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Using my powers for good

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Christopher TravisUsing my powers for good
by on Jun 18, 2013 at 2:42:25 pm

Hello all,

Not entirely sure if this is the board for this but it's my best guess. Feel free to move this if there's a more appropriate home for it.


I am a London-based editor with about 6/7 years broadcast experience in the UK. No terrestrial credits yet, just channels like The Food Network, Travel Channel, Extreme Sports etc.. and a few overseas channels in Europe, Asia, Australia and a few other places I'm sure. I also have a fair bit of camera experience, and as an editor I like to think that I have an understanding of what sort of rushes I should be collecting and I know about shooting for continuity and generally how to tell a story with pictures.

I have been struck in the last 6 months by a powerful desire to go and work abroad for a while and as this thought has matured I've been more drawn to the idea of somehow getting involved in some charity/NGO work. Ideally I want to use my current skill set, so as A) to be able to bring some expertise and hopefully be more useful than just "another pair of hands" and B) to at least keep my eye in and not have a total black hole on my CV if/when I choose to come back.

Does anyone have any experience in making this move? Can anyone offer advice on finding work like this? Do jobs like this (I'd guess you might call it in-house videographer or something) even exist? As you can tell this is motivated more by a desire to work abroad than by any interest in a particular cause/charity so I'm very open minded.


Thanks


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Mark SuszkoRe: Using my powers for good
by on Jun 18, 2013 at 3:22:35 pm

As long as you don't cost a lot, I'm sure you can find any number of NGO's that might love for you to shoot and edit video versions of their annual report, or an appeal campaign, and Video News Releases are always there as well. I would say first discover what specific charities you are most attracted to, then find the BGO's and sponsors that work on that. You can go in a religious or secular direction, for example. Peace Corps and Americorps are two US organizations that do a lot, all over the place, and being government-funded, they usually are looking for some kind of documentation of the work to justify the outlay on each project. NGO's also have to document what they do to the donors.


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Bob ZelinRe: Using my powers for good
by on Jun 19, 2013 at 12:08:47 am

You mean you want someone to pay you so you can go on an adventure.

Every job is a job. Meaning that there are plenty of people that want to do exactly what you are doing, and are applying for it right now. And are willing to take less pay that you are. You think that because you are this big experienced guy, with lots of credentials, that people will embrace you and say "sure, come on in, we want you". It doesn't work that way. You could be a Hollywood award winning director, and if you wanted to shoot a neighborhood wedding video, you would have to prove yourself to your little client (unless they were a big fan of your movies).

I am old now, but my very first job was working on tour for a big rock band. I didn't care about the money, I just wanted to do it. And as I so often say over and over on these forums, you have to go out an hunt for these jobs, and get rejected over and over. And I worked for less than minimum wage. Now, with my 30+ years of experience, do you think that I can just knock on the door of ANY company, and they will just say "sure, here is our money, come on over !". It doesn't work that way. You work for food channel, but you work for a particular producer. Try cold calling another producer at food channel on another show and say "hey, I work for so and so, can I work for you too?". The odds are they will say "send us your reel" and ignore you. Finding work is work. Even if it's for free. And you want this charity (Unicef, Peace Core, etc.) to pay for you to travel around, and your expenses. Well, it's a job, and no one is just going to hand this to you, even with your experience.

I am sure that you can enlist in the military, and say that you want to "see the world" as a videographer, and I am sure they will take you. But for anyone else (greenpeace, Unicef, etc.) you make the calls, you don't get thru, you call again, you keep at it, and eventually someone will let you work for free for them (in exchange for your adventure where you will be eaten by natives in some god forsaken country). And here on Cow, we will all say "yea, Christopher was a really great cameraman !".

Bob Zelin

Bob Zelin
Rescue 1, Inc.
maxavid@cfl.rr.com


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Christopher TravisRe: Using my powers for good
by on Jun 19, 2013 at 8:53:54 am

Thanks for your sage words Bob,

You've really made me think about this in a whole new light. But to save a sliver of your precious time, perhaps in future you could just provide links to other posts you've made where you've generously offered up multiparagraph rants saying exactly the same thing without actually bothering to think whether you could provide any specific insight into the OPs situation. Although I did enjoy the ever-so-slightly racist allusion to cannibalism towards the end of this particular bespoke response.

I've been here a while Bob, so I'm well aware that you make 2,000 calls a day, send 100,000 emails, as well as simply shouting loudly at every person you pass in the street asking them to give you work. I understand the importance of hard work and determination, however I was hoping I might be able to use my time more efficiently than just dialling numbers at random and barking at whichever poor soul picks up at the other end.

Which is why I came here and asked a couple of simple questions, hoping for a steer in the right direction. Maybe someone knows of an organisation that arranges placements like this. Maybe someone has experience with a particular charity that they'd like to share. Maybe someone has tried and can tell me *from experience* that I'd have to wait in line for 5 years to get a chance to do it. You know, like helpful advice or something.

