadvantage. Pay what you agree, don’t pad your invoices, and otherwise be honest. Honorable and Dishonorable people quickly earn their deserved reputations.

  15. Great post, Philip. I especially like #9. This is the one I come up against the most when I teach my No Budget Film School class in LA. People think if they can just get an Alexa, it’s going to make all the difference. Back in the day it was 35mm. Then it became just film. Every year new micro-budget films come out that prove that the camera is irrelevant, especially for no-budget art films. And it’s not just that most of the audience won’t know the difference between a 7D and a RED, it’s because that audience–film fest programmers, indie press, festival audiences–don’t care what the film looks like. The look has to serve the story, and often with no-budget art films, that story is one of honesty and authenticity. That’s what’s important–getting to the truth. Not bit depth, resolution, or latitude. I wrote about this in a past post on my website:


    Keep telling the truth!

  16. Great advice as usual Philip. Thanks for sharing. I recently posted a similar confessional here:


    but it’s regarding an unhealthy mentality we tend to adopt in this business in terms of what motivates us to buy new gear. I was specifically going on about computers but you can easily insert the word camera in its place and still learn from my mistakes. I couldn’t agree more with what you’ve posted here and I really enjoyed hearing more of your story.

    For what it’s worth my 19 year journey in this business looks something like this:
    – First 2 shows worked for free as a PA
    – Spent next 4 years in locations doing camera gigs whenever I could
    – eventually became a reluctant Location Manager
    – quit that when I had the chance to get in the local camera union trainee program – huge pay cut
    – finished my 4 year degree in 7 years due to taking off loads of time to do shows when offered
    – worked as a camera assistant until 2003 then committed to just taking DIT gigs after that
    – presently greatly enjoy my day job as a DIT, I DP whenever possible and hope to do that full time eventually

  17. Philip,
    Thanks a very interesting topic and great to hear your views and advice.
    We have very good relations with the BBC College of Journalism BBC CoJo and my friend Bill shot this short piece at their “Connecting Communities” Conference last month
    Guys sorry for the quality issues as he shot it on his Panasonic compact (I think)
    Much more importantly it is the underlying tone of the interviews and conversations.
    We did a project last year with Southampton University, taking footage from HD cameras/iphones/flips/stock footage then someone did a VO from their iPhone/laid up library music etc, which I had to cut (very badly) in FC Pro.
    All done via Cloud storage and xml it was an interesting experiment.
    Would really appreciate comments from you guys, the Broadcast professionals who maybe see this as “dilution of media content” or the way forwards. Future iPhones get 8 core ARM processors etc/motion stabilisation other software intensive algorithms built in to them.
    One last interesting point highlighted in the BBC CoJo Vimeo piece above.
    Create media content – validity/worth of that content – how to get paid for that content??
    Last comment..You would be (not) surprised from our studies how much (awful) visual content people are prepared to put up with these days of Youtube and online video, great to shoot on RED or FS700/Alexa but??
    Thank you

  18. Nice post Philip.. I have to agree to everything you wrote, since my attitude is very similar to yours by nature.
    I think your advice is very useful for improving ourselves personal and psychological skills, and it suites to a “meritocratic” work field.
    I wish you could live for just a couple of years in Italy (my country) and see how these steps that I’m still going through, would crush against a system that has nothing to do the other countries’ film world.
    But i still stand for them, still believe that this is the right way to follow, the way of loving our job trying to make something new, something cool.

  19. Philip,

    Thanks for this post!! It is always refreshing to hear stuff like that and especially coming from someone like you. I say that because often people in your position can snob the up and coming, sometimes unwillingly, but this post confirms what I always believed regarding those who are successful and are really secure about themselves.

    It is indeed a continuing learning process.

    Now it is hard to actually get some feedback from folks on Vimeo but hey it’s understandable, as it is hard to find folks who are willing to work with you as everyone is wrapped up in themselves.

    Film making is not meant to be a solo effort indeed.




    loved the foul language!

      1. My art teacher blamed the camera when he was a second photographer at his friends wedding. He had a old Nikon FM2 and the flash sync was 125 or 90th of a second. Well he bought a Nikon F3 and the flash sync on that camera was 60th of a second. Only half of the frame got exposed because the flash was not syncing with the flash.

