Ethics & Etiquette

My site has been going since I went freelance back in October 2006, it was a very simple iweb site just to showcase some of my work. Just over a year later in November 2007 I started the blog when I got the Sony EX1. Since then it has steadily grown with my use of 35mm adaptors in particular the Letus line and of course DSLRs.

With the blog I started doing more personal short films and sharing my experiences of shooting them. Most of my commercial work I cannot share on here, that is why it’s my personal work that I share.

It also slowly became a resource for people to learn about low-budget filmmaking. Totally accidental, just an offshoot of my love of sharing everything. I am really pleased this has happened as it has made the site what it is today. Sure, I could have a simple site which just shows of my work but I am very proud of what the site has become. Although there are times, detailed below, when I sometimes wish it was just a simple showreel site!

Huge thanks must go to all the people who visit every day and have turned a place to showcase my work so I can get work into pretty much a community. I know many of you from emails, comments and of course twitter (if you aren’t on twitter get on it and half the info I give out and half the silly nonsense I write is via twitter, check out the link on the top right.)

Without all the people who read the site, write to me, make comments I would not have anywhere near the motivation to keep it going like it is. Currently it takes a good 4 hours a day + to run my site and answer emails, maybe longer some days. It’s a labour of love which it needs to be as my day job shooting is what earns me money so I do that most days and the site in the evening or the odd day off (there are not that many!). It doesn’t leave much time for anything else! I write the posts myself with the odd guest post. David Kong for example did an excellent series on low-budget filmmaking. I wish I could post more frequently but this is not a news site, I try to make my posts unique to this site and not something you can read about elsewhere.

It has  also been suggested many times that I get a ghost writer for emails and social media. That will never happen. What’s the point? If it isn’t me writing back then why bother writing to me in the first place?

Sometimes it is of course a struggle to keep it going, especially when I am really busy. So you may well find I don’t answer your email. If that happens am sorry but it does get to the point very often when I wake up to 300 or so new emails and to go through them all is tough and sometimes I miss some and if I do, then try emailing again or maybe do a search on the site as much is already answered on previous blogs. Just a little bit of searching on my site can help with my workload!

I don’t have to talk about this but I feel it is very important to set out what’s what in “black and grey” about exactly what do I make from this site? I get a lot of satisfaction out of the site that is for sure, and I mean it. When people write to me saying how much they enjoy my site it makes my day. What I do get is work of course, people get to see my work and recommend me and I often get my gigs that way so that is of course great for me.

It is funny that some people think making money from my site is ugly. That is a strange attitude! I signed up to my  first affiliate 4 years ago when Steve Weiss of Zacuto saw that I was making nothing from the site and that I was working myself into the ground. He sorted it our for me and it has helped my workload enormously, meaning I don’t have to work every single day and I can take a day off here and there to work on the site.

I have a few affiliates from companies whose gear/ services I use day in day out and totally recommend. I was offered a very lucrative deal to have loads of ads on my site from all sorts of people. I turned it down as there were companies in there whose gear I had never used and ones I didn’t like so there was no way I would have them on my site!

I am an affiliate of  Zacuto,  Filmconvert, Capture and The Music Bed. I have one paid sponsor too, Rode Microphones. Every single one of these companies products/ services I used before I was approached to be an affiliate. These companies’ products are essential for my day-to-day work.

Of course as an affiliate it is in my best interests to talk about Zacuto etc…But it isn’t anymore than I did before when I was not an affiliate…I also only promote stuff I use and think is terrific. If it isn’t then you won’t see my talking it up. So if Zacuto ever start making a pile of crap then I guarantee you I won’t be recommending it to anymore, not that I can see that happening! Steve himself has become a very close friend of mine since we started Filmfellas and Critics. Mixing business and friendship is always hard but as what Steve and Zacuto do is the best and I think Steve is a truly great guy.

The site has become a victim of its success. My hits have gone up enormously since I started talking about and using Video DSLRs and I have now had to go to an expensive dedicated server and of course spend a lot more time answering questions. So these affiliate programs are a way of me being able to keep the site running in its current form. By clicking on the banners before ordering from sites like Zacuto it helps keep my site running, not just the running costs but it means I can take time to work on the site more…

Of course another downside of the success are the number of trolls I get, not just on this site but on the forums and Vimeo. There are some astonishing vitriolic tirades launched at me which leaves me perplexed. I sort of put up with it. But like many creative people I am very passionate and sensitive about my work so if someone is just plain nasty then I just delete or if I am being really stupid, reply…never a good idea. I do get snappy sometimes and when I am very busy, short,  when its get to me and I am sorry if I do snap at you, I am doing my best to be a non snap zone!

Some have said there is censorship on this site with regards to comments. Censorship is a strong word and it’s use in the context of me deleting some comments is incorrect. This is my site I will continue to delete or not approve unnecessary or rude comments. I am sorry, but if you want a place to rant then start your own blog, please don’t use mine for your rants. I also ask you to please respect other people on here and write comments as if that person is in front of you. Politeness, respect and civility.

Everything I say here is just my opinion and should never be taken as gospel! if you don’t like my work don’t watch it! I don’t watch TV shows I don’t like after all! 🙂

I will continue to remain as impartial as ever. So being an affiliate won’t stop me talking about other competitive products. When I do any review of a products that could be a conflict of interests due to me being affiliates with certain companies then I will state so at the beginning of it. Also if I am given anything to review (which I rarely am) then again I will state so in the beginning of the review. Just by someone giving me a piece of gear to review will in no way mean they will get a glowing recommendation. What is the point? If I recommend something that sucks then I will be eaten alive by you lot! Every ad on my site is for something I recommend and use myself.

One very important fact. 95% of the reviews I do on my site are products which have been fully bought by me! Of course it cannot always be the case when it comes to expensive cameras like the Alexa but as much as I can, these are my own purchases! Sometimes I get pre-production cameras to try out from manufacturers. Not often but it’s great when i do as it helps not just you but also me make a decision as to whether I want to buy one! I have never been given a camera by any manufacturer to keep. Every camera in my extensive collection has been bought and paid for by my hard work!!

Am I biased? Absolutely, everyone is! But in a good way. I rave about stuff I love, that is all. Have you ever caught me raving about something I didn’t like? Never and I never will! But please take any review as my personal opinion as that is what it is. Others will agree and disagree. That is the nature of the beast.

Once again, thanks for frequenting my site, reading my blogs and I hope I can help out as many people in the coming years as is possible. Whenever I go somewhere abroad I try to meet up with as many readers as possible so please keep an eye out for those meet ups and I really hope to put as many faces to names as possible!

I have already said this but I need to re-iterate it…Everything on here is just my personal opinion. Please treat it as such!

I want this site to be a fun place. I think it is! Let’s keep it like that!