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Your house or your future?


George Ebersole
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For the last five years I've been trying to get myself into a regular full time job situation doing anything (non-film), so I can hold onto my house and go back to school to get some technical training. Having done that, I'd hold onto whatever full time job I had, then I'd shoot whatever project I wanted on my days off. The thing of it is that I'd shoot my project on low end prosumer gear, or maybe even 16mm.

 

Is this unreasonable? Does anybody here think this is a dumb idea, or a "crazy" idea?

 

It'd be nice to have an honest answer.

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You know, in truth it'll all depend on whether you find it to work for you. I know that at the moment I've taken a full time, well paying job (which i hate) in order to save up a lot of money for an eventual relocation to the west coast. I still get to shoot projects, as I am required to use vacation time, but I also every morning, wake up hating my self and the upcoming day. I'll do this because it makes sense for me at this moment and I'll deal with this bull in order to chase down the dreams. I hate to quote Transformers, but it's fitting, "No Sacrifice, no victory."

I am lucky that I just have an apartment, I had a house once, and I sold it (to buy a camera, go figure....).

What is it you want to do in the end? I think that's the real question. If you want to direct, then I think you have a good idea-- save money, shoot, pay a good crew, and really work to get the film done, the right way! There's no need to rush, I'd say. Just do the best you can in the time you have. And if you feel you want to go back to school; not knowing what "technical training," you're speaking of, see if you can do it nights. It'll be a loonnng week-- but if it works for you, do it. It's not as though you can't just say screw it all whenever you'd like-- you can. Just don't refinance the house just yet ;)

 

Good luck.

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You know, in truth it'll all depend on whether you find it to work for you. I know that at the moment I've taken a full time, well paying job (which i hate) in order to save up a lot of money for an eventual relocation to the west coast. I still get to shoot projects, as I am required to use vacation time, but I also every morning, wake up hating my self and the upcoming day. I'll do this because it makes sense for me at this moment and I'll deal with this bull in order to chase down the dreams. I hate to quote Transformers, but it's fitting, "No Sacrifice, no victory."

I am lucky that I just have an apartment, I had a house once, and I sold it (to buy a camera, go figure....).

What is it you want to do in the end? I think that's the real question. If you want to direct, then I think you have a good idea-- save money, shoot, pay a good crew, and really work to get the film done, the right way! There's no need to rush, I'd say. Just do the best you can in the time you have. And if you feel you want to go back to school; not knowing what "technical training," you're speaking of, see if you can do it nights. It'll be a loonnng week-- but if it works for you, do it. It's not as though you can't just say screw it all whenever you'd like-- you can. Just don't refinance the house just yet ;)

 

Good luck.

You sold your house for a camera?

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Well among other reasons. I never claimed to make the most sense in the world. The house/camera story is as such: owned the house because I had to take care of my dad who got really sick. Dad passes, as we all do, and had a big house, no money @ all left after the final medical bills, and no need for a big house. Was made a very nice offer on the house, about double what I paid for it, sold it, and then with the money I had leftover, bought my camera and used the rest to pay off as many bills as I could. But in truth, I was so drooled over the thought of having my own camera, which I knew, as I know now, I'll probably never turn a profit on, that I just had to have it. It wasn't so much so, at that time, that I really intended to be a DoP, but I did want the best possibly system I could get so I could shoot what I thought important whenever (it's an SR3 full package, I should mention). It was a kin, in a lot of ways, as to why I once bought this really PoS Blazer. It was rusted to tell and only worked in 4WD, but I wanted it because I wanted to be able to dive where I wanted, when I wanted. And I drove it into the ground, just trolling around backroads in the country, thinking, seeing etc. I don't regret these nonsensical things, because they worked for me and in my own logic made sense. Just as your own choices in your predicament must work for you and by your own logic make sense-- even if that isn't financial sense. Sometimes it's best to forget all the notions of "owning things," and just live.. I don't want to get too new-agey or spiritural or any of the crap, but sometimes you gotta do things which people think are stupid-- and they probably are-- for a kind of well-being you feel deep within you; if that makes any sense.