        But his friend bought it. He was lucky it was not a paid job.

      2. You should have a competition to shoot on the worst camera…then it will prove it’s more to do with skills and story telling rather than the tools.

        You can’t beat good ideas and a good imaginative story.

    1. LSU wins National Championship. Celebration at Tiger Stadium. 30degrees f in Stadiom. No gloves. Exclusive head coach interview. … Double-punched 🙁 Frozen fingers and no footage.
      … shit happens 😉

  20. Good reminders, though I think I’ll have some trouble finding a fishmongers in Muncie, Indiana. I may have to settle for the frozen fish aisle at the Super Walmart.

  21. 5: Don’t listen to the trolls…..

    I have a Youtube channel where I post some science/tech videos for fun….

    The other day Nitrogen6669 commented:

    fuck you ass hole….cant believe people like you man…posting shit like this…i was so researching jet turbines…dont know how i came across this piece of shit…faaark….

    What is inside Nitrogen6669 ´s head? I dont know, but I know what is inside his channel: nothing, no videos, no subscriptors, empty!.

    It is the same with almost all if not all the trolls… emptiness….

  22. Great for new filmmakers to read…industry can seem very intimidating when just starting out. With the current times where gear changes weekly, I can’t imagine what it would be like to be new right now. It’s exhausting yet very exciting at the same time.

    and…um…do I sense a little Hendrick’s involved in this masterpiece of a blog? : )

  23. Thanks Philip! I find your write-ups and shared knowledge an inspiration, and this one is good.
    I’m blessed to have the work, I’m really blessed to work with great people, to have their skills and support, with a great attitude. My crew is a hug part of my growth and success.


  24. I work for a marketing company. Trying to encourage the staff to do more with interview and b-roll corporate sort of shooting has been a challenge. Though not corporate, I’m definitely impressed with your above documentary of interview and b-roll, something I’ve passed on to my staff. We bought into tools, such as the Merlin, and a Cinevate slider, to help spur some creativity in the largely repetitious market we’ve carved out for ourselves. Sometimes, challenging ourselves to tell stories with just a camera and tripod can yield better results.

  25. Philip, Great post. You and I have perhaps taken similar paths to where we both are right now – through television news. I’ve been at this for over 15 years and I can say that it (the biz) has certainly changed in that time – so much so that the youngsters entering the biz today have no idea what cumbersome techniques we needed to master to do the most basic things. I have a question though and its a tricky one to answer so I understand if you don’t want to address it: With social media being one of the many game changers in recent years (along with DSLR video) how would you break down your income. I think a lot of people see what you’re doing and say, “wow, I could do that, I blog a little here, a do a workshop there, show up at this trade show and voila! I’m a rock star!” I know this post is all about hard work and nothing comes easily, but between the ad revenue you make from the website, your speaking engagements, and commissioned work, how does it all break down? I’m just curious because I have no idea how the hell you manage to do it all.


  26. Philip, thank you for taking the time to continue to inspire and cast vision to filmmakers young and old. I attended a Canon Filmmakers workshop in Atlanta last year and cannot thank you enough. Your work and your passion for what you do was very inspiring but it is your desire to share what you know and your genuine belief in other people that continues to amaze me. I know it takes a lot of time and effort to invest in other people – even from afar with your blogs, but you never make it seem like a chore or a burden and you are truly helpful without being condescending. I don’t get to follow you as closely as I would like and I still have found the courage to be as creative as I want to be, but you brought color and life and excitement to an area of my life that had been dull and grey and lacking in any kind of passion or joy. So I just wanted to say thank you.

  27. I gotta say, I felt like crap this week…. but this post got me motivated to keep on going. Love the down to Earth points, and reestablishing those core basics and keeping it simple. I have no idea why I’ve been obsessing over C300s and REDs, but I should realize a 5D Mark 3 is way more than enough for what I’m shooting for. Heck, I can use some points for life in general HA!

    Thanks Philip! I finally bothered to registered just so show my appreciation even though it’s long over overdue on my part hehe

  28. Thank you Phillip – i haven’t always agreed with you but i am doing the best work of my life because of the passion you have every time i go looking for an answer to my latest screw up. I have my own passion now, and slowly after 7 years I am starting to get the hang of this gig. And i am a much better, happier – ‘ verging on being an artist’ person.

