Tuesday, July 05, 2011

So Now You're a Filmmaker Too?

It wasn't enough that just about everyone became a pro-status photographer once dSLRs took hold. Now, with the addition of HD video to many dSLR's capabilities, it seems many of those same people are now also filmmakers, albeit digital filmmakers.

And why not? New technologies have put digital film-making into just about everyone's hands.

Once upon a time, it was incredibly difficult to become the next Steven Spielberg. These days, becoming a Spielberg or a Lucas or a Cameron or some other well-known "name" from the ranks of A-list directors might seem a somewhat more realistic goal, within everyone's grasp.

But is it?

Nope. Not even close. Not even remotely close.

Here's some 4-1-1 about becoming a successful, commercial filmmaker:

It takes talent. Plenty of it.

It takes luck. Plenty of luck.

It usually takes being in the right place at the right time and knowing the right people and so much more.

It takes money. Plenty of money. Owning an HD video-capable dSLR, some lights, digital editing software, sound equipment and other gear is a good start for any fledgling filmmaker but it's not enough. Not nearly enough.

It takes more. So much more.

Let's say your film-making aspirations fall way shorter than joining the pantheon of Hollywood's major filmmakers. Okay. That's probably more realistic. Still, to have any modicum of success, you're going to need some amount of those things I mentioned above. Probably more of that stuff than you might think.

I'm not trying to be a pessimist or rain on anyone's parade but even offering video services to your existing photography clients will require some of the stuff listed above. Certainly it's going to take more than simply owning a dSLR that is video-capable. And most certainly, assuming you want to offer those video services with the results being better than someone simply holding and pointing a camera and pressing a button, you'd best develop some skills doing so.

Still photography and motion picture photography, while having much in common, remain worlds apart in many ways, requiring different skill sets to achieve outstanding results. My advice would be to figure out what those differences are and to learn and develop the new skills necessary before going out and claiming you're a filmmaker or offering video as an add-on service. Assuming you hope to be successful at it, that is.

The two young ladies playfully engaged in Sapphic shenanigans for my camera are Ashley (l.) and Katie (r.)


Easyphloem said...

Hear Hear! I am getting a little tired of seeing acquaintances of mine (mostly female) try to start up photography businesses. A $1,000 camera and a couple of lenses does not give you the photographer's "eye".

Mistie May Studios said...

Oh its so good to see this post..
It really is sad that digital photography has made both of these industries seem.. "soo easy"..
I get sick of seeing people just pick up a camera of any kind and think they dont need any schooling or training to take a great photo or make a great video..
I totally agree with Easyphloem..
Im female but I cant tell you how many clients have turned into "photographer's" after shooting with me once..
Its maddening!!

M.R. said...

Jimmy, the problem is (and unfortunately it's the same regarding photography these days) that you don't necessarily have to be good, but just "good enough" at a cheap price.

From my experience, these people aren't necessarily looking to become the next Steven Speilberg. They're looking to become more like Peter Griffin (think Family Guy episode 814: "Peter-assment". Peter gets his clip of him badgering Richard Dreyfuss coming out of the bathroom aired on TMZ, so he thinks he's now a video journalist). :D

Just like Peter, these individuals make a hundred bucks (if they're lucky), they get some measure of recognition, and they get to play with some high-tech gear which makes them feel important so they're happy. :D All the while it not only degrades the rest of us who actually have talent, have invested a lot of time and resources to learn how to do this, and are trying to make a living off of this (since people figure that if an idiot can do it, anyone can), but lowers the bar that people expect in terms of quality and value. :/

Maddening? Yes, very much so.

Fred Gallup said...

I agree with your post, not sure why I have to pay for video capabilities in a camera, when all I want to do is take photographs. Feel a little peeved to pay 'extra' for video when I don't want that in a camera.

Each to his own.

I am a photographer and am quite happy to leave the video for the videographer.

Great post.