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Selling films...Submissions Requests...undercutting...ect


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#1 Steve Douglas

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 11:32 AM

Quite some time ago there was a great thread here on Wetpixel about producers for shows or websites wanting footage or finished films and not necessarily wanting to pay what they were worth. There seems to be an influx lately again from folk asking for films saying how wonderful the distribution will be but with the caveat that they don't have much of a budget (hint: you won't see much if anything) I recently received, what I am sure are blanketed to a million shooters, emails from Ocean Video on the Ocean Network as well as from a gentleman named Rathish from some international site all asking for work with the same agendas. For myself, I will not send anything that I am not properly paid for.

I guess the reason why I am bringing this to folk's attention is to remind ourselves that we all have spent a huge amount of money for our equipment, our travels and our time in production and that by giving anything away not only undercuts yourselves, but everyone in the underwater diving/filming community. Novices, especially want to see a credit on their shooting resumes. It is a great thing to have and to be able to brag about. A credit provides additional credibility to one's skills and performance but, folks, by giving it away or selling for significantly less than what is respectful demeans everyone including oneself.

Thus, I am asking, not only the experienced pro on these boards but the entire community to commit to a proper standard of pay for raw footage as well as finished films. How that standard can and will be set and agreed to will take much discussion here I guess but, at least, it will evolve into a basic understanding of rates.
My diatribe for the day.
Have a good day Mates
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I have worked as an unpaid reviewer for the editing websites since 2002. Most all hardware and software is sent to me free of charge, however, in no way am I obligated to provide either positive or negative evaluations. Any suggestions I make regarding products are a result of my own, completely, personal opinions and experiences with said products.


#2 CamDiver

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 02:48 PM

Right on Steve,
I hear ya buddy. There are so many people out there thinking that we full time shooters are just rich playboys having a great time traveling the World, diving and hanging out with chicks in rubber suits :) (that may be true for people like DeanB but the rest of us have bills to pay).

I've been approached, increasingly of late, by would be Internet 'theme channels' aimed at the Ocean who are ramming huge viewing figures down my neck one minute but when it comes to the topic of remuneration those figures shrink, dramatically. Even to a point where the entity thinks that you're gonna fall for the old 'well we can't pay per program but we'll certainly include your name in credits to increase your public image' bullshit. Credits don't put food on my plate, Jack. Credits don't pay my bills, Jack.

As I've been getting more and more of these requests I've formulated a standard response as follows:

Dear Sir, Madam,
Thank you for considering me as a potential content provider for your broadcasting venture. I must inform you at this point though that I have to decline your request for content submissions. My work is just that, work, its my job, I am a freelance entity. That means that I have to spend many tens of thousands of dollars every year in order to maintain an image quality sufficient for inclusion in mainstream broadcast emissions. Without generating revenue I will not be able to continue in my work.

I find it perplexing that your company can expect to attract so much public interest by way of the viewing numbers you mention but at the same time feel that the very commodity you base those projections on should be attainable free of charge. If any joint venture is destined to work then there has to be both professional and financial recognition of all entities involved in the venture chain.

Should your policy change in the future then I would be happy to discuss the supply of content for your venture at standard market rates. Please understand that there are very few people who do what I do 'just for the fun of it'. I suggest if you want free imagery then then you should really lower your expectations of quality and program content.

Sincere regards,
Mark Thorpe.


:D :)

OK, so I don't send the Guiness Icons but you get the drift!

Cheers,
Mark.

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#3 MikeVeitch

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 02:57 PM

i am going to copy your reply Mark...

:D

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#4 CamDiver

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 03:18 PM

Feel free Mike, how was the trip?

M

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#5 Steve Douglas

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 06:41 PM

Yo Mark, now that's the kind of letter, that if everyone who received these type of requests would only send back, that might, in the end proof fruitful to the entire dive community. Way to go. I implore everyone who has ever spent a buck on a tape, two bucks on a cam and three on a venture to get that footage to jump on the 'not for free' bandwagon.
Headed to Kenya this coming Saturday and hope to see lots of sign ups on here upon my return.
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#6 wagsy

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 08:01 PM

Great letter Mark.
I'm going to use that next time as well.
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#7 ronrosa

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 07:39 AM

I have a question for the group that is slightly different.

