Why we charge for the arts?

We make a living doing what we do best:
I'm going to break it down for people who think filmmakers, Photographers and artists do this for just fun. Yes, we love our work but it is "Work" and this is how we make a living. We have bills just like everyone else. Nowadays everything is digital and video tapes for backup have become obsolete. For example, one of my 500 gig drives just crashed. On that drive, I saved a mix of my own recent projects and other peoples underpaid projects. There is a reason why we have a price list & do not work for free. We have to charge extra for storage & for backup drives. If you expect a freebee or to underpay us, then we can't back up the work if something goes wrong.

Because of software updates that seem to happen almost every 6 months, we have to spend more money to keep up with the times and to keep our computers from running out of memory. Many of my colleagues feel the same way. It is a constant struggle to not allow your clients to become best buddies. Everyone always wants a deal because times are hard. They will try and find out what your interests are and hopefully find a way to get a freebee out of you. Even if they are offering to pay, they do not realize what it takes to make a video and or do a photo shoot for them.

Every year technology enhances and we have to continue to invest in the latest trends to stay in business. Cameras keep changing and people expect the best from us after seeing what other professionals can do with that equipment. Because of this we have to keep spending a lot of money to keep up with the times of evolving technology.

Working for Friends:
Sometimes it is really hard to say no to a good friend or basic friends that want freebees. Depending on what it is and if I have time… I'm always there for my friends and enjoy working on projects for them or with them. Then sometimes I have to be real with them and say how much it is going to cost them. They seem to forget that this is how I make a living and they think that it is just my hobby.

Giving to Church:
I love to give to the Lord and to give to the Church of my choosing. I get very discouraged going to certain churches when I feel obligated to have to take photos and shoot videos for them. All I want is to enjoy the presence of the Lord and \ have a nice conversation with friends without feeling that obligation. Sometimes, I think they do not realize that for some people, going to church it is also an escape from their own reality. This is our time with God not our "Work." Maybe our tithes in offering are not enough once they know you have a skill or talent. When we feel it in us then we sometimes don't mind giving our services, but let God tell us it is our duty to give our free services, not men or women. When I attend new churches, I keep my business to myself and hope whoever is with me keeps quiet about what I do, too, lol.

Many of us in the arts can admit we can be a little bit selfish unless they have an understanding why we do what we do. Our art is our first love and when we are alone our art may be all we have and need. Some of us choose our camera & art gear over a relationship. Artists are like wild animals, you can't domesticate us and keep us inside away from our natural environment, we eventually bite. Sacrifices are made to save money and build our careers out of the passion of our art. Unless the woman can understand and go along with the sacrifices of what it costs to be in a relationship then it's all good. The sacrifice is not always easy when I am alone too long, your art can consume you from the world and hope to not be lost for too long. Then you realize that your art can't be 100% if you want that relationship to work, you can't do it for free if you want to be able to take your girl out to a nice dinner. If you’re married "Which I'm not" you have more than the bills. Your marriage and your family are depending on you to get paid correctly in the arts that you do. If you’re single like me then you just make enough to make yourself happy. Us single artists do not want to be alone forever as this business is exciting on the outside but we live in a shell when we are working hard to pay our bills and hope to make that extra money to get a date, ha-ha.

Shooting & Editing Video Examples:
If someone wants a video that is only 30 seconds, to them, it seems simple and they think it can be done in less than an hour and uploaded to YouTube ASAP. It all depends on the content and if there are a lot of takes or if it is a commercial. Yes, a 30 second one shot blog is easy if you’re a blogger. When shooting HD, downloading all the content can take a while. Even if you provide the footage that has already shot and ask me to edit 20 minutes down to 30 seconds or 5 minutes for YouTube, will still take a long time.

20 minutes of footage will take more than 30 minutes to download, then another 20 minutes to watch all the content. Then I have to cut it down to 30 seconds, this can range from a 16 hour day to 2 days to cut it down right. Imagine how long it takes to cut down a movie or a 2 hour wedding video. That is just cutting. Then more time on titling and color correction. Color correction alone can take up to 16 hours or more if you’re 100% on it depending on how many cuts there are. A 2 hour video of just rendering color correction to sweeten the look can take up to 120 gigs of memory in rendering alone. It also takes up the entire day to render, so it is best to set it when you go to sleep and it's ready in the morning. Wait a minute, did I mention DVD authoring? Yes, that is a whole other project. Do you want the DVD menus to look like the movies you rent and DVD cover printed on DVD and cover case? Do you really want me to get into details how long that takes? lol.

Memory space and content storage:
For every 12 minutes of HD video that equals up to 4 gigs of memory being used on your hard drive storage. All footage is shot raw and you may edit it down later to 30 seconds or 2 hrs. If you plan on shooting a 30 second video you still will end up with about 64 gigs of memory used up in raw video. Average weddings I have shot end up using 75 gigs of video. So there is always going to be an extra $100 fee added for storage space for any video from 30 sec to 2 hours. Sometimes have to charge extra to cover a back up storage because you never know when a drive will crash. It happened to me today and I hope I can recover it. But to recover a drive can cost me up to $800 to $1000 just to get it back and 60% chance you will get it all back.

