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Thread: Working for Nothing... A guide for producers

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Blog Entries

    Default Working for Nothing... A guide for producers

    Recently there have been a number of requests for videomakers to help out on projects. A lot of these requests are based on the belief that videographers sit at home, twiddling their thumbs, too dim to think of their own projects. As a result, we jump for joy at the chance to work for nothing.

    Nothing could be further from the truth.

    "Challenging" someone to make a video isn't the way to do it. If I feel the need to make a music video for free I'm not going to put weeks of effort into a project for someone who doesn't appreciate my skills and thinks that I have nothing better to do.

    Let's have a reality check. I have never booked a crew member based on a youtube video, nor have any of the music companies done that (despite their publicity, geared to give them "street cred" with the punters). So, in other words, a youtube video isn't going to start anyone's career and as soon as the band gets enough money to make a decent video, they're going to employ professionals, not some bloke who did a youtube freebie. Likewise, a freebie music video on a CV is a waste of time when it comes to working in "the industry" (God, how I hate that term), it comes in the "hobbies" category and, although it shows that you have an interest in videomaking, it will not help your career in any way.

    In the same way, there are dozens of "producers" who come up with ideas for a youtube series, internet tv or suchlike. These are often people who don't want to risk maxing out their credit cards, getting a bank loan or borrowing off their friends. However they are quite happy to get videographers to risk time and money on a project which, statistics show, won't make money. At the moment less than one percent of internet start-ups make enough money to enable one person to live from their earnings. Even less make enough to pay anyone else. (This is based on the hours invested compared with working flipping burgers, you"ll earn more per hour at McBurger than running a website).
    Even more interesting, according to my union, whereas the percentage of producers making a profit from their initial project is running at about 10%, the number of crew earning from such projects is less than one percent.

    This is a bitch of an industry.

    In other words, a camera/sound/editor working on a "potential" money-maker has a one in a hundred chance of getting any money from the producer. I'm not saying that novice producers are bastards, on the contrary, I suspect that most of them honestly believe that their project will make money. Unfortunately, that isn't the case and even if some cash does arrive, we all know that the producer will pay off his debts before sharing the rest.

    Having ideas is easy. I have at least one money-making idea a week. It's putting the ideas into practice which is the hard part especially as the world doesn't tend to act the way you think when it comes to paying for internet content.

    So, if you come on this forum looking for people to work for you, for nothing. Seduce us. Give us a clue about your project. Tell us your track record. Have you learnt from mistakes you've made or is this your first project? Show us your website. If you're serious you will have some sort of internet presence to show potential investors. If you can't be bothered to bung up some sort of homepage to show your crew, why should we invest time and money in someone who can't even get that together?

    Oh, and don't give the "I can't tell you in case someone nicks my idea" bullshit. Sorry, nice try, doesn't wash.

    In the same way, be honest and upfront. If you are an amateur, with no experience who is looking for people to work on an idea which might work, then say that. You will find that most of the regulars here understand what it's like starting out and will gladly offer help and advice. If you pretend to be a "producer" without the skills to back up your claim, the regulars will suss you out and rip you to shreds.

    So, to sum up. We're not against working for nothing per-se but we are against being exploited and treated as mugs.
    Last edited by Rembrandt Rob; 04-17-2010 at 12:11 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Blog Entries


    Stickied and copied to the job board.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Surrey, UK
    Blog Entries


    Nice post Gaffer.
    From my perspective, I do this purely as a hobby. I generally have my own ideas or projects that come about through the amateur filmmakers club which, on top of all the family footage I'm obliged to put together, gives me more than enough to keep what little time I have for my hobby occupied.
    However, I can quite eaily foresee a situation where if I've got little going on, a project might appeal to me via these boards and I might wish to get involved. But please be aware you will be working with a hobbyist and what you will get (if anything) will be amateur footage and the band will probably have split by the time it's finalised. That's not to say it doesn't stand a chance of being good. I suspect the same goes for most of the hobbyists here.

    By all means ask, but generally, you get what you pay for.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Huntington, West Virginia USA


    Don't mince words, Gaffer. Tell em how you really feel!

    For me, editing is a hobby. It allows me to take all the skill-sets I learned in 25 years of commercial radio and TV broadcasting and have some fun. I'll work on a project for free, if it is worthy, just for the personal satisfaction.

    Excellent post!
    Last edited by worddigger; 04-18-2010 at 03:59 AM.

  5. #5


    You know that is one way to get yourself heard of though
    then you can get bigger budgets and move higher and higher!
    Thats what i am starting to do as i did with this video, showing some of my talents

    EDIT@ Link removed. Spamming your video is not going to get you noticed in a good way though. Please don't duplicate posts - especially in inappropriate sections.
    Last edited by TimStannard; 10-07-2010 at 07:32 AM. Reason: duplicate

  6. Default

    True, true and very true.. however..
    As part of discussion... Justin Beiber... as self made millionaire from youtube

    People do seem to be paying more attention to such networks for tallent these days.
    The initial post was made back in 2005 and at that point you are indeed very correct in what you say... the world appears to be shifting faster now it appears O_o

  7. #7


    That is just 100% true. I do editing also just as a hobby, I've had an idea of trying to get somewhere to edit videos as job, but then i thought that i wanna keep this just as hobby. I've done few videos for people on YouTube, and couple guys say I'm great editor blablabla, and others just take the video upload it, don't credit me or thank me, those are the guys called bastards that think we don't do anything else than sit on computers and wait for YouTube private message where someone says "edit my episode duud" and they actually think they will get something.

    I do video game edits because I don't have anybody to shoot a real life film with. Or some plans for a plot and scenes or resources to get anything for the mini movie.

  8. #8

    Default Video production

    I do video production for interest and business. This is a good way to encourage all amateur and film-dreamers out there to go out from their shell and show the world what they've got!
    Last edited by saltlakestudio; 10-23-2012 at 01:56 AM. Reason: Link Building

  9. #9


    Being in the production is a hard world. good luck and thanks for sharing.

  10. #10


    post interesting . i like it

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