Perhaps you do have extensive experience volunteering your skills to charities abroad but I'm afraid I couldn't pick any of that out from the torrent of bile and accusations that I think I'm a rock star or something.

For anyone else reading this interested in my original post. I have found an organisation calls VSO which places skilled volunteers on projects in different parts of the world. They apparently do have occasionally places for people with these skills so I have been encouraged to apply. Beyond that I suppose it's time to draw up a list of charities to approach directly.

Also, Mark, thanks for your response, it's given me some things to look into. (And may I take this opportunity, if I haven't already, to say that you are by far my favourite poster on the Cow. I always read your posts with interest. It never ceases to amaze me how on-point your advice is on basically any subject. Subjects for which there are no user-manuals, and for which there is no simple google-able answer. I've also seen you very generously provide pretty fleshed-out pitches and proposals for people that may well have earned them lucrative jobs, without batting an eyelid. Keep up the good work guy.)


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Mark SuszkoRe: Using my powers for good
by on Jun 19, 2013 at 2:32:29 pm

Chris, thanks for the praise, but I think you're being unfair to Bob, who is a true guru who's "seen it all". Not everybody "gets" Bob because of his gruff style, but I have to tell you; he may be gruff and opinionated, but he's very rarely wrong. He's right that you'll have to beat on a lot of doors if you're wanting to make a living while doing this charity-related work.

NGO's do their work in highly dysfunctional places, otherwise, those places wouldn't need the extra help to begin with. This puts those workers in a position where they have to be highly motivated and resourceful, refusing to be stopped by imposed boundaries and apparently insurmountable obstacles.

To me, this sounds a lot like the attitude Bob has and promotes. If Bob was working in one of those places, I know he'd find a creative way past any obstacle set in his path.

He's helping you, in his own way. By challenging your assumptions, he's making you think harder and clearer in justifying them. This can only be beneficial.


Oh, I hear the gong, tea time up on the mountain top, gotta go.... but seriously, re-think what you've said and look at Bob's and other's opinions with an open mind, is all I'm asking. Here's something to play in the background while you continue your research.

And thanks for the tip about the agency that helps connect workers to programs. If you can post a link to VSO, it may help others who find this thread in the future.








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Christopher TravisRe: Using my powers for good
by on Jun 19, 2013 at 2:56:59 pm

woops. Quite right I forgot the link.

http://www.vso.org.uk/

That's clearly a UK site. Not sure if they have a north American branch.

I'm a big lad and I can handle Bob's "style", but I do find it funny that he is allowed to dish out insults and accusations made on the basis rash assumptions, but the second I give a little back I'm being unfair. I guess that's seniority for you though.


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Mark SuszkoRe: Using my powers for good
by on Jun 19, 2013 at 3:42:17 pm

Some, but mostly just Professional respect and courtesy.

This place only works by keeping that in mind. I've been at this for at least 25 years now and still consider myself a beginner. Everyone I meet is my teacher, at *something*.


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Bob ZelinRe: Using my powers for good
by on Jun 19, 2013 at 10:05:47 pm

Christopher writes -
Although I did enjoy the ever-so-slightly racist allusion to cannibalism towards the end of this particular bespoke response

REPLY - Racist ? !!!!!
Chris, everyone knows I hate everyone. White, Black, Hispanic, Indian, Arabic, Asian, I insult all of them. I am an equal opportunity bigot.

Bob Zelin

Bob Zelin
Rescue 1, Inc.
maxavid@cfl.rr.com


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Mads Nybo JørgensenRe: Using my powers for good
by on Jun 20, 2013 at 3:06:14 pm

Bob,

That last comment was really discriminating. Not hating Danish people!
Why am I feeling singled out for not receiving your tongue of love? ;-)

All the Best
Mads

@madsvid, London, UK
Check out my other hangouts:
Twitter: @madsvid
http://mads-thinkingoutloud.blogspot.co.uk


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John ChayRe: Using my powers for good
by on Jun 20, 2013 at 4:27:36 pm

I was really excited he mentioned Asians.


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Steve MartinRe: Using my powers for good
by on Jun 22, 2013 at 12:03:50 pm

I'm somebody now - I've been insulted by Dr. Zelin. Woo Hoo!

Actually Chris, at the risk of ruining Bob's reputation, he's actually a nice guy. I know him both on-line here at the COW as well as have had the pleasure of hiring him to engineer and maintain my edit suites.

When reading his over-the-top comments, imagine him smiling and laughing - not scorning. Enough about Bob...

I do quite a bit of non-profit work and I can tell you that it very rewarding. The money is rarely what I can charge corporate clients, but many charities have a real need to communicate their story with emotion and passion to aid in their fundraising efforts. Since video is best at eliciting an emotional response in the viewer, it's a match made in heaven. Here's a piece we did for Make-A-Wish last year that I really like. It was played at a fundraising gala for an audience of about 1000 just before the MC did the "big ask."







