Olympian Equestrian clinic, pay per DVD only method?
I have been asked to shoot a local, two-day horseback riding clinic taught by a famous equestrian Olympian this weekend. The woman who owns the riding farm cannot pay me anything upfront and expects me to be compensated solely on DVD sales to her clinic participants. She assumes most of them will want a copy, but it seems like a risk on my part, considering there are only 18 participants so I asked her to call her students to find out who would definitely want to purchase a DVD. A friend of mine who was originally going to do the job was going to charge $30 per day per DVD so the DVDs would cost each person $60. The clinic hostess has photographers come to shoot at horse shows and they don't ask expect a day rate, they just make money from their photo sales to the participants after the show, and such a photographer will be working at this particular clinic. I've never been offered a gig like this, so I would love anyone's honest, serious input. It's a one-camera shoot, mostly static wide shots.
In what area of the country are you shooting?
I've shot plenty of equestrian events over the past few years, with a few thousand riders in total, and all have been "on speculation"; sometimes I've made money, and sometimes I've barely broken even. I've shot barrel racing, gymkhana, hunter/jumper, and western. Believe it or not, I've been most successful with barrel racing.
With all that, I've shot only competitions, never a clinic.
Unfortunately, simply inquiring of the participants beforehand bears no commitment on their part; they could say yes today, then either change their mind, or place an order then not pay once you've done all the work.
Despite the pitfalls, it seems you're most interested in a fair price to charge. Speaking for myself, that would depend on how elaborate you want to make the production. Ultimately, it's something only you can decide.
Since it's a clinic, and not private lessons or a competition, do you plan to mic the instructor so participants would be able to recall/watch repeatedly/hear what they're being taught/shown?
Will the instructor agree to that?
Does the instructor expect payment/some cut of sales for that? Some do. (Remember, the instructor is imparting hard-gained knowledge for which the participants are paying, and, once it's been recorded, could be duplicated and distributed by them, thus making future clinics less likely/necessary).
If the instructor realizes that recording the clinic could cut into his/her sales of future clinics, they may not allow it, or at least lodge a protest with the venue owner or clinic producer. It all depends on how "picky" the instructor is.
All but 1 of the venues I've shot at have let me in without having to pay a fee. That 1 venue wanted $ 150 just to shoot, and there was no guarantee I'd make any sales at all.
When I have an assistant (normally my spouse or daughter) for equestrian events, here's what I normally do:
- I record each rider as a separate HD clip.
- once a number of riders has finished, I hand the card with the raw footage to my assistant, who downloads them into a laptop.
- I continue shooting the next group of riders on another card, while my assistant has the past few rides available for viewing on the laptop.
I charge a small amount (maybe $ 3-5) for riders to view their footage a few times from the laptop. It they also want a personalized DVD, I take their order, with name, address, horse's name, phone, etc. and at least a $ 10 deposit. (Most customers pay in full when they place their order).
- Once home, I edit the footage for each order, watermark it, add text panels, then upload it to my own web site so the customer can preview the footage for their order. (See samples here: http://www.adhocvideo.com/equine/DVDs
- Once I receive the balance of payment (if any) and confirmation that names, spelling, other details are correct, I build the necessary menu(s), then burn, print, and mail the DVD.
For a barrel racing ride, which requires maybe 30 seconds of recording time, I provide 4 separate views of each ride, 2 of which are in slow-mo.
Lately I've found that more people are asking for the digital file rather than a DVD. I've only filled a few of those orders, but it seems to be the trend, as it allows viewing in HD, while a DVD does not. I have to develop a simpler workflow for that, one that will allow me to add a watermark quickly. I expect to have that in place within the next few weeks for future shows.
I know this is a long reply, but hoped to provide some ideas for you.
Thank you so much for your detailed response! Unfortunately I'm a little behind in my technology right now, I haven't had the ability to upgrade to tapeless media, I'm still working with (gasp!) HDV tapes and I don't have a laptop that can run editing software, still working with a desktop Mac Pro running FCP2. My husband has a Dell laptop but I've never experiemented with doing playback by plugging my camera directly into it, assuming I would need a PC editing software to do so. I haven't been working much since becoming a stay-at-home-mom, hopefully at some point I'll be able to upgrade all of my gear. I thought of having the participants interested in buying a DVD to prepay through Paypal, but now I wonder if anyone would actually be willing to do that. You made a good point about the instructor, I do plan on putting a wireless lav mic on him and running an on-camera shotgun mic on a separate channel as back-up. I will check with the event hostess to confirm he knows about the videography and doesn't have any issue with it or expect a "cut" in sales.
Mary Productions LLC
Almost forgot, I'm in the Northern Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, near Winchester, about 40 minutes from Middleburg and an hour and a half west of Washington DC.
Mary Productions LLC
Denis has given you pretty much a "clinic" on how to execute such a project.
I can't add much to that, except to say that you must remind yourself that you are not a bank: you should not take on debt on behalf of a "maybe" promise from a client or customers.
For things like school recitals, where all the demand is there on the day of, and little demand weeks later, there's a good chance one or two will buy a DVD from you, and then one of their kids will pirate it and sell/give it away to all the other parents. So you want to get all your orders in with a down-payment or full pre-pay UP FRONT. No money = you don't roll. Sounds cruel, but the alternative is losing money. If at all possible, make the job of pre-selling, somebody ELSE's job.
Another idea is to not bother trying to get paid orders, but instead, to get someone to sponsor the entire project and then you put their advertising in with the programming, and GIVE the things away. There are a lot of manufacturers and suppliers involved with anything to do with horses, and then also peripheral things like branded clothing and boots. So, If I was doing this kind of thing, I'd go find a sponsor like Wrangler or Purina or something, get paid by them, up-front, and then execute the project without worries.
You added a lot of helpful advice, Mark -- thank you. Yes I am definitely going to ask for money upfront. Love the suggestion of a sponsorship, if another job like this comes my way I'll definitely posit the idea to the organization to help me connect with a sponsor. I'll just have to sell the DVDs myself since the shoot is tomorrow morning and I accepted the job primarily to help out a friend and get my foot in the door for an entirely new shooting genre I've not worked in before. The instructor is apparently a "rock star" in the horse world and a really nice guy, so hopefully many of the people will want the DVD as a teaching tool/review. Thanks all!
Mary Productions LLC
Offer a lower price for same-day pre-pay and a significant price bump if they order later. get one of those little credit card readers for the iphone and take their money on the spot.
So? How did it go?
It went pretty well -- challenging to get everything with one camera, especially the cross-country portion of it, but I managed. Almost every participant pre-ordered a DVD, I gave them the choice between ordering just day 1 or day two or both for a $10 discount. I brought order slips for everyone to fill out.
On the technical side, the wireless mic almost ruined the shoot. Despite my best efforts, it kept brushing against the instructor's shirt and the wind noise was terrible even with a windscreen, but then about halfway through the first lesson the organizers brought in a handheld wireless mic and loudspeaker so the auditors could hear him too. I was able to turn off the lav mic and just pick up the loudspeaker which was very good quality.
Thanks again everyone for the tips!
Mary Productions LLC