Jumping into the corporate video arena
Hey guys, I primarily offer wedding videography and would really like to get into corporate video. The closest metro area is about 85-90 miles away, which is not a problem because I do a lot of weddings there anyway. My question is how should I go about breaking into this market? I get a lot of wedding business from online ads and referrals from previous clients, but what about corporate video? I
Tongue in cheek answer: make a wedding video for the CEO's daughter.
My real answer, you're not going to like.
Wedding clients don't mind that you do corporate; it makes you look more experienced. But corporate clients don't have much respect for wedding shooters or even the more PC term, Event Videographers.
When you say corporate, I take that to mean marketing and sales videos, training videos, even commercial spots and web communications. These are all things that require producing, directing, and scripting, whereas (and speaking in generalizations mind you, and not looking to insult the wedding/event guys) the Event video stuff is essentially nonscripted documentation of an event, with some possible improvement imposed thru post-production later. Wedding stuff is "just" shooting, is the perception. Bottom line is they are different skill sets even though they have some things in common. If you want to be taken seriously for corporate work, you'll need a better demo than your last wedding video. You might say "good camerawork is good camerawork regardless of the subject matter" and you would be right, but that argument does not impress the great unwashed, just us industry people. No, you have to look like what they expect and have exmples that are what the client expects. Just as you would not show up to a corporate job interview in a t-shirt and cutoffs but rather in a suit, even if the daily dress code there is casual.
Even if all you want are shooting gigs with the producing, writing and editing left to someone else. I'll tell you that those kinds of gigs are reserved for the rarefied air of very big budgets, and the great bulk of corporate work is done by multi-tasking generalists who must handle some or all the functions, not just the camera.
I would say if you want to break into the corporate biz, try to get hired by an established corporate producer on a freelance basis as a shooter first. I found in the beginnings of my career that making contacts thru the broadcast rental houses was one way to find such gigs. Create some short sample demos of marketing videos or Annual Report Summaries for fictitious companies, or do some documentary type work for a charity subject, preferably a charity beloved by the CEO of the company you want to work for. You could use this as a way to get your foot in the door and even if nothing else comes from it, you will have done some good for someone.
Corporate work, especially for training, requires a lot of demonstrated skill in scripting and production, as well as the ability to work and coordinate with a large number of crew and client contacts. If you think it's just shooting run-and-gun what a guy from the sales department points to with a post-production voiceover, you're thinking too narrow.
Finally, forget this "free for the experience" cr@p. You're never going to succeed in business doing it for free, and you're opening yourself up to get ripped off. Would you let some unproven guy work unsupervised on the brakes of your family car free "for the experience"?
If you do the work, it's worth getting paid for it, that's a concept so old it is in the bible. If you want to somehow sweeten the deal to make it easier to hire you and give you a try, suggest something else like free re-dos if they don't like the master, or offer a 2-step payment plan where you get part up front and part on approval... But I'll tell you: no company exec is going to respect you unless you bill like you are a serious professional.
I dont neseserily agree with the other guy that you should not do any work for free. It could defenatly get you some thing to show others so that they will hire you. Try asking friends if there company could use a training video of commercial. But I woould at least contact a production company that already douse corperite work and ask if yoou could elp out on a shoot or to to see how things work because produsing from a script is vary differnt then doing a weding.
Also practise wrighting soome scripts, wrighting a good one is a lot harder then most people think. Get a hold of some scripts and read them. Learn proper script format.
"If you do the work, it's worth getting paid for it, that's a concept so old it is in the bible. " What a fantastic line! Think I'll have that written in stone tablets. Excellent way to put it Mark.
I would disagree with Mark on one point - sartorial. I find all of the corporations I work with (and many are Fortune 100) EXPECT to have the "artists" dress.... "artistically", that is, good looking, clean, fashionable, but not suit n' tie. No complaints from me!
Ummm... as for zrb's comments, well, if you wright a script as pourley as he wrights his comennts, your in truble. (I pray there aren't too many out there with those writing skills passing themselves off as "professionals"... whew.)