Hey you said you wanted an honest answer ;)

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I think that low end prosumer gear is good enough. It can capture high definition images and you can shoot at 30 frames per second which is the poor mans answer to 35mm film at 24 frames per second. Besides if you were shooting an Epic you would need 65mm film and money to burn. 16mm film can make a nice 720p transfer. I think that people are underestimating that with the advent of cheap and affordable high definition cameras film making is whithin reach of anyone.

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Adrian, your story really touches me. Often turning points in life (like i.e. the loss of your father) lead to not so well-overthought acts (selling your house and buying a probably overpriced camera).

Unfortunately material goods and owning things doesn't make you a happy person nor compensate for losses. It doesn't turn you into a good DP owning that special camera gear but will give you skills on knowing how to operate it slash use it. I may exaggerate now, but this you could have attending an internship at a rental house. Owning gear can seriously be a pain when others try to lean or rent for low all the time (and then not even book you for the job).

 

George, Buying a camera for your own project is okay as long as the money spent doesn't hurt your normal life. If you have to sell your house: Don't shoot your indie-feature without external financing! Even if YOU think it is a 100 percent worth it. It's not.

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I think that low end prosumer gear is good enough. It can capture high definition images and you can shoot at 30 frames per second which is the poor mans answer to 35mm film at 24 frames per second. Besides if you were shooting an Epic you would need 65mm film and money to burn. 16mm film can make a nice 720p transfer. I think that people are underestimating that with the advent of cheap and affordable high definition cameras film making is whithin reach of anyone.

 

Lots of ignorance there - Most cheap cameras shoot 24p. 16mm makes very nice 1080/2k transfers. No one here is shooting an epic nor 65mm, studios only do that and rarely, so why bring it up. Cheap cameras do not a director or cinematographer make, in fact it seems to make things worse overall. That last statement sounds like some old HD cam promotional quote from about 2003 actually.

 

Are you a real person "James" or just someone playing a game? Any references that you exist at all? Your posts, overall, are really getting old and in the way.

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*snip*

George, Buying a camera for your own project is okay as long as the money spent doesn't hurt your normal life. If you have to sell your house: Don't shoot your indie-feature without external financing! Even if YOU think it is a 100 percent worth it. It's not.

My real question is; why is it so wrong for me to try to pay off my debts with a full time job, and THEN pursue shooting a film on the side? I mean, what's wrong with that?

 

Seriously, without getting too personal here, I feel like friends and family see me as wanting this tragic-artists life. The cliche thing where you create (maybe) brilliant stuff, then die alone or something. It's like they think I associate film with a negative aspect of my personality, so they steer me away from it.

 

Totally untrue. I was happiest working in media. I didn't always like some of the people I met in film and video, but then who does? Does anyone have to like anyone at any job? It helps to get along, but to actually "like" and befriend someone? That's complete and utter nonsense, but it is the kind of stuff that's tossed my way at all my jobs in the last five years.

 

I mean, heck, when I was growing up a job meant you showed up, did what you were supposed to do, be professional, then go home. And if you were lucky, you got to do it again the next day. But it's like for anyone my age or older whose tried to break back into the mainstream workforce, it's utter hell.

 

You have to not only do your job and treat the cliental well, but you have to be buddies with your coworkers. AND, be "happy". What I miss about freelancing is that the network process and the jobs themselves mostly took care of that (not always, see my professionalism thread under the business practice section of the BBS).

 

I'll be honest, I feel like I'm being forced out of my house because I want to go back into media. And I just can't understand why the hell this is.

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I know that at the moment I've taken a full time, well paying job (which i hate)

 

Hopefully your current employer doesn't read these boards! :D

 

R,

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Honestly, Richard, if they did, and they fire me for it, all the better. Saves me the pain of quitting and I get to collect unemployment from 'em! In truth, though, I think my direct managers know that this is a temporary situation for me and in the meantime they have my working on automating almost everything I do here.

