Some jaded thoughts for the new year
As I close in on my final days at my corporate job as Director of Media Services, and on the morning after shooting one of the most boring weddings at said corporate job, I have some admitedly jaded thoughts about the Wedding and Event Videography "industry". I have been been in media production for the past 20 years in one respect or the other. From freelance videographer to running a project/commercial recording studio. I have worked on the high end and the low end.
I did a promo for producing content for digital signage last year that I think sums up where I'm going with this. The crux of the piece was...."the good news is the low cost of quality equipment has made it affordable for just about anyone to get in the game. The bad news is the low cost of quality equipment has made it affordable for just about anyone to get in the game".
Some jaded thoughts
- ALMOST EVERYONE uses "all digital equipment and 3 ccd cameras", you don't need to put it in your advertising. It's nothing to brag about.
- A bedroom with a PC running $500 software that you may or may not have actually paid for is not a "state of the art facility".
- There is no such thing as a "cinemagraphic style" when shooting weddings. It's an insult to cinematographers everywhere. You are providing a service. If you want to make movies than don't shoot weddings. That being said, you certainly can provide that service in an artistic and innovative way.
- Get over yourselves, with the divorce rate in this country, more than half of your work will end up in the trash in less than 5 years anyhow. And a majority of the ones that don't end up in divorce will watch what you do once and put it on a shelf.
- When you use copyrighted material in your productions you are breaking the law. Granted, our laws in the US are unfair regarding this. So join a trade organization and fight like the dickens to get the laws changed. I find it appalling that a certain magazine claiming to be "the authority in event videography" would publish articles that brazenly encourage it's readers to break the law. I.E. the Wedding Day Music Video article and others.
- You can dress it up all you want, offer SDE's, trash the dress, spend hours Photoshopping a montage, scatter 20 Irivers(whatever they are) around the church, look like a moron with your Steadicam rig, jockey with the photographer, wear matching Wal Mart vests....It's still a wedding video that when all is said and done you most likely made less than $10/hr doing.
Please take these thoughts with a grain of salt. I've shot over 50 weddings at my job over the last 3 years as well as performing many other duties. I have had a grand total of 8 weekends off during that same time period working an average of 55-60 hours a week. I'm burnt to a crisp which is why I'm getting out. I have seen opulence beyond compare, mostly at weddings where the ceremony itself seemed more like an afterthought than the focus. My new company will be a full service video and audio production facility utilizing my entire skill set to leverage "for profit" business to help non profits achieve their goals with high quality media production. A lofty idea I know.
I wish all of you well this new year and thank you for allowing me to get a few things off my chest. I feel better now.
Higher Ground Media (coming soon)
Well, good luck to you.
If it helps, I hope you know that there are some of us out here who not only agree with your criticisms but are trying to make our way in the wedding-world while still avoiding each and every sin you listed. I like to think I'm doing a pretty good job at it so far. (Except for the 3-chip thing...wedding magazines still sometimes tell brides to ask that...I gotta follow the industry here and brag about what THEY say is important!)
I do wonder if I'm only able to avoid most of them only BECUASE weddings are my part time job. I can pursue the type of shooting that I want to do. The brides who like what I do find me and those that want something else go elsewhere. If I had to find enough weddings to live on I might find all those shortcuts you listed more tempting, but for now I can avoid them all. It's not easy (the music-thing is tough to explain to clients) but it's possible.
I never wanted to go full-time because I was afraid I might end up where you are now; tired and sick of it all. I'm sorry you got in too deep!
[Jeff Carpenter] "I never wanted to go full-time because I was afraid I might end up where you are now; tired and sick of it all. I'm sorry you got in too deep!"
Thanks Jeff. I think one of the main issues in the event videography industry is it's near impossible to charge what you're worth. Therefore, most "pros" steer clear of it. The industry is wrought with people who started out thinking it would be a cool thing to get into. There are a handful of companies who do get what they're worth who handle mostly high end affairs. The rest are trying to work their way up to that. Most will not make it because their market won't support it. They end up either leaving the industry or working for peanuts because they "just love doing weddings".
