At what cost?

Amateur cameraman or professional?

Amateur cameraman or professional?

Apologies for the lack of posts to this blog, I have been short handed here at the office and have been running around creating videos and making clients happy!  Things have settled down here and I have decided to re-engage my marketing, which includes this blog.

In one marketing segment, I often look at new job posts on eLance.com,DoNanza, and even Craig’s List! I never get anything from these sites, as these are the people usually looking for something incredibly cheap and unrealistic. I’m curious just how many videographers spend their time on these types of jobs, because if they did, they would be out of business pretty quickly.

Why do I waste my time? Well, every now and then something interesting actually does pop up. For example, recently a poker site posted a job looking for someone to record vlogs (video blogs) to their website while following their players at the WSOP (World Series of Poker) in Las Vegas. Being a poker aficionado myself, this was a dream contract that actually paid well for doing 3 weeks of work in Vegas. Who would turn that down? So I submitted a proposal, only to be shot down (most likely to the cheaper guy).

One recent job that I noticed made me fall down laughing. A man was requesting for someone to create a set of 3 half-hour erotic massage videos for under $500. In these videos, a male masseuse needed to make a female climax using certain techniques that this person had invented. In other words, this was porn. He had no idea how he wanted it shown, but he did want two very good looking people to act in the video…. oh yeah, and you had to hire the “models” using your budget.  All of this to the lowest bidder, under $500!  This just screams money maker for any videographer out there.

If I sound a little annoyed by the expectations of people when it comes to video, you may be right. It’s the age-old problem in this profession where a new up-and-comer will lowball their prices to get work, not realizing the impact it has on the industry. The sad reality is that those people last about a year and then go out of business. That is the point when they realize that not only do they have to pay for new equipment every few years like computers and cameras, but they have to pay for rent, insurance, education, marketing, taxes, and other costs of living.

I do a lot of things when it comes to creating video, it doesn’t end with a few hours of filming. I have to make original concepts all of the time, brainstorm how I am going to make a unique video for each of my clients, write scripts, drive to locations, film, direct, transcode video to computer format, come up with an editing style, search for appropriate music, edit the piece (sometimes 50 hours of editing), color correct, audio correct, add titles and graphics, render, encode for another format, and upload. This does not even include making DVDs or the endless unpaid hours of consulting with my clients.

With the advent of YouTube and Internet video, this low expectation of creating quality content for minimal pay is just going to get worse. This is why I sit on the board of an organization trying to promote professional video. The Bay Area Professional Videographers Association (BAPVA) is dedicated to educating both videographers AND the public about what makes a quality production. In the past few months, I have been live streaming our meetings for free in hopes of gaining new members, and to show the general public all of the behind the scenes aspects of videography. Granted, these are not the most professional productions, but they are FREE (You get what you pay for, the idea behind this article)!

I’d like to sum up this post by encouraging you to think of how long it will take to create your production, and what is going to go into producing it. Think realistically about how you can control costs if that is what you need. Most importantly, think about how a professionally produced video will add to your marketing, rather than a cheap clip created by an inexperienced rookie to the video field.