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This year’s recession?

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Bruce Bennett
This year’s recession?
on Jan 12, 2010 at 2:21:02 am

It’s been awhile since I’ve started a post on the COW, and thought this would create some great discussion. I’m amazed at last year and this year's recession period – the rollercoaster is very exiting to me. The ups and downs are equally thrilling. How is this 2010 recession going to be different than last year’s 2009 recession?

Bruce Bennett
Bennett Marketing & Media Production, LLC

Creative Inspiration
Documentaries for those who love to create … and to be inspired.




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walter biscardi
Re: This year’s recession?
on Jan 12, 2010 at 2:32:52 am

I've taken advantage of the current market situation to expand my business from our current 1,000 square foot digs to a potential 8,000 square foot space. Was only planning to build a 5,000 square foot facility, but we're buying this bigger one for the exact same cost because, you guessed it, they had to get rid of the building at a fire sale.

Our work is going to increase in some areas and decrease in others. Just like every year. But the overall picture is still for increased growth. I think it still might be a tough year for those who rely heavily on corporate work, but we have very very few of those anymore. The bulk of our work these days is episodic television and feature documentaries. I don't want to say they're recession proof because that would be wrong, but they don't seem to be hit nearly as hard as corporate type of work, which is always the first thing cut when folks need to save money.

One thing's for sure, Vegas is MUCH cheaper this year than it was when I went to NAB three years ago.....

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

"Foul Water, Fiery Serpent" now in Post.

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Ron Lindeboom
Re: This year’s recession?
on Jan 12, 2010 at 3:28:02 am

Well, it isn't a recession, it is more a global leveling of the playing field that is going on.

Ron Lindeboom


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Bob Zelin
Re: This year’s recession?
on Jan 12, 2010 at 3:31:53 am

Hi Bruce -
thrilling is an accurate description, so is roller coaster. I went from feeling like I was going out of business, to getting major opportunities that I never dreamed possible for me. Mostly, I feel sick to my stomach (hence the roller coaster) - good or bad (or both), it's hard to handle the emotions of it.

Michael Horton at LAFCPUG said that all freelances are constantly unemployed, hence immune to the recession. I guess this is true, but 2008 - 2009 have been wacky years - both good and bad at almost the same time. It is certainly a time of opportunity for many people, while others will sink and die. Very un nerving.
I can assure you that the management of Creative Cow must be feeling the same thing - watching all their competitiors die, as they expand and thrive. I am sure, somewhere in the back of their throats, they are probably nervous too.

Bob Zelin




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Ron Lindeboom
Re: This year’s recession?
on Jan 12, 2010 at 3:49:36 am

[Bob Zelin] "It is certainly a time of opportunity for many people, while others will sink and die. Very un nerving. I can assure you that the management of Creative Cow must be feeling the same thing - watching all their competitiors die, as they expand and thrive. I am sure, somewhere in the back of their throats, they are probably nervous too."


No, that is not what we are feeling, Bob. What we are feeling is the radical pace of change that is happening as we ride the crest of the wave that is current, but as in surfing, trying to forecast where the next "set" will be coming in, so we can jump that wave, too.

We do not for a second believe that this is a recession. We believe that it is a complete and radical resetting of the clock, the world economy, a leveling of playing fields, a redistribution of wealth without the propensity in the past to favor America -- if anything, we see it not favoring America any longer.

Calling this a recession would be like saying that Heath Ledger had a reaction to pills, or that John Lennon suffered a reaction to lead poisoning.

Business as usual is dead. Thinking strategically based on what is happening today is the only way to grow and survive in these radically shifting and chaotic times.

While we are not nervous about it, we are having strategy meetings every day. That is what smart businesses are doing, as you have to immediate attune yourself to the market, observe what works and what doesn't, and immediately maximize your efforts based on those outcomes and observations.

