leap of faith
It's no secret I tend to burn out every few years or so. It because I put all that I have into whatever it is I am doing. Sooner or later, though I hate to admit it, that always runs out in the professional world.
Life had found this recovering alcoholic at the local brewery more often than not. While my rate was somewhere between that of a freelancer and that of a post facility, I truely found it hard to create in that environment. Even in my own environment, that content began to poke at me. I stopped enjoying it and each session got shorter than the last as I whooped up more cookie cutter content and broke out early.
I took a long drive down to texas last week. I started thinking of how many dues I had paid in the last 20 years and how I could have clipped on a tie and gone out making six figures at a job I hate a loong time ago if money were the modivator. I got to thinking how I really otta be loving what I do.
So, the time for me to be an editor has passed. I have shot too much for myself now to go back to editing other people's camera work and I have produced too much now to do a good job of oppeasing other producers. My only option is to do what it is I wanted to do in the first place... make lil one man band movies. While I can't celebrate too much beacuse I have no idea how I'm gonna pay the bills and do this at the same time, I do find it pretty dang cool that I am now forced to catch my dream.
From the outside, it may look like I traded security for passion. I did that a long time ago though... When I opted not to clip the tie. I didn't do this in the name or art, boredom or because sombody pissed me off. (those are reasons why I quit my last 10 gigs) ;) No, I did this one just because it dawned on me, if we want to stop doing certain things in life, the first step is to actually stop doing them.
I'll figure out the easy part later.
Cuttin' this ambilical was the hard part.
An old saying, "If you find yourself stuck in a rut the first thing you should do is stop digging."
I really believe you will not only succeed at this, you'll really enjoy it. You've paid your dues, and everything before this has been preparing you for this next experience.
All the crazy clients (and employers), all the overnight edit sessions, and all the technical expertise you've had to learn quickly to get the projects out by deadline have taught you the side of things that can't really be taught without experience to go along with it.
Let me know if there is ever anything I can do to help.
p.s. I hope you'll find a way to be able to involve your whole family in your craft during this next phase of your career. Best wishes to all of you!
I feel your pain. I'm in exactly the same position. I'm 44, and have spent my entire adult life working my ass off in this craft to do the best work I possibly could. Like you, I also shoot and produce, and know how hard it is to work for people who don't share your commitment to the craft. It does seem like in recent years, the projects that have come my way have been worse and worse. The days of having an experienced, talented producer come to me with a box of well-shot tapes, prepared to hunker down and collaborate on a piece that we can all be proud of seem to be over. In my world (mid to upper-mid level corporate) things have really gotten bad. I sometimes worry that all this crappy work is hurting my abilities - that maybe you become so compromised you forget how to do good work.
Editing is hard work - really hard. I find myself less and less able to put in long days on uninspiring projects. When I was younger, we used to joke, "well, it beats digging ditches!", but lately it's beginning to feel alot like I am digging ditches.
I sometimes think that, maybe, before I get too old, I should fire all my clients and start over. So far, I haven't had to guts to do it, so my hat's off to you. Best of luck and let us know how you do!
thanks much, Bob. Spot on, sir.
As more and more interns became producers, dude it became harder and harder to oppease. While the ole "what if we did a page turn here and made the "chyron" red?" use to pull a very diplomatic response, it began to pull responses like a short chuckle as if I thought they were kidding.
In my last 10 years of editing, I have literally only edited for one producer that I can remember. The rest were shcedulers, interns, assistants or wannabes who were in over their heads, knew it and depended on me to bail em out. I guess the lack of passion, commitment, experience and vision for a finished project had me starving for really caring about the piece. The only thing I have created in the last decade that I am proud of is the very project I am diving into full time now.
man, thanks alot.
My family is part of Moddin' Art, the show I have been creating for the last 3 years or so. They not only travel with me and are on camera in this quazi-reality show, they literally help. My kids run camera for me, Nancy offers ideas and creativity (and offers craft services) and my doughter has her own segment on the show called "That's Cheezy with Tera Star". She writes it, directs it and of course, stars in it. I've not had a better time with a project than this one. It's my calling and I am finally answering.
