$7000 investment in new production company. I Need advice.
I am starting a video production company after a few years of video editing for a hobby. Even though filming wasn't my main focus, it will of course be a main factor in the business and I have been training with a professional and studying for the past 2 months.
The time has come and I'm opening a production company. I did lots of research and came to a conclusion that I can get started with $7000, that would get me stuff like a camera, lights, mics, headsets, tripod, and all the other main equipment that I will want to start with.
Next week I have meetings with 3 different potential investers that are interested to invest the sum that I have come up for me to get this business on the road.
My question to you guys is the deal I should propose to these investers. Of course, there are many ways to do this so both sides benifit, but I wanted to hear from someone with experience.
I want to present different aspects of the deals and different deals as well so that they can start negotiating from. I will go over one thought real quick, to give you an idea where I'm at. Of course I'm not posting ALL the details of a deal and of course a lawyer will look it over, but I want some general direction. Again, I'm just throwing out general numbers and percentages. I want to hear from you guys what you think.
1. Invester gives me $7000. His overal profit from the deal will be $7000 (%100) He will get %50 of every event I do until I pay off in total $14000. ($7000 for his investment and $7000 profit). Once the $14,000 is paid, the deal is over. He has no partnershipin the business.
2. If I hadn't paid the invester at least $7000 in the first year, his profit from the deal will go up to %150. (saying that we agreed at first to %100 profit). If I pay him $7000 within the first year, his profit goes down to %80.
More can be added like what happens after 2 years and so on...
One more thing... It's the deal I need advice on. Not the price. Thanks!
"He will get %50 of every event I do until I pay off in total $14000"
That is quite steep, would you be able to make enough for your own needs (rent, car payment, food etc) you would have to be doing twice the amount of business to make the same amount of money, and that would be EXTREMELY difficult if you are just starting. If all you need is $7000 you might consider looking into a small business loan (they definitely wont have 100-150% interest).
Another option would be to rent your equipment, and incorporate that into your production fees (you should be incorporating equipment cost into it any way even if you own the equipment).
It is HARD to start your own business and tying your to an agreement involving you paying 100-150% interest, is way to risky in my book. I don't want to discourage you but many small business never make it, and if you are bound by something requiring you to pay 100-150% interest would make it even harder. Personally when I started up I did a combination, I got a loan for my camera, and I rent additional equipment as necessary because not all events require more. I factor both into the cost that I charge.
On another note the most you have been studying "the craft" for several years, but that is actually a small part of the business, the bigger part is the business part. Most business fail because of a lack of business knowledge, especially if you plan on growing and bring on employees.. I am not saying that you don't, it is just a common thing that I see.
Thanks for the reply. Of course I realized after I wrote this that a bank loan costs much less, so %100 is silly. Just shows that I lack business knowledge. But I can't keep this from stoping me. I must start a business of my own. I will try to get all the advice and help I can, whether from sites or friends. But I'm at a point that I have no choice and must get out there and work my way through this and I know I will succeed!
I also realized that %100 is silly because a bank loan takes far less interest then that, but the question still stands, An invester will ask me what he gets out of this and I will have to have to realistic business plans for him and that's where I need business ideas.
About renting... well, the camera is too expensive to rent since I will be needing it a lot to practice on and it's just that kind of thing I'll want with me at all times. The lights... maybe I can rent these but I still need the $7000 that I came up with and I'm ok with that sum since it's not the biggest sum in the world for starting a business.
Here in Israel, where I live, the video business is better then in the States. It's not as competitive and there is a market is more open, so I'm not worried about getting jobs.
I also realize that my lack of business knowledge is a big disadvantage, but I have no choice. I will fight and struggle to make it own my own. I will turn to forums and friends to ask questions before making deals (that's what I'm doing now) and I WILL succeed.
Thanks for the reply.
Zvi, with respect, to be blunt I think your business plan, such as it is, is a little "embryonic" still. I think you've way under-estimated the amount you need to put into this, and don't yet have a true understanding of all your costs, much less a solid plan for getting buisness. If you jump into this unprepared, you won't last long, I'm afraid.
The most common error in this business is thinking that buying a camera makes it a working business. The first tools you need are really a phone, email account, and computer. It is about lining up jobs, getting people to front you some money, then the fun creative that pays off the front money and gets you some profit, which you re-invest to grow the business.
As far as equipment, the lights and tripod and mics are all good investments to make as purchases, (particularly used) because they are used every time and don't go out of style, and retain resale value. My take on camera ownership is, it's best to rent what you need only when as as you need it. If you only use it once or twice a month, but pay for it every month, you are losing money. Ebay is full of slightly used cameras bought by self-styled "Indie film-makers" who committed to 365 days of payments and depreciation for a camera that got used for only 20 some hours. The camera is a tool, a means, not the end. The end is a finished program you can sell to people.