Getting the work? Well, as Bob said, that's the hard part. The really hart part. Every market is different and I don't know of any short cuts - but look forward to checking out your link. Most charities are so used to seeking out donations that their mindset is firmly in the "can you donate your service" camp. That's a great way to get a foot in the door so that you can build a reel, but you obviously can't live like that - unless you're already independently wealthy.

And if that's the case, well... then that's different ;)

Best of luck to you! 391

Production is fun - but lets not forget: Nobody ever died on the video table!

http://www.OmniNewMedia.com
http://www.GreenSlateStudios.com


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Sam CornelisRe: Using my powers for good
by on Jun 21, 2013 at 7:51:39 am

I am not familiar with charities, but I came across this article, earlier this week. And it might be interesting to read it in this context: it seems that not all charities are doing what they pretend to do.
http://www.tampabay.com/topics/specials/worst-charities1.page

- I have read the entire internet, and I am feeling a little bit bored, so I started to reply to interesting forum topics.


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Andrew RendellRe: Using my powers for good
by on Jun 21, 2013 at 11:28:39 pm

I like to think I use my skills for good occasionally. I picked up a paper the other day and read that Laszlo Csatary has been indicted for involvement in sending nearly 12,000 jews to nazi death camps during WW2. Coincidentally, or maybe not quite coincidentally, I cut a 30 minute doc basically accusing the Hungarian government of supporting nazis (modern neo-nazis as well as war criminals), including our attempt to doorstep Csatary, which was transmitted last month. I don't suppose my rambling helps, except to show that there are other paths if your problem is languishing over not achieving anything meaningful in your life.


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Mike CohenRe: Using my powers for good
by on Jul 2, 2013 at 12:01:28 am

I thought this was going to be a thread about superpowers. Well to the folks who are passionate about a cause you may appear to have super powers if you can help them spread their message. In the YouTube era professional video skills are 50% in demand by volunteer organizations. I suggest finding an issue you care about instead of just throwing a dart at the NGO with a job opening. Imagine taking a position as the video guy/latrine digger/diesel mechanic for the International Skunk Preservation Society and realizing 3 months into a 1 year contract that you don't care much about skunks or latrines. Your lack of passion will show in your videos too...

Why not find a local charity to help out?

Best of luck.

Mike Cohen

PS. Zelin rocks


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Sareesh SudhakaranRe: Using my powers for good
by on Jul 6, 2013 at 7:13:19 am

"I have been struck in the last 6 months by a powerful desire to go and work abroad for a while and as this thought has matured I've been more drawn to the idea of somehow getting involved in some charity/NGO work. Ideally I want to use my current skill set, so as A) to be able to bring some expertise and hopefully be more useful than just "another pair of hands" and B) to at least keep my eye in and not have a total black hole on my CV if/when I choose to come back.

Does anyone have any experience in making this move? Can anyone offer advice on finding work like this? Do jobs like this (I'd guess you might call it in-house videographer or something) even exist? As you can tell this is motivated more by a desire to work abroad than by any interest in a particular cause/charity so I'm very open minded."


'Abroad' as in Asia? I'm not sure my experience will help but for what it's worth:

I live in Mumbai, India, and 6 months ago I had the sudden urge to go help NGOs, producing videos for them. I've only recently started approaching them (it took a long time to get everything set up). What I've learnt is that:

They don't care about my expertise or what I can offer. All they care about (and rightly so) is the pressing problem they have today. And mind you, I'm offering to pay for the videos out of my own pocket. It's a slow process where I have to force myself to care, because Mike hit the nail on the head when he said:

"Your lack of passion will show in your videos too..."

NGOs in India, generally, are not as organized as they should be. Of course, there are many exceptions, but there are millions of NGOs. Some of these are not even registered, so it is extremely tough and frustrating because you can't enter into a formal agreement with an 'NGO' if they aren't 'registered'. There are many 'foreigners' in Mumbai working for NGOs, some full time. They stay under the radar.

Three months ago I was all excited and positive. Now, I'm just positive.

Regarding your question of whether there's a need for an in-house videographer. Sure, but who'll pay? It's one thing for an NGO to have a video, and yet another to be able to leverage it. Who'll do it? Who's got the experience to do it? Will you do it for them?

Just a thought: If you're planning to return to impress people in the U.K. about work you have done, why not help charities in the U.K.? E.g., if I'm a volunteer waiting impatiently to import an expensive drug that somebody has thankfully sent from overseas to save a life, and have to knock on a hundred doors and spend many frustrating sessions with 'officials' who can't care less, and have to worry about a million other things, and you show up with a smile wanting to help - I'll ask you if you can help make my life a bit easier.

And if your reply is: "No, but I can film your life, with the latest Blackmagic Cinema Camera."

I don't know. But hey, I'm still learning.

Get the Free Comprehensive Guide to Rigging ANY Camera - one guide to rig them all - DSLRs to Reds to the Arri Alexa.


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