What I really want to talk about in this post is the value of both outside-the-box thinking and patience when dealing with pushing the boundaries of creative endeavors. I feel like my rig (pictured left) is a good example of these principles. The decision to invest in video equipment was a difficult one. The catch-22 facing anybody in this position is that in order to move beyond home movies and find out whether you have what it takes to get serious, you have to invest in serious equipment. Not professional equipment, not the best equipment, but equipment that allows you to take it to the next level. Most people, however, do not know whether that investment will pay off or whether they will end up with an expensive toy that never gets used.
The second issue facing fledgling videographers, once they have decided to go for it, is to find work; and not just work...work that pays. Here we face a second dilemma which is how to develop your professional image in a way that will motivate people to pay you the kind of money it takes to sustain a freelance career. As I sought this answer for myself, I thought back to the Spring Semester of 2007 when I studied for 14 weeks at the Contemporary Music Center (CMC) formerly located on Martha's Vineyard. Unbelievably groovy place in the winter. Great people. What spoke to me out of this my professional image dilemma was something that Warren Petit said to us about the stunningly beautiful Digi Icon board whose glowing presence graced our main tracking studio (pictured right with Jenny Baird). He told us that with all its touch-sensitive faders and flashing lights, it was essentially a big mouse. There's nothing that a ten thousand dollar mixer board can do that cannot be done with a mouse and keyboard. Nothing.
The difference, however, is that when someone walks into your studio and sees this giant sound board, they are more than happy to pay you hundreds of dollars an hour for your skills. The appearance of professionalism delivers the "cool factor" that, real or not, is a necessary element in crossing that thin line between being a hobbyist and being a creative professional. In automotive terms, it means you gotta show a little chrome. If you've got the gear then you can drag yourself through as many all-nighters as it takes to get the content perfect, but the first step is getting the job in the first place.
Luckily, CMC also taught us just how far grit, determination and creativity can get you when the cash for bling just isn't there. Take my rig as an example. The shock mount is homemade from components I literally found dumpster diving.
-1 PVC pipe
-4 elastic hair-ties
-1 scrap of sheet metal for the mounting bracket
-1 blue stuffed bunny whose dismembered leg became the windscreen
Spraypaint the whole thing black and it's both appealing to the eye and amazingly functional. Same story with the adjustable lens hood. It's made out of a thin sheet of black plastic from Office Depot (which, yes, we have in Israel for some reason) and a series of three hinges from Ace Hardware (also oddly present in the Beer Sheva shopping center). In the end, when I walk into a Krav Maga studio to do some filming, the tech that I bring with me serves to reassure my client that they can take me seriously as a videographer. It's actually a lot of fun to watch them visibly relax and settle into the flow of the shoot.
So in the end, the lesson is that if the passion in there and the skills are there, don't stress about faking it 'til you make it. Do what you gotta do to get on your feet and then don't be afraid to start running.