You know I love you man. I have been preparing for retirement. this isn't fun anymore. I was watching a movie a couple days ago and when the half screen live actor promo came in over Tommy Lee Jones face and completely covered him up. I thought aobut what I have told the college grads for so many years. "Forget what you spent the last four yours learning. It isn't done that way in the real world." Well, that is no longer true. the geniouses that be are teaching forget about the program that people are watching it isn't important, the important thing is to get them to watch the next program. I don't remember the show I had started watching nor the program the promo was pushing. I changed channels immediately and decided I really don't need to watch any of them.
I quit doing sports cause it became no fun anymore when the game became nothing more than wallpaper for the graphics. Commercials don't sell product anymore, they are a wannabe movie producer's method of creating a movie to build his own ego.
I started on a bigger tirade but erased it cause it really doesn't matter anymore.
Gotta jump in on this one. Thanks for getting it started, Grin.
I am 45 and got started in 1991 as a tape op. Read all the manuals and eventually ran a Digital FX Composium (Windows 1.5), and soon after got to work on the 11th AVID ever sold on an old Mac IIFx. AfterEffects was still Cosa and Photoshop had channels not layers.
I can't put my finger on it exactly, but in the last couple years it does seem that projects are less creative and not all that inspiring, and more and more like jobs. The craft factor is slipping away. Less and less of our recent stuff is ending up on our demo reel.
I think I know much of what Charlie was going to write, or did write, then erased. I share his sentiment somewhat. We are looking for the people and the means to bring the creative and craft back into the process. We have not nailed down a strategy to pull this off, however.
It seems that the democratization of the craft has in many ways diluted it. We all own a camcorder of some kind. Back in 1992 only a handful in our town had one. And most of those guys were specialists. We are in a time when we see more Jack of all trade types, and less craftsman. Lots of Writer/Director/Producer/Editor types out there, but how many really good, focused, creative script writers are out there? Especially in corporate video? How about spot writing?
Since most TV stations and corporate in house shops have the same gear as the nearest post house or boutique shop they keep the project in house, and in lesser hands.
Another factor is budget and time. Our time is much less valuable. Other than HD rates, when was the last time editing room rates have gone up? We have been hovering in the sub $200/hr range for a good 8 years. And budgets are ever shrinking, partly because we have shown that we can do the job faster and sometimes with more interesting results because of the toolsets on our desktops. We applauded Nattress for giving us low priced plug ins, but now even corporate clients want film look but don't want to pay for the time it takes to do a real thorough color correct. They think it is a preset on a $99 plugin. They don't realize that FILM actually looks the most like film.
Ok, I'll admit that sometimes it is a $99 plug in that saves the day, but...
Another problem. We all can do the job faster. We have octo core computers. We have 512 megs of Video Ram. We have terabytes of storage, and that's on an internal array. We are a production company, but the student graduate has the same system in his bedroom. The savvy producer knows this too. And the kid in his bedroom just might have a better idea of how to put the pictures together, too. There is a lot of new talent in the field. Agencies love the new talent, don't they? Not the old seasoned guys.
I am hoping that in a couple months we get a new post from Grinner that he worked it all out and he's right where he wants to be. And I also hope that we all chime in that it's all gotten better for us too. But it looks like the economy might be in that slide they've been promising, so it's probably best to get back to it and do our best, and work hard, and try to create something that we can put on a reel.
Great post, and important issue. I have gone down a similar road, though I started in advertising as an art director. After 25 years in that career I decided it was time for a change.
And so for the past 5 years I've been editing and creating motion graphics. But, perhaps most importantly, I've been creating original material - content.
When the same tools are in everybody's hands, what differentiates individuals is what they make with those tools. If you wait for others to bring you things to work on, then you are at their mercy. If they bring you junk, then that is what you work on. If you are generating your own content, then you are in control. It doesn't have to be the same ol' stuff - it can be whatever you want, and with a lifetime of experience and knowledge at your fingertips it could be something really wonderful.
I walked away from a 25 year career in advertising and a really good income. I also walked away from unhappiness and a total lack of fulfillment and the conviction that I was engaged in a pointless undertaking. Now my income is a fraction of what it was but I'm happy, so I think I made the right choice.
The hardest part of doing it is starting. Once you're on the road it just gets better and better.
lemme know if you have a retirement shindig. I have to tell you about my recient trip to texas. Freakin awesome, man.
