Friday, November 12, 2010

The Blurring of Technologies

It hasn't happened yet but I'm confident, before long, I'll find myself on a set where the flick is being shot with the same brand and model of camera I'm using to shoot the stills.

I have mixed emotions about this and my mixed emotions have to do with money.

As adult video production continues in decline and budgets continue to nosedive and people (make that clients) demand more and more from the money they're spending on cast and crew, it's not hard to envision a scenario where something like this is said: "Hey Jimmy! As long as you're shooting stills with the same camera we're using to shoot the movie, why don't you shoot some video footage in between shooting the stills?"

Sounds reasonable? Yeah. I suppose. If they're paying me to shoot 2nd camera, that is.

But I'm guessing that's not how they're going to see it. (They being producers and directors and production managers and those sorts of people.) There's a good chance they're going to think, "Well, he's here anyway and he's lucky to have this job and he has that camera with him so why should we pay him to hang out at the craft services table or chat with cast members when he's not shooting stills?"

From their perspective, I suppose that does sound reasonable. And frankly, I can guarantee if I balk at adding 2nd camera to my job description (without adding a 2nd pay rate) there will be other shooters who will gladly do this for them.

Potentially, it gets worse, leastwise from my perspective.

Not only might they expect me to shoot 2nd camera without additional remuneration, they also might expect me to toss the use of my camera in without a rental fee. They will, of course, gladly pay a rental house for the first camera but, after all, I do have the 2nd camera with me anyway so it's not like I'm not already being paid (in a sense) for its use.

I'm also thinking that, since I might now be shooting 2nd camera for free plus tossing in my camera for free, I won't have much time to download images to my laptop and organize them into folders and do some quick editing. (In between, of course, visiting the craft services table or bullshitting with performers.) That means I'll have to take that part of my responsibilities home with me and put even more time into the job without further compensation.

Sorry if I'm on a rant here. I'm sure people in other industries and careers are experiencing or anticipating similar sorts of scenarios.

What a lot of this means is that while they, the employers, get more bang for their bucks, they also get less quality in the results. In the long term, lesser quality will, most likely, mean fewer sales. But then, American business has never been overly concerned with the long-term. It's usually about the short-term. Short-term attitudes have probably been in effect since well before instant pudding was invented.

Again, sorry for the rant. Sometimes, it helps to try and purge myself (with words, that is) of negative, depressing, or pessimistic thoughts.

The behind-the-scenes image at the top is from a Vivid Entertainment production. That day, we were shooting in the morgue of an abandoned hospital in Los Angeles. The former hospital is used as a production location for many Hollywood flicks, TV shows, music videos, adult films, and more. That's Sasha Gray on the table playing dead. BTW, I don't mean to infer that Vivid has ever asked me to shoot 2nd camera without additional pay. (I've shot 2nd camera for them often enough -- in addition to shooting stills -- and they've always bumped-up my day-rate.) This update, like many of my updates, can be classified under "just sayin."


Anonymous said...

It would seem to me that when everyone is being asked to be both a generalist and a specialist on the same job, soon those generalists and specialists will simply open up their own shop.

If you doing stills and video, and you chat with the other talents (actors, make-up, clothing, whatever), what's to stop you from having JimmyD Productions?

Ten years ago, ebooks were unheard of. Now, if you think you can write and sell'em, you do. Presto, you're an author, copyrighter, and publisher.

Perhaps tomorrow, you'll be stills photographer, videographer, and producer?

Movies, whatever genre, were always virtual companies. A group of people came together for a common commercial purpose, created a movie, and then dispersed. The movie company provided some knowledge, infrastructure, and distribution channels. Perhaps soon, the benefits of a movie company will be gone?

Or perhaps, movie companies will move further upscale, focusing on larger budget, more technically complex movies?

I suspect that a lot of business is being broken down and completed by smaller groups of people. What took an institution to complete can now be done individually or with a small group of individuals.


jimmyd said...

@KS-- I've produced my own often enough in the past. And when doing so, I was producer, director, shooter, photographer, editor, and more. These days, there's so little money to be made in that industry, leastwise the DVD and content side of it, it's not worth the time and effort. What I do need to do is apply my skills and know-how to another industry.

RandJ-Photo said...

I hear you Jimmy. A buddy called me the other day to get my help on a job that included a stylist.

"Oh my God! I'd thought them to be extinct."

Ad to think of all of the jobs where you're expected to be the photographer, videographer, sound engineer, stylist, makeup artist, director, caterer and bring some wardrobe, all in exchange for "portfolio building opportunity".

John said...

Maybe you can be "pro-active" about it - you're seeing the future, take advantage of it? Bill yourself as second camera/still photographer now?
Things change ... apparently the trick is to recognize how they're changing ahead of most other people, which it sounds like you've done.

jimmyd said...


I hear ya man. Sucks don't it? I had to become a hybrid long before hybrid cameras came along.

@John: I saw this coming 4 or 5 years ago. I've been working as a videographer/photographer for quite a while, leastwise on the smaller productions. I get one-and-a-half times my rate for that. They save either half a photographer's or half a video shooter's rate. Do the productions suffer? I think so. But not enough to make them want to spend another half-day shooter's rate. Because I was an editor for such a long time and cut so many flicks they knew I could shoot the video in ways that made the editors' jobs easier cuz they were also paying them much less and, consequently, the editors weren't putting as much into it.