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#1 Tina Coggins

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Posted 13 August 2005 - 02:28 PM

Newbie here, and so maybe this has been discussed before, or maybe it's an unwelcome topic (I hope not). But I'm looking at something that may or may not work for me, and I'd love some advice from seasoned professionals, of which I know there are several here.

I'm 46 (47 in a few days), and I'm a graphics and film student at my local community college, with plans to move on to CSU Northridge. Am I nuts to be doing this at my age? By the time I have my Bachelors I'll be over 50 years old. Will anyone want to take me on as an intern, or hire me after that? I'm an over-achiever with a damn good eye and design skills, but will that matter as much as my age and gender?

I don't start this post to be comforted, but for the truth. Let's have it, please. And I'd also be interested in knowing the experiences of those who may have, or have had, the same concerns, or who have either been valued for their age or been descriminated against because of it.

Thank you.
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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 13 August 2005 - 06:33 PM

Hi,

I think we're all in the same boat really - they seem to always want 25 year olds with 15 years' experience!

Phil
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 13 August 2005 - 08:41 PM

It sort of depends on what sort of work you want to do -- some fields seem to consider age and physical appearance more than others. Editorial and other post fields may be less concerned about age than camerawork, let's say. Not that you're too old to work in the camera department, just you have to consider it can take ten years to build up a career as a DP -- just as you start to really take-off, you may feel like slowing down!

It seems to me that the documentary field seems less concerned about age.
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#4 Richard Boddington

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Posted 13 August 2005 - 08:46 PM

There's no point in sugar coating it, starting out in this biz at 50 is not a plus in most cases.

The film industry "celebrates youth" certainly in front of the camera, and to a lesser degree behind it. There are of course 50+ producers, directors, DPs, and editors, but they have usually been doing this since their 20s.

Take a walk around the animation suites of ILM, SONY, Disney, and Pixar, how many people in their 50s will you see. Most likely zero. Now I know CGI hasn't really been around that long, but I have a close connection in the VFX biz, people over 40 are considered to be "over the hill."

The opportunities for women behind the camera at the professional level are few and far between at the best of times. How many women do you see in the end credits of a movie? The vast majority of positions are dominated by men.

Now if you start a film career at 50 having a huge nest egg in the bank from your previous life, you'll be all set. Just make your own films and say age be damned, who can stop you then?

Good luck and follow your dream, you might as well, this life is not a dress rehersal for the next one.

R,
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#5 drew_town

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Posted 13 August 2005 - 10:39 PM

I can't speak for Hollywood, but starting a production company or documentary career is certainly reasonable at that age.
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#6 Tina Coggins

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Posted 14 August 2005 - 01:15 AM

I appreciate the lack of sugar on top, Richard; I like the real thing and prefer to just talk honestly.

This is the field I've wanted to work in for decades, but first I was raising my son, and then doing graphics grunt work and miscellaneous crap jobs. After that, my health got bad and to amuse myself during that period, I taught myself web design. It's taken some time to work on turning my health around and even be able to think about what I would do if I could do anything. At times, I think about the odds and freak out a little bit and wonder if I'll make it (I don't have the lovely fictional, aforementioned nest egg, so the only thing I have to fall back on is my bottom), but I figure, as Richard basically said, we only live once. If I don't go for what I want, I don't think I'll be able to be truly happy in what I do, because I'd just be settling.

I guess I'm hearing what I already knew, so there are no surprises -- though I *have* leaned towards documentary work, so it's good to hear that this might be a field that might be a better fit for me. I'm still finding my way, though, and I know it, so I appreciate very much this forum and the the information and experience that is shared here. Thank you all. :)

Edited by Tina Coggins, 14 August 2005 - 01:19 AM.