I am 100% a hobbyist. I do not sell any of my videos although I have given away a few.

Sometimes other resort guests ask me if I sell my videos. I tell them no, but I do put them on the internet for people to view and/or download for free. Occassionally, if I like someone, I'll send them a DVD for free.

When their is a resort or boat professional recording and soliciting DVD's for guests, I feel awkward when guests ask me if I sell my videos. I definitely don't want to affect someone trying to make a living.

Sometimes the video pros don't solicit until later in the week after the guests have already spoken with me. I guess I could always down play my equipment and abilities and up play the pro. Although I've seen some pros using very old basic equipment.

What would you guys do ?

#8 Steve Douglas

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 09:48 AM

Ron, While the majority of trips I and my partner lead are on liveaboards, the same scenerio applys. You are correct in that most have some kind of pro who charges 60-90 for a DVD often filled with the pro's stock footage cut into footage of the present guests. They often say they never use stock but I don't buy it. Never the less, I do not try to undercut or compete with them. This is part of their business and living and so I don't bother. However, if a guest asks me for a copy of a film I will make, then I will usually just give them a copy. It is good PR for the next trip we hope they will come with us on and I see no wrong in it. Now, if they wanted 10 copies for all their relatives, a charge would certainly come into play.
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I have worked as an unpaid reviewer for the editing websites since 2002. Most all hardware and software is sent to me free of charge, however, in no way am I obligated to provide either positive or negative evaluations. Any suggestions I make regarding products are a result of my own, completely, personal opinions and experiences with said products.


#9 CamDiver

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 02:32 PM

Hi ronrosa,
OK, I'm probably gonna get my head kicked in for this posting but I think you have to realize that in most cases people refer to the on location videographer as a 'Pro'. I tend to consider, myself included, these people as PROficients and not PROfessionals. Its a hard thing to differentiate I know but some people are very proficient using dated gear and strut around with an air of 'Hey, I'm the videographer and no one else cpmes close to my quality. I've seen people like this in my travels.

From this side of the fence as someone who does the resort work on a daily basis I can only tell you of how I deal with video toting divers. Hey, I ask them if there's anything they need, anything I can do for them. I don't see it as a wise move to get all broody about a dive group having their own videographer. That person is just as proud of his imaging as I am, all power to them. Besides, amongst divers we all have fun. Its for a deep love of the Ocean that I have embarked on this line of work. Its not a very lucrative one but one that I am happy to share with all any sundry, whether they have their own camera or not.

If people make their own videos, I sell them the blank DVD's, If people wanna do their own photo downloads from a dive buddies laptop I'll sell them their CD's etc. No point losing sleep about something that was gonna happen anyway.

Maybe thats just me, I get a lot of traffic so losing out on a few DVD's here and there isn't a great deal. I could see where that would matter more in a destination with fewer visitors etc. I guess the level of 'professional attitude' of the video 'pro' in question will be measured by way of their reaction to this kind of scenario.

Cheers,
Mark.

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#10 DeanB

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 02:44 PM

Your taking the pee..

I've been stuck in a quarry for 2 years and the words 'freshwater fish' scare most producers to death..it seems nudi's still sell even though they have been filmed to death in my opinion...warm water still attracts the customers...

Be back in blighty soon

Dive safe

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#11 CamDiver

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 03:09 PM

Well you've won awards and developed an ongoing relationship with the Beeb for your freshwater antics so I guess something good has come from it ?

We all like to hold on to our stock but in reality DV or HDV stock is not really that sought after a commodity. I've got in excess of 300 hours of stuff from my travels, the good stuff, but few and far sales of stock. I had people chasing me recently to be a part of their stock library, I mean full on hounding. So I gave them a counter offer to buy my complete DV stock at a good rate, buy it outright so they wouldn't have to pay commission fees etc, never heard from them again, hah.

I'm looking at a complete change of direction in the coming year so will see where that takes me. Not getting jaded, just getting too old for this running around lark.

Cheers,
Cam 'Ohh, me back' Diver.

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#12 MikeVeitch

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 03:45 PM

Steve..

