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How to break into shooting sports?

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beau brothertonHow to break into shooting sports?
by on May 22, 2008 at 4:55:00 pm

Hello to all,

I'm a FCP freelance editor in Houston and I shoot as much as I can when I'm not editing (Church training videos/weddings on my HVX200). This extra gigs help with bills, but I would love to get into shooting sports.

Just to throw it out there, is anybody shooting any sports? If so, what types of end product? ie, scholarship videos for individuals, How to training videos, review footage for teams and coaches, etc?

I did a search and couldn't find a thread about getting new business in the lower budget sporting arena. I would love to shoot the NBA, but I'm sure I need to start a bit smaller. Scholarship spots would definitely let me be creative (of course I do know that this needs experience and don't want to ruin a kids chances of college b/c of me).

I'm experienced enough technically on what to do. This is mainly a thread that I thought about on the business and marketing side of how, who, and what kind of marketing I should contact for this. I assume that I should do some free what for my demo reel.

Anyway, I've talked enough, I'll throw it out to the COW and see what you think.

Thanks in advance for your replies.

Beau Brotherton
Macbook Pro 2.4GHz, Intel Core 2Duo, 4GB

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Mark SuszkoRe: How to break into shooting sports?
by on May 26, 2008 at 8:56:51 pm

Well maybe the easiest thing is to start shooting whatever sports are around you, free, for the practice. As much as you can stand. Local school games, YMCA, company picnic softball intramurals etc. Try to practice a couple quick standard interview questions and practice your shot framing and mic technique to get useable sound bites from players. Demonstrate you can frame a stable and proper shot, with considerations of lighting and what's in the background. Demonstrate you can follow the action, and know when to follow the ball and when to widen out and let the action unfold in your frame. Show you can "edit in camera".

Build a reel of your best shots and drop that with the sports director at your local TV news station. Show that you know the standard positions for covering each major sport by having those shots in your reel. Don't mention your fees but have a rate card ready in your head in case you get an offer.

In the spring (Basketball) and fall (baseball/football) local small stations are hard-pressed to cover all the simultaneously-occurring playoffs and homecomings, etc. for the local high schools and preps, and I know they sometimes will recruit extra temp shooters on the big weekends to get that coverage. It doesn't hardly pay anything, some stations ask for volunteers even. But, if you've already laid a base with the sports director and he can see you can shoot something, you have a shot at a (very low) paid gig shooting freelance sports for Tv news. But humble as it may be it IS resume' material. From there you add to the reel and keep looking for more and better assignments. Lots of college teams need free or low-cost footage of practices and games. You keep doing it and raising your rate as you get better and better. Just as the athletes you watch start humbly and build THEIR skills and eventually get to the stage of getting paid.

Then one day you look in the mirror and you are a paid sports shooter, how did THAT happen?

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Peter RalphRe: How to break into shooting sports?
by on May 28, 2008 at 3:19:13 pm

Shooting for free to get experience and then getting picked up by ESPN on the strength of your prowess with a handicam? That is a great idea.

Another good idea is to become an NBA star and then parlay your contacts into a job with ESPN.

With the second idea the first part is hard and the second part is easy, and vice versa.

Let us know which route you choose.

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Zane BarkerRe: How to break into shooting sports?
by on May 29, 2008 at 7:04:00 am

Approach a high school team and see if you can get hired to shoot and do a hi light videos for them.

Don't offer to do it for free. Shooting every week, and most teams will want weekly and end of year hi light videos, so its a lot of work and not something you will be wanting to do for free.

Once you have that gig, you can then approach the parents and sell them on hiring you to do recruiting videos of there kid. You already have footage of there kid, and you tack on some interviews with the kid and coach, throw in a section on stats on the DVD, etc.

From there you would need to get hired on with a local TV station and start shooting bits of local sports for the nightly news. Then if you are extremely lucky you may land a job shooting the NBA.

And remember while you may love sports, you are there to WORK not to enjoy the game. Its your job to film the game, get cut away shots of the sidelines, crowd, refs, etc etc.

There are no "technical solutions" to your "artistic problems".
Don't let technology get in the way of your creativity!

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Beau BrothertonRe: How to break into shooting sports?
by on Jun 3, 2008 at 3:50:45 pm

Awesome, thanks guys for all of your advise.

Beau Brotherton
Macbook Pro 2.4GHz, Intel Core 2Duo, 4GB

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Jay CurtisRe: How to break into shooting sports?
by on Jun 23, 2008 at 10:34:19 pm

You should do all of those things above to get as familiar as possible with the sports you're interested in covering. Watch televised sporting events with an eye for camera placement and number. Then...

Get in touch with the sports information departments of some colleges and universities there in the Houston area. You can find out which of them have televised games from their websites. Tell the sports information office you're interested as working as a utility for the next televised game for their school.

The sports networks often require that the host school provide (and pay) utilities, or grips, for the hand-held camera operators working for the network. That means they hire locally.

You could also show up early (really early -- crews arrive as early as 6 or 7 hours or more before a game) and volunteer to work as an extra utility for free.

Be prepared, though. The Utility is the cable-puller and gear-toting grunt of the mobile sports production world. It's hard and often hot work. Once you're there, though, if you do a good job, it will get back to the sports information people, and they'll call you again.

Here's where it gets interesting. As you work closely with the hand-held operators, do some power networking. If you're good, you'll get recommendations on other games. Eventually, one or two things will happen; either you'll work a game where a camera operator doesn't show and they're in a bind -- you'll be able to volunteer your services, with the blessings of the other established camera operators. Alternatively, one of the camera ops you've befriended will recommend you the next time a crewer calls them for a game.

Good luck!


Jay Curtis

Blue Vase Productions

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