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#7 Jonathan Bryant

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Posted 15 August 2005 - 04:56 AM

I am only 23 and being young seems to work against me rather than help me. Because of the poor economy I was laid off instead of the 35 yearold father of two. When you are young people also take advantage of you by scheduling you anytime they want, paying you less, not offering as many benefits, etc.... I have worked at tv stations and production houses where my elders could get away with murder if they wanted to. At one station the GM brought in his $200,000 RV and for two weeks had the station engineers install a generator, a plasma tv, a mobile satellite dish, and many other upgrades. All while we needed VTRs repaired, TBCs adjusted, etc.. And I am constantly competing with older freelancers who shoot with PD150s and would looked puzzled if you said depth of field,shutter, kino flo,etc... Alot of these people have other jobs and don't prima The people that hire me know I can handle more difficult situations and admit that I am better than most of the older freelancers. But the fact of it is that they feel more of a connection with them and give them the easy jobs and I have even found out that sometimes they pay them more dispite the fact my work has been on national tv, or that I bring light kits, use a real ENG style cameras with the DSP IRIS Shutter etc.. all manual set for the conditions,and I also bring many years of experience mixing audio for live radio and tv. And the women I have worked for couldn't pay me on time or provide basic equipment . Some of the female coworkers I have had spend most of their day sending email/IM messages, talking on the phone with friends, having their boyfriends at work, taking 5 breaks a day to eat or smoke, surfing websites, talking to other coworkers, or just having ADD breakdown. Granted these girls were not payed as good as me but they can't argue with that because they aren't as productive. Now I have worked with hardworking reporters before who went non stop from 2am to 2pm.

Overall I think the people in power are older and they can relate better to people their own age. Who ever said go to college and you will get a good job didn't know what they were talking about. The college kids that want to do production work are a dime a dozen. Its all about people skills and who you are friends with. I know cameramen that do the superbowls and world series that tell me that their co workers just don't respect you unless you worked back in the days of 3/4 inch.

So just go into any job interview and tell them that you have kids, and that you worked with 3/4 inch and you will be a shoein. "Look here is a picture of Billy my youngest, He thinks dad has just the coolest job" You shouldn't even have to intern they will probably insist that they pay you. As for 23 yearolds they don't have house payments, car insurance, electric bills, or kids to pay for. Well this 23 yearold has all of the above except the kids lol.

I think this is prevalent in almost every job though. I worked in sales where people would trust bob cause he was going bald and that meant he knew what he was talking about or that he never tells a lie. All I ask is to be treated equally based on performance.
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#8 Richard Boddington

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Posted 15 August 2005 - 10:09 AM

I used to shoot news so your post made me laugh.

BTW, what do you mean by:

"and I also bring many years of experience mixing audio for live radio and tv."

If you're only 23 what do you mean by many?

The TV news business is a hilarious joke! There's no other industry where stupidity and incompetance is rewarded more.

As for age I've always had the opposite problem you have. When I finished university I was hired as a producer for one of Canada's national broadcasters in Toronto, I was 26, people thought I was 40!! Imagine having to get out your drivers license to prove your 26 instead of 40. Geez I guess I don't have very good genes do I. Granted I didn't look much like the goofy 26 year old interns, maybe that's what threw people? I didn't have long hair or earings, I wore suit pants and a shirt and tie.

So there's some free advice for you other young twenty some thing people, want to be treated with the respect older people get, act and dress older :D

R,
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#9 Greg Gross

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Posted 15 August 2005 - 12:47 PM

There is always the independent filmmaking route if you wish to do so.
You may have to write,produce,direct and photograph your films. Of cou-
rse you have to go out and shop for money.


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#10 Tina Coggins

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Posted 15 August 2005 - 03:54 PM

Heh. Yeah, there's definitely two sides to that coin, isn't there? John, thank you for your perspective. I hear your frustration. As I'm sure you know, what you have done is called "paying your dues," and it builds integrity. It also sucks.

When you're 23 oftentimes oldtimers think of you as a kid, and many people don't respect kids. Guess you'll be spending a good amount of time proving yourself, but then maybe it depends upon where you're working? In any case, maybe a bit of gray hair dye, applied to the temples, might work? ;)

Greg, that's definitely an option for the future. That is, if my shopping is successful... :)
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#11 Jonathan Bryant

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Posted 15 August 2005 - 11:58 PM

[quote name='Richard Boddington' date='Aug 15 2005, 11:09 AM']
I used to shoot news so your post made me laugh.

BTW, what do you mean by:

"and I also bring many years of experience mixing audio for live radio and tv."

If you're only 23 what do you mean by many?