The only stock i use is the black screen with writing on it at the front and end of the video.

The stock is reserved for the "Best of Yap" compilation..

You want stock? You buy that.
You want what you saw that day? I film it. Did i not get enough that day cuz not much going on? I go again the next day..

So, there ya go. I for one use 100% original footage each and every time....

And i DETEST when people say i fill it with stock footage.. I will even sit them down and show em the tape so they can compare... :D

As for videographers who come through. Happens quite a bit, no big deal. They will usually want to chat about a few things and i am always willing to help. Like Mark, we tend to field a lot of questions on photo and video and go out of our way to help people out. Everyone, us included, can always learn more and different ideas from other people are great ways to get it.

On the liveaboards we actually used to sell a lot when there was a videographer in the group, others would come up and quietly state how they wanted one of our copies cuz it would take the videopgrapher 6 months to edit his/hers.. :)

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#13 ronscuba

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 04:02 PM

My dive trips are usually solo or with 1 or 2 dive buddies. I think Steve does videos for his group trip guests.

I've never run into a problem with the local video guy/gals. I like to talk video stuff with them and they have always been polite. I just sometimes feel guilty that they may have lost out on a sale because I've already told people my videos are on the net for free or promised someone a free DVD.

Sometimes a freelance videographer joins the boat for a day. It's these people that seem to really need the business. I'll never forget the young couple doing this on my trip to Turks & Caicos. They couldn't have been more than 22 yrs. old At the beginning of the 2nd dive something happened and they had a housing flood. Their camcorder was trashed. I felt really bad for them.

#14 CamDiver

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 04:20 PM

I'm much the same as Mike, people only pay me to document their day so I don't do the added work of including stock. Plus it stands out a mile if you been diving in medium viz and then the shots go back and forth from medium to great viz from stock shots. Looks crappy. If people want stock they pay, simple.

Ron, people get what they pay for. If you're happy to give freebies away then hey, more power to you. Most people want a decent video taken by someone who's doing it day in, day out basically due to the knowledge they have of the conditions and site. I'm not attacking in any way your ability here.

The way I explain it to people is that yes I have got very high end equipment which I know how to use. I can hold the camera steady and can get good composition shots of them, I know the sites so composition comes second nature. For a fraction of the cost of their vacation they get what is possibly the most important souvenir of their vacation in clear, manually focused and steady workmanship. I have examples of previously filmed groups and individuals that they are free to watch. If still after that they want to go for the freebie then who am I to stop them?

Cheers,
Mark.

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#15 wagsy

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 04:28 PM

Like Mike, shoot the day as it happens, rewind the tape and add music and record to a VHS tape. That was the way it was done before the use of computers. It's the same now with computers, shoot, suck it in, add logo, start and end graphics, music and encode. That's how a true day video pro works when you get good...no edits. However sometimes you have to over film subjects for use in your archive as it's just too good..

We had a fresh new guy here that gave it ago over Shark Season. He would spend hours & hours editing and making each days DVD's. Like some nights up to 1.00 am.... :D We could start sucking in a 20 min day at 5.30pm and have 10 authored PAL/NTSC DVD's done by 7.30.

We had a mob call us for some stuff, they said it was too $$$ but we sent them a tape anyhow knowing that once the editor see's it they could not refuse as I knew the kind of material they got when here. They spent thousands staying at the best motel in town eating like kings every night for the story so they can afford to pay what we want. :)

Since HDV came out, many times Kelly would still sell folks on the boat a DVD even though they had their own video gear and she was using an old DV 4.3 setup.
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#16 Steve Douglas

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 04:54 PM

Actually, I do not make videos for the groups I lead as most of our guests are shooters in their own right. As I said, I would give a copy if asked by a guest. Mike, glad you don't use stock footage for your clients and I never accused you or anyone specific of doing so, but you will have to admit, there are many who do.

I would like to add an amendment to my original post and that regards donating a film to a non-profit organization for charitable purposes. I see nothing wrong with that, and while not in a very long time, have done so in the past. This was called to my attention by private email and they make a valid point.

