One year ago I left school to become a full time filmmaker. In that time I’ve worked as cinematographer on several feature films, traveled the country as a camera man, and recently I’ve become a member of Avid’s mod squad. It hasn’t been easy in the least. For a good portion of the last year I’ve been living out of a suit case, going from one long term gig to the next. Shooting big budget features is my dream, but I still have to pay the bills in between bigger gigs. This has meant lots of corporate video work. I’ve had to deal with many clients who just don’t understand the value of proper storytelling or cinematography in their products. Many times I’ve had to explain the benefits of doing things right only to hear that there are others out there willing to do it for less. The democratization of large sensor cameras has really had a huge impact on the market and in many ways it is making it harder to break into it all. How many people reading this can say they’ve had a client who has said something like ‘It’s ok, I’ll just use my t2i.’ This is very infuriating, especially to someone who has spent a great deal of time practicing the art of storytelling and cinematography over the past 9 years. I’ve gone from PA on commercials, to low level positions on NBC’s Friday Night Lights and ABC’s My Generation to working indie gig after indie gig only to hear that there are dozens of people out there with low powered laptops and camcorders ready to under cut all of us. How do those of us who have devoted our lives to the art of cinema rise above and stay competitive in this market?
I’ll tell you how I managed. Just share your work. It doesn’t matter how you feel about it, just do your absolute best no matter what and share your experiences online. It doesn’t work to just upload to vimeo or youtube; you need to advertise. Make connections with camera blogs and equipment manufacturers, collaborate with fellow filmmakers, write articles, etc. Look at simple camera tests as opportunities to post comparison videos and share the knowledge you gain. Constantly measure your work against yourself. If you see improvement that’s all that matters. People are watching. Last December I left school confident I could make a career out of what we do because the right person saw my demo reel. I am now represented by a prestigious New York firm (known for representing Geoffrey Erb ASC) and the doors are starting to open. In an industry where it pays to know the right people I’ve learned that the absolute best way in is to meet and share with as many of the right people as possible. You never know when someone might need you.
With that being said, I look forward to sharing my experiences and my mistakes here at Wide Open Camera as I continue my journey into Hollywood over the next few years.