I first hit Denison, TX., my birth place and where I was raised until I was 11. I drove into town knowing I would be able to drive directly to my old elementary school. I did just that. It was emotional because there was really no way for me to know how to get there. I rode in back in '80 and wasn't lookin' where we were goin anyway. Still, I drove to Lane Elementary and had a flood of memories I shared on camera. As I drove off, I mentioned to the camera how I'd love to be able to stumble upon the old baseball diamond Dad use to coach us at. I turned a corner while still saying that and there it was. Ever giggle cried? I was doing just that as I walked up and began visually running bases. Dad gave me the steal sign and I totally impressed him. I called my brother, Hotrod and put him on speaker phone and we told stories together into the camera.
As I left, full of emotion, I saw a little boy playing on the monkey bars just off of the baseball diamond. He looked like my youngest son. I rolled along slowly and he and I made eye contact. I felt like I was that little boy in 1977. At that very moment, I swear I had a memory of sitting in that very swing, looking at a dude in a blue Nova thinking that that was me later in life.
I went by Granny's house that was one block away. On the way to my old house, I stopped by our old church. I video taped each stop.
That evening found me in Arlington where I crashed with my old college roomate, Burk. Dude hasn't changed at all but is a cop in Irving and when he suited up, well, it felt like there was a cop in the room. lol
I hadn't seen him in a long time and it was good to hang again.
Austin, TX was my next stop. I met my buddy Mark the first day of college. We are complete opposites in every way of life and have always been entertained by each other. I talked with him all night and had to split early the next day. He asked me to swing by his mom's place, if I could, and grab some footage of his momma. I told him I would.
I headed off to Big Spring, TX. I got off way too late this day. My plan was to get there early enough to go dirt-biking. I have very fond memories of Big Spring. I lived there from '81-83. If I wasn't in school, I was on the trails. I went to my old house and the trails are still there. It ain't like Big Spring has grown since shuttin' off the pumps. Of all places to visit in a town, I went to all the entrances and exits of trails I use to ride. I told stories to the camera of how I use to ditch cops and try to get em to chase me up into the trails. Sometimes I'd get one to and I'd get to watch from afar as a crane pulled em out later. I saw the place where I had my first kiss. I went to my old school and saw the place where I had my first break up. The roller rink was gone and the Honda shop was gone. Both had liquor stores in their place.
I took off that very night to Lubbock. I lived there from '83 to '92. I hit my old high school, KAMC channel 28, the first TV job I ever had, the window tint shop I use to work at because tv didnt pay the bills and I stayed with an old buddy I use to cheat death with back in the day. Brandon hasn't changed at all. Big kid with a big grin all the time. We laughed about old times till the sun came up.
twice, actually. Spent the next day eating at all my favorite eating places and we did the exact same thing all night the next night... sat, talked and laughed.
The next morning, I had to start headin back home. I promised Mark I'd go see his mom, Mary in Lubbock while there. I so love this lady. I was wild and reckless back in the day and she repeatedly allowed me to take her son into the unknown. She loved me from day one. God bless her.
I wrapped on the door and this 81 year old ray of sunshine comes to the door in a bathrobe all yellin at me to turn off the camera. I did and she allowed me in. She was in a hurry, having to split to go to Austin. I didn't announce my visit and was intruding. Still, I knew that what Mark had asked me to do was to get some last words from his mom on tape before it was too late. I have so much respect for this lady so my decision to do what I did was tough. I asked to see some of Mark's artwork before I left and I held the camera at my side as if I were not recording. By now, she had cloths on so don't think I'm morbid. Anyway, in between works of art by Mark and accomplishments by Jimmie, Marks brother, I was throwin' in questions like "so how'd ya meet Brian? (her late husband and a man I miss and admire). She told me stories of how she married, Mark's birth, her happiest moments and her saddest. Against her very wishes, I have that on tape for him. Still not sure how I feel about that. She'd skin me alive.
I then had a good long drive home to soak it all in. 2,200 miles I believe I put on Lil Suzy at a record-breaking average of 24mpg. Never did I speed. I kept it slow and low, man. I had the window down and was crankin some sweet tunes. I learned a lot. I documented it all and can relearn it again when needed.
