Sunday, April 17, 2011

Just Say Yes

Working with the production company that puts on the Costume Designers Guild Awards led me to another company that promoted emerging talent in film, fashion, music and art where I met the fabulous Jennifer Egan. Gen Art was holding a huge "Hollywood" part in Hollywood of all places that focused on all these areas. And they needed someone to shoot it.

So Jen and I talked about what all it would entail and then budgets. I remember very clearly her saying, "Now don't laugh. And you can say no, so please don't be insulted. But our budget for this is $250. Are you still interested?"

Now keep in mind, $250 was about what I made per day at the ad agency. Maybe a little less. I honestly don't remember what I thought of that number. Was I a little disappointed that it was so low coming off of some better paying shoots? Perhaps. But this was HOLLYWOOD! And promised to be a fabulous party that would inevitably lead to me becoming super famous merely by association.

So of course I said yes.

SIDE NOTE: Here's one thing I've learned about doing business. ALWAYS SAY YES!! There is almost no down side to saying yes to a project.

- If it ends up not paying enough, hire someone cheaper to do it and deal with it. Pay them even less and still walk away with a few bones for coordinating the dang thing.
- If you don't know how to do it, figure it out after you've said yes and gotten over the initial, "What have I gotten myself into?!?"
- If it's boring, raise the rates until they find someone else or you become rich from doing the mundane.
- If you realize you should've said no for some other reason, go back and say you can't because of 'xyz'. And usually if you're honest they'll totally understand.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program...

So I went to this party and I created this video.

They thought it was brilliant. And thus began my long relationship with Gen Art. I ended up shooting their fashion shows in both the fall and the spring--I think pretty much every year after that. Budgets did go up. That was good. I think I eventually got too expensive and so I started shooting for their sponsors. First "mark." cosmetics. Then the American Chemistry Council. And then Gen Art went bankrupt and that was the end of that.

But I shot LA Fashion Week, NY Fashion Week, had my videos featured numerous times on and made some great fashion videos during those years. Here are a few of them...

This is actually one of my favorites:

It was a 10-year retrospective of Gen Art's Fresh Faces in Fashion. I got to run around and interview a bunch of designers in LA. It was really cool.

And there are tons more. It led to working with Kaley Cuoco, Molly Sims and Maggie Gyllenhaal on some shoots. That was fun.

Simultaneously, the shopping center business started to pick up as well. And I was able to leverage what I was doing with LA Fashion Week to bill myself as a high-end videographer and thus command a higher rate from the corporate realm because of my involvement with LA Fashion Week and Gen Art. It really was working out quite well.

SIDE NOTE #2: If this is the route you want to go, shooting video particularly with a Hollywood slant, you really should straddle both worlds: corporate and entertainment. Here's what I've found...Corporate isn't always the most exciting, but it generally pays really well. And there are great contacts to be had. Hollywood will give you the credibility within corporate, but doesn't necessarily pay that well. The one helps the other in a sense. And if you can master both, you'd do really well.

And... we're back.

The biggest problem was that I wasn't having enough work coming in. And then the edits I was doing would take a while. So while the total dollar amount was great, the time I was starting to invest in some of these edits wasn't necessarily worth it. But I was still somewhat of a start up and learning the ropes. So I guess that was some what expected.

Then one day I was looking on Craigslist and trying to supplement my shopping centers and Gen Art gigs with something else. I found a "pilot for comedy central" that needed a behind the scenes videographer and a behind the scenes photographer. This was perfect!!! I was so excited that immediately I applied. The videographer position was already filled, but the photographer wasn't. I had dropped $1,000 on a 5-megapixel camera and had no real clue how to use it. So of course I said yes and I got the job.

It only paid $50 for the day, but I couldn't wait to be on the set of a real pilot. The day arrived and I made the long drive to the specified location. Little did I realize I was about to be taught a lesson in a somewhat painful way.

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