In the States, we have a number of resources for people with a dream like yourself: SCORE and the Small Business Administration are just two of them. Have you looked around where you live to see if there are any such similar resources avaialable to you? If not, the next best thing is to read up some more on the business of running the business. Amazon.com for used books, maybe a community college type course lcoally, and all the resources of the internet are open to you. I urge you to take advantage of the collected wisdom of people who have done this before you. Build on their success, avoid their mistakes. Best of luck to you.
thank you for the reply.
I totally inderstand what you are saying and I am researching starting small businesses as well.
I have thought about this very issue, "what comes first"... to get equimpment, or to get jobs lined up. I am afraid to get jobs lined up before I have ever held a proffessional camera. I have researched video filming and watched dozens of hours of tutorials, and have much practice with the shooting techniques themselves, but only via a small, SONY Hi-def $400 camera. I have had possitive feedback from my work and I fell if I don't get a proffessional camera to learn and practice on, how can I commit to real job?? To rent a camera for 2 weeks in order to practice with (hardly enough time) would cost about half the price of the camera itself!
So thoses are my thoughts. I feel that I want to feel prepared to shoot with a proffessional camera before I commit to a job. (Maybe I can try to commit to jobs that are in a few months from now, and when I know I have commited jobs in a few months, I'll feel better getting equipment, knowing that I have what to pay it off with... just a thought).
Zvi, then I think I agree with you that you are not ready...YET. One thing I would suggest you do is, apprentice yourself to someone already established, that uses a more advanced camera and work as an assistant to them for a while. That's common for beginners in the biz here that want to turn pro: LEARN from a pro. For example, volunteer to run second b-roll camera for an established wedding videographer for a paltry sum, just to get the practice. If you click with the guy, he may even refer you some business and supply you with one of his cameras, if he's for example double-booked some weekend.
Again, my experience of this is only in the States, but over here, you can go to a pro broadcast video equipment rental place and get some hands-on experience with the cameras right there in the sales room when they are not being rented. The typical pro rental shop here indeed *encourages* people to do this, since the better you know their rental gear, the better care you will take with it, the more often you'll rent it, and the more positive and profitable of an experience everyone derives from this. It's a mitzvah:-)
So I would budget myself the time to pay one or more of these places a visit, let them get to know you, perhaps establish an account with them for when you are ready to rent, explain you are going to start doing some productions and eventually rent a camera from them, but you need to get some hands-on tutoring first. Indeed, I think it would be a great chance for you to try out all the brands they have and compare and contrast their features to see what you thik will work best for you.
Another route we have for gaining experience here is local cable access channels and comunity college instructional classes. Both let you get training and experience with hands-on use of all the hardware. The larger cities have such classes going on monthly or quarterly. There are also 3-day and 7-day seminar training camps run by companies like Sony, that have company pros walk you thru every step of an actual production from pre-production thru aquisition and final editing. You could make it sort of a business vacation to take such a course, and you probably should. Over here, you might even be able to get a business tax deduction for it (ask an accountant).
Invest in your skills in these ways first, then work on the company idea, so you can back up every promise you make to a client with solid pro performance. And don't give up!
I say AMEN to all that Mark has said.
You say "Just shows that I lack business knowledge. But I can't keep this from stoping me. I must start a business of my own."
Please don't take it hard but just because you don't want it to stop you douse not mean that it wont. Without "business knowledge" ANY BUSINESS CAN FAIL, even if you are the most talented person out there in your craft, if you don't know what you are doing on the business end (which is the biggest end of any business) you can shoot yourself in the foot. Start by reading the Business & Marketing forum here on the cow.
You say you must start a business of your own, many people I know myself included only do there video production business or graphic design business on the side, because it is hard to hake it full time on your own. There are things like medical insurance and other benefits that come from working somewhere else, if you had to provide these for yourself the cost is MUCH greater.
I wish you the best of luck, but definitely do a lot more looking before you leap.
Thank you all for the advice. It's not that I CAN'T run a business, I just am not very familiar with business terms. That is why I have turned here and signed up for a course on starting small businesses and have been sitting here at my computer all night writing a professional business plan.
I am a quick learner and not a push over, but sometimes I need to hear something once so I can learn it and use it. I have worked out deals before in my life but it was in areas that I was more familiar with and knew where to start negotiating from.
