I thought I would share some of my experiences navigating the New Media landscape.
Chapter 1: Don’t Shoot Parties!
When I first started shooting for the web I did it because I had a passion for documenting New York culture. Very quickly I found that documenting events was a way to gain access to, and increase my status in the downtown scene. I got to hang out with musicians, go to cool events, get free drinks, build a little fan base, travel and even get paid! In the five years that I have been shooting, I have seen the landscape change drastically. Five years ago I could go a year or two before I ran into another videographer at an event. Today I can’t walk to the bathroom without running into some kid doing it for free. At first I tried to tell myself that they can’t possibly keep it up. Sooner or later they are going to have to make a living, right? The sad and unfortunate truth is that for every kid that gets burned out, three more jump in.
My advice to those of you interested in video blogging is “Don’t Shoot Parties!? Not if you want do this for a living. Yes a large part of TheNewPop brand was built on shooting parties, but as I mentioned five years ago the landscape was very different. These days there are a dozen trust fund kids waiting outside every cool event offering free coverage for drinks and access. Good luck competing with them if you have rent to pay. The way I see it there are two roads one can travel. Shoot parties, or don’t shoot parties. One will have you competing with these kids for bad clients who pay very little if anything at all. The other will reward you with a slow but steady increase in wages, professional clients and mostly great gigs. And trust me, in the end these better gigs will be allot more fun than the low hanging fruit that is the party scene.
The “Parties can build my fan base” argument:
Even if you have somehow managed to build a loyal fan base that brings you thousands of video views a week, you may still find yourself on the outside looking in when it comes to getting the good gigs. Depending on the client unless you consistently and without co-signs bring in between 1 – 5K on a video, you will find that clients won’t care about your numbers. Artistic vision, professionalism, and good production is the one thing you can give them that they can’t get cheaply. More often than not they will already have an established audience that can match or supersede yours. The following Desigual video I shot got almost 60k views during it’s first week due to a brilliant marketing plan that appealed to their already established fan base. My job was simply to deliver a solid video. Unless you are specifically skilled in Social Media Marketing and have the numbers to support this you should focus on your production. Next Friday I will give some tips on avoiding bad video.
Trevor “Trevz” Bayack is a Brooklyn-born filmmaker who approaches his web pieces as mini documentaries. Recognized as a member of the 2008 URB magazine Next 100 for pioneering the “video blog” trevz continually makes his pieces shorter, sharper and ever more shareable” Follow thenewpop twitter feed for more.