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#1 Jamie Metzger

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 02:51 PM

I am thinking heavily after reading everyone's responses in "is it my age?"...

There are very honest concerns on behalf of everyone worldwide about the state of the global and local economy's. We have all seen budgets, productions days, crews, and tempers shrinking in this past year. I am concerned about keeping my income steady; will the entertainment business keep me floating, or will it be an outside source? How do you feel?

Are we approaching an age of cinema, where people should not expect to make a living anymore? What is everyone's thoughts about this?

Please no political talk in this thread.
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 03:02 PM

For myself I'm concerned with it all. I'm seeing more work and seem to have gotten, finally a bread and butter which is pretty consistent and their budgets/rates are going up. Everything else is going down. There are fewer jobs posted 'round here, and the ones that are are more and more "copy/food."
Hopefully, though it'll swing back up later on towards the fall/spring when I had else wise noticed it picked up.
I know a good deal of people 'round here are working here and again, but their budgets, too, are vastly reduced.
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#3 K Borowski

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 03:04 PM

How can you ask people to answer subjective questions in an objective manner? Isn't this a fundamental paradox?

Obviously, work is harder to find in all fields of life during a recession though, with the entertainment (i.e. nonessential) sectors getting hit the hardest by financial downturn. Film is about as entertainment-sector as it gets. . .
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#4 Daniel Sheehy

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 03:09 PM

...Are we approaching an age of cinema, where people should not expect to make a living anymore?

I don't think so. I think as an industry, it's going to be around for a long time yet.

But you'd have to admit that it (and the world economy at large) is going through some pretty interesting changes right now. People will still be able to make a living in the industry... but maybe the number of people it can support is going to change..?

Edited by Daniel Sheehy, 16 July 2008 - 03:09 PM.

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#5 Jamie Metzger

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 03:19 PM

but maybe the number of people it can support is going to change..?


I'd appreciate it if when responding, everyone weren't analyzing my words exactly, but using them to spawn discussions about the boat we are all in.

What I was saying was only part of what you mentioned Daniel...I agree with the sentence you wrote that I quoted above....

Edited by Jamie Metzger, 16 July 2008 - 03:20 PM.

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#6 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 03:37 PM

Just a thought I had as to the changes in the industry.
I think that we'll start seeing a lot lower-budget stuff, but more of it due to the proliferation of online media as computers and the internet get faster/better. I also feel that the number of people the film industry can/does support will shrink, again due to the synthesis between film/video/and online. We'll start competing more directly with flash animators and the like, in creating content. This is just my assumption, of course, but I could see it happening.
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#7 Daniel Sheehy

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 03:54 PM

I'd appreciate it if when responding, everyone weren't analyzing my words exactly, but using them to spawn discussions about the boat we are all in.

What I was saying was only part of what you mentioned Daniel...I agree with the sentence you wrote that I quoted above....

I do not understand your response.. you asked a question, I responded with my opinion.. I quoted the portion of your question that I was specifically thinking about, as you asked 4 questions and I only had thoughts on 1 of those.

Edited by Daniel Sheehy, 16 July 2008 - 03:55 PM.

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#8 Gus Sacks

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 04:06 PM

I think it's doable if you live in bigger markets and can do a number of jobs... not just DP but also Camera, G/E, and possibly even post work. That's kinda what freelancing's all about until you get to the point where you can support yourself on just one... after probably doing Union work at that job.
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#9 Glen Alexander

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 04:06 PM

Most people will still need distractions, especially when their economic conditions worsen, industry is changing. No longer is entertainment generated by huge crews and big productions by small shops with fast computers and T-3 lines. To create content in a business model for the bottom line, the suits only care about is, who does it cheaper and faster.
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#10 George Ebersole

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 04:28 PM

I am thinking heavily after reading everyone's responses in "is it my age?"...

There are very honest concerns on behalf of everyone worldwide about the state of the global and local economy's. We have all seen budgets, productions days, crews, and tempers shrinking in this past year. I am concerned about keeping my income steady; will the entertainment business keep me floating, or will it be an outside source? How do you feel?

Are we approaching an age of cinema, where people should not expect to make a living anymore? What is everyone's thoughts about this?

Please no political talk in this thread.

I offered free labor, and no takers. That's more to people scratching their heads about me in a "Who's this guy?" kind of way. Most of the job listings I'm seeing on other media BBS and services are related to finance or office support, and not production.

In the early 90s I went through two writer strikes, a recession under Bush sr., and a couple other things that really put a crimp in San Francisco's media industry. A bunch of rental houses shut down and people closed up shop. Me included.

In this regard I feel like I never left because I haven't had any job offers (save for a handful of you who visited me at my former place of work, and dropped hints ;)).

I don't know about the rest of the nation (or world), but the Bay Area for this veteran/newbie is dead. You can make a living, but like anything else you need to know the right people. And all the people I used to know over 10 plus years ago are gone.
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#11 David Rakoczy

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 05:56 PM

How can you ask people to answer subjective questions in an objective manner? Isn't this a fundamental paradox?

