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Freelance shooting for local cable company

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JayoFreelance shooting for local cable company
by on Sep 12, 2005 at 4:57:31 pm

I have an offer to shoot local commercials for a local cable company. It will be a temp job till they find a permanent shooter. Have any of you done this? I would like to hear any stories (good or bad) as well as any tips as to handle this.

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BConoverRe: Freelance shooting for local cable company
by on Sep 14, 2005 at 9:27:16 pm

Having formerly been the Production Manager for a large cable advertising department(I am now freelance with my own small, but full-service production company)here's my 2 cents:

If you are using your own gear, just charge them your normal hourly shooting rate or work it out so that you can shoot multiple clients in one day and charge them a package price. Make sure that they provide or pay for tape stock!

If you are using their gear, they will try to get you for as little as possible, so make sure that you are charging them enough to cover costs. See if you can get them to pay you a decent hourly rate + mileage since in many cable markets the businesses can be spread out pretty far. It was very common to travel 100+ miles round-trip for 1 commercial! That will eat you alive if you're not getting some compensation for mileage.

Make sure to work out payment details in advance(i.e. how long you are willing to wait to be paid). Most will be 30 days, but they like to keep their money in the bank, if you know what I mean. I did do some work and some equipment rental for my former employer and I believe the longest they ever went was 45 days.

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JayoRe: Freelance shooting for local cable company
by on Sep 14, 2005 at 11:36:29 pm

Thanks for the info. They are going to supply the gear and it will be a temp situation till they fill the position. They do want some travel. They said they would pay 41 cents per mile. I havent really had this kind of situation before, but thought that was a little low. Whats your thoughts? good lookin reel by they way. I am starting to use a green screen and seen you had some great looking chroma shots. Any tips on that topic?

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BConoverRe: Freelance shooting for local cable company
by on Sep 15, 2005 at 12:15:31 am

Thanks, on the reel. I've got some 35mm spots that I did recently that need to be added.
.41 is probably pretty good for mileage. I know a local grip truck/support company that charges .40 per mile.

The chroma key effects on my demo were done with Serious Magic Ultra. It works great! I've pulled off a couple of keys through Premiere Pro and After Effects that look pretty good too.

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JayoRe: Freelance shooting for local cable company
by on Sep 15, 2005 at 3:30:54 pm

Im a mac guy and was considering buying a pc to use serious magic with. Its pretty easy? All the footage I shoot is 3 chip on minidv so its a little tricky to get a good key. If ya get a chance check out my site
OOOhh yeah thanks for the info about the milage. Any tips on marketing you could share with a greenhorn? I joined the local chamber and will be part of that. I am considering doing a bulk mailer to chamber members. I really wanna target local marketing and advertising agencies, but am not sure of my approach yet.

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BConoverRe: Freelance shooting for local cable company
by on Sep 15, 2005 at 8:27:24 pm

Ultra is very easy to use.

I'll look at your site when I get a little more time!

As far as marketing, the chamber is a great idea . . . I have found that making contacts and satifying your clients will get more business than most direct mailings. Direct mail tends to get trashed if there's not something about it that makes it stand out, that's why credit card companies, lenders and sweepstakes mail always say official notice, don't throw this away!, etc. So unless you come up with some creative, out-of-the-box way to keep someone from throwing away you card, letter or cd/dvd demo, the return on direct mail may not be sufficient to justify the cost. Think about it . . . it's not even uncommon these days to get cd/dvd junk mail these days.

I would try an email campaign with your current contact list and the list of businesses that should be available through your chamber membership. You will probably come across at least a few people who have considered your type of service.

I get a lot of business from clients passing my name around and from those contacts that I had from my cable days. I still do business for the account executives that I had then, especially when they need something beyond the capabilities of their current production staff.

Good luck and keep getting your name out there.

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TimRe: Freelance shooting for local cable company
by on Sep 16, 2005 at 12:28:35 pm

As far as the chamber...rather than a local chamber offers an auto emailing alternative. See if they have that for you...I have had more luck with that...more possibility of them reading it if it comes via a Chamber email notice if they are serious chamber members.

Tim Baker
Chameleon Mobile Video Productions
"It is not the light at the end of the tunnel that we should is the courage to take the next step in the dark that we must find."

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Richard ScottRe: Freelance shooting for local cable company
by on Sep 17, 2005 at 2:55:53 pm

This is probably more information than you need and certainly more than you asked for but I thought it might help.

I used to work for a cable production facility in central Florida and my brother managed one in south Florida, we did this type work for years. Later I worked at a turnkey house in Virginia where we serviced the local cable companies and broadcast networks with "spot packages". It was generally back breaking run and gun style shooting and simple edits. If memory serves we alloted 2 hrs for editing, 2 hrs for shooting, a needle drop of music, voice over and charged extra for milage and tape stock for this they were charged a flat rate. The broadcast network was charged a little more than the cable companies, I can't remember why. The flat rate was helpful to the ad sales folks who could include it in a packaged rate including the media buy.

With the shooting package they usually got a single man crew with a BetaSP camera, tripod, light kit, wireless mic and monitor. Editing was whatever they could get done in 2 hours. Occasionally, clients wanted something more fancy like a bigger lighting package, larger crew or more editing time. These overages were calculated and added to the "spot package" rate at either a prenegotiated rate or rate card rates.

I don't know if any of this has helped. Feel free to email me if you have any questions.

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