Eight to be exact, I started in radio at age 15. I have mixed live concerts and news on radio and tv fulltime not as an intern. So it seems like alot of people think just like you that oh "He is only 23 with no family and kids what does he know."

I don't claim to be a be an expert, I value learning which is why I am here. But I also don't judge someones knowledge based upon their age (young or old). Eight years may seem like nothing to some people but I feel like with the books, schools, forums,and such people can become knowledgeable alot shorter time years ago.

The whole media business seems to be who you know, what union you are with, yadda yadda yadda. If I produce a better product than guy b then I should be paid more.

The most recent rant I have is training people to do my job. I have built editing systems, dvd duplicators, and etc... all barely above my costs of the hardware. Then I am expected to come in and train for free Jenny or Bob who both are in their 40s and have great fulltime jobs making 60,000 + and now they want to take up video as a hobby and edit small jobs for next to nothing just to learn. My clients have given them my phone number and expect me to give free tech support 24/7 whenever they call. SO a word of advice don't ever build a pc for anyone because they will call you night and day and expect you to walk them through everything even when you are a state away. And when they butcher edit jobs they will call you in to fix it for only a hour or two of pay.

I do this for a living and I think it is disrespectful for someone who already has a steady fulltime job to expect me to train them how to do my job as hobby and get payed by my clients. It seems like people think that anybody can be thrown into editing and be good at it in a few days. Instead of these people calling me night and day asking about tech stuff they would be better off reading books like the 5 Cs of Cinematography, or getting into a forum like this. The latest question I got was how do I get 20 picture in the pictures flying around on the screen. lol
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#12 Tina Coggins

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Posted 16 August 2005 - 12:38 AM

Cripes, that sounds like a nightmare.

I guess it's somewhat normal for people who know your age to be surprised that you are so advanced, or maybe even to assume that you cannot know what you know, but I can also imagine it would be frustrating for you. The beauty of it is, I guess, the looks on their faces when you surprise them. That's the payoff, for now, I suppose.

In the end, while you may feel you are training them to do your job, technical knowledge does not replace a good eye, good timing and design skills, etc. Something might be technically excellent, but still leave people cold (I'm now thinking of a movie I brought up earlier, in the "Favorite Opening Credit Sequence" thread, FINAL FANTASY. Technically awesome, at the time, but terrible -- it's a bad sign to be ruminating on a list of errands that need to be completed after leaving the theatre while watching a movie). So, if you're that good an editor, I don't think you have anything to worry about in that regard, but I can see why you would feel resentful. Sounds like you need to up your fees, if nothing else. And can't you say "no" to certain jobs, particularly if you're not making anything on it?
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#13 Jonathan Bryant

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Posted 16 August 2005 - 02:51 AM

Georgia is definately not California in terms of the amount of work. So I have to take what I can find and work with them on cost. I am the only fulltime freelancer in this town as far as I know. Hopefully if I stay here instead of move to a bigger market I will be able to capture longterm clients.

It just seems to get harder and harder. With college students that have free access to pro video equipment, the upgrade costs of HD, increasing gas prices, and the fact that people want more deals now.

But one of the older guys I work for made over $400,000 last year just doing corporate videos and such. He still shoots alot of his stuff on a UVW100 Betacam with no lights,etc... The fact is he is the main guy in his market, knows everyone, and has been there for years.

If there is anything I am ignorant about it is the business side. How to acquire clients, pricing, accounting, advertising,etc.... To respond to your post earlier about young people should dress better and people would respect them more. I always try to dress for the situation so that I blend in with everybody, most of the time it is business casual . When I do wear a tie or dress more formal it is amazing how differently people treat you. I wish we could have more posts about the business side of jobs. Any tips on how to be more successful in this business would be great!
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#14 Tina Coggins

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Posted 16 August 2005 - 03:33 AM

Jon, if you want to see that type of thread, why not start one? Beyond that, taking a few classes in business and accounting can't hurt, either.

It sounds like you can have a decent financial future there if you are patient and play your cards right. Or maybe even make your own niche.
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#15 Richard Boddington

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Posted 16 August 2005 - 09:38 AM

"But one of the older guys I work for made over $400,000 last year just doing corporate videos and such. He still shoots alot of his stuff on a UVW100 Betacam with no lights,etc... The fact is he is the main guy in his market, knows everyone, and has been there for years."

