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How can I make money this summer making films?

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Jeff Lester
How can I make money this summer making films?
on Apr 20, 2012 at 11:26:07 pm

I think that I am capable now of being paid to make commercials for people. I'm a student in high school, I have 2 year's worth of video experience, and I have plenty of gear (GH2, variety of lenses, Rode Videomic, Glidecam, and two DIY builds) and a nice editing computer. The local commercials in my town are absolutely horrible.

I basically want to do 3-4 local commercials at $1,500 a piece (they will, of course, be MUCH better than the current commercials) so that I can have money to buy more video gear.

Does anyone have experience with this sort of business, and how hard would it be to accomplish 4 commercials in a three month time period?

Thanks!

Member of iFrosh


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Steve Crow
Re: How can I make money this summer making films?
on Apr 21, 2012 at 1:46:00 am

I did this...first I started off by offering a free production to a small local business that I thought would make for a good demo video, then I used that one to show to other business owners. Be aware that for most small business owners right now money is extremely tight and even though they might spend thousands on useless yellow pages ads, video marketing is way down for their list of priorities. I have more or less stopped marketing to them myself.

Doing 4 videos in 3-4 months is quite possible

Steve Crow
Crow Digital Media
http://www.CrowDigitalMedia.com


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Jeff Lester
Re: How can I make money this summer making films?
on Apr 21, 2012 at 3:16:05 am

Hey, Steve, thanks for the response!

I have so much more to ask! I have aligned 2 PSAs with the city that I live in to produce. My Video Productions teacher and I are planning it, storyboarding it, filming it, and editing it. For each PSA we do, the city is donating $1,000 to my school. So I'm hoping that if these PSAs are done very well, that'd be an awesome thing to have in my portfolio to show local businesses.

I was thinking of going after bigger businesses, like the hospital, the big investment business in town, plastic surgeons, and the local cinema. Do you think that larger businesses would be willing to pay $1,500 for a comercial? I think that will be my asking price and I think that's pretty reasonable for a good commercial.

Thanks for all the help Steve :-)

Jeff

Member of iFrosh


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Steve Crow
Re: How can I make money this summer making films?
on Apr 21, 2012 at 3:58:44 am

Hi Jeff,

Yes, I have done several videos for a variety of healthcare related businesses and $1,500 isn't too much to ask for at all. Before going to the hospital work with a few individual healthcare practitioners to get a feel for what that's like. Be sure you are able to talk about the BENEFITS of what the video can do for them, how it works with the marketing they are already doing and realize that for all their education they don't necessarily understand the Web, online video, etc. to any great detail...so part of your job is to make them feel comfortable about the process and being on camera.

Steve Crow
Crow Digital Media
http://www.CrowDigitalMedia.com


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Jeff Lester
Re: How can I make money this summer making films?
on Apr 21, 2012 at 6:56:13 am

Okay, awesome. So, I guess I would need to figure this out on my own, but when I ask for $1,500, is that me asking them to give ME $1,500 for making the commercial and they pay other set expenses, like for actors and other things? Or do I take part of the $1,500 they give me and pay an actor to be in the commercial? Haha, sorry for all the questions!

I've got one more, too. How do I approach these companies? I have read that local cable networks all over the nation make crappy commercials because they film the thing for free and make their money from the customers paying for airtime.

I just really want this all to go through for me. I am planning on spending pretty much everything I make from film on more film related stuff like gear and production expenses, so it's not like I'm doing this because I want a new car or something like that!

Again, thanks for all the help Steve. I really appreciate it.

Jeff

Member of iFrosh


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Peter Burger
Re: How can I make money this summer making films?
on Apr 21, 2012 at 9:49:45 am

I totally agree with everything Steve wrote!

But - if I may - I'd like throw in a word of advice/warning out of my own experience:
Offering free service as a beginning project - or as beginning projects - is a good starting point.

But don't sell out! That was the big mistake I made a couple of years ago. And I had a very hard time, to convince people to pay me reasonable fees after I worked "for a song"...
(I even paid for jobs in terms of travel expenses, tapes, etc... I was quite naive at that time...)

As soon as I have something to show to people, I'd never ever again would do something for free, even if I think it'd help me to get more or better jobs. Not mainly beacause of the money, but for other people to see and feel, that you do work that is worth it's price.
Think of your first paid jobs as an opportunity to be able to invest in gear and (the even more important thing) self-confidence.

Of course you have to decide for yourself.

Just my two cents.

------------------------------------------
"Tragedy is a close-up; comedy, a long shot." - Buster Keaton

Me on Twitter (english/german)
http://twitter.com/FastFoodVideo

My german blog
http://fastfoodvideo.de


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Steve Crow
Re: How can I make money this summer making films?
on Apr 21, 2012 at 1:36:19 pm

Those are great points...once I tried offering a professional group really really cheap productions for their individual members. I had 3 package levels and they involved the business owner being filmed in front of a backdrop in a "studio" setting ( a rented conference room)

Bottom line, I disliked doing them, I didn't get much business from it and it could have easily put downward pressure on what I was able to charge in the future. Be generous with your time and expertise - help people even if they can't afford to hire you and my strong belief is that it will come back to you, but don't let yourself be taken advantage of either.