Maybe I will have to take some falls in this business at first, but I have tried to find people that are hiring and it's just not worth what they pay here. I'd rather work my a-- off and learn all there is to know about running a business and succeed, learning from my own mistakes and from others.
I'm 34 years old, divorced with 5 kids and I am responsible enough to make it on my own. Since I know what I'm getting into, I am not afraid of problems that might come my way, and I will deal with them one at a time and destroy them before they distroy me.
I have good friends that have been in business all their lives that I consult with and I have you guys! I don't feel alone. I'll show you all, and get back to you in 6 months from now and tell you what's going on. I'll surprize you. :-)
Nobody here ever said you cant run a business, we just want to point out some of the hard things that we see that you might run into.
Again I personally sagest that you might want to consider keeping a regular job at the same time as starting your business. It gives you some regular income and benefits while you establish yourself in the video business.
My father has been doing this for over ten years with his consulting business. Its not that he cant make good money if he went full time with his consulting, but loosing a supplemented retirement plan and medical benefits from his regular job and having to provide them for himself would take way to big of a bite out of his take home pay, thus making it less then his current full time job.
Once you have a bit more experience with the camera (you said you wanted more), with running a business and have some established clients you can then go full time.
Q: How do you make a million dollars in this business?
A: start with two million.
I was reading the posts and thought i would tell you how i started out.
As i was working a full time job the first thing i did was ask around and see which editing software was good didnt know anthing back then. I spent 6months learning when i came home from work anything from 6 to 8 hours a night studying techniques you see something on tv and you go and try to work it out best way to learn i say.
I then began to work as an assistant for zero dollars for six months. Working full time allowed me to upgrade my pc with a captured card everything i did was trial & error. Saved and purchased a dsr 250 tridod dolly lights and a dsr11. now i new i had to get some jobs under my belt for my show reel and i wanted to build a website had some mates getting married so i did there weddings for less then cost i still gave them a present for there weddings.
From there i made my demos built a website started to advertise heavily kept working full time and studying programs. From here the business started to take off very slowing the one most important thing you must be able to do is SELL your product if you cant do that you wont last.
Mate i was a hawk watching my competitors seeing what they do where they advertise ,when someone has been in the business for 20yrs you want to find out how he does it.From there i re-invested back into the business buying my first Mac which i couldnt afford in the beginning updating my equipment and my hours had to decrease from full-time to part time and now 4yrs later i am working full-time as an events videographer and still studying .
I have spent in that time on equipment close to $40,000.
One other thing dont be disapointed when people dont book. I found it very very hard at times where i wanted to pack up and wish i never started but i kept a positive outlook.
Since you're posting this in the Event discussion group, I'm going to assume that you're planning to focus on wedding and event videography. If that's not the case, tell us...because the requirements for doing, say, corporate video are very different from weddings and events.
The first thing you need isn't equipment, or even investors...what you need is a business plan. There are software programs to help you create one, but all you really need is a pencil and paper, and some serious thinking. Your plan should address things like:
- what's my competition? Don't guess. Do some research in the phone book, in bridal magazines, at trade shows, on the Web.
- what makes me better than the competition? Lower prices? Better product? Faster delivery?
- how will I structure my product? hourly rate? package prices? Will I offer any discounts? What payment schedule will I ask for?
- will I offer additional products? Film to video transfer, still photography, video scrapbooks, funeral videos...there are lots of possibilities, but don't spread yourself too thin.
- how will I tell customers about my business? Ads? Website? Word of mouth? Bridal shows? Networking with other service providers?
- how will I show customers what I can do? You'll need to have a demo, and sample clips for your website. That may mean doing a few jobs for free, or at a very low price, to get the material. Above all, don't steal somebody else's clips for your website; folks who do this are quickly found out. If other videographers don't catch you, your customers will notice that your product doesn't look like your demo, and they'll be pi$$ed.
- how much income can I realistically expect the first year? How much in each of the next four years?
- what will be my expenses? Here is where you have to do some trading off between options like buying equipment outright, renting it, or leasing it. But you have to consider more than equipment. There's also insurance, and advertising costs, health care costs, travel costs, taxes, continuing education, maintenance, software upgrades... Don't forget to include a "salary" for yourself. Whatever's left over is the business' profit, the money that can be reinvested to grow the business. I built an Excel spreadsheet that lets you play with income and expense numbers. You can find it at http://videouniversity.com/weddingpricing.htm
- how will I get the money to start my business? Savings? Cash in my retirement account? Sell my car? Credit cards? Small business loan from a bank? Investments from friends or relatives? I think that, first off, your estimate of $7,000 is too low to set up a full time business and hit the ground running. Most full-time event video businesses have about $20,000 to $50,000 worth of equipment and software. You also need enough of a cash cushion to live on until your business is established and profitable...and most event video businesses take about three years to really get rolling. However, you may be able to operate a part-time startup business (one good camera and accessories, computer, software, and miscellaneous stuff) and pull yourself up "by your own bootstraps". By working at a "day job", you can reinvest most of what you make into additional equipment. But it does take a big toll on your time. Second, any method that does NOT include the word "investors" is preferable to any financing method that does. Investors are a chain around your neck. They have this habit of insisting on getting paid a good return for their investment, and you could put that money to better use.
