What are your thoughts on being a Preditor?
Hi Guys -
After a year of lurking, I'm finally making a post! This site is the bomb and has saved my butt numerous times, and I think you're all amazing.
Here we go...
I wanted to know what your thoughts are on the "Preditor" trend that has been going around the past few years. At first when I heard the term, I thought it sounded super cool, and that it labelled me for my strengths.
However after about two years of actively working as a Preditor, I kind of think it SUCKS! What's happened is, employers, try and combine the producing and the editing, but want it done in 1/2 the time and for less than half the budget.
So I find myself in these predicaments where I wind up doing a lot of work, for a low rate with a very short turnaround. And when I explain to my employers that I'm doing TWO jobs, they don't seem to understand that.
I guess that's what I get for being a control freak.
I made more money before when I did just one of those jobs at a time. Both positions have attributes that overlap. I'm thinking of going back to just going after one or the other.
People used to tell me that I have an "edge" over other producers because I can cut. I don't see how it's benefiting me, though.
Welcome into the sunlight Rebecca, no need to lurk in the shadows.
All that you have said is quite true. Taking on multiple responsibilities guarantees nothing but longer hours and more responsibility. Seldom is there more money or any more glory. I much prefer wearing one hat whenever I can, but that is a rarity nowadays, and more is expected of most of us.
Meanwhile, I believe "preditors" who can really write well tend to get noticed more. So, take the time to polish your words and make them really shine, and I think you'll find greater reward.
David Roth Weiss
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™
A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, Indie Film & Documentary, and Film History & Appreciations forums.
I thought that post was going to conclude with..."and I didn't have a contract."
In other words, being a preditor is a situation that can lead to being taken advantage of, if your compensation does not keep up with your responsibilities. Look out for numero uno - yourself. David is spot on, make your skills highly refined and you will eventually earn your keep.
I guess I am a preditographectmanager.
There was a study released a couple of weeks ago which said that people who habitually multitask are not good at any of the things they do, that they do everything poorly. (Since that came out, I've been pushing back at the guy I work for, asking him which things should be done badly, or which thing was worth missing the other deadlines for.)
I think the "preditor" concept is promoted by people who don't particularly care about the quality, only that they get to bill top dollar for underpaying someone else.
If you have an opportunity to either edit or produce at a higher rate, then do that.
To continue to work 2x as hard for 1/2 the pay is to endorse the concept that working 2x as hard is worth only 1/2 as much. You're also endorsing the concept that your work only deserves 1/2 the value, 1/2 the attention and 1/2 the quality.
If you can command a better price from clients who value the quality, care and effort you put into your work, then I don't see what the question is.
Post production is not an afterthought!
I am a one-man-band and I enjoy the variety of doing a lot of different things. I write, shoot, direct, edit, design, etc... While I can't compete with the best in any one of those categories, I am actually good at all of those things.
Video production... with style!
"There was a study released a couple of weeks ago which said that people who habitually multitask are not good at any of the things they do, that they do everything poorly. "
That study was reffering to real multi-tasking; talking on the phone while doing homework with the TV on. That's not the same as sometimes wearing the editor hot and sometimes wearing a producer hat.
I find that doing both (I also shoot) makes me better at both.
[Rebecca Gillaspie] "People used to tell me that I have an "edge" over other producers because I can cut. I don't see how it's benefiting me, though.
I teach many Producers how to edit because it's good for them to:
1 - Understand how the editing process really works, especially when they see how many shots they could have gotten while in the field, but neglected because they felt they "didn't need them" or "didn't have the time."
2 - Allow them to do as many rough cuts as they want without having to pay me.
Then they bring their cuts to us to tweak, finish, add graphics, music, mix, etc....
I've been a "Preditor" for about 10 years now and it's great in the sense that I can do everything if needed and I have learned how to schedule / budget shoots to the point of designing my original programming. But to do it full time would result in me spending more time for less work than I do now. I have three editors working with me, about to expand our facility by almost four fold and will probably stop editing in the very near future to step back to manage the productions and serve as an assistant producer / post supervisor for most projects. Colorist is the role I'll step into the most since I'll be able to do just step in and work a few days at a time instead of the 8 months I'm investing now on a documentary.
So do what you do best and hire really REALLY good people to work with you. It takes longer to earn more money, but it's been a real steady and slow rise in income for us over 9 years and it looks like 2010 is just going to be insane. Most folks seems to be struggling these past two years, but we're still on a steady track upwards.
Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author.
Credits include multiple Emmy, Telly, Aurora and Peabody Awards.
Owner, Biscardi Creative Media featuring HD Post
Biscardi Creative Media
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Apple Final Cut Pro, Apple Motion, Apple Color, AJA Kona, Business & Marketing, Maxx Digital.