Retravelling life's avenues sure is good for a brother. I walk a little slower and smile a little more often. Worth the gas, man.
An old saying, "If you find yourself stuck in a rut the first thing you should do is stop digging."
Another went, "if you're going to dig yourself into a hole, keep digging
I am a young buck compared to a lot of the posts on this thread however
[LandofNid] "You walk away with a check, and free time to work on your own projects. But again it
Dude, nice! If you don't like the muffins on the plate, go bake yer own!
Just promise us that your solo career is more reminiscent of Jeff Beck's Blow by Blow than of Ace Frehley's Frehley's Comet!
"He puts forth a quarter-ounce green rosette near the summit of a dense, but radiant muffin of his own design." - Frank Zappa/Captain Beefheart
I'll just say this thread is invaluable.
Wow! All my clones are here! I thought I was the only one in this vast empty world of modern day production. It is a new world indeed! After 20 years we went from something called BROADCAST QUALITY to youtube files are acceptable. Bit it is not as bad as it seems.
These changes open up doors and opportunities that never existed before. We can create hat documentary on our own, create short films in our back yard, shoot Gone With The Wind on Mini-DV, and someone out there will probably buy it. We have to think different, and for us more experienced (older) folks sometimes that is hard. I told a producer friend 5 years ago the future is in content and the future is now!
Enjoy and embrace the future, and somehow try and keep your sanity. I like my Clones and am glad to be part of this crazy goup!
The memories this thread brought up will live with me forever. Having started 45 years ago in black and white live TV. We have come a long way in some areas and digressed ever farther in others. I remember our first Video Tape Machine, our first Zoom lens, (wow no more racking lenses and you can move from here to there without even moving.) then came Character Generators, no more menu boards or telops (bet there aren't many out there that remember telops.)for graphics, or no more, the big drum with the credits wrapped around it to do a credit roll. then came the Ampex editor, wow! we didn't need the microscope and metal shavings brushed on the tape to find the frame pulses to edit with a block and blade. Seems it was not that many years later that computer editors started coming along so we could do linear editing from tape to tape without even screwing up the master tape. Now we have non-linear editors on every home computer sold, everyone is an editor/director/producer/camera/audio engineer, even script writer.
Somehow it just isn't the same. When everyone can do it, it is no longer a skilled career. I don;t mean to sound bitter, I still love teaching the younger generation how we did it, and how we always felt it should be done to have a little quality in the project. I still think quality means something, even if the powers that be don't care about quality.
OK, enough of my soap box. I still love what I do, it just isn't as much fun anymore.
Grinner, I was crying myself reading your Texas trip. I try everytime I go back to see something from my childhood. Like when I went to Longsworth, outside Sweetwater to see the old 2 room schoolhouse where I went to second grade. Couldn't find it, asked a guy out in his yard where the schoolhouse was, he told me, "there ain't none." that is sad when yuor school has been torn down and never rebuilt.
Well, enough of this.
ProductionKing Video Services
Unmarked Door Productions
Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel
Las Vegas, Nevada
sound like we otta hang out soon. I've not heard you this glum before.
I felt sad seeing some of my old land marks replaced by liquor stores and such but I tell ya, the sweels of happiness everytime I stumbled accross things I was'nt even looking for sure made it worth it.
Dude, I hear ya on the evolution of the technology and people in this field. It is one field now. As you mentioned, it use to be sevral fields of specialists. I'm as guilty as anyone. Started out as a cameraman, turned into an editor because I was a director-wannabe, and now am a jack of all trades one man band production company... one tiny step up from a kid in a basement with FCP and a 300 dollar camcorder.
This sound like a horrible thing but it aint. True HD will redefine any lines in the grey very soon and in the meantime, old dudes have freakin honed their craft bigtime to justify their rates all this time. I, like you, feel tired and prolly not very marketable right now. There will always be a market for experience, though. Ironicly, when we are oldest, wisest and with the most experiences to share... thats when people stop listening. Aint a grandpa in the world that doesn't wanna tell more stories to some kid on his knee and there aint a kid in the world that has time for that.
I was asked in Texas if I had any regrets so far in life. I told em "I wish I could sit on Papaw's knee and listen this time."