Your business plan is a living document. Take it out several times a year and compare how you are doing against what you THOUGHT you'd be doing, and update the plan as needed.
Robertbeck, thanks for sharing your story, and Doug, thank you too for your reply. I agree with both of you, actually, ALL of the replies here gave me a lot to think about (except the $1,000,000 one :-) ) I would like to further reply:
What it comes down to, is not that I CAN'T succeed... but if you don't come up with a business plan you WON'T succeed. I know MANY people that are very successful in the video production business. Seems that the "secret" is starting smart. Not only (but also very important) doing a good job.
So I've read all you had to say. I researched how to start a small business and even applied to a 15 hour course on how to run a small business. I also am making a professional business using "Business Plan Pro 2007" http://www.nolo.com/product.cfm/ObjectID/E...4910EAD1E1/111/ that's I think is worth every penny.
There were two issues that were brought up a couple of times:
1. Working for someone for a while first.
2. Renting equipment at first when needed.
Here is my own personal 2 cents on this. Of course, this may be the way to go for some people.
I have spent the last 2 months "working" for someone. I did it for training purposes and not for money, even though he did pay me something. He let me do some of his editing (and liked my work very much) and I went to some of his events where he would show me and explain his shooting techniques. I myself am not a complete amateur when coming to shooting techniques, though I know I will learn something new with every event, which is what I hope to do.
I don't think (personally) that if I work for someone for a year to get experience, and THEN start my whole business... that anything will move any faster. I think I can pick up my own techniques and learn along the way if I start now on my own. (shooting wise... since I HAD been editing for a few years now as a hobby and have also shot some family occasions. Ok, so I used a $500 camera, but the shooting techniques were pretty good for a starter with no learning experience at the time).
So yes, I understand that I don't need to buy ALL the equipment at once. Understood. But now to the second thing... renting equipment....
I'm not talking about the general idea to rent equipment, which I personally think is a good idea when able. My problem is that the closet rental place is an hour drive away and just a camera costs $80 a day. Now my own thought is that I will want to go over the whole manual... TWICE! I will need at LEAST 2 weeks that I will want to practice and get a "feel" of this new, powerful machine. To rent a camera for 2 weeks will cost almost half the price of the camera!
Someone told me that I can use the camera at the store and that these places even WANT you to use it so that you will rent it. Maybe this can work, but again, there's the 4 hours of travailing every time I need the camera (back and forth). It's just not worth it I think.
Maybe other things can be rented. Things that you might not need at EVERY occasion, like lights (at an already well lit hall or a day time occasion). But all the lights I inquired about were $1000. Just renting them 10 times would be about the price or buying them (travel and time).
Furthermore, in some article that was posted: http://www.fastforwardclub.com/Articles/Business/Fallacy-Market-Pricing.htm (very good article) and also in other forums, for some reason everyone only talks about weddings. There are SO many more projects that need shooting! Does everyone start off with weddings?? There are schools, organizations, BarBat Mitzvahs, Parties, corporate, charity events, SO many things that need video productions.
Also, the only reason people use for "you will not succeed" is if you don't make a business plan. Well... if you DO make a professional business plan and STICK to the plan... why shouldn't you succeed? There are thousands (if not more) of successful videographers and I assume that all they did to be successful is to start off with a realistic business plan and run the production as a business and not a hobby! (like in the article).
But like robertbec said, getting a full time or part time job and working to build your business on the side, could work better. I have tried getting a job in the past and it wasn't easy. I will consider this again.
So once again, thank you all for your replies. I am going to get my "business education" (and maybe a job first) and will ask you for more advice as I go along.