Obviously, work is harder to find in all fields of life during a recession though, with the entertainment (i.e. nonessential) sectors getting hit the hardest by financial downturn. Film is about as entertainment-sector as it gets. . .



Absolutely, esp. Advertising (Commercials).. Entertainment is the first to go on the consumer side and Advertising is the first to go one the Business side. By go I mean cut.

What you see in the biz today is the same we see in our culture. The middle Class is being squeezed out.. Either you are doing the handful of real 'Quality' Big Budget Work or you are reduced to something much smaller than what you could pick up 10,15,20 years ago. Yes, these are generalizations but I believe they are for the most part true. Take Features. You are either doing the handful of Big Budget Features/ Series or something much smaller than what was available in the past when then there was a ton of 2 - 10 million dollar (US) Shows in production. I know, because four of them fell into my lap and that should tell you something. Now, there is a glut of Product.

People want to experience the biggest most engaging thing they can experience next to real life ( e.g. Cameron) so there is more money pumped into one Show and fewer People are working. The Big Budget Rich get Richer and the Working Low Budget Middle Class are getting poorer. We are on the verge of a recession. Not good for Filmmaking.. whether it be via emulsion or 1s and 0s.

On the bright side :rolleyes: there are people working as there have always been even during the toughest of times. Keep on your toes. Look for opportunity. Make it happen... adjust, even Change....

Edited by David Rakoczy, 16 July 2008 - 05:59 PM.

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#12 George Ebersole

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Posted 19 July 2008 - 04:41 AM

In my "hay day", most of the work in the Bay Area was from industrials. There were also lots of small indy projects, but the indy gigs usually weren't paid positions. A lot of them were documentaries or art house films; stuff I wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole back then, largely because (at the time) I had already done the free-labor thing.

But the Bay Area is unique in this regard, in that feature films have always hovered on the periphery of San Francisco, but, like I mentioned on another thread, it's just too damn expensive to setup up shop and shoot commercial feature films here permanently.

Maybe someone'll find the right formula. Maybe not. A former boss, when he opened his studio, briefly considered San Francisco's piers/docks as studio real estate. Since Oakland had upgraded theirs and all the maritime traffic was flowing to the East Bay, this left the piers empty. But it never panned out. Instead he helped open up one of the great ambitious cinema experiments in San Francisco, across the street from the Hall of Justice. It folded within five years.

Part of the reason it folded was because it just wasn't a proper studio. Los Angeles, in its formative years, had lots of free land where the major studios could setup shop, and erect proper sound stages with baffleing and sound walls surrounding their complexes. San Francisco doesn't have any free land, just some overpriced lots in rundown neighborhoods. That, and the support services that used to be here are long gone.

So, based on the emails and job postings I see on the local media boards, work is slim within the Bay Area itself. But work being offered to Bay Area people to work elsewhere, via networking on this site and other places, seems to be thriving.

Some guy at work, who's a producer/director & DP, asked me what I did when I was working a lot. He needed a film mag loader. I didn't qualify. I just knew how to wrack focus and pan the beast. I don't know a thing about loading film into motion picture magazines (though I've done dark room work, and have loaded regular cameras via black bags). That lack of qualification kept him from hiring me.

Oh well.

I wanted to ask him why he was still shooting with an Arri BLIII or IV instead of digital. But I let it go. It's not like I'm qualified on DI. But even my offer of free labor, even with my knowledge of basic camera ops (video and film), gripping, AD and so forth wasn't enough for him to consider me.

What to do? He and I actually share the same job at work. We're both part timers, but he gets more hours.

A couple months back Jonathan Bowerbank, or one of you guys, stopped by at the store where I used to work, and dropped a lot of hints about doing a shoot down in Louisiana (or someplace in the deep South), but unless someone tosses work my way and asks me what I can do for them, there's not much else I can do.

Truth is, I'm going to shoot for above the line work anyway, so crewing probably isn't in my future anyway. BUT, at one time I thought that was the way to work up the ladder to get to the actual creative process. I'm guessing that was probably wrong.

Still, it'd be real nice to keep my feet wet in terms of basic production skills. But now I'm rambling... largely because it's late at night, and I'm all gamed out for the evening :)

Anymore thoughts?

What are you all guys (and gals) career objectives anyway? Do you want to shoot other people's stuff for the rest of your life, or are you aiming for something else?

Edited by George Ebersole, 19 July 2008 - 04:44 AM.

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#13 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 19 July 2008 - 07:15 AM

For myself, I'm quite happy shooting for others. I love actors, but I know better than to try to direct them myself. That may one day change. But, for the foreseeable future; give me a camera and a meter any day!
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#14 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 19 July 2008 - 10:59 AM

The entertainment industry doesn't always follow the same ups & downs of other industries -- people often like to be entertained during bad economic times, so there may be work during that time, just not at the salary levels of the good times.

The fundamental problem with a lot of us is that we are both skilled labor and freelance artists, and while the first may rightly expect to make a middle class income, the second has no expectations of that.
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#15 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 19 July 2008 - 11:07 AM

What's middle class. That's so 20th century! :lol:

as always well said Mr. Mullen
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#16 Alex de Campi

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Posted 19 July 2008 - 12:14 PM

Filmmaking is at the same time an art and a craft, and it's facing pressure on both sides of that. Less people want to pay for the art, if it's just going to be seen on youtube. And digital cameras' general ease of use and accessability are making the craft seem less important.