My post has begun to serve a purpose only in that it has brought about discussion of the standards we set for ourselves as we endeavor to follow Howard Hall's footsteps and actually make a living out of all this. I just retired in June and have now devoted what is left of this life to just this endeavor. I'm trying just like the rest of you and don't want to see you or myself cut off at the knees because someone is giving their stuff away.
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#17 ronscuba

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 05:05 PM

Believe me, I know my abilities are limited. This is just a hobby for me and I would not dare compare my work to what you pros put out.

I also don't know why guests don't buy more videos. In comparison to the amount of money spent on the vacation, the cost of a video is nothing.

#18 CamDiver

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 05:38 PM

Steve,
In a perfect world we'd all band together and fight for the rights and recognitions of our craft and those who strive to follow in such hallowed footsteps. Unfortunately this is not a perfect world. In order to crack this industry, at a professional level, you've gotta be as cut throat as the CEO's of the fortune 500's. Thats not to say there are no 'gents' in this game. Most of us at the DV / HDV format level are easy going, headstrong yet sociable people. Let's however take a moment to really understand that the format we try to kid ourselves into believing as a 'professional' one, that is HDV, is avoided like the plague by most production and broadcast companies. It just doesn't, for the most part, hold up well in post production due to the compression factor etc.

So, what then are we all striving for with this format? Personal recognition amongst our peers? Many of us here have got great footage, have the ability and understanding to manipulate bigger, more costly, cameras but is there a need for it these days? Viewing trends have changed, people prefer to watch dysfunctional families building motorbikes or a bunch of delusional would be supermodels as they cry, shriek and wobble their way to 'stardom'.

This brings us full circle to the few people out there who still appreciate and desire to diffuse marine themed imagery on Cable or private networks. These are the networks or ventures with little if any funding, the very same who approach us in the hope we will send in freebies for inclusion in their broadcasting.

I too received the letter from Michael Shishido in Hawaii. I sent the letter as pasted above. Here's his reply:

Mark:

Thanks for your reply. I completely understand your position.

What you may not understand is that Ocean Network is just a baby, really. We went live in mid February. So really, we're still in startup mode. As such, revenues on our end are limited at best. We still are compiling our seed round financing, in fact.

What we're hoping for is to find content providers who can benefit from a relationship with us early on. Our hope and goal will be to make Ocean Network not only a viable channel but a successful media venture all the way around from the cable channel to the website to mobile delivery to print and whatever else is out there. We're looking for early believers who are willing to partner with us at this level I'm speaking of. It may not be lucrative now, but in the future as we grow, we want everyone to benefit. For now, we're offering the eyeballs that we have at this point and are willing to barter our way through with the expectation that what we give up now in mentions for your enterprise can turn into profits for you.

Again, I totally understand where you're coming from. And I respect your situation. I look forward to perhaps working together in the future.

Aloha,
Michael

Michael Shishido
VP/Programming
The Ocean Network
www.oceannetwork.tv
Bringing You The World of Water


Then of course you have the very few and far between production or broadcast entities who commission such fantastic series and films as The Blue Planet or Planet Earth. Getting a gig on these productions these days comes down to who you know rather than what you know.

I'm in a similar situation at the moment in discussions to film for a very large production in Palau. The DP (Director of Photography) of the show has housing for an BVW790WSP and the camera (Sony Digital Betacam), trouble is he's a crap diver and underwater shooter but because he's the principle DP he gets to decide who shoots underwater. My involvement in the deal is being pushed on the executive producers by a friend who knows of my work, who knows I have the stock for their B Roll needs and the knowledge of the area, and an ability to get what they need. All of that doesn't wash with the DP. He's ranting and raving at the execs to keep it all 'in house' etc. Thats what people are up against.

I think, and this is not an attack on anyone here, that we, myself included, are guilty of believing that the HDV format allows us to assume we have a claim to be considered as 'Pro Shooters'. Given this format, I don't consider myself to be a 'Pro' in the true sense of the word. Yes I make a living at this but anyone could if they choose to. Working with a dive shop doing this work allows you to collect stock, it allows you to dive everyday but shouldn't make you to think that you are anything greater than a dive shop videographer. Its a job I love doing, but its also a job that I fully understand is responsible for stagnating any ambitions of grandeur in the World of underwater filming and filmmaking.