As of march 31st 2007 I am in a similiar, hopefully better prepared, situation as Zvi. I just started my own event recording company and was suprised at the attitude of Zvi towards what was needed to start a business. I then realized that it's a location and culture issue. The way we promote success in the US is through planning, preperation, and working for other people. Zvi worked "all night" on his business plan. I worked 6 weeks and make revisions and additions on a monthly basis. He also pointed out that the market is very open there and then later stated he knows several videographers. Big or small market? I can't tell. My company, ICVideo, has reached into my pockets by about $40,000 and I am always left wondering if I have everything I need as far as equipment and software. Without knowledge of the market he is in, maybe a old Canon GL1 is a nice camera for the area. Maybe customers have no desire for 12", Digital Juice, or Digial Hotcakes being added to their recordings. Zvi, if you need advice on equipment and software this is the place for you. If it's business advice I would use local resources that understand where your coming from better. Case in point I charge $1600 US for 5hrs coverage of a wedding. Other events, for 3 Hi-Def Canon XH-A1 camcorders, go for $175hr plus editing. What are the comparable prices in your market?
Yes, there are differences in culture. But first, we don't need to be sarcastic here... I made a first draft of a business plan on paper over night, but this was of course after weeks of jotting things down on paper and talking to people and researching the market. Tonight I'm going over with the 35 page plan to show it to someone to review and go over more issues. I'm taking things step by step.
About the pricing, I know that there are people that charge in the thousands, I even read about someone that chaged $7000 for a wedding. It's quite different here. Weddings range between $850 - $1500 and most companies will do a wedding (2 cameras) for $1000. People here don't spend that much on weddings here. But before you start saying then there's no way I can make a living, remember another thing that here, everything costs less. Average annual sallery here is $15,000 - $20,000. I know that in the States that's peanuts but just for example, health insurance for a family with 5 kids can be almost $10,000 a year there, can't it? Here it's just $100! School for 5 kids here is about $300 where if I'm not mistaken, is in the thousands there... So it's a quite different picture here.
Anywho, thanks for the reply.
I apologize if I sounded sarcastic. I actually tried to point out that do to cultural differences, which is a safe assumption if your based in Israel just like if I tried to base my business on California market conditions. Thats a matter of states not countries. The only thing you also said about a business plan was "all night". Nothing about having developed your plan to include direction, marketing, or sales approach. If you would have stated that you had a 35 page plan, well thought out, researched your competition, and evaluated your market and your own abilities your entire thread would have read different. Stating you simply can't fail because your a 35 year old male with 5 children is laughable. A business with wit and heart is a great start and I commend you.
One question is if you have found other videograpers or editors to work with you. I do not believe a one man show can create a truly successful business. It's not a question of intent, but rather how thin can you spread yourself and who doesn't need a helping hand when filming, lighting, setting up, monitoring audio and video levels, post-production, and the other components of a video business. I'd love for you to succeed. Having adequate, no more than adequate, capital, equipment, and man power resources is necessary to start a business.
Also, what is the model of the $400 sony hi-def camera? The prices between here and Israel are 2-10 fold depending on if your referrencing an inexpensive consumer model (HC1) or a prosumer model (Z1U). The three cameras I purchased where $4k each and while better than most of my competitors are still of lower quality than some of the competitions. Software and effects suites cost me upwards of $15k with additions being made every 2-4 weeks. Computers are an entirely different story from a PC to even a minimal editing station. You need dual monitors, tons of harddrive storage (I have almsot 2TB), 2-4GB of Ram, and the newer the processor the better. It just adds up to a great deal more than the $7k. I respect that you only want help with the deal and that is one of the reasons I still strongly believe that you should get your advice from local sources. That's my biggest point plain and simple. Like I said "Zvi, if you need advice on equipment and software this is the place for you." Good luck to you and your business.
Oh yeah, what is the name of your business? Don't forget to cover the bases with logo design, marketing, brochures, website (if needed), and trade shows. Good Luck.
Zvi some how I get the impression that you feel that we are telling you that you will not make it if you start a business, or that you cant do it. NOBODY here has said that all we want to do is give a little advice so as to help you NOT to fail. We would hate to see you jump head first into the business pool while chained to a rock, all that we have said is to point out rocks that wee see potentially chained to you that you may not have noticed.
You have said that you will succeed, and while that is a good attitude to have, the hard reality is that there is a chance that you might not succeeded as you think you might. Having a I cant loose attitude often makes one look vary cocky, and nobody likes a someone who is vary cocky.
Starting any business is a risk, but because there is risk involved, the reward is that much sweeter. Your original post gave the impression that you were walking into the pool without knowing that you had a rock chained to your leg. When we sagested renting to didn't say in your initial response that the closest rental place was so far away, you just seemed to blow off the idea.
Again all we want to do is to help you NOT to fail, so please don't take what I have said or what others have said to mean that you cant, because I believe that you can. All the things that we have shared are things what we believe can help you succeed.