Best regards,

Ron Lindeboom

Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
- Antoine de Saint Exupéry


First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
- Gandhi






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Tim Wilson
Re: This year’s recession?
on Jan 12, 2010 at 4:32:55 am

[Bob Zelin] "Very un nerving. I can assure you that the management of Creative Cow must be feeling the same thing - watching all their competitiors die, as they expand and thrive"


Rather than feeling unnerved by watching competitors die, we feel pretty good about it. :-) The particular irony is that a number of those very people got in Ron's face quite recently, to tell him that they were going to put him out of business. Oops.

As Ron said, it's also not that much of a surprise to see them going down. Anybody could see that these magazines looked weaker and weaker. They would have gone under eventually. We just sped it up. Okay, maybe sped it up a lot. I think that we're currently standing at 4 major magazines going out of print since we started the Cow mag - is that right, Ron?

Bringing up what Walter said, though - we devoted an entire issue of the Cow magazine to this, our "Think Big" issue. The theme is that things aren't going to get "better" - they're just going to keep changing. The question is, what are you doing to take advantage of new opportunities? Walter's answer - invest now to get more for your money - is one of many possible really good answers.

Waiting is not much of an answer.

I don't mean to sound glib about any of this. It's not that we don't sweat, ever, about anything. It's that what keeps us up late at night is our enthusiasm, rather than our nervousness. The cool thing about the Think Big issue is that we saw that we're far from the only ones for whom this is true. We took a lot of inspiration from that issue. It has made us try harder, and, yes, think bigger.



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walter biscardi
Re: This year’s recession?
on Jan 12, 2010 at 4:47:42 am

[Tim Wilson] "Waiting is not much of an answer.

I don't mean to sound glib about any of this. It's not that we don't sweat, ever, about anything."


Ditto. I'm not leaping for joy over this facility purchase. It's just a natural progression of my company. Either we stay right where we are and stay a very small company with a very manageable budget and very manageable space.

Or we take the next, and very nerve wracking step, of becoming a larger facility, albeit at a much lower overhead than even two years ago. It's downright scary for me to believe we're investing this much money into a commercial facility. But I believe in our work, I believe in our clients and I believe we all live once. There could not be a more perfect time for us to take this chance and invest now while we can get more for our dollar.

My dad taught me a long time ago that the only constant in life is Change. With Change comes Risk. Some see that Risk and they don't want to Change, they want to maintain the status quo because it's safe.

But with Risk comes the Opportunity for Success. I choose to take that Risk and accept that it is my responsibility to create the Opportunity for our continued Success.

I'm scared as hell when I see all the zeros involved, but fear is an awesome motivator.... :-)

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

"Foul Water, Fiery Serpent" now in Post.

Creative Cow Forum Host:
Apple Final Cut Pro, Apple Motion, Apple Color, AJA Kona, Business & Marketing, Maxx Digital.

Blog!

Twitter!


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Bob Zelin
Re: This year’s recession?
on Jan 14, 2010 at 2:03:12 am

Walter writes -
"but fear is an awesome motivator"


This says it all.

Bob Zelin




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grinner hester
Re: This year’s recession?
on Jan 14, 2010 at 5:54:44 pm

It does and it's true. So is positive reinforcement though. More so, in my opinion.
For example, the common religion in our society uses fear as the motivator. Offer some horny virgins though and a brother will freakin off himself for the cause.
I'm just sayin'.



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Ron Lindeboom
Re: This year’s recession?
on Jan 12, 2010 at 3:08:14 pm

[Tim Wilson] "Anybody could see that these magazines looked weaker and weaker. They would have gone under eventually. We just sped it up. Okay, maybe sped it up a lot. I think that we're currently standing at 4 major magazines going out of print since we started the Cow mag - is that right, Ron?"


I think that the real problem came in when someone showed that the problem wasn't print itself but was the way that they were doing it. At the same time as the magazines were bemoaning the changing times and that print was growing less and less viable, a new magazine appears and grows like a weed. As it grew and grew, others -- like Film & Video, Video Systems, Studio Monthly and even the once venerable Millimeter -- either shut down or move to web-only versions of their former selves.

As I see it, the real problem was they forgot who their REAL customers were. Yes, an argument can be made that the advertisers are the real customers and that is what most magazine seminars and conferences espouse. That is what most publishers really believe. But if you build a magazine on that premise in today's market, the readers will see through you like a piece of glass and your reputation will suffer.