I could go on and on but I guess you get my drift. Its a tough call to decide where you're at, what you're doing and what the path to follow is. I guess we can only hope that we live to make the best decisions open to us, the best decisions that allow us to continue in whatever avenue of underwater imaging we feel is best suited to our goals and ambitions. I just don't think, for me, that I'm gonna find what I'm looking for in the dive shop scenario.

Cheers,
Mark.

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#19 vidiver

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 06:08 PM

Hello all,

I'm new on this forum but not new to the underwater video world. I've been shooting since the '80's.

The recent posts to Steve's original post have been quite interesting and heartening as well. I'm glad to see the attitude of many of you to reflect the costs we have in our "hobby/avocation/profession."

Yes, there has been an influx of organizations wanting films for website and satellite use. If those companies are not willing to pay a fair dollar for my films, I find them useless, unless of course they are using my work for non-profit or educational purposes, in which case I'll consider them.

Cases in point:

1. John Williams does a fabulous job with his SEA-Inside Pacific Northwest effort to increase awareness of the oceans in his area. John is doing all of this work on his own and probably putting more of his money in than he will ever recoup. He has also promised that if anything takes off, he will gladly share with his contributors. I have given John permission to use numerous programs of mine and am glad to support his efforts. I also know of John and his reputation and respect what he is doing greatly. I would encourage all on this forum to support John's efforts and donate your works.

2. Ocean Video on the Ocean Network offers "exposure on our channel and a few other perks." That to me is TOTALLY unacceptable.

To protect all of our work, expenses, expertise, and each other we all do definitely need to stick together (a union of sorts?) and not allow one or two people to "prostitute" themselves just for a little credibility. As far as rates for quality underwater footage and programming goes, here are the rates that I've seen, heard and charged, and would be greatly interested in hearing of others':

- $50-100/second for quality underwater footage, depending on the "danger" involved with the footage required. This is sold with at least a 10 second minumum.

- Programs and commercials are produced at a minimum of $1000/minute, and up to $5000/minute, depending on the degree of exposure; ie. local, national, international, how many showings, etc...

- Usage of already-produced programs for minimal exposure should start at $50/minute or more, again depending on the exposure market, number of people viewing, etc...

- Contract shooting should be about $1000/day plus expenses, including prep time before and after the shoot, and can also include gear rental if you can get it.

Anyone selling their work for much less than these numbers are tremendously hurting the underwater video community and the professionals in the industry, and these people should stay out of the market until they understand the need to keep the bar where it is or higher.

Sea Ya!

Roger Roth, Founder/Director
Underwater Images Competition

#20 Steve Douglas

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 06:46 PM

Mark,
Points well taken. I used to own a dive shop here in San Diego and it is no real way to earn a living. The video pro's on most dive boats or at resorts depend upon selling DVDs to guests and often do not have the equipment or opportunity to break into the 'Professional" market. You are certainly correct in the 'depends on who you know' situation and even that is no guarantee. While, like yourself, and others here, I have won my awards, sold footage and the like, and am a regular speaker at a number of dive clubs....I often think that I am no more than perhaps the big fish in a little pond. Even then, there are some shooters and editors that I do not feel that I am in the same class as. Leandro Blanco comes to mind. I just think his stuff is incredible.
I cannot beat myself up over the head with the fact that I am shooting in HDV and not HD. If I could afford the higher end stuff, I would have it. If I am ever lucky enough to really make a dent in this field, maybe that will come to pass. Of course, by the time I have a true HD cam, no one will be shooting one as they will all have the latest holographic camcorders and the newest BLUE CAM from some company in England who used to make an old model they called the RED.
I'm just rambling here, you are trying the best you can to make a dent. Good chance you'll make one before I do but I'll keep at it anyway.
Steve B)

www.kenstone.net
www.lafcpug.org

Steve Douglas
steve-sharksdelight@cox.net

I have worked as an unpaid reviewer for the editing websites since 2002. Most all hardware and software is sent to me free of charge, however, in no way am I obligated to provide either positive or negative evaluations. Any suggestions I make regarding products are a result of my own, completely, personal opinions and experiences with said products.