(I am not saying that no craft is involved in digital cinematography, I am just saying that HD is the bass guitar of the camera family. You can do pretty OK just by picking it up and fooling around. To do really excellent you have to learn craft. Sadly, a lot of people are happy with "pretty OK".)

I think there's also a generational issue at work. About every 20 years folks sort of look around and go, holy cow, I don't know any of these people making films any more. All the people you came up with, they're doing something else or living in a different city. And the kids are busy working with the people THEY are coming up with. Often on digital cameras. And heaven forbid if you don't fit in an easy niche work-wise.

Is it ever easy, though? I always thought that half of surviving as a freelancer was just being too damn ornery to give up. There's always some variety of the Stupid to fight, in order to make the Pretty.
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#17 Alex de Campi

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Posted 19 July 2008 - 12:26 PM

people often like to be entertained during bad economic times, so there may be work during that time, just not at the salary levels of the good times.


I have a dirty, dirty love for Depression-era screwball comedies, such as - and yes, this is the Captain Obvious example - the Thin Man, shot on secondhand sets in something ridiculous like 10 days for MGM. Lord, how we'd all squeak if we were asked to do that by a big studio now. So perhaps we're better off than we think.

I've always found it amusing that only when we're (as a nation) fat and happy we make movies like Night of the Hunter and Angel Face*. Hm, I wonder what it would look like if we plotted David Lynch's film career to US GDP.

Sorry, that was totally off the subject. Audience psychology fascinates me.

*trivia: circa 18 days from Preminger first getting script to wrapping the film.

Edited by Alex de Campi, 19 July 2008 - 12:26 PM.

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#18 Paul Bruening

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Posted 19 July 2008 - 12:41 PM

What was the ratio of your work? What would you use as a classification system: Creative feature, creative short, off-TV doc., creative TV, news/doc TV, industrial, advertising, music videos, event videos (weddings, et al)? What areas paid you and kept you working? What areas have dried up? What areas are still grinding along but dropped in pay value?

With all the complaints about the Hellywood system from punks like me, it is a system that knows how to survive bad times. I think it will continue and for those who are well placed in that system, like David, they will work. I'm betting the Youtube sized producers will maintain a following for their grade of work, but they'll flip burgers to keep it going (which is where I'm heading). Recessions (I sound like our bullshit American news, now... depression is closer to accurate) are always a middle class event of magnitude. It's looking like the broad "middle class of production" is where the biggest hit in activity is happening as well.
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#19 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 19 July 2008 - 02:24 PM

Indeed. Sad times for quality lower-budget yet good paying productions in the US.

After working big features for what seemed a long time -too many in a short time, really- and getting fed up with the ferocious cut throat-ness, I went back to commercials, docs and industrials.

But now, anyone with an HD camera is trying to become the next Spielberg. Hey, good for them, democracy in the arts and all that. Trouble is, one has to take any tiny little job that comes one's way. And do it for peanuts. I mainly subsist by doing many little video/ film jobs . . .

There are too many people trying to break in to the industry, it simply cannot sustain us all.

The other day I saw this guy whom I hadn't seen in a while. He just got a RED package, after meteorically rising from small video business owner to bigger video business owner. He was telling me he was about to join 600 as a DP (without ever shooting a frame of film, or caring to, mind you). He is busy as shite.

The world is changing. Some people are on top of it, some aren't: as usual. Thing is, as we have said, now the crowd in the middle is thinning out at scaringly high rates.

It is up to each one of us to stay with it or get buried underfoot. Gotta make it happen, or else. Such are the times we live in. Opportunity is knocking on some doors, that is for sure.
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#20 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 19 July 2008 - 02:37 PM

When I first rolled into town back in 1992 as a naive kid fresh off the boat, an executive at Fox gave me the best advice anyone can get about this business, that being, keep as many irons in the fire as you can.

Diversifying has (thankfully, knock on wood) kept me busy even during the slowest of times. I began my career shooting SD video back when the Audio guy was carrying the record deck. Then I moved to LA and got about fifteen years of film experience (features, episodics, music videos) under my belt as an AC while still shooting video on the side. ACing gave way to full time video and extra education in HD helped expand my skills and client base. Adding Steadicam to my toolbox when it's needed helps. And when I don't do any of that, I have been writing... at first screenplays which hopefully will pay off someday and the book which was finished and published in June.

I'm not really qualified for anything else so it is in my best interest to not be a film "purist" or hold fast to any other "principles" that could keep me from earning a living in the business I have worked so hard to become a part of.

Living in LA to do it grows increasing difficult though as gas prices skyrocket ($130.00 this morning to fill up the tank) and I still can't touch buying a real house no matter how well I do. The business is fun and it's what I like to do, but there is a price to pay and sacrifices are made to do it. I hope that I can continue to work and I hope that my income can somehow increase to keep up with (and surpass) the expense it takes to be here. But who knows..... :unsure:
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