If you have your stuff at a public storage unit in town you are paying monthly payments for them to hold your stuff. It is the same thing for computer drives. Memory drives fill up fast holding onto clients projects and they may call me 6 months later asking for another copy. I say sorry I had to delete it because I need the storage space and you didn't pay for that space. I can't hold onto your your stuff for ever because who wants clutter anyways? Competition is getting bigger every year:

Filmmaker vs. the "Filmmaker"

Because of sites like Craigslist and technology becoming more affordable, young filmmaking students are now taking on the professionals who have been doing this for years. I was one of them as I hustled in film school doing many gigs to pay for my gear. That was 10 years ago and today the technology in video has improved and is 70% cheaper than it was 10 years ago. Students can now as good a job as a professional. I can say “almost” because clients hire students who are taking up the video & photography job market working for free to build their portfolio. Clients are getting what they pay for. Most students don't have the experience to do a good job, but there are many that are very talented. Many students and young people who happen to own the latest camera equipment call themselves “filmmakers”. Having the gear will not make you professional. You must have the passion first and understand more than the technical part. Many clients tell me they hired students who had it all but did a horrible job. If you own a flute and don't know how to read music and play it then you’re not a musician. You must know how to play and feel the camera like a flute before you can call yourself a filmmaker or photographer or DJ etc... If your call yourself a dancer then you must feel the music first. For example, bboys can rock the beat and a wack "Break-dancer" will only do tricks and gymnast moves.

Quality- You get what you paid for:
If you pay less, you get less. The better the budget the better the quality, creativity and time put into a video or photo. Picture quality is all about the lens more than the camera. Some video shoots need only one lens and depending on the type of shoot we could need 3 to 5 different lenses that cost us from $500 to $1700 for each lens. If you want to rent the lens then it is cheaper that way. But, if we already own the lens it still costs us, so part of the deal is a rental fee of our gear. Editing can take up the most time. Shooting for 3 to 8 hours or so can seem simple. Editing one day of content can take up to a week or two depending on the subject. Shooting may seem simple but editing can be an editor’s worst nightmare when under paid. All editors have many horror stories to tell, lol.

We may own our own gear but when we are being hired for our work you’re also renting the equipment. If you were to go and rent the gear you will see that what you may offer us in full pay is less than what it cost to rent just the camera. Add up lighting, lenses and crew and the budget quickly adds up.

It is still our passion and we still love to give:
We are not all 100% into making money in our services. To many of us it is our passion and love of the arts first. I always enjoy offering my services to the people I'm close to. I'm always happy to take photos and video for people when I have the free time or when I'm in that giving mood. Sometimes we just want to create and ask anyone to model for us or even a family portrait is always fun to do. To see a family get together and smile to give them a memory they will always have always feels good. I enjoy painting, sculpting and printing my photos as a gift or to show what people mean to me. I love giving my time to young kids to inspire them to follow their dreams. I enjoy handing the camera to a young curious kid to film me when I'm dancing at an event. To see their smile and their friends looking at what they are filming I know I'm handing the torch to the next artist. Money is not happiness but it does pay the bills. If it was possible to enjoy the arts 100% without any worries… maybe only in Heaven.

Many of us artists feel the same… I know we can be happy making little money in the arts if we can create and make our own art in films, photography, painting and etc. as long as we have some kind of income that keeps a roof over our heads, pays the bills, allows us to travel, explore, eat and live healthily. If I could make movies 3 times a year and the rest of the days off I could explore the planet or just sit in a cabin in the mountains and focus on my art, painting and taking photos, I would be blessed.

For now, if this is our service to make a living we have to be very firm about what we do to survive. For now, if this is our service to make a living we have to be very firm about what we do to survive. Let's not forget that many of us went to college for this and many of us still owe money to our school loans and the interest rate keeps going up every year. So working for free is kind of backwards.

Depending on what the project is, the budget could change. I'm always willing to work with anyone’s budget the best I can but it can't be too low or we can never make a living doing it. People who fail in business are the ones who are not firm on their prices. Sometimes it is being too generous, because in business you can't get too personal or you will never succeed. No matter what your job is, love it, have passion for it and be happy with what you do and don't let people take that away from you or take advantage of you.

What I mentioned in this note is only 50% of the expenses it cost us when we do a job for people. If I have done work with you and in the past this is not targeting anyone directly. Please send me a direct message, thank you.

Beto "Mooncricket" Lopez

This video is a great example of comedy.

Justin.tv lifecasting since 2007Sony BroadcasterFord Fiesta Agent Chapter One and Chapter TwoFord Motor Company AgentFord Fiesta Movement Chapter One Best Body of Work Award Winner
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