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Question: How does a 20 year film biz veteran, that is constantly being asked to cut his rate or work for free, continue to work and make ends meet in this business?

I received this email from Jamie Vesay who asks a very pertinent and timely question for those of us who have spent our careers in the film and TV business. Read what Jamie has to say and then leave your comments below.

Hi Peter

I’ve read your blog and profile(s) then found you again at LinkedIn.
Congrats on what appears to be a great career in film.

I am compelled to reach out to you with a question.

Perhaps this a subject for a blog post or just a raw appeal from another brother in the industry.

Like you, I love the medium of filmmaking with similar passion.
We’ve been called carnies and junkies.
There’s nothing better than a creative collaboration with like-minded pros.
There’s nothing worse than not doing it.

The mind says “Career equity? Quarterly taxes? Can I sell a screenplay?  Am I aging out?”
The soul says “What else could, would, should I do?”

Here’s the question.

With so many changes in technology, a generation shift, budgets shrinking, easy green screen, and the next “Director” literally stopping at the electronics store on their way to the set – to buy the camera;  How does a 20 year film biz veteran, that is constantly being asked to cut his rate or work for free, that is multi-talented with infinite wisdom to offer, that is fun and funny – continue to work and make ends meet in this business?

Oh.  Also non-Facebooker, non-Twitterer that uses a non iPhone (crackberry).   Geez.  I’m a freak.

Your shared savvy about a world that you can relate to would be immensely appreciated.

Jamie Vesay

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Peter D. Marshall January 6, 2010, 12:32 PM

    Basically we have to re-invent ourselves. At some point, you get too old and cranky to spent a lot of time on the film sets but you miss the money. What else can you do?

    For me, I have taken my 35 years in the Biz and created filmmaking workshops which I teach around the world and also create online film courses that I sell on my website and blog.

    Still working on the 4-hour workweek though. 🙂

    My other point for you is that I think it’s time for you to embrace the new technologies. If you don’t get on board this train, you will be left behind at the station holding your bags – with nowhere to go.

    You can check out my Social Media blog and watch the featured video. http://www.internetmarketingforcreativepeople.com/

    All the best.


  • Alex Beevers January 6, 2010, 2:56 PM

    I do agree with you thoroughly about taking time off to maybe reinvent ourselves, because sometimes when we have been in business a long time we make alot of friends. What happens then is that many of these friends “always” need a favor, and then you almost see yourself working for free.

  • Jamie Vesay January 7, 2010, 11:16 AM

    Thanks Peter for opening up my discussion to your readers. I could tell you, that more and more seasoned crew – like me – are feeling the same way. For many, it’s not that easy to retool. I guess it is genuine old school vs. the new wave. Some will adjust, others will simply turn in the keys. And a new generation begins.
    My hangup with so many social networking branches is simply the time management of it all. Especially when I’m on a job. Really, c’mon, how much of it you would be doing if you were 1st ADing a feature?
    To me, filmmaking is a craft that is taught, learned, and respected.
    Yes – one that pays (well) too. Don’t get me started about this new model of FREE. “Can you work for free?” Can I get cable, lawn service, healthcare and auto repair for free?
    With the entry point to filmmaking being easier than ever, I feel there is this entitlement at work among the new wave and an overall misunderstanding for the process. Do you teach process in your workshops and if so; is it old school or a new way? Are any of the new filmmakers interested in the art and guts of making movies such as Production Design or Locations or Costumes? The majority of newbies I encounter all want to be a Director or Producer.
    Good discussion. I’m off to look at setting up a Facebook account or not and who knows; I may even Tweet one day.

  • Peter D. Marshall January 7, 2010, 11:54 AM

    Hi Jamie,
    I posted your question on my Facebook page as well and it has generated a lot of discussion. Once you sign up to Facebook 🙂 Friend me and then you can see all the discussion: http://www.facebook.com/peterdmarshall

  • Peter D. Marshall January 7, 2010, 12:01 PM


    Time management for Social Networking is a concern for everyone. The learning curve is high at the beginning but once you get the hang of it, and create a system, it can be very beneficial to you.

    I created my first film website in 1999 so I am ahead of the curve. It takes a lot of work to keep updating all your social media platforms but I have created a system and I can do everything in about one hour per day now. I can even pre-program posts and Tweets as well when I know I am working.

    My advice is to just get started and go from there. Start off with the Big Three: Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Then get a blog after that.
    See you online soon.

  • Peter D. Marshall January 7, 2010, 1:58 PM

    Keep in mind that Internet Marketing and Social Media are excellent tools to use for communication as well as to advertise and promote your services and your films. Everyone wants to be able to monetize their blogs and websites. But monetization also comes indirectly when you have a online presence. It comes when people find you on the internet when searching for certain keywords and you can get work out of that as well.

    I teach film workshops and I create and sell online filmmaking courses. I also work as a film consultant. I have made money from all these activities from the Internet because I keep up my online presence. Remember this piece of advice; the more pages you have on the Internet, the more chances are that people will find you.

  • Joe Piotrowski February 12, 2010, 2:38 PM

    I like what I read!
    I’ve been this game for 38 years!!
    I hate showreels, never had one,
    They all know who you are and what you can do!
    I’ve worked with the the good and the great, I’m proud of what I’ve done.
    And now I sit on my arse at home,
    I can, and have, worked a dolly/Crane, I can work multi -camera, single camera, underwater camera, helicopter, Direct/Produce. But what do I know?
    My good friend Chris Ryder( check imdb.com)once said,”I think your’e the best Freelance Cameraman in the country.” Said in good faith without the need of alcohol.
    All I know is give me a camera, let’s talk and I guarantee you will get better than you dreamed of.
    Being a Cameraman/Woman is an art form.You either can or can’t.
    I worked in the days of Hollywood budgets for 90 min Network Dramas, every week!!
    What now,Cheapo tv, it looks bad because it is bad.
    1 z1 on location, shot by a researcher does not constitute a work of art (no disrespect to the Researcher).
    I lied, I hate Self Shooting Producers/Researchers/AD/Journalists/Canteengirls/Binmen(with no disrespect to either of the above)
    (They do good Camerapeeps out of work)
    I watch Tv ocassionally, and see stuff we did in the 70’s, and it still stands up.
    I am a very bitter Cameraman.They have taken a beautiful Industry and demeaned to the level of the banal.
    Anybody and everybody,can work in tele, they love it.
    There is no training period, no learning curve, I want it now and I want to be a Producer next week.
    I once wanted to be a Director/Producer(did it for a while) ‘cos in my day they had the expense account, the flash suits,the dolly birds,now they are all young,skint,on a hiding to nowhere, and somewhat disconsetered.
    I have now suddenley become aware of the fact that I have sat here for a while.
    I need a piss, and to be honest, who gives a shit what I think anyway!!
    I have decided that I’m gonna write a Hollywood script.
    They’d never believe it!!
    For Younger Viewers:
    Take no Notice of the Ravings of the Aforementioned Applicant.
    Remember that it’s all out there waiting for you!!!
    It depends on how much you want it!!