Advice for a beginner
Hello, I'm new to this site. I am interested in going into video, and possibly doing wedding videos. Some friends of mine got married last February, and I videotaped the wedding for them using a cheap point-and-shoot Cannon miniDV camcorder at the back of the auditorium, as well as a Sony camcorder for close-ups, and one other camera at the back of the platform showing the bride and groom. I didn't really know what I was doing when I set it all up, and I know I would do it differently if I had it to do over. I had not had much experience prior to that, except just some random videos for my family (vacations, etc). Since I did that wedding, I have learned a lot about video in general, and I've upgraded to a Sony VX2100 and just recently I bought a Sony PD-150. I have also made a documentary that went to the semifinals in a film festival I entered, and I've filmed concerts, recitals, basketball games, and anything else our family has had going on lately.
So now, I've decided to go into video for a career, and I'm thinking about either corporate video or doing wedding videos. I enjoyed doing the wedding last year, and I think now I could do a much better job and get paid for it. But I have a lot of questions.
1. Can you get enough business doing weddings alone to make a decent living? I've also been thinking about corporate video, although I don't have much experience in that. Is it possible to do both, or is it advisable to do one or the other?
2. How much do people usually charge to do weddings?
3. What is the best way to get your name out?
4. Generally, what is the best way to shoot a wedding with two cameras?
5. How is the audio usually handled? For the wedding I shot, I was able to get a line in from the mixer, but I was not able to pick up anything the bride and groom said, since the preacher had the only microphone besides the ones for the music. I ended up having to use some of the camera audio for some things that didn't get recorded in the mixer.
I'm sorry to ask so many questions. I know that some of these could make up a whole thread in themselves. But any advice you can give me is much appreciated.
A lot of your questions depend on your local market. I cannot say wether or not your local market will provide enough work for you to make a solid living, nor can I say what you should charge.
I live in Utah so my local market it VERY different from anywhere else. There are lots or Mormon weddings here and because most Mormons choose to get married in the Temple, there are relatively few ceremonies to film. (mostly video montage out side the temple & receptions). And because most of the couples are very young (early 20's) most don't have a lot of money to put into a video (unless dad's loaded)
Because of these reasons I try to focus my work on corporate video.
If you want to do weddings, go check out the next local bridal show and see what others in your area charge, and what exactly they offer.
I hope this helps a bit, like I said every market is going to be a bit different (mine just happens to be a lot different)
Do this, grab your local phone book with yellow pages. Sit down and open it up and turn to video - video service - video recording services. Count the number of entries. This is who you are competing against. They already have their name out there. How do you plane to compete with all of them ? How are you going to sway potental clients towards you. What I am geting at here is HAVE a plan. Wedddings ,a rough hard life, People want Hollywood for dirt prices. Good luck but honestly have a plan. Also you will find as equiptment goes you always need something else. Audio is a profession in itself. Your sound should betreated with as much respect as your picture. people starting out watch their white balance and framing and focus but seldomly check or monitor levels. Runnig your audio right to the camera with out a mixer is bad. Every time you audust sound on the camera you are touching the camera, take a chance of bumpig it and are taking your eyes off the viewfinder.
It's possible, but not easy, to make a living doing nothing but wedding videos. The same could be said for corporate video! Many videographers offer several different services to provide a broader income base...some weddings, some corporate, a little film transfer on the side...
The answers to your questions would fill, not just several threads, but a book. Fortunately, both books and instructional DVDs are available on the topic! I suggest you:
1. Join a professional wedding videographers' association. There are two to choose from: WEVA and The 4EVER Group. Both have a lot of resources for the newcomer.
2. Join a local videographers' association. It's a great resource for networking with your local colleagues and learning from them.
3. Browse the pertinent articles here in the COW Library, especially http://www.fastforwardclub.com/Articles/Business/Fallacy-Market-Pricing.htm and http://www.creativecow.net/articles/graham_doug/wedding_list/index.html. Also check out the articles in the Free Library at http://www.videouniversity.com.
4. I've developed a spreadsheet tool to help you decide how to set your prices. You can find it at http://videouniversity.com/weddingpricing.htm
5. Subscribe to EventDV magazine. You can also find articles from back issues at http://www.eventdv.net/
Develop a business plan -- map out all the aspects of your business, especially how you will handle the critical startup period. Many videographers start out part-time, holding down a steady full time job to help pay the bills while they build their video business.
Thanks, Doug, for your very helpful advice. I really appreciate it! I'm still kind of torn between this and corporate video, but I'll do as much reading as I can about both of them. I have a part time job now, so I can start doing video stuff part time as well.
One thing that has helped me is this website:
I found a lot of the information on this site very useful when I was first starting out. I even bought a couple of there products. I highly recommend "The NEW Video Guide to
Professional Wedding Videography" book and DVD. I think this has great information (particularly the book) and gives a really good insight to the wedding videography as a business. I definitely advise looking into it if you are interested in Wedding Videography.
My advise to you as far as choosing to do one or the other (wedding or corporate) is to takle one market at a time. There are so many aspects of video production. Event (which covers Weddings, Graduations, High School Sports, etc), Commercial (Corporate and Training Videos), Legal Depositions, Broadcast Production; and in your market you may find a lot of work in some, but not necessarily in others. Try focusing on one market first (such as Wedding Videography) and see if you really like it. During to Wedding "off-season" maybe try tackling High School Sports videos (if you like that sort of thing). Then maybe explore Legal Videography (something personally, I am not a big fan of) or corporate training videos or whatever floats your boat. You don't necessarily have to master each of these markets before you move on to the next, but get comfortable with them. Each type of videography service has it's own techniques to how they are produced.
Sorry about being long winded, but I hope this helps.
Sometimes the obvious is hidden in plain view.
You were by no means long-winded. Your advice is very helpful, and that sounds like the best thing to do as far as choosing which way to go. I'll definitely take a look at that website as well. Thanks so much for the great advice, I really appreciate it!
If you have time and can afford it go to the WEAVA EXPO in LasVegas in Augus13-16.
http://www.weva.com/ Would be well worth your time. You could get ALL of your
questions answered there.