  29. i just wonder how philip does manage to run this blog, shoot videos AND play football for the spanish team under his pseudo name “Piqué”? amazing job philip and congrats for reaching the euro final!

  30. Hi Philip,

    Thx for this funny list. I founded my own production company 4 years ago. And I have to re-invent myself everyday.
    It’s challenging & what make my life complete & rich.
    Two advices: making a durable business takes time & never be satisfied by your work.
    Have a good free time
    And just visit my vimeo profil: https://vimeo.com/piproduction
    All the best from Switzerland,

  31. That is great to hear. I have been doing video editing for 10 years as a hobby and decided a year ago that I was done doing car sales and it was time to dedicate my life to doing what I love. Of course, this last year has been rough and at 31, my lowest income since my first job as a kid. The funny thing is, I am happier now then my best month in the car business when I made $7,000. I feel I have a greater purpose than chasing money. I have also learned more in this year than probably all the others combined.

    I have made 8 music videos in the last 6 months with each showing improvement. My brother is a video editor in Hollywood and has been my mentor for years so I have a great thing going in that. The videos that I have done have been for none or for little pay but they have served as great tools for showcasing my work and learning something new every time. I am seeing doors start to open up as far as jobs go little by little.

    I really appreciate the advice you post on your site and every time I watch one of your time lapse videos/ videos I get motivated to the point where I wake up early the next morning to go shoot something. It is a great feeling knowing that I have my life time no matter how short or long to work on constantly getting better at filming/directing/editing.

    You are a vital part of my learning and inspiration. When I look at your very first time lapse from 3 years ago, it is very similar to my first time lapse ( I saw yours after I shot mine) in which I mounted the GoPro to our van on a road trip to New Mexico. When I look at your time lapse of Dubai, I am blown away by the progress that can be made in only 3 years. I have watched that time lapse several times by the way and it is absolute audio/video or photo harmony. Growing up as a skateboarder, I have watched skate board videos of my favorite Pros to motivate me and improve. Your videos and blog do exactly that for me in this world of film making.


    Bob Daff

    1. Oh yeah, I have a GoPro Hd 1 as mentioned and a Canon T2i. I just ordered a timer for it today so that I can start time lapsing with it. I love the T2i and can’t wait to time lapse with it. When I got the GoPro I thought it was the greatest thing in the world except for in low light. Now that I have it as a secondary camera and mainly use it for time lapse, I am finding myself trying to get away from using it at all. I can’t wait to time lapse on the Canon and actually be able to adjust my shot and snap away.

      1. Hey Bob I also got my start from skateboarding and own a GoPro Hd1 and a Canon XF100. I work a 9-5 filming and editing job in san diego but would like to find something with better pay in LA. If you got any advice or any connections at all it would really help me out. Probably a long shot but I read your comment about your brother and the fact that you skateboard and it stuck out to me. Maybe we could collab or something?

  32. My gosh you sounded angry Mr Bloom. Calm down man!
    Personally I havent tried to be successful because I have an ordinary 9-5 job. A few times when I took on a gig I gained a lot of feedback and immitators. Granted I’m not great but fairly average but I’m never short of ideas and I can be very controversial. That is something I excell at. I once even help revive the fortune of an old gentleman’s pub into a thriving business after a 2hr adventure with my camera. Always be unassumming and pretend that you are doing it for art sake with something to back it up even if it is utter BS.
    My advice is if you are short of technical skills and you don’t have the latest and greatest gears just be controversial with your ideas. Notorierty and the amount of youtube hit brings you bigger fame and fortune than raw skills and slick video. You not just get paid, you could do something you loved and get laid too:)

  33. This is the TED talk for videographers.

    It’s all true and I speak as one who feeds a family AND buys toys on the income of corporate events.

    My take-aways? Quick wins are overrated. It’s the fails that are valuable. When you’ve decided you don’t need to learn something, you’re dead.

  34. Great post. More than useful tips.
    As always, a great insight.

    I’ve been working as entry-level video producer (aka wedding and general event videography) and working on a few more filmic jobs and now I’m finally launching myself into the professional video production (tv broadcast, commercials, shorts and -hopefully – features film) but in this initial phase I’m obviously on a budget.