My current guideline rates are $600 a day for field production(not including 2nd camera or a PA) and $90/hour for post. So let's say I do a wedding at these rates. It takes me between 25 and 35 hours to edit, another 2 hours to author, 5 hours for cover and DVD graphics. We'll just say 40 hours post at $90 = $3600+$600= $4200. Add in a 2nd camera at $300 and a third static wide for $150 and we're up to
In my market and many others, that is just way to much for the average bride to pay for an average wedding video. But that is what I need to make to operate a legitimate business with all of the things that go with it and not starve.
So the cycle continues. Newbies enter the market with an entry level price, do entry level work, and deliver an entry level product. Brides think that's what it should cost and that's all they're willing to pay. Joe Pro can't compete at that rate, tries to raise the bar. Either becomes "thee high end guy" in his area, succeeds or gets out. And on and on and on.
Success to all in the New Year. I will not be thinking of you this wedding season as I sail my humble 22' Catalina up and down the Chesapeake Bay.
Higher Ground Media
Wow! Here I was, all jazzed up after my first big bridal industry trade show...totally excited about my brand new venture and all of the perspective clients I had the chance to meet, as well as all of the positive feedback I had received on my work. So I come home and log onto CreativeCow to do some reading and perhaps share some of my excitement, and what do I read first? Mick's tirade!! What a giant buzz kill!!
No, just kidding. I wish you the best of luck in your new direction, and it sounds like you're making the right call. I especially loved your line about 'looking like a moron with your steadicam rig' and the 'matching wal mart vests'! Too funny! (do people really wear those to shoot weddings??)
Anyway, like Jeff C. said, there are many of us out here that share your outlook. That was one big reason I decided to get into this after several years of television production...I saw some of the 'riff raff' that was out there, and some of the work they were passing off as 'good', and, most importantly, what they were charging for it!
So, know that there are many of us out here that will continue to fight the good fight. We are over ourselves, we have actual offices and studios with thousands of dollars worth of 'real' gear in them (although I still don't refer to it as 'state of the art'!), and we produce creative and innovative work while avoiding steadicam rigs and wal mart vests! (OK, OK, OK...I must admit that I fall into the 'outlaw' category when it comes to the music thing...but that's the only item on your list! It's also a whole other 'can of worms'...I'm also a musician as well as a huge music fan. Let's just say that I understand the law and I understand that I'm breaking it. I will continue to fight to have it changed, but in the meantime I'm comfortable with my rationalization. If a giant record label wants to come after me for including a copyrighted song (off a CD I purchased) on 4 copies of a DVD I produced for a bride and her family, then more power to them! I'll deal with it and accept full responsibility.)
Again, best of luck with your new direction. Hopefully after some time you'll be able to look back on the fond memories of the past 20 years.
Some great insights, thanks. I wish you luck with your new business. Make sure you give us a link to your site once you are up and running.
I hear ya.
The wedding business was pretty good up until the dot bomb bust around 2000. After that a lot of unemployed people went out a bought a camcorder and put themselves into the wedding business by lowering prices and quality. Along with that the dee jays got into the act, following the photographers, by offering video on the side for cheap.
So the entire business has been over-saturated and cheapened for the last eight years so much so that the lone wolf videographer is becoming extinct. You've got to have a low paid staff and multiple videographers to charge enough for high end work, and there's very little of that out there.
On the corporate side, things don't look much brighter since the internet has provided a cheap alternative to marketing videos. The manufacturers continue to put out easy-to-use camcorders and the software makers like Apple put out easy-to-use software so that the guy in accounting with a camcorder can produce most of what the company needs. And the rest can go onto the website.
Sounds like you need some business tips if you're making $10 an hour. My brides tell me years later that they view their wedding video several times a year and look at them more than their photos. Do get over yourselves, but do also remember that this work on many levels is far more important many people than any movie they will ever see.
Make the video fun and entertaining so people can actually watch it with their friends without them being bored.
Weddings are about 1/3 of my business but I treat them as something that is very important and NEVER shoot with a single camera.
The reason you put camera specifications is because brides see it everywhere else and they think they know somthething so if you don't have it they won't call. This year it's "HD" and "Blue Ray."
I know you're not really jaded. It's the weasels in the wedding business that bother me. I don't see that in the other 2/3 of my business. It's a one time job so people produce crap and give us a bad name.
Dreamscape Digital Media
Panny DVX-100's but changing so Sony or Cannon HDV soon.