Also, Mark's idea about shooting for a producer is excellent. Sometimes the production could use a 2nd shooter, but the budget won't support a "regular pro rate" - this could be your entry. Offer your shooting experience at a discount in order to get in the door. Put together a reel of your best camerawork. Be nice, be honest, be flexible. The other BIG (huge, that is) advantage this approach will offer you is the opportunity to see how an established team works this kind of shoot. Many differences from event shooting, some of which you wouldn't want to have to figure out on the spot.
One problem you might face is if they want you to use a camera/format you're not familiar with. Offer to become familiar before the shoot. If they own it, ask to come in days before the shoot & learn it. If they rent, ask the rental house if you can come in and spend some time with it when it's not out on rental.
Bob I in know way try to pass myself self off as a profesonal wrighter. I simply said that it is somthing that he should work on if he wants to do it.
As for your unkind and unneeded comments about me that alone speeks for how profesonal you are.
Zrb, everybody makes typos now and again, heck, I do, but he has a point in that if English is your first language, making that nunber of mistakes in a simple post makes people discount what skills and knowledge you have to offer. The "Preview Post" button is offered for a reason.
It may not be fair, but folks judge you online based on how articulate your expression is; on how you say it, not just what you say.
We have hassled people here at the COW in the past who post in "L33tsP33k"; ("leet-speak") the alphanumeric argot/slang of people (mostly teens) who text-message and IM each other via phone a lot, using nonstandard abbreviations and spellings to save time and thumbs. The consensus appears to be that such code-talking is inapropriate in a general forum like this.
If English is not your main language, my apologies, I'm sure I could not do even as well as you if I was trying to post in Spanish or German or whatever.
But it IS an issue: speak online like an eighth grader, get treated as one. That's just how life is, nothing personal.
To try to get this back on topic, one tip I would offer for pursuing corporate work is not to post letters of inquiry or resume cover letter in Leet-speak, unless the job was working for a game company or cellphone store. And I would err on the conservative side of sartorial selection; dressing below your age just looks lame:-)
If you do work for free make sure you send the client an invoice showing your full rates and discount. This way they may have some idea of the value they received.
Couple of words of advice from the other side of the fence (I'm employed as an editor/producer/shooter for a large corporation).
Professional attitude. Mass mailing (either letters or email) propaganda promoting your video skills is likely to be overlooked and thrown in the trash...we get hundreds of offers from around the country for various services 99% are circular filed or used to clean up spilt coffee. A professional call to the business and stating who you are and that you would like set up an appointment to meet with a member of their company that deals with video to present your services. If you're turned down or don't hear back, try again in a few months...DO NOT call everyday! If you are able to set up an appointment, make sure that you arrive promptly (5-10 minutes early at most). If you run late, forget it, you'll most likely have lost the chance and business. Do a "drive by" the day before at approximately the same time as the appointment so that you can judge how much time you'll need to arrive on time.
Bring a good reel. Have a version you can play on a computer to show and bring a copy on DVD for the client to look at a later time. If you don't have a reel with corporate video work, spend some time to make one. It's not uncommon for people trying to get into that business to make fake commercials, mock interviews, training videos, etc... Just get a few friends together and make some stuff up. As you start to get actual work you can start replacing the fake with the real. It's not to prove who you've done work for but rather can you do the kind of work and the quality of work that the client wants.
Make sure you're using pro equipment. Most corporate work we farm out to local shooters and post houses is shot on beta, digibeta or HD and the occasional DVcam shot on ENG style 3 chip cameras. Get a good set of lav mics, a good 3 point lighting kit for interviews. Probably at least 80% of our work ends up being talking heads and interviews, learn how to shoot them well.
Last post was a good bit of advice. I've been involved in "corporate video" since 1983! Take it from me- it's all about networking! Build your skills with your wedding business and MEET PEOPLE! I can trace all of my clients over the years to a few key people I made strong relationships with. Word of mouth is everything. Yellow Pages- 20 years of wasted money. Flyer and mailers- .05% response at best. Cold Calls- bigggg waste of time- nobody wants to talk to you.
Market yourself at every wedding you do. Be professional and people will come to you! Have a great looking "business like" business card to hand them when they do.
NEVER work for free or for cheap. And lastly- my corporate clients don't understand why I don't do weddings! They always think I do. Wedding video is a respectable venue- when it's done professionally!
Good Luck and GO MEET PEOPLE!