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Mixing DP's with Business


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#1 Tim Pipher

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Posted 03 February 2008 - 11:24 AM

I'm opening an HD TV and movie studio next month in the beautiful Florida coastal city of Vero Beach (sunny and 80's today -- perfect day for golf, tennis & surfing). A description of the studio is at the end of my post.

Let's say I'm looking for a talented and well connected in-house cinematographer. Let's say I'm offering $100,000 per year (no state income tax, low cost of living) plus possible large bonuses (the bonuses based on the studio's success), plus full medical benefits. Let's also say I'm offering a little perk -- the ability for the cinematographer to take semi-regular leave of absences to work on his/her current outside projects. That way, the cinematographer could keep working his best current jobs, plus receive a steady paycheck and benefits.

But I'd also be asking for something additional from this DP: That he or she, especially in the early days, would work closely with the sales department (usually me) to help make contact with his/her business connections, with the aim of letting these connections know about our facility and services and obtaining their business.

Let's also say the other two key staff -- a top flight editor and a top flight VFX artist -- were working under the same agreement.

My questions are:

Can the three creative positions be expected to attempt to help generate business, and will their sales input actually help?

If these three creative people are well aware that their bonuses will be higher the more successful the studio is, will they be more apt to help the sales staff?

Is the opportunity for these key people to keep their best current projects a good idea, or will it be more trouble than it's worth?

Will talented people with connections (therfore very experienced) find this set-up intriguing? In effect, I'd be evaluating the potential employees' connections in addition to their talents.

Thanks for any input. A description of the studio is below:


Southeastern Studios, located in beautiful Vero Beach, Florida, opens March. Many of our productions will take place on our cyclorama sound stage with live green screen compositing through our Orad HD virtual studio system, one of two such systems available to the public in the United States, and one of the few in the world to be tethered to high end cinema quality cameras and decks. Through this virtual studio technology, our clients' productions can appear to originate from huge and elaborate multi-million dollar TV stages, luxurious mansions, the Grand Canyon, cars, airplanes, restaurants, hotel lobbies, the beach, or outer space, but will actually be produced from the comfort of our studio, with sets being changed at the touch of a button.

When we're not employed by outside clients for commercials, network quality news and talk shows, music videos, and infomercials, we'll be our own client making movies. We intend to prove that high end movie production is not only possible from the confines of our green screen facility, but by using our three fully tracked HD cameras (Panasonic HPX3000's), making our virtual environments in advance (and over time compiling a virtual back lot), and compositing them with our actors live, massive time and cost savings will result.

Almost all of our gear will also be portable for on-location traditional productions, accommodated nicely by our two luxurious motor homes.

Southeastern Studios will be very user-friendly to producers from anywhere in the world. We offer free airfare and free use of our two beautiful homes by the beach to cast and crew using our facility.
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#2 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 03 February 2008 - 11:35 AM

It sounds intriguing. :)

I think that the only question that "concerns" me is that the deal makes the DP (and others) sort of de facto Producers. For me anyway, so often in what I do, the "Producers" who hire me (and others like me) take advantage of our experience and kind of expect us to do some of their work while they walk off with that above-the-line credit. They get to stroll in, expect us to "fix" the problems that they should've prepared for in prep, and they are the credited "Producer." As I get older, I get more irritated with that arrangement. I think that's where "jaded" old crew people come from. :P

The money is very nice, but at a certain point, it's also nice to be given credit for the work you do. Someone may keep working for you if they enjoy the paycheck, but if they feel like they are being taken advantage of at all, the quality of the work they do may drop as their enthusiasm goes.

Just my .02. Other than that, I might actually consider it if my kids weren't still in school here in LA.
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#3 Tim Pipher

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Posted 03 February 2008 - 11:54 AM

It sounds intriguing. :)

I think that the only question that "concerns" me is that the deal makes the DP (and others) sort of de facto Producers. For me anyway, so often in what I do, the "Producers" who hire me (and others like me) take advantage of our experience and kind of expect us to do some of their work while they walk off with that above-the-line credit. They get to stroll in, expect us to "fix" the problems that they should've prepared for in prep, and they are the credited "Producer." As I get older, I get more irritated with that arrangement. I think that's where "jaded" old crew people come from. :P

The money is very nice, but at a certain point, it's also nice to be given credit for the work you do. Someone may keep working for you if they enjoy the paycheck, but if they feel like they are being taken advantage of at all, the quality of the work they do may drop as their enthusiasm goes.

Just my .02. Other than that, I might actually consider it if my kids weren't still in school here in LA.


Good point -- you would be serving as a producer and would be credited as such. By the way, schools are great here!
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#4 John Brawley

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Posted 03 February 2008 - 04:07 PM

My questions are:

Can the three creative positions be expected to attempt to help generate business, and will their sales input actually help?

If these three creative people are well aware that their bonuses will be higher the more successful the studio is, will they be more apt to help the sales staff?



I really think it depends on the individuals. I don't know your market, but from where I'm from I can't think of many cinematographers that would by themselves attract clients to a facility, unless they were seriously international level.

However, I know some excellent Director/DP's that would. They have more of a *name* from their directing background, and that's what clients will ask for and know.

jb
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#5 Marcos Sanz

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Posted 03 February 2008 - 06:29 PM

It all depends on the one person you hire. I f that person is a good salesman, you're going to have some good odds in getting them to shoot in your place.

If the DP/Producer/Director/Writer/Editor you hire knows a lot of people but they don't feel like going there and use your facilities, I do not think that's going to work up for your facility.

On a few words, hire someone capable of bring in productions, with the knowledge on sales, marketing and advertising.

That's my humble opinion.


P.S. A friend of mine is getting some good shoots for Leo Burnett Mexico, and so on. It all depends on the person you hire, and how persistent that person can be, and his/her knowledge of the trade.
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Visual Products

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