A Time for Renewal

A Time for Renewal

Byline: Bill Miller

The end of the year is a time to reflect and think ahead. About a year ago, I predicted that 2004 would see an upsurge in work opportunities for videographers and others in our business. It was a gut feeling not based on any type of poll or scientific research. I just felt it was going to happen. According to many of my friends who work behind the camera, this gut feeling proved to be more than just an ulcer.

Of course, if you’re reading this and your prospect list is the size of your little toenail, you’re probably glaring at these words with pure hatred. Fear not; that same old gut feeling is telling me that 2005 will be even better. But you have to get out there and make things happen. As they say in the stock trade, diversify.

Here’s a point to back up my contention. My business partner of 40 odd years (and they have been odd years) started out as a news cameraman, then shot commercials and lensed feature documentaries. I started as a writer/director and took the back route to becoming a videographer. Now my partner is the writer/director of the team and I’m shooting for him. The point is that if you want to make a living in this business, especially in the smaller markets, you have to be willing to take on new challenges.

That’s not to say that if you are primarily a shooter you must now learn to write. After all, for most of us behind the lens, words of more than one syllable are impossible to spell. Nor do you have to learn to edit or install complicated video systems. What you do need is to be willing to do more than just look in your viewfinder, compose your shot, and push the button that makes images go onto tape.

In your off time, install a cheap editing system on your computer. You can get into editing for a few hundred dollars. If nothing else, you will learn to be a better shooter by editing your own images. Beyond that, you can make sample reels to send out in your spare time so you won’t have so much spare time.

Also, you should read. Read everything you can get your hands on. Expand your mind, and at the same time you will be expanding your horizons. There is a wealth of books on lighting, shooting, editing, budgeting, and producing that you can find online or at your local book store.

Talk to other people in the business. It’s amazing how much you can learn by just talking with people. Who knows? They may even have a few ideas that will kick-start your career.

Now, I know there are a bunch of you out there saying you’re doing just fine being a videographer; there’s no need to try to expand your disciplines. But today’s complacent shooter may be standing in tomorrow’s unemployment line. I know. I’ve been there. And wouldn’t you rather be doing something in the business than selling shoes at the mall?

So let’s all head into the new year with renewed spirit. Set reasonable goals, don’t be beaten down by rejection, and remember, whether you succeed or fail in this business really depends on you, and, of course, a little luck.

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