I find it hard to believe some one could earn that kind of cash shooting corporate videos on Beta in any market? Any way I have no way to disprove it, just seems pretty high.

Point is I doubt he was making that kind of money at 23 was he? If he's in his 50s I'm sure you'll agree he should be making more than you based on age and quality of his work. The established connections are a plus in any business and take years to develop.

Why don't you tell us what you think you should be earning at 23?

I hope you're not one of these 23 year olds that thinks you deserve 100K plus a year?

Most younger people, not saying you in particular, want all the cash NOW. They look at people in their 40s and 50s and see the nice homes and cars and forget that it took 20 years for those people to get where they are.

R,
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#16 Matt Pacini

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Posted 16 August 2005 - 11:42 AM

Tina, why don't you be more specific as to what you want to get into.
Just saying "graphics" doesn't tell us anything.

Do you want to design posters for theaters?
Work as a web designer for Disney?
Do print graphics?
Do 3D character animation at ILM?
Do 2D wire removal/cleanup graphics for film?
Do on-air graphics for a TV station?

There are many, many jobs that do "graphics" and whether or not age matters depends on which one of these you are interested in.
I think probably for most things, if you've got a great reel/sample work, & experience (that's the tough one) you'll be employable.

However, as someone who's not a kid myself (47) I would say that it seems in ALL industries, they tend to be more tolerant of younger people with less experience, than older people with that exact amount of experience.
They're more likely to hire some 23 year old who seems like they're really excited and gung-ho about this job, because it's what they've wanted to do since they were a kid, than someone in their 40's who's making their 2nd, 3rd, or 4th career change.

There's another dynamic that I don't think ANYONE ever talks about, that is a problem (this is a personal theory of mine), and that is that I think people in managerial/supervisory jobs tend to feel uncomfortable hiring anyone older than they are.
A totally subconscious thing... they feel like they're not going to be as much in charge, because of some "parent/child" dynamic.
You're older, so there's some inherent vibe there that you're the dominant one, they're the submissive one, so they avoid that and hire people younger than themselves.
Ever since I thought this up, I've noticed it time and time again, and I don't think I'm imagining it.
You will rarely see people hiring someone older than they are.
Think about it...

MP

Edited by Matt Pacini, 16 August 2005 - 11:43 AM.

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#17 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 16 August 2005 - 02:11 PM

Hi,

> Most younger people, not saying you in particular, want all the cash NOW

The inverse situation is that the market is generally priced for the oldsters. Certainly in the UK, most jobs simply don't pay what it costs to get onto the property ladder, no matter what age you are. It's becoming an ogliarchy made up of people who couldn't give a tinier toss what happens to the bottom-feeders.

Phil
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#18 Jonathan Bryant

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Posted 16 August 2005 - 03:50 PM

"I find it hard to believe some one could earn that kind of cash shooting corporate videos on Beta in any market? Any way I have no way to disprove it, just seems pretty high."

Well he does .

"If he's in his 50s I'm sure you'll agree he should be making more than you based on age and quality of his work. "

Quality of work yes not age.

Why don't you tell us what you think you should be earning at 23?

20,000 would be nice

" hope you're not one of these 23 year olds that thinks you deserve 100K plus a year?"

No just want to out of the poverty level. LOL
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#19 Richard Boddington

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Posted 16 August 2005 - 04:29 PM

"No just want to out of the poverty level. LOL"

Then you've chosen the wrong industry.

If you're a news shooter then get a job at a station, small market will do you fine, they have a high turn over and are always looking for shooters. If you're single and can re-locate you can easily find a full time station job with benefits. Forget this free lance stuff, you need a steady pay check with health insurance, you should target 24k-30k a year as a reasonable expectation.

Keep an eye on this page....

http://www.rtnda.org/jobs/find.asp

Here's more news jobs, tons of them, be an editor as well....

http://www.indeed.co...ction&rl=1&rb=1

R,
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#20 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 16 August 2005 - 05:18 PM

Hi,

At least you have that option in the US; if I could walk into a news camera job I would without question.

Phil
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