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"I've been a "Preditor" for about 10 years now and it's great in the sense that I can do everything if needed..."
That's how I operated best in the past. When I'm at a production company, I use my skills mainly to be able to communicate with people in their language and step in the edit bay only as needed. (Meaning there's a time crunch, or the editor just isn't delivering what I want.
In that sense I do have an edge. But knowing how to do several things and actually trying to do them all are different realities.
I have to quit wasting my time on low budget crap where I work twice as much to make my rate, so I can be in a position where I can hire the right people to crank quality material out in an efficient matter. It'll take a little patience on my end, because I may not bring as much money in at first, but the way I'm working right now is not sustainable.
Preditor is what you call yourself when you're an editor who makes lots of editorial decisions and occasionally bangs out a script. If you're a producer who edits occasionally, you still call yourself a producer, because there's little value in letting your clients know you do the technical work, too (they anticipate technical screwups).
Some producers that edit have developed lucrative business billing for editor, machine, and producer time - and doing everything themselves on their own equipment - OR - they take an entire project's budget and 'get er done' all by themselves. There's a market for people who can do both jobs well, but it should only be done at double day rate, minimum.
Fancy word for being taken advantage of.
Kind of like "intern" :D
It's great to be good at more than one skill, but you have to be compensated for it. Also in notoriety terms, being called The Producer and/or The Editor is WAY more impressive. Preditor is just kind of an industry buzz word right now.
I dislike the "Preditor" term, I think it's a litle too cutesey and ambiguous to outside people. I would have to constantly explain why Chris Hansen really doesn't want me to "have a seat over there".
I guess I'm lucky. In my job, I'm nominally a producer, but I do every function, either alone or in teams with others just like me. I do any and all the functions that need doing: I can write, produce, direct, edit, animate, Foley, make music, voice narrations, a little bit of compositing... and I like it like this.
The things I do most often are shoot and edit and direct, and I LOVE it that I get to wear that tri-corner hat, because I KNOW that Me as the shooter won't stop until Me the Editor thinks there's enough material to cut with, and Me the Director doesn't have to guess what the other two voices in my head have done or how they plan to do something, and if that approach fits in with the overall plan. Cuts down on meeting a lot when you just have them in your own skull.:-)
So for me it is more of an artisanal approach than that of a technician on an assembly line. I love the variety and would be unhappy doing just one narrowly-defined function every day, in and out. I'd get awful good at it... until I eventually quit. Or just got too bored to care.
Now, do I get paid as if I'm three or more distinct people? No, not here; I'm salaried, and I get paid the same no matter what I'm doing or not doing. It would be very hard to put every function I do on it's own time clock and punch-in and out as I change functions. I don't live like that.
"Mark Suszko - Now, do I get paid as if I'm three or more distinct people? No, not here; I'm salaried, and I get paid the same no matter what I'm doing or not doing. It would be very hard to put every function I do on it's own time clock and punch-in and out as I change functions. I don't live like that."
I don't really expect to be paid twice as much. It's more a time thing. You can't expect the producing and editing to get done in 1/2 the time. It's impossible.
Here's my world. I get a bunch of stuff handed to me on a hard drive. Maybe a five minute overview of what they want, a "Go get em' Tiger" speech, followed by "Thanks so much, you're amazing." I'm expected to produce, cut and online a finished piece, with let's say 3-5 hours of media for a polished 10 minute piece within 3 days. No transcripts, no script, no direction, you get the idea. Sometimes, I even have to add in research time to acquire stock footage.
Because I'm not involved in the front end, I'm not there to see to it that I get what I need for post, so I have to make due with what's there, which is probably more time consuming then if I had been involved in pre-prod in the first place.
A large part of this is my fault for underbidding and acting like an over eager puppy dog in the first place. I established a very bad precedence working 80 hours a week with a smile on my face to get a steady client in a rough economy, and am pretty much burnt out. By the time I started speaking out it was too late. I can't tell them they can't have what they want. They don't see why not, they got it before, they know I"m capable.
I don't really think there's anything I can do, but suck it up till something better comes along and NEVER put myself in a lousy position for peanuts again.
Basically the point of this post and what I'm getting at, is that if you're wearing multiple hats, you have to budget accordingly based on what it takes to complete each task. Even if it's the same person doing several of them.
I think it just depends on the shop you are in. Some shops are very sectioned off: editor, producer, director, graphics, etc.
Other shops you do multiple tasks: edit and graphics, direct and shoot, shoot and edit.
But some places do try to take advantage or just don't know what's industry standard. For example, i saw an add in the paper for a local college looking for a person to Direct, Edit, Shoot, Produce all media for them. And guess what they were paying!! 40,000!! what a rip! First I thought, those types of people are rare to find (all skills) and when you do, you're only paying them just above an Edit II salary!