Some of the best things I have done in business is to turn DOWN work...the business community really respects you more if you say : "you know this job isn't really for me, it's not what we do the most effectively and I think there are other producers I can refer you to that would be much better for you on this particular job. I'd love to work with you in the future should you ever need "X" and then give a very strong and exciting picture of what you do best.

Now, like I said, I am not very assertive when it comes to in-person sales - if you are like me, find someone honest and hardworking that you can partner with that will handle sales for you in exchange for a piece of the pie.

Steve Crow
Crow Digital Media
http://www.CrowDigitalMedia.com


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Jeff Lester
Re: How can I make money this summer making films?
on Apr 21, 2012 at 7:52:17 pm

Yup! That's great advice. I'm working on two (possibly three) Public Service Announcements at the moment - I'm doing those for free. I'm thinking that if they turn out good, I'll use those as my examples in my portfolio to show the local businesses what I am capable of doing.

So, you and Steve don't think that $1,500 is too much to ask for, even though I'm technically a "newbie" at commercials and I am still in high school? I do know though, for sure, that I can make much better commercials than the cable company and whoever else is producing them. 90% of the gear that I would need to make a quality commercial I already own. The only thing I'm lacking is some lavalier mics, but I'm thinking I could just rent those if I needed them. I could pretty much do everything (pre production, production, and post) by myself, and maybe on the day(s) we film, I could just have a friend hold the boom pole for me.

My main goal is just to get experience and money so that I can make further investments in my video gear!

Thanks for all the helpful info guys.

Cheers,

Jeff

Member of iFrosh


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Steve Crow
Re: How can I make money this summer making films?
on Apr 21, 2012 at 1:18:11 pm

Hi Jeff,
It's been my experience that most clients prefer to have quoted a fix price with everything included and not to be charged for individual expenses or by an hourly rate. The only times I haven't done that was when I traveled from California to New York for a client - for that I quoted production fees and travel expenses separately. Quoting fixed price is good practice for really understanding your true costs of a project as it forces you to think about every aspect of the production and the post production process and what it will cost you in time and materials. Most importantly - you want to make the buying decision as EASY for them to understand and say yes to as possible - charging hourly plus expenses leaves the client on the hook for any bad or overly expensive decisions you make - of course on a fixed priced bid you have to be very clear on what is and what is not included, that's to protect you - otherwise they can say "oh I thought we were going to film that on the beach in France with swimsuit models, I didn't realize we'd be filming at our local river front.

I don't have any strong advice for you on how to approach companies as sales is my weakest skill set...after a while some work will come to you "for free" just by people knowing what you do and seeing your work....past clients will often come up with the new ideas for projects. I'm a big believer in sharing what you know so try offering free workshops to the business community on video marketing - I've done this through the Chamber of Commerce and I made some great contacts that way.

You will find endless ways to spend all the money you made on new and better gear....it's fine if you are not relying on the jobs for income to live on - in that case it's always better to rent gear or get by with what you have until you can really really afford it.

Steve Crow
Crow Digital Media
http://www.CrowDigitalMedia.com


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Peter Burger
Re: How can I make money this summer making films?
on Apr 27, 2012 at 11:50:13 am

[Steve Crow] "It's been my experience that most clients prefer to have quoted a fix price with everything included and not to be charged for individual expenses or by an hourly rate."

That's my experience as well. And that's the way I work most of the time. Like Steve wrote, it's a good practice to get a real understanding of how much time you'd have to spend for a specific project.

One little story though:

I had a job to produce four commercial-clips for a big sports company some time ago, each about one minute. Very simple setup: Talent in front of a greenscreen, presenting the latest racket-collection. Had to key in the pre-produced footage that they sent me.

I got the script from the company, I knew the talent from other jobs, I knew the studio and the lighting-equipment they had, so I knew exactly how much time I'd take to shoot and to do all of the postproduction work. So I made a fixed price.

Did work out quite well. I was in-time. But, huge problem: When all the clips where ready, it turned out, the script was wrong in parts plus wrong pre-produced footage (both - as mentioned - came from the company). I got paid, but two of the clips would have never been broadcasted, because the company refused to pay the extra time it would have taken to fix the errors they made.
I decided to do it for free (took me about 6 hours) just to get the darn clips on air.

They were my main-client at that time, so for the prospect of future projects, I decided to show them, they can rely on me... This was the last thing I did for them, since the cut down their advertising budget...

------------------------------------------
"Tragedy is a close-up; comedy, a long shot." - Buster Keaton

Me on Twitter (english/german)
http://twitter.com/FastFoodVideo

My german blog
http://fastfoodvideo.de


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Steve Crow
Re: How can I make money this summer making films?
on Apr 27, 2012 at 3:37:35 pm

What a story! Disorganized and everything-at-the-last-minute clients are very normal. I always include a quote for hourly work for when a client mistake results in going over the project scope. If its my mistake then I eat the extra costs. You did the right thing in many respects, I hope they come back to you for any future work

Steve Crow
Crow Digital Media
http://www.CrowDigitalMedia.com


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Peter Burger
Re: How can I make money this summer making films?
on Apr 27, 2012 at 6:54:55 pm

Thank you, Steve! Yes, I hope they'll remember me, if some day they have some money to spend for videowork ;)

------------------------------------------
"Tragedy is a close-up; comedy, a long shot." - Buster Keaton

Me on Twitter (english/german)
http://twitter.com/FastFoodVideo

My german blog
http://fastfoodvideo.de


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