    That being said, which camera would you recommend for the this beginning period? You used the Panasonic AG-AF for a few months and recently the Sony FS100 and FS700.

    Is it a good bet in my case bearing in mind that I will be doing a lot of tv broadcast gigs? Or is it better to chose another one? I have to buy an external recording device to reach the transmission bitrates for HDTV anyways… so, which camera would you recommend?

    I’d appreciate your help.

  35. It’s amazing how much time is wasted online by people who would rather talk gear than use it. Thanks, Phillip, for all the comments. As a person reinventing himself for the fourth time, it really helps to hear this stuff over and over. Cheers.

  36. Very, very true information. Things are changing so fast. I find myself behind many times until I get on to the set. I immediately realize that we’re all adapting to changes together especially if you work in a hot spot like NY this becomes more obvious. I’m a sound guy for many years and I would never guess that I’ll be working with photographers as frequently as I’m doing today. I hook up my sound rig to DSLRs more and more… Doesn’t matter what gear you use, I think Philip makes great points and it’s really important to understand that it’s time to be more flexible and work harder than always.


  37. This. Philip, you get it. (obviously) Thanks for putting into words what we all need to hear! It is surprising how many good DPs and photos miss these fundamental lessons.

    Jason Smith
    Washington, DC

  38. no.16
    I remember my film teacher having such a great belief in me to a point of embarrassment, i guess it was a confidence issue on my part, funny thing is/was i could take on board any criticism given about my script writing, directing, cinematography etc. from pre to post production (anything after doesn’t count as i’m never finished – with finishing). i guess i heard from all but only listened to my self in the end. With that i totally agree with you Mr Bloom.

    After i came back from studying-about 2 years ago-my confidence in film making was very low, so i resorted to what i did before- house and office maintenance and painting walls, thats my bread and butter now. This job has given me the chance to work at what i love the most -film making, regardless whether it’s story telling OR weddings… it’s all a story in there, just need to find it.

    I admit the love of the art has gotten me with a vengeance again. Artists like Mr Bloom and Mr Driftwood and Drew Network to name a few has lit my blue touch paper…. so i guess i did listen to others which has inspired me again.

    If you ever need beautification to your house :)? otherwise your wisdom on this site is priceless.

  39. 3: Don’t be a snob. Very little is beneath you. Even though you shot some fancy short film on the Epic last week, if someone offers you a gig to film a corporate event then unless you are rolling in cash take it. Why? It’s money. Money pays the bills, rather important. Also this client may be giving you a crappy job today, but next week may offer you something super cool. Act like the job is beneath you, and that 1 week in the Seychelles they were going to offer will go to someone else with less attitude.

    What if the pay is beneath you…and everyone else in this biz? Does this rule still apply?

  40. Lovely doco. Very impressed — I found myself lost in it. It flowed like it had been carefully scripted word for word, even though it most likely hadn’t been.

    On the gear side, I couldn’t agree more. Recently I was faced with a decision. I could most likely scrape the money together for a Scarlet or a C300, maybe an F3, but I chose instead to buy a mint condition used AF100 and a new Atomos Ninja instead. I still spent about the same amount of money, but I now basically have a decent tripod with a good-enough fluid head, a reasonable lighting kit (5 flouro softboxes, 8 LED heads, various scrims, flags, stands, gels etc.), and a Steadicam big rig (Ultra vest, Series III arm, IIIa sled), wireless lavs, a Rode NTG3 with a boom, field mixer, Zoom H4n, Anton Bauer power system, video transmitter/receiver and video village monitor, etc. This is because I was willing to bet money (a fair bit of money, and actually have!) that being able to put the camera in the right place, light the scene without too many compromises, have the camera run all day without running out of power, and getting really good sound would make way more difference to the end product than a probably marginal improvement in image quality.

    OK, the Steadicam is overkill, but…

  41. Agreed with all..

    Another one perhaps : Be patient. I’ve started as an intern in a production company for the post-production process , I was 22. I’ve given my best because i love my job even if sometimes it’s hard but i’ve always given my best and the result? I’ve been hired…and i’m still 22 🙂 So yes, be patient is the one also.:)

    Cheers from France .

