My husband and I own and operate our own wedding videography business and are very pleased with our success, since this is only our first year in the biz and things are going way better than expected. So good, that we hope the both of us will soon be able to do this as full time careers. However, the wedding biz is very weekend oriented (other than editing of course!). Wondering if anyone has suggestions of areas to look into for staying busy on the weekdays, gig wise, or during slower wedding months, like winter? Your wisdom is much appreciated!!
Compiling photos and raw home movies into montages and the like, call it a video scrapbook, what have you. Scrap booking is a money phenomenon right now, see if you can tap into the zeitgeist with a video version, animating stills to music with some effects and use all those novel background papers and gewgaws they have at the crafts store for backgrounds.
If you get certified, you can make money as a court/deposition videographer. But only if first certified, it's not for the inexperienced.
Offer to bring people's stories to life: have your kid tell us a funny, true, or made-up story, draw a few pictures, and we'll "animate" it for you into a real mini-movie. or, "bring us your home movie, we'll make a tightly edited DVD for you overnight".
Shoot freelance news for local stations. Go cover stuff they didn't have enough people to cover, cover blah city council meetings on the off chance something exciting happens, etc. They need fresh material every day, expecially for the morning shows. News that happens after five may be your best bet. Also local school sports, especially playoff games. They never have enough shooters to cover a good-sized town when all the schools are playing.
Create and produce a weekly show for local access cable, for the charity or cause you support most.
Volunteer to run cameras next pledge week at the local PBS station, they need the help.
The Fall and the Spring are both good times for school plays/performances and ballet studio performances.
Find the big events and ask them how happy they are with their past videos. I've gotten a lot of work simply because people were only "sort of happy" with their event-videos of the past. Get one nice demo done and people will really pay attention. There's one ballet studio I shoot now where the 2nd time I shot it, I had several mothers come up to me and tell me how much better my last video was than the last people they used. If you can find those "sort of happy" places, and you can do a good job, then they'll stick with you for sure.
The great thing is, if you're somewhat sure that they'll sell about 100 copies you can offer to do the job for free and just sell them DVDs for $20 apiece. Tell the school to sell them for $25 each at the event and that you'll deliver the entire batch to the school. Look what you've done...you've just offered the school a way to pay NO money up front and end up making $500 off of the videos.
Yes, that's a risk...they might only sell 50...but if you only offer that to the large public schools with a history of selling a lot of tapes every year then you shoud be fine. The smaller events will need a different payment plan, of course, but you can make yourself very attractive to large schools with this plan.
Here's another tip...shooting with 3 cameras makes YOUR job easier for these kind of events. You only need 2 shooters...leave the 3rd one wide on the entire stage. It REALLY makes editing go faster. And the best part is...you can make it sound like it's a benefit for the client instead of yourself!
While that sounds like a good idea at first, there are caveats to the school play and ballet recital thing.
First of all, there are the legal issues, you just don't have the legal rights to distribute copies for money, on tape or DVD, that include the music from the show. Risking it anyway and possibly exposing the school district to potential lawsuits is something you need to discuss and make your own decisions about. Frankly, it's unfortunate, but the expense and time spent to get all the legal permissions make the end product too expensive for most people to buy. When I made my earlier recomendations, it was with the expectation you'd use pre-paid needle-drop library music, or stuff you generate with a looping program on your own.
Secondly, any enterprise that offers to sell copies of an event like this has to deal with piracy taking a bite out of your margins. What often happens with things like school plays and video yearbooks is, a handful of people will buy it for full price, then sell or give away pirated dubs of that program to all their friends. You'll be lucky to sell a dozen before the pirates take away all your demand. If you insist on pressing on with the scheme, you need to take orders and get the money up front, with the express understanding that unless you hit a minimum number of advance orders/payments, you can't afford to do the show.
Good advice, Mark. Your post reminds me again why I have a regular, full time job and only do this event-shooting stuff on the side. It's tough enough to deal with the small amount of business I do every year and I certainly don't envy anyone who has to do it all the time. I find that I can manage the number of schools I have to deal with, but you're right...once you add it up to a lot of work it might be more trouble than it's worth!
You are right on target regards the copying part. I once did a labor-of-love production for my son's marching band. Cute little compilation of the whole season, competitions, etc all boiled down to a 30-minute highlight program with lots of close-ups, sound-bites, titles, credits, etc. This was before DV, so it was produced on S-VHS and took some serious time to put together.
It was shown on the "big-screen 54-inch projection TV" at the annual dinner and EVERYONE wanted a copy. I had 60-copies made (at over$3 each - it was the weekend and everyone was in a hurry.) I left them with the band teacher and told him he could charge no more than a $4 each price tag - the extra half-buck each was to cover my cost of stock and some shipping costs.
Went back a week later and picked up 57-copies. One of the parents had promised to make copies for everyone if they would just bring him a blank tape, and he "was sure I wouldn't mind." He had taken the third-gen VHS distribution tape and made everyone a 4th gen VHS copy, so they could all save a a dollar or so, over the price of my pro-duped stuff.
Like I said, it was a labor-of-love with no intent to make me any money-but I sure didn't plan to loose money on it! I trashed the boxes of VHS-dupes while cleaning out the basement a few years ago.
I have to agree with Jeff on this one. Stick with the steady work with benefits and have the best of both worlds. Maybe look at a career change, but consider keeping both. You might not realize what expenses are involved with insurance both personal and business. A $50,000 a year salary might end up being an $70,000 expense for your employer. It will include insurance, which isn't getting any cheaper, vacation, sick time, pension and other benefits. If you do decide to give it a go full-time, I would suggest that one of you keep the full-time gig as a fall back. One of the most important things in business is to create residual income. You work once and keep getting paid. If you work this way over time then you will create an increasing income over time and not have to work from job to job.
Love what you do and you will never have to work a day in your life.