Thanks you guys! I'm also sorry if I came off as "blowing you off", I didn't only read every one of your posts... twice, but printed out a few for use on further research. You really helped me a lot and I appreciate the time you are all taking to respond to someone you don't even know.
Of course age and kids don't make a business, maybe I just got the impression that I was taken to be a young, irresponsible person who woke up one morning and decided to start a business over night... well, reading my original post... I can see why you might have thought that! :-)
Anywho, I went over the business plan tonight with someone who's been in bussiness for a long time and of course it will need changes, which he will do for me over the next few days and I hope to make something that will be both reasonable and go for it.
ICVideo, yes, I have two video producers that have both been in business for almost 20 years that will help me. I made contact with them through "contacts". One of them I had been hanging out with him for the past 2 months and learning from him and the other one left his door open for me, I just didn't get the chance to go to him yet, but we have met once and talked.
Then there's this guy who is the friend of a friend of the cousin of my step mother... :-) He's something called "The Natural Networker". Has a business card and all (lol - I love people with cards! :-) ) Supposed to be a brilliant business man and just so happens that he worked in video production for 10 years, many years ago. He is close to my family and said he'll take me under his wing and help me. So I don't feel alone.
About the Sony camera you asked about, did I say it was hi-def? lol... hardly... I guess I just got that term stuck in my head. It's a plain Digital8 Cam - DCR-TRV140E . Actually, it has the same compression and editing protocol as DV and has some pretty neat features, but it's old and I have no idea how much it's worth today... probably $100. :-)
About computers and elecronics, the prices are about the same and sometimes more here because they are all imported and heavily taxed, but overall it's not that bad. So a Panasonic AG-DVX100B that I saw going for $2,600 on the net, is $3,000 here. a Western Digital 500GB HD is roughly $170 here. I already have a decent computer with 1GB of ram and to upgrade to 2GB would be $150. Flat screen monitor is $170 new and you can pick up used ones in great condition for $100. I'm just saying that I can upgrade over time. I can't bealive that every videographer started with a $40,000 kit. I also bealive that what you all said about the business side of things are absolutely true, and that if you handle a business right, even if you start out with little equipment and man-power, if you succeed and build a reputation, you can grow.
zrb123, sorry if I sounded cocky. Didn't mean too. I know I might fail and might not make it. I know that I have a lot of work ahaid of me and bealive it or not, I might even decide to work for someone before I open my own business like you guys said. Nothing is final. It's all in the drawing board.
Oh, and ICVideo, I forgot to mention, Last year I just got out of a 5 year school where I learned computer engineer programming so I build my own website and having worked in computer graphics, designing ads for a local weekly for a couple of years, I already bulid a logo and will make a brochure when I make enough money to print it! :-) (you might ask why I don't work in programming... well, I did for a while but the pay here is surprizingly low unless you have 3 - 5 years of expirience, so maybe I'll get back to that one day or combine it in the business. Who knows.
Once again, I thank you guys and please feel free to criticize when needed! I won't take it personaly, but try to learn from it.
The man that wrote the last post "Zvi" is now heading in a much better direction than on the original post. Now that you have explained yourself you seem to be much more competent and capable than previously noted. The last post should have been your first. I'll leave it to that and hope that future we can help you as a fellow videograper/editor/director of photography/stage hand/camera operator/manager/owner/CEO/CFO/Assistant Director/Scenic Artist/Sound Mixer/Purchasing Agent/ Inventory Specialist/Field Producer/and artistic visionary I welcome you. You did say you were starting your own video business, right ;)
by the way, is this an April fools prank by google? Getting free Internet by flushing a cable down your toilet???
Sign up for GOOGLE'S free in-home wireless broadband service
Sick of paying for broadband that you have to, well, pay for?
Introducing Google TiSP (BETA), our new FREE in-home wireless broadband service.
How to install, with pictures of how to flush the cable down the toilet!
Introducing Google TiSP (BETA), our new FREE in-home wireless broadband service.
From the FAQ:
Can I still use my toilet after installing TiSP?
Do we look stupid? Needless to say, the fiber optic cable that enables TiSP will not interfere with your toilet's regular operations. For your own convenience, however, you may eventually wish to hire a professional contractor to help route the cable under, or through, the toilet seat to your TiSP wireless router.
Ok, guys, don't get excited...
When I went to the page to order a professional installation:
well... go there yourself and read about the prank
AND you will see more Google April fool pranks from other years! :-)
I've been doing this part time for a most of year now after taking classes in the year before that. Here's a few things I've done (or started doing) that seemed to help get me work or keep costs down, though still not enough to pay for all the stuff I've bought.