  42. Thank you for your honesty and ‘keepin it real’! This is the best, honest advice I’ve ever read/ heard in terms of owning a business -and particularly- a video freelancer. I couldn’t agree more. Thanks again.

  43. Awesome article (and funny!)

    I registered just to say that!

    It has been 6 months now that I left my boring engineering life to a much more risky one: freelance in video production!

    And I realize I’m doing exactly what you say, Phillip, but I’d add one more thing: be a fierce. A crazy one who never give up! Even if the time you really give is twice the reel price…

    You can check my website: http://www.guillaumejuin.fr

    (yeah I’m appliyng your rules directly. I need some publicity, so…)

  44. Just came across this post on facebook. a refreshing blast of common sense that cuts through a lot of the BS. I’m just starting out, stumbling and fumbling my way into the industry, so this is good to see something confirms a lot of my observations. This should be required reading for everyone.Thanks. Looking forward to reading all your posts

  45. I love #4! You hit the nail on the head. That is exacly what I do for a living. Not every wedding is high end and not every couple looks like they belong in a magazine, but on that day they are at there best and so must you. Editing can be a total drain week in week out but hay, You have to love what you do. thank you Phil.,

  46. Great article sir!!! I relate with your story of filming the news and I’m encouraged by the success! I film power tool reviews for a living but I long to work in and create film and documentaries. Filming tools every day gets to feel like production line work in a factory, but I see what you mean about embracing the challenge of the mundane and I see what you mean about it improving our skills. Thanks for posting this article! That story alone will help me push forward for years to come.

  47. Before you read this, I thought you were kind of a dick. I’d only seen you on the Vimeo DSLR series and saw that you were selling all kinds of branded gear on your website. But this was awesome. Keep up the good work. And thanks again for this 🙂

  48. Hello, Philip. I do not know much English, sorry. I live in Russia. More than a year monitor your publications. Thanks to you, chose as his assistant canon 7D and I use it to this day. Your 10 steps help me to move forward and not be afraid of difficulties. Problems always arise in the filming, but there is a belief that every next shot brings a new level. Thank you for your wonderful work. I am guided by them, beginning to see more around.

  49. I just have to say thanks Phill. And maybe recommend to everyone to read Luis Buñuel autobiography “My last sight”. It will bring you nice and inspiring words as well!!! again thanks…

  50. I think you forgot one more thing, do more for less, don`t raise to high expectations and not deliver, best is to keep expectations to a normal and overdeliver, this way you get better recommendations. Some don`t do stuff because they are not payed enough, i say do best for what you are payed so you can ask later clients for more on your best job. Cheers.

  51. 1 more thing i might add, always promise decent work and then overdeliver even though the asking price was not on the same level with your delivered work. I know many people that say they won`t try to give their best at an event because they are not payed accordingly.

  52. Hi Philip.

    I’ve been looking at all your work the last few days, no stop. Even the really nerdy stuff about your pro cameras and I have to admit. You’r full of it. Now you’ve left me wanting to trade my old 5D in for a mk2 (can’t afford the mk3 yet) and start making small docu’s about the stuff around me. I do thank you for that.

    This brings me to my question, how do you go around creating a docu from start to finish. I already got a theme and a subject for mine, but what steps do i need to think about prior to filming?

    Last, your docu about Movember2012, AWESOME….. That one moved the SH*T out of me….

    Thanks for all your work and you sharing it with us…

      1. This would be a real treat. However there is no need to do this for free. I am sure publishers will line up wanting to publish your book, DVD or whatever medium you choose. I certainly would buy it.

  53. Thanks for sharing your professional and personal perspectives! There are a handful of folks I consistently look to for inspiration, guidance, and reality checks. I’m glad P. Bloom is on the list. #1stPost 😉

  54. This is still the best advice I have ever read/ heard in all the people, seminars and online advice I have experienced. That’s definitely the biggest take home point that I’ve learnt is that never listen to any one person, consider it in the decisions you make but decide for yourself if it’s your truth as well. The world is spherical not linear, no two stories of how to ‘make it’ will be the same or need to be the same. Thanks again, Bloom 🙂

  55. Honest I really LOVED your advice and got to say that its cool to have you as my Blogger Guru 🙂

    If we ever met and if you can tolerate my stammer then seriously would love to take you for some nice Indian food any where in London to show my appreciation 🙂

  56. Well by God, you nailed it! Yes, freelancing is like getting old – ain’t easy! Tips are right on. As I read your article I was reminded of those ‘special’ moments when fear raised it’s ugly head when I realized I forgot my recorder cable (when doing the 2 piece systems). Or when I arrived at the wrong address. Or when a fresh tape in the camera decided to wrinkle and jam and render useless the record button. For awhile I thought I was the only one suffering these mishaps.
    Well, all part of that experience thing and yes, you learn from each one.
    Thanks for a nice take on the biz. If you don’t mind, I’m going to use it on my interns and it says pretty much everything they should know.