When we rolled out the Stereoscopic 3D issue at CineGear Expo at Paramount Studios last May, one of the heads of American Cinematographer came by our booth to introduce themselves and to meet us. They told us that we were the team to beat and that we were doing it right. They cited our magazine as a magazine made for its readers that didn't compromise its integrity by caving into the advertisers by filling the pages full of advertorial and compromised reviews. Coming from a magazine that I have respected since, well, long before my hair ever turned gray -- I took that as one of the great honors of my business career. I had to call Tim on the spot after they walked away, and told him. We were both flabbergasted.

But, as Don LaFontaine would have said in this case: in a world where hyper-competition has gone mad, only those who strive for excellence will stand a chance. Whatever you do has to be done to the highest level that you are capable of achieving, as mediocrity makes a poor calling call.

Lastly, as I see it, one of the biggest mistakes some people make in business today, is that they see themselves being in a certain craft or position and they set up shop and hang their sign. The smarter ones get out any way they can and try to make something happen. The less smarter ones, wait for customers to come. Both hope that they'll get enough business to survive. A few will tweak their game plan as circumstances change and will redefine themselves. Most won't: "This is what I do, after all. I am a blankety blank and it's my craft."

But the world is changing and is changing much too fast and those that fail to recognize that, are going to find it harder and harder to make a living.

You have to think and move like water, Grasshopper. Don't be steel. (Man, I used to love watching that old TV series, Kung Fu.)

;o)

Best regards,

Ron Lindeboom

Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
- Antoine de Saint Exupéry


First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
- Gandhi






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Doug Collins
Re: This year’s recession?
on Jan 12, 2010 at 3:31:02 pm

"but was the way that they were doing it."

One trade magazine that I get has started trying to tie the print version to their online version. Only they aren't doing it very well. Each article has a 'for more on this story go to:....' Yet when I go to the site I find missing links, The title to the article that does not link to anything or, if it is working correctly, the exact same info that the magazine gave me.

I've tried doing the magazine/online tie-in with them for 3 months now and it doesn't seem to be getting better.

Doug



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Ron Lindeboom
Re: This year’s recession?
on Jan 12, 2010 at 4:04:00 pm

[Doug Collins] "One trade magazine that I get has started trying to tie the print version to their online version. Only they aren't doing it very well. Each article has a 'for more on this story go to:....' Yet when I go to the site I find missing links, The title to the article that does not link to anything or, if it is working correctly, the exact same info that the magazine gave me."

We found ourselves doing the same thing a time or three. That is why we no longer do these kinds of ties in the magazine unless everything is ready to go at press time. If it isn't, the articles don't get the ties.

In fairness to others, it is getting tougher and tougher to build magazines simply because you are drawing from an ever-decreasing pool of advertisers (as big companies continue to acquire others), and the human resources pool gets smaller because of it. But thankfully, Tim and I have found a way for two guys working in different states, to build a magazine together.

There are no perfect answers anymore, the money pool is drying up to the point where you do the very best you can and hope that it pleases enough people to make a profitable business viable. But gone are the days when magazines could charge much for their ad pages and they draw from ever smaller pools on top of it. There are fewer and fewer people working on them because of it.

Ah, for the halcyon days of real budgets and endless human resource teams on which draw, perfecting all of the facets of their business.

We see the same thing in our industry: commodity pricing on tools that once were so pricey that they helped separate the pros from the enthusiasts. Now, the lines are blurry and it gets tougher to make a living because of all the rapid change, dumbing down (don't get me started on MP3s, etc.), and the smaller revenue pools that must be leveraged in the face of it all.

And as I often joke with my friends: welcome to the new world we all thought that we wanted.

Ron Lindeboom


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Jeff Bonano
Re: This year’s recession?
on Jan 12, 2010 at 2:21:06 pm

We believe that it is a complete and radical resetting of the clock, the world economy, a leveling of playing fields, a redistribution of wealth without the propensity in the past to favor America -- if anything, we see it not favoring America any longer.

I have to agree with you Ron.

