People ask me all the time what I do. How I make money and how I got into this type of work.
I’m going to try to explain here how it all works, and the good and the bad of it.
The things you see on TV
Basically I will get a call from a producer who I have a relationship with. He has been hired – by a PR company representing a brand – to shoot what basically amounts to a behind the scenes video of whatever event they have going on. Red carpets, photo shoots, parties, etc.
The PR company has relationships or endorsement deals with celebrities that are paid to show up to these events. The arrive at the event, take pictures, do some quick press interviews, hang out for a bit, then leave. I capture soundbites, quickie interviews and broll that shows off the product being used by celebrities. The celebrities know I’m the ‘house’ crew and are generally required to talk to me. In a round about way me and the celebrity are being paid by the same people to be there and for the same purpose: Get them on TV talking about and using said product.
After the event I’ll go home and edit together the best soundbites and broll into a 5-8 minute video package that I send to the producer. He then sends it out to people he knows at news magazine shows like Access Hollywood, E!, Extra, etc. These aren’t really editing as much as providing the most relevant material for the editors of the show to create an interesting, news worthy, story. Most of the time at least one news/entertainment show will pick up the story. Everybody wins! I make a living, producer makes a living, PR company makes money and the brand got an organic, product placement, free commercial on primetime TV. Plus millions of eyes on a famous person using their product.
Brand pays $$$$$$ to PR firm.
PR Firm pays $$$$ to Producer
Producer pays $$ to me.
It’s a pretty good gig. It leaves me plenty of time to work on my own stuff and the freedom to do so.
How I got into it
Once upon a time when I moved to LA I got a job as an editor/shooter for a start up news and entertainment website. While there I busted my ass to create celebrity based content that was interesting and also a lot of the time had a brand associated with it. After a couple years permalancing for them off and on, I decided it was time to move forward. Eventually the producers there moved on as well. But, they brought with them friendships with PR companies and brands that they had established while doing the smaller events with the start up.
Now years later we’ve all met more people, grown and advanced our careers. When someone needs a camera person, an editor, etc… A lot of the time I’ll get the call. Now I’m doing more events for bigger clients and meeting people and expanding my network.
Be nice to everyone, stay in touch, treat people with respect. 1) Its the decent thing to do. 2) You never know the ways it will come back to you later… Good or bad.
- The money is great.
- I usually won’t work more than 5 hours in a row.
- Usually pretty low key with a lot of downtime on shoots. Hurry up and wait.
- I get to see and go to some cool places and events.
- Sounds cool when my mom tells her friends what celebrities and people I’ve met.
- Anxiety over when/if the next gig is going to come in.
- Occasionally working with people who forget we’re promoting a product and not saving lives and take stuff way to seriously. Its not life or death.
- Takes 30-60 days to see any money from the jobs. Sometimes longer. I’m still waiting on a $1000 from last September.
- Difficult to commit in advance to anything because you don’t want to miss a gig because of it.
- If you’re unavailable too many times with the same people, all of sudden you go from #1 on their list to #2. Which means #1 gets all the jobs and you have to wait for #2 to get sick or become unavailable before you work again.
Next time I’ll write about a bunch of the really cool gigs I’ve gotten and how that came about. Things like KISS, Kevin Smith, AllSaints, MLB.com, etc.