As Part 2 of our advice for videographers seeking work with production companies, I want to take a look into some tips and tricks you can use to benefit your efforts. The goal is not just to make the most money per day of shooting, or to book the most days of work per month, but to establish great long term relationships at a solid pay rate that lead to regular work.
1. If You’re Busy, Apply Anyway
As long as you are polite in informing the producer upfront that you’re unavailable the day of the shoot, you may as well send a friendly introduction e-mail. At least 20% of the time, shoot dates are moved anyway, so if you’re the best option you may end up gaining the job anyway. If you miss out on this shoot because you’re booked, you could still end up as a future hire. Many times, producers — including myself — make mistakes when we hire a videographer. A great reel and great communication don’t always lead to great results, for whatever reasons. Maybe the videographer had a bad day, maybe they didn’t understand the project, or maybe it just wasn’t a good fit. In any case, the producer will be looking for a new option next time. Make sure you’re on the list.
2. No Need to Discount
While haggling over price is bad, you have no reason to offer a discount from the listed price. Producers who appreciate your professionalism and quality won’t choose you because you offer to take the job for $400 instead of $500. Not only will you seem more desperate, but you risk being hired at a lower rate for every future job. By the same token, if you agree to a shoot for $500, then the production company asks you to do a similar shoot, same time frame, for the same price just a few months later, don’t try to ask for $650. You’re likely to lose to the next person on the list. We have raised our videographer pay regularly and aggressively, not only to look out for our professionals who we consider part of our success, but because of greater costs of gear, health insurance, and the desire to work with the best videographers.
3. Communicate Your Working Area
The most important piece of advice I have for videographers is to let the producer know how many miles from your house you are willing to travel for work. I have mistakenly assumed many times that a videographer wouldn’t be interested in a shoot because it’s 100 miles away, but many videographers are happy to travel for work. Most producers will also be happy to hire a known professional who has created great work in the past and compensate for mileage as long as it means not having to hire a new, untested videographer. I love knowing a videographer is willing to travel up to 100 miles because it means I can pass them more work and spend less time sorting through reels, e-mails, and potential contacts.
4. Know Crew in Your Area
If a producer is looking for a videographer, he or she may also be searching for other crew members, like a grip, makeup artist, solid PA, etc. When we hire for most of our shoots, we promise our clients a two-person crew to speed along the production. When our videographers have their own PA or grip contacts, not only does it form a smoother team where you can help out a contact in your area, but it helps save the producer time and effort pairing you with an unknown extra hand. If the producer is paying you and you are paying the PA or grip, ask for 100% payment upfront for your crew hires. Otherwise, tell the producer to pay the crew members separately if you don’t want to deal with the hassle. For me, I love having our videographers hire their own PA and writing just two checks, an upfront payment and final videographer payment.