I am one of those little guys (talking size of business here...gosh!). And I've noticed that some of the places here are hurting bad in video. They have nice sized studios with all the bells and whistles and the most up to date technology. Yet all over the place, their overhead is killing them now if it hasn't shot them dead already. But as for me, business is getting better and my expenses are super low.

Before, I would have lost a bid to a client because of my competition, but now it's turning into a different story! I can offer lower quotes and still come out with almost 100% gross profit.

Jeff Bonano
http://www.bonanoproductions.com

"I want to have a cool quote at the bottom of my signature, just like everyone else on the cow forum!" -Jeff Bonano


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Shane Ross
Re: This year’s recession?
on Jan 12, 2010 at 6:20:53 pm

[Bob Zelin] "Michael Horton at LAFCPUG said that all freelances are constantly unemployed, hence immune to the recession. I guess this is true"

Well, as a freelancer, that is NOT the case. I know more freelancers who are out of work than ever. Constantly unemployed, yes...for short periods. We'll work 3 months here, 6 months there. A week here, two weeks there. But then might only have a week off. Or a few days. At most a month. I was out of work for 2 months straight before I was lucky enough to land a 10 month gig. I know one guy who worked 9 days last year. NINE. Another who was unemployed more often than they were employed... which is not the case with us freelancers.

Plus the biggest thing is that we are faced with having to take jobs that pay far below our going rate. If we don't, they'll give it to some hungry kid. And the thinking that "oh, after that kids messes things up they'll come crawling back to me to fix it and pay my rate"...well, that didn't work last year, at least not here in L.A. They were able to find someone else who was desperate and hired them to fix it. Other editors had to take rate cuts just to be employed. Which is better than NOT being employed for sure, but now companies expect that they can get the talent they have been for a lower rate, even when things start looking better.

But so far things aren't in many sectors. Major shakeups at Discovery/Nat Geo/History are causing people who made their staple programming now searching for networks to give shows to. Because the line between these networks (in the types of programming they do) is now blurry...VERY blurry. They all do the same thing...there is no destinction now. And they all want reality reality reality. So reality companies are doing well. But documentary companies? Process companies? Even narrative companies? All need to learn how to do reality I suppose. Even then, times are tough.

I wish I was in Atlanta with Walter now, if he is expanding...



Shane



GETTING ORGANIZED WITH FINAL CUT PRO DVD...don't miss it.
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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grinner hester
Re: This year’s recession?
on Jan 14, 2010 at 3:14:15 pm

Of course the economy will get worse before better. It'd help if people started seeing it for what it is... which is a depression, not a recession. Broke folks still don't even turn the freakin' light off when they elave a room and continue to plan vacations they can't afford. The overall amercan mentality will change before recovery will be possible. Even when that happens... things will have changed never to go back to how they were when we were a society of fat kids buying candy on a whim. Freedoms will be lost, attitudes will bitter, and the way people approch their video needs will not go back to calling a crew of 5 for a shoot that requires a dude with a camera.
I feel good about this year. Having readjusted my approach, workflow, and services, I am booked through May and that is something that has never happened all the years I've been in business for myself. Change is required. Simple as that. The world is changing regardles of habitual behavior by individuals.



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Ron Lindeboom
Re: This year’s recession?
on Jan 15, 2010 at 1:30:16 am

[grinner hester] "It'd help if people started seeing it for what it is... which is a depression, not a recession."


I joke with my friends, that if a recession is a battle, and a depression is a war, then what is happening today could be likened to an apocalypse.

It isn't easy to rearrange nation-centric economies into a world-adjusted model; one in which longtime rivalries and indigenous areas of expertise are revamped, reshuffled, and set into new patterns that inevitably include times and areas of deflation.

Hopefully, it will one day balance out but I don't think human nature is going to change all that much, all that quickly, and so the reshuffling of the deck is going to be very painful for many for quite some time to come.

But those that learn to "surf a business like waves on the ocean" will bounce back far more quickly than those that wait for the big seas to settle down.

I am glad to hear that you are very busy. Congratulations.

Best regards,

Ron Lindeboom


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