Man, we are not different than any other industry. We are over worked, under paid and treated closer to a 3/4" deck than an artist. We are mear tools to get jobs done.
Perhaps what I'm feeling now is that just isn't good enough. I have talants and I feel if I don't share, tell and listen
... well, I'll waist these talants. I don't like waistin' stuff.
Bitter old men aint mad about things they did in life. They are mad about what they did'nt do.
I've been thinking about my current mental state. Your comment about my not having ever been this glum made me think.
You remember how you are on such a high while in a project, and when it is finished, you suddenly are on a real downer, until the next project starts.
I think that is what is happening. I am nearing the end of my career, I have spent 45 years on a tremendous high. If asked about my life and if I would change anything? Yes, there are always things you will think back and wish you had done that one thing differently, overall NO WAY. I have been riding the best, fastest, highest, roller coaster most people could only hope for. I've seen the world from the highest mountains, snd looked up at the sky from the greenest valleys. Now it is time to bring this to slow down, but then all good things must end. I hope I can find consultant work ocassionally to keep my fingers in the business that I have loved for so long, but the high is over, I just need to figure how to raise the low to an even field.
If I got out totally, I would go out of my mind. A creative mind can't be left without something to create.
I'll be hanging around for about another year, but as many may have noticed by my absences from the COW, I am slowing down.
I love this group, and hope to remain a part of it for a long time to come.
ProductionKing Video Services
Unmarked Door Productions
Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel
Las Vegas, Nevada
Charlie, you are more than a friend to me.
While I hav'nt as many years as you, I have managed to shoe-horn some livin' into my years. I think I know what you're talkin' about.
Life is peaks and vallies and because I've been in a valley, I know a peak is now on it's way. I'm gonna need some help with some workflow for a couple of years beginning the middle of next year. Location aint a factor.
I'd like to hear that grin of yours in your next post, man.
All endings are a beginning.
all of em.
Reading this thread has been a great insight into your journeys in this business. Thank you for sharing your personal stories, feelings and thoughts about the future in this business.
I've been in the business 25 years, starting as a Chryron III operator at our local ABC affiliate.I learned CMX, Dubner Graphics, Grass Valley 300 Switcher, etc. and eventually moved into news shooting with a 3/4" deck and a Sony M3 Camera. I got lucky and landed a job as a photographer/segment producer with a magazine program running in prime time on Sunday nights at the local CBS affiliate. We did local feature stories of all kinds and traveled to over 15 countries shooting eveything from extreme snow skiing to a guy who lives with 100 kangeroos. After 17 years the show was cancelled (It actually ran for 25 years!) and I had to move on. Today I freelance for network news prgrams, Discovery, History Channel, ESPN, etc..... (anybody willing to pay the day rate!). Like most of you I've had to work on other peoples productions to pay the bills. I've also produced a few home videos on the side which gave me the opportunity to create my own content.
The reason I wanted to respond to this post is to share a couple of thoughts I have about what this business can be for all of us with the knowledge and expereince gained by striving to excel at our craft for many years. I've been lucky enough several times to experience a moment when I say out loud...."I can't believe their paying me to do this!". I don't know of many jobs that can offer a life where you find yourself saying those words. For me it's the ultimate goal..... develop and/or work on a show that takes you to places, to meet people and do things you would otherwise pay for. If you had all the money in the world what would you do with your time and energy? Are there millions of people out there that would do the same thing? Can you build a show about it? Perhaps a video podcast? The internet has already changed the way people find information and will soon change television as well. Who's going to produce this content? Why not you and me? We have the knowledge, experience and the tools. I hear alot of you complaining about how it's not the same and I agree, but I see opportunities that never existed before. I hope we can all find ourselves saying "I can't believe I make money doing this!" as we reinvent ourselves for this new and exciting era of television.
Hey Bill, good insight. It probably is an indicator that it is time to dig in and decide what the future holds.
On another note...did you ever work in Hawaii? Your name rings a bell. I knew a Bill Paris when I worked at Pacific Focus and Island Post out in Hawaii.
Are you THAT Bill Paris?
Yes I am THAT Bill Paris..... great to hear from you! Please conact me via email so we can catch up.