Expect things to start out slow, work half time at something else for money. I work doing support for a website, but other resume building jobs might be AV technician or electronics/camera salesperson, or teaching a video editing continuing Ed course at a college. Meanwhile you hunt for work and edit projects and do free promo projects with your company name and web address on the DVD + box. You only get so many breaks a month and not seeming desperate to get work instantly from them when you talk to people is a plus.
IMMEDIATELY join and go to as many local or regional videographer association meetings as you can and get into conversations with people there, asking about what they do, talking shop/hardware, etc. Be likable, curious and knowledgeable. Give them your business card (very cheap ones are available at vistaprint.com). Let them know you'll work cheap/free for them the first few times until they know you and have seen your work. It wouldn't hurt to have a simple but professional looking website with some nice looking sample clips for them to look at.
Work for free/cheap once or twice for lots of people instead of doing this for same person many times. You build more contacts and reputation that way.
Also send resumes and cover letters to every vid production company/videogrpaher in your area. Though if your resume/training is really thin maybe try to get some experience with the face-to-face techniques above first. Next follow up those letters [saying you'd call on a certain date] with phone calls on those dates. If you hate rejection the second part is really hard. Do it anyway.
The anxiety and rejection that comes from asking is worth it for getting to know all the people who might be willing and able to let you learn your craft while getting paid, and for the times when people actually do hire you get seen by other pros and potential clients at the event doing the work, while getting paid to be there.
Next: always be a pro whenever anyone invites you to do or go along on a shoot. That means...
Get the address and time, print directions in advance, give yourself plenty of time to get there, show up a little early and ready to work. Do quality work with a smile and always do a bit more than they expect. If you're bringing your own gear, pack in advance and use a checklist of what to bring.
If you get to be on a Videographers Association mailing list where clients write in asking for quotes or other videographers ask for cam operator/PA help: check your mail very often and reply to those messages instantly. Drop everything else, and write a coherent professional sounding response and give a quote you're pretty sure will underbid the other members. You have less overhead and need the experience/references much more than they do.
One kind of work that pays less but has very low requirements in the way of lights and mic (and shot asthetics) is high-school sports videos (recruiting, scouting, team yearbook, etc). I found that shooting for people producing these to be easier to break into than weddings for some reason. You might want to get a used rain cover for a camera if you do a significant number of these though, since you'll be out in the rain as the game continues sometimes. One other advantage of this work is that one of the cheaper prosumer cameras (the GL2) is actually very good for this kind of work.
When you don't have sample clip you need to get a certain kind of job, go out and shoot a short demo of the kind of thing they want and email them a QT and WMV of it.
Here's a good rule for life that also applies to getting started in the vid business: doing things you haven't done before will change your life far more than buying some product or service from someone else.
Think about that every time you start to buy something.
While I think owning a prosumer camera (a GL2, which probably should have been a used PD170/150 in retrospect) helped get me some small jobs which may turn into more later, most of the jobs I've had were using other people's gear and getting work was mostly about doing the above networking and applying with a polished resume that showed some relevant training and skills.
I think you need a good camera in your hands long enough to create solid samples of your work with it in all the types of events/productions you think you might need to show people in order to get the job. After that you can sell the camera if you need to and rent from then on.
Cameras are going obsolescent a bit faster at the moment with the coming of HD and what I read in the Final Cut forums tells me that HDV cameras will depreciate faster than most, and they're more of a pain to edit than dvcproHD and more expensive to buy the TV monitor + card to edit it than with DV. Of course the dvcproHD cameras are much more expensive. Maybe buying DV now and waiting for an affordable dvcproHD camera is the answer for low-budget folks.
If you can find a way to produce content for the web (a growth area) DV's lower resolution is pretty much irrelevant since nobody you'll be dealing with will want to pay to host video above 640x480 size on the web. Be ready to pay for some software that will encode your edited video into two-pass vp6 flash video if you get seriously into producing for the web.
Any camera used for pay really must allow you convenient control over the input level for audio and show you the audio level meters on screen to you don't get weak, peaked-out, or aggressively-limited audio. The GL-1 doesn't monitor levels on screen. Nor did my Panasonic GS200. Pick your camera accordingly.
If you need to get comfortable and fast with using cameras with focus and iris rings then you may need to buy a camera with those, used. If you do, every week make yourself go out and shoot different things with it so you get nimble with the controls and zooming to good shot composition. Even if no one's paying you to do it. Because the sooner you master those things the better video you'll make and the sooner you'll be able to charge more and sell your old camera and start renting better cameras.
