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Making the phone ring when you know NOBODY?


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#1 Chris Ratledge

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 11:45 PM

Okay, this is pretty embarrassing, but I'm just curious if there's anything new to say on this subject from the closest thing to peers I could imagine. Please bear with me…

I have been a freelance AC since 2000. I joined 600 in 2002, but lapsed my membership in 2007 due to not having enough work to sustain myself in smaller midwestern markets, seemingly always the last one to call when everyone else was booked and it was me or pay to bring in an out-of-town 2nd or loader. So I got away from freelancing for a couple years. I got back into it full swing in 2010, splitting my time between AC work and what I'm trying to focus on now; DIT, which I got a chance to do on an indie feature shot in Georgia last fall. I just re-joined 600 for the access to the monopoly they have on feature production in the hopes of having more opportunities in Michigan, where I just became a resident in Jan. 2011….

…and we all know that's already circling the drain.

I don't have the $$$ to just uproot and move my family on a whim to another market right now, especially when I've ALWAYS had a lot of trouble getting the phone to ring even where I've freelanced for years already. And it's been CRUSHINGLY slow this winter for me. Scary in fact.

I've scoured production directories in several other target markets for contact information of UPMs, Coordinators, Line Producers, Producers, production companies, and individual crew members like DPs, and send out emails about every month in effort to initially introduce myself and continually pop up on radar. Always brief and positive, highlighting any recent changes or work news, asking for a visit to my website, even offering a 20% discount on my rate, "first taste is free" and demos of me and my gear, just to try to drum up a gig or two for spot work. (NOBODY'S taken me up on these to date) I've also made lots of phone calls to try to do the same thing. Occasionally I get a call asking a question, and occasionally get asked a few email responses for rate info or the like, but most of these efforts go unanswered, and I can't recall a single response from one of my correspondences resulting in a booking.

My basic question is what more can I do to possibly get more calls for work when I'm NOT local to an area I'm targeting? In other words, I can't just go knock on doors, and in these areas I'm hundreds of miles or more removed, what else can I do besides what I just described? I don't personally know any other specific union guys in Atlanta for example, to ask who I should be talking to. And they don't know me from Adam so why would they vouch for me anyway? This is always part of the emails I send; inquiring for other suggested leads or people I should introduce myself to, and like always, these seem to go unanswered.

I feel I've put in a lot of years of time and effort devoted to trying to freelance, and whatever I'm doing wrong or not doing right keeps eluding me. I've even asked those I have worked with on occasion to tell me what I might do to be more employable, so I'm not the last call they make. On set I keep quiet, keep my head down and work, don't try to be the comedy relief or a busybody, and just do my job to the best of my ability. I've never had someone come back and tell me I screwed up and they're not calling me anymore, never fogged or flashed film, never lost any footage, to my knowledge never ruined a take or pissed off the talent. Always try to add value and go the extra mile with a cooperative attitude and don't nit-pick too much. I've received lots of compliments over time. But, I can't seem to get that phone to ring with any regularity.

As terrible as the prospect seems, am I going to have to relocate and get a job in a rental house, like I did with my first job in the industry, staring all over from scratch? Shouldn't my years of experience, credits, and resume count for something?

Thanks in advance for any worthwhile advice, sorry for the length of this.
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#2 Richard Boddington

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Posted 12 March 2011 - 04:31 PM

If you're in Michigan you might look at work in the Toronto area as more large scale Hollywood projects move back into Toronto. Hollywood knows Canada is committed to its tax credit schemes, the US is becoming very sketchy in this area.

Even being paid in CDN $ won't matter now that the CDN $ is above parity with the USD.

You should be able to get landed immigrant status fairly easily.

Just a suggestion since you're so close already.

R,
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#3 Chris Ratledge

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Posted 12 March 2011 - 06:20 PM

If you're in Michigan you might look at work in the Toronto area as more large scale Hollywood projects move back into Toronto. Hollywood knows Canada is committed to its tax credit schemes, the US is becoming very sketchy in this area.

Even being paid in CDN $ won't matter now that the CDN $ is above parity with the USD.

You should be able to get landed immigrant status fairly easily.


While I agree with you that the states are really starting to balk, I'm not ready to abandon my country quite yet. Plus, I hate the weather in Detroit, and can't imagine it's any better in Toronto. If I were to move to Canada, I'd probably pick the Van instead.

However, I doubt it would do me any good to try to get work from afar in Toronto right now, like I said, no matter where it is, other markets are impossible to just uproot and locate to right now without having some work waiting to have. I need to see what area seems most promising.
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#4 Hal Smith

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Posted 13 March 2011 - 01:05 PM

I need to see what area seems most promising.


Richard just told you: Toronto.

Michigan cities that thought they'd get into the movie business by hosting productions are starting to tank because of their budget problems. Allen Park thought they'd become Hollywood Downriver. Their finances are so bad that the Mayor apparently has decided not to run for re-election.

There may be a strong relationship between rats deserting a sinking ship and politicians choosing not to run for re-election. :D
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#5 Chris Ratledge

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Posted 13 March 2011 - 06:48 PM

Richard just told you: Toronto.


Yeah, and like I told him, I'm not ready to give up on the USA yet, so barring that, I need to see what markets I've been considering have the most potential.

And again, my question isn't "WHERE DO I UP AND MOVE RIGHT NOW WITHOUT HAVING ANY CONTACTS OR POTENTIAL WORK" but instead "HOW CAN I BEST FIND WORK IN DISTANT MARKETS WITHOUT BEING A LOCAL, TO EVALUATE AND EVENTUALLY RELOCATE?"

Just telling me to up and move to Toronto doesn't answer that question, and it's impossible for me right now anyway.

Thanks for the reply.
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