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George,

 

You have a great plan. Work hard, make a few dollars, do what you love in your free time. Sometimes owning a camera can help you shoot, but buy a used, modest camera suitable for entry level jobs. Work hard, take chances on those small jobs and you'll put together a reel for the future. Avoid all the "after work" distractions and you'll do OK.

 

Good Luck!

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For the last five years I've been trying to get myself into a regular full time job situation doing anything (non-film), so I can hold onto my house and go back to school to get some technical training. Having done that, I'd hold onto whatever full time job I had, then I'd shoot whatever project I wanted on my days off. The thing of it is that I'd shoot my project on low end prosumer gear, or maybe even 16mm.

 

Is this unreasonable? Does anybody here think this is a dumb idea, or a "crazy" idea?

 

It'd be nice to have an honest answer.

 

 

This is EXACTLY what I do, George.

 

I work for FDNY EMS as an Emergency Medical Technician. It's a city job with great benefits (I pay nothing for my health insurance) and job security. I also own a large amount of 16mm equipment and just finished a short. I did everything on my time off. What I like best is not having to scrounge for money. My job pays for my projects. I never would have envisioned going down this road, but it's paid off in more ways than one.

 

I give everyone who does freelance filmmaking a lot of credit, but it's not for me. Not knowing when or where or IF my next job is coming down the road is a bit too stressful. Having a steady income, a pension, benefits, etc. gives me a lot more freedom to pick my projects if I'm working with others.

 

So in short...no, it's not crazy.

 

Best of luck! :)

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This is EXACTLY what I do, George.

 

I work for FDNY EMS as an Emergency Medical Technician. It's a city job with great benefits (I pay nothing for my health insurance) and job security. I also own a large amount of 16mm equipment and just finished a short. I did everything on my time off. What I like best is not having to scrounge for money. My job pays for my projects. I never would have envisioned going down this road, but it's paid off in more ways than one.

 

I give everyone who does freelance filmmaking a lot of credit, but it's not for me. Not knowing when or where or IF my next job is coming down the road is a bit too stressful. Having a steady income, a pension, benefits, etc. gives me a lot more freedom to pick my projects if I'm working with others.

 

So in short...no, it's not crazy.

 

Best of luck! :)

 

In many ways this plan is a smart one, we all need money to live of course.

 

What I have found, and still believe though, is that in order to be successful in film at some point you need to commit with both feet in. No back up job, and the only way forward is to work in film and make money.

 

Of course that's easier said than done in many cases.

 

R,

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Thanks Richard

 

I did get fed up at one point, because I couldn't really decide what to do and how to go about it when I was in my 20s. Now I have a clearer picture, but it's like I'm not allowed basic freedoms that everybody else enjoys.

 

It's like if I even think of a film career, even as a side, I'm risking everything. If my stuff ever got noticed and turned into a career opportunity, then yeah, I would dive in with both feet. But it's like right now I'm not allowed to do that unless I lose everything I've struggled for. That's not cool on any level.

 

I'm just looking to shoot my own stuff in my spare time. If a REAL career opportunity came up, then I'd certainly grab it, but I'm middle aged, and no one in their right mind'll hire me for something which they can hire a younger/cheaper kid. In short, freelancing is out.

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This is EXACTLY what I do, George.

 

I work for FDNY EMS as an Emergency Medical Technician. It's a city job with great benefits (I pay nothing for my health insurance) and job security. I also own a large amount of 16mm equipment and just finished a short. I did everything on my time off. What I like best is not having to scrounge for money. My job pays for my projects. I never would have envisioned going down this road, but it's paid off in more ways than one.

 

I give everyone who does freelance filmmaking a lot of credit, but it's not for me. Not knowing when or where or IF my next job is coming down the road is a bit too stressful. Having a steady income, a pension, benefits, etc. gives me a lot more freedom to pick my projects if I'm working with others.