Don't feel like you have to keep the camera once you've amassed a decent set of demo clips that can help calm any doubts people might have once your marketing (or your networking) has brought them to you.
Now as to equipment on a budget:
Avoid shooting things for money that reveal the weaknesses of your camera.
Don't even try to shoot in low available light (think nighttime weddings with minimal overhead light) unless you have or know you can rent a PD150/170. (extra tip: If you do shoot low light don't let your camera add all the gain it wants to on auto. You're better trying off manipulating levels/gamma in the computer than letting the camera add its last 2 or 3 notches of gain. You don't want the grain/noise that comes with that.)
Lights: If you need lights on stands, you can try starting out with some collapsable stand halogen shop lights with diffusion material (like Rosco Toughspun Cinegel #3006 ) put over the light's lens for less $ than even a used light kit. The shop lights are bit heavier and bulkier and lack dimmers (though 250/500/750/1000W selectable is better than nothing). The bonus is that shop lights are harder to tip over and less fragile. If you do impromptu interviews at weddings you'll need an on-camera light (which you may need to add diffusion to).
Mics: while I know a very good (mostly wedding) videographer who uses wireless a lot (inlcluding a wireless transmitter that pugs into the mixing board) and XLR infrequently, others have told me if you don't have a camera with XLR inputs (either with adapter or natively) you're going to have inferior/weak sound.
If you do a lot of events where there's a PA system and a mix board/multiplier you can plug into, you need XLR inputs and XLR cable or wireless mic kit with a lav and a from-the-board transmitter. XLR also lets you put wired shotgun or lav mics far closer to the sound you can get while keeping the camera back.
Note though that if you can shoot from close enough to the sound that it overwhelms all unwanted sound (like near the front at a concert) a decent quality shotgun mic, even an on-camera one like the rode videomic can get decent results.
Wireless lav mics are of course very very handy for wedding ceremonies and interviews/presentations and cen speed your setup time and remove the need for many re-setups. I recently got a good deal on a used sennheiser ew100 wireless mic kit and like it so far.
Be sure to try used ew100s out in person before buying as the wire connecting to the mic head is fragile and will crackle when moved even slightly once broken. Also check Sennheiser's frequency finder to see what a good range of frequencies are for your area before buying anything wireless
I'm thinking at the moment I can probably do the most for the least money with a wireless kit like above plus the rode video mic for things the wireless kit's lav + board transmitter can't get. Note you can move the rode video mic off the camera with an optional 10' mini-cable and rest the mic in a clamp on a table (or even hold it) near an interviewee. Note that the rode videomic doesn't work through XLR adapters like the Sign Video XLRPRO, the camera has to control levels from the rode videomic internally. Note: XLRPRO is better than beachtek because you can adjust it's levels smoothly while recording.
Tripods: B&H's kit with the Manfrotto 3011BN and fluid head has been really nice with the GL2 and didn't cost a lot though it may be too small for a PD170. I recommend getting the carrying strap for it and a step stool to stand on so you can shoot over the tops of crowds while still reaching the camera controls easily. Be sure to get a tripod that will raise up to around 6'/2m.
Monitors for editing: I've been happy with a 13" TV for previews and a dell 24" LCD widescreen for editing DV, and I survived for a long time with 2 17" LCDs and the TV.
I like that I can (if I don't care about preview quality much) use the dell monitor later as a HD TV for previews while editing by switching to the monitor's component in. I don't feel the need for a second editing monitor though some folks like them. IF you edit a lot getting a big monitor like this can save some time zooming and panning in the timeline over two small monitors that split the timeline. But if most of your biz is operating cameras for other people early on, your editing gear is mostly irrelevant.
CD printers: These really do make for good presentation of your finished DVD but ink will cost you on large runs. The best quality/cost to operate mix was the epson R200 which you can find refurb or used sometimes. I have an R300 and it prints great but does seem to hog ink. Its nice for making those promotional DVDs that will market me long term but not important to making money in the short run. The cheapest way I found to make nice DVD box inserts is the free medaiface web-based software you get when you buy inserts from neato.com. You will often want to make a PDF of the insert cover (or print one copy) and have your local staples/copy shop make color laser prints/copies of it onto blank DVD insert stock.
I agree that $7000 is a bit too little to do all the jobs you might need to be able to do to work full time. But you probably won't build up the connections and references and reel to work full time soon after starting anyway unless you've been in film/tv school and working on lots of professional shoots before graduating. So expand the business as you find the opportunity to do so and buy things as you determine you'll be able to put them to use right away.
Hope this helps,
Shayne, I was VERY impressed by your professional and detailed reply. It helped more then you can imagine. Thank you so much.