  57. As always, a lot of wise words learnt from a long time of personal experiences in the business, and much of which is valuable for us all.
    Today, the field of film making, or should I say ‘independent film making’ is a saturated market. The birth of quality i.e. cinematic/broadcast cameras has been a game changer, but it doesn’t matter how good or cheap these cameras are, it by no means indicates that there’s a sudden influx of amazing film makers to go with them – though it has allowed a few incredibly talented creative visionaries to transcribe there visual ideas to the world on much better kit and those mortals with a solid passion, to produce professional looking visuals.

    It reminds me of the many years I spent as a photographer working for the old GLC. Back then I had a couple of Canon T90’s and a nice collection of Canon glass. At that time a new breed of SLR hit the market and many bought damn good cameras and adopted the opinion that they could now take professional photos (bemused look) I would often hear … “look mate, I’ve got the biz here (Londoner) … look mate, auto focus, auto exposure, I can freeze a bullet in mid air … why would I need a photographer?”
    Today the market is saturated with classy filming cameras, but is it saturated with classy film makers?
    As with the development of good SLR’s back in the 80’s, todays super resolution filming cameras have given those with a passion the tools to produce fabulous results without having to sell granny.
    But am I right in thinking these people would still be making films anyway. If you have a natural passion to do this you’ll grab whatever you can just to be able to film and get your ideas seen.
    My first efforts with filming were really exciting times. purely for pleasure then, but I wanted to learn how to make a film that people would sit and watch. My first camera was a 16mm Agfa cine, which was really expensive to feed, so a collection of super 8 cameras followed – I absolutely loved it 🙂
    That passion never died, so the advent of HD and more so, cinematic quality cameras has just given me better tools and visual quality to do the things I love doing anyway.
    I’m not saying decent cameras don’t matter, of course they do, but only in the same way a carpenter would buy better saws and chisels to refine something he does already.
    New film makers appear all the time, and the really good ones have a serious passion for what they do.

    Today I can visualise that Londoner from the 80’s saying, “look mate, I’ve got the biz … a C300, I can film shallow DOF just like the movies, and the image mate is cinematic, look … ”
    I love great kit, but its not the kit that makes you a film maker … its being able to get what’s in your head (ideas) into the camera, and editing room. The work involved can be huge – working with a good team as you suggested Phil is number one. Look at the cred’s on any commercial movie – you note they can go on forever.

    Almost everyone has access to filming cameras of some kind – most will use them to capture the moment i.e. family & friends. Many will become hobbyist – some of those will be gear heads and will sit and polish there cameras & lenses all day and rarely make a film, and a small selection will experiment to an artistic level.

    Once that idea is in the proverbial can, the work starts on getting noticed.
    its rather heart breaking though when your work showcasing gets smashed into the ground by a film of a washing machine made on a phone, and simply shows it going round & round for an hour and has 300,000 hits – and worse still, it did it in a week!

    So, passion, hard work, forever learning & crafting, promoting, and selling yourself to hopefully open a door or two … do we love it … you bet we do!

  58. Don’t really know much about the work you’ve done, but you definitely have a lot of relevant advice and personal learning experiences to share. As a amateur video freelancer, i definitely can agree with a lot of your points.

    I definitely can agree with your point on “the work not coming to you”. Nothing comes easy in life. Anyone else agree?

  59. This post is truly an inspiration. I just signed up with htp://www.netcashking.com and I need all the inspiration I can get because being successful is hard. Especially online. And you are right, mistakes will be made but that is with anything in life. All we can really do is just learn from them and venture into the unknown gateways of success or sometimes may not be successful in which we will at least acquire wisdom in our journey.

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