 

So in short...no, it's not crazy.

 

Best of luck! :)

Are there any regular real full time freelancers who care to reply?

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but I'm middle aged, and no one in their right mind'll hire me for something which they can hire a younger/cheaper kid. In short, freelancing is out.

 

Well of course if you turn producer and secure your own financing you can appoint yourself to any position you want, at any age you want. :)

 

R,

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To me owning an expensive camera does not secure financing of a film because it is just a small fraction of the overall budget. I still need to pay for the actors and the costumes and the special effects so when the financing comes I might as well rent the camera.

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Well of course if you turn producer and secure your own financing you can appoint yourself to any position you want, at any age you want. :)

 

R,

Heh, like that's going to happen. Truth be told though it's what I've been trying to do for the last five years, but I've had to combat every single hardship known to man. I'm pretty sick and tired of it too.

 

I want to pay my crew, whoever they're going to be. I don't want to toss pizza and beer at them for a day's work, but, if I ever get situated, I won't be able to pay more than a few hundred dollars.

 

But, like I say, it's uphill work, and I'm EXTREMELY PO'd at not being able to step in the direction I want to.

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Bill DiPietra, EMS tech. is sort of a "unique" situation/job. You're doing shift-work, yes? Maybe even a compressed work week? 12 hour shifts, 3 days a week or something similar? That gives you a lot of down time for filming. The average 8 hour/5 day a week, office slave doesn't get that and it's difficult to dump your day job responsibilities for a couple of weeks to go on a feature, even if you've got the paid time off. Your post makes me wish I had taken the FDNY job when I popped to the top of the list after 9/11.

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A lot DP's own a house so don't give up your house. It's a sacrifice you might not have to make. I know a lot of DP's over the years that have side jobs. They just aren't very vocal about it. Many have spouses with good jobs that pay the bills in the lean times.

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My real question is; why is it so wrong for me to try to pay off my debts with a full time job, and THEN pursue shooting a film on the side?

 

There's nothing wrong with that. You might also consider consolidating your debts now while interest rates are low, and start on the film earlier, when you have them paid down to a manageable level. With the clear potential for inflation, shorting cash may be a smart thing to do.

 

 

 

-- J.S.

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If you want people to work for free why don't you put together a trailer for a feature film. That way if you can attract financing from a producer you will later be able to offer people paying jobs. i know money is tight and nobody wants to work for free however money should not be a motivation if your dream is to make films or to be an actor. Since I live close by maybe I can volunteer to get this thing off the ground.

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If you want people to work for free why don't you put together a trailer for a feature film. That way if you can attract financing from a producer you will later be able to offer people paying jobs. i know money is tight and nobody wants to work for free however money should not be a motivation if your dream is to make films or to be an actor. Since I live close by maybe I can volunteer to get this thing off the ground.

 

Truth be told this is what I've been trying to do for the last five years. But I've got "friends" and "family" who seem to think this is an unwise idea. But you know what, I'm not even trying to shoot a feature. I'm not even trying to shoot a 15 to 20 minute trailer.

 

Hell, I just wanted to shoot a little five-minute something on a low end prosumer camera. Something fun. Something that was good and unique. But every single %*-ing time I approach a goal, I get the carpet pulled out from under me. It's getting extremely annoying.

 

Would you believe that I've shot eight student films, shot numerous home movies with friends, all before entering the industry in 87? And for all the industrials, commercials, the handful of feature films and TV series I worked on (no, never did porn), my family thinks I'm headed for disaster?

 

I'm really ready to get in someone's face, the likes of which will never have been seen before.

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Why does it matter if your family agrees with you or not? My dad-- who worked in film!-- didn't agree with me for a long time I just kept on going because in the end, this is my life not theirs. They're going to be concerned of course, but eventually you're probably going to have to put a foot down... or somewhere....

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