So, just depends on the company you work for and what "you" want to do. If you don't like it, try and find another job where you only edit. or produce, which you prefer.
Personally, I think its a valuable skill that you have learned as a Preditor. When i was coming up through the ranks, I learned everything. I can edit, shoot, direct, produce, create websites, compress for the web, design print ads, etc. And so I started my own business because "I" can do all those things and get paid what I am worth.
With your skills you can do way more with a project than just an editor. I say take those skills and start doing freelance on the side and slowly start your own business. You already know how to find clients and edit videos for them, so now get paid what "you're worth!"
Plus More Media Group
Website Design - VA, Corporate Web Site Design - PlusMoreMedia.com
Marketing designs and videos that do more for your business!
As budgets tighten, we really are only hurting ourselves as editors if we allow revenue to be waisted. I see that a lot when introducing a freelance producer to the mix. I still make the show. They bill by the day for running errands or updating their facebook page. If I can save hiring intities money, that is in my best intrest in the long run.
For many years, it was always more profitable to be a specialist than a jack of all trades. That has changed becuase a preditor IS a specialist. Truth is, if I couldn't do one-man-band turn-key productions, I'd be stuck in a salary cap. I can tell you, I'd not hire me as a staff editor because I require too much money, have a life and too much of an opinion. I WOULD, however, hire me to handle a project A-Z for one flat price. That's my strength. If it's yours, girl ride that wave like a stoner in a storm.
I've always believed the more skills you learn, the better you're going to get and eventually be at video/film production.
Like Walter said, the more you understand about the various roles involved in production, the better equipped you are to build projects. Whether you're doing rough cuts, writing rough scripts or finishing everything yourself, I believe you can never have too many skills. You might be underpaid now, but what you're learning will eventually pay off.
I'll preface this by saying I am NOT trying to toot my own horn but am making a point. Over the last 25 years I've worked professionally as a writer/producer, shooter/editor, Creative Cirector (where I taught myself Photoshop and 3D animation), Graphic Artist (where I taught myself After Effects and Digital Fusion), Promotions Director, and Director.
Just this month I had to design and edit a spot for a bank completely in After Effects. I hadn't worked in AE for literally months. But I dove in again and got it done. Here's the spot, which matched the clients overall campaign in terms of the graphic design.
I also edit a LOT of narration, dialogue and music and have become a pretty good sound editor, primarily because I felt like it was an area where our company needed improvement. All I did was subscibe to Sound Editing forums, read "how to" articles online (Jay Rose has a ton of great ones http://www.dplay.com/tutorial/column.html ), ask a lot of questions, and most importantly, experiment in sound editing programs and in our NLE.
So learn all you can, become good at all the things you can. It will help you somewhere, somehow in your professional career.
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Editors have always really been Preditors. Remember the old want ad's for an editor "We don't just want a button pusher". The best editors have always been preditors.
As technology has gotten cheaper it is the industry that has changed. Good enough has become the norm. If you can run the software you are an editor, but I need graphics and a script to. Yea can you do that great. Ohhhhh we can't afford to pay you more there is no money in the budget for that. Everyone wants more for less. The more we let ourselves get into that the worse the industry will get.
It is rare we find someone that can really do more than one job well. If you are that person make sure you get compensated for it. It is hard to get an employer to see your real value, but it is your job to sell it to them.
Long Live Da Cow!
Really nice ad, Chris.
Video production... with style!
Where I work I acted as a "preditor" for a about a year on my own volition; I wanted to produce so I just satrted doing it. After about a year I was officially changed to a Producer/Editor and was put into a different pay scale because of that.
I like doing both and I like editing my own projects; it goes a lot quicker and I can get out of the edit suite and into the field for a shoot once in a while.
Let's look at it from a Union perspective for a moment. As a union editor, if I don't have a producer to produce the piece, then I also get paid a producer fee. On the other hand the producer's union allows them to produce and edit, but they only get paid for their producer job. Plus in most cases, not all but most as a network producer how much time do you have to edit when you are setting up live shots/interviews, writing scripts and trying to get approval from NY? On top of that dealing with your correspondent to?
I am an editor, that produces in conjunction with the producer, but I also do after effects, photoshop, audio mixing, and oh by the way make sure that the levels are correct before my piece hits the air.
There was a job posting not to long ago for a medical school that dealt strictly with the heart and they wanted a shooter, editor, writer, maintenance tech and PR person for one job. Let me get this straight, you want one person to do how many jobs? Oh, but wait your college deals with the heart, not the brain or the feet or the GI tract, but the heart. Many of these companies don't have a clue of what they are asking for, all they have is a salary number and a job description that someone handed them.
So, more power to the people that want to be all things to all people and not get paid.
J. Grote, Jr.