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Looking to fund new gear or future movie projects? This is a list of legitimate ways you can make money as a videographer and filmmaker!
Image from Breaking Bad via AMC
This is not a get rich quick scheme or a random list of jobs. This is actual real-world insight from the staff here at PremiumBeat. We’ve all had these jobs. Some of us still do these jobs in our free time!
All of our writers come from the production world. We got together and talked about the ways we learned our craft and paid the bills. Sure, some readers will say that these jobs are below them, and that’s fine… It just means less competition for the rest of us.
Weddings are the easiest video job you can fall into. As soon as you buy your first camera, family members are going to ask you to shoot their weddings. That said, they are a ton of work. Be sure you are getting something out of it. If you aren’t getting paid, ask the couple to buy you some memory cards or batteries in exchange for your services.
When I first started filming weddings, the wedding video was my “gift” to the couple. Then something happened. When they shared their highlight reel online, I started getting inquiries to shoot other weddings. It snowballed into starting my first company. It wasn’t an overnight success story, but after a few years of shooting weddings, I started getting more business than I could handle. I no longer had to shoot every wedding… just the weddings I wanted to. I still shoot weddings to this day, and still have a blast doing so.
When you get to the end of this article, check out some of the suggested links for more insight into shooting weddings.
2. Music Videos
If you are in the video world, you probably have friends in the music scene. If not, make some. The added benefit of making music videos is the friendships you make with musicians. It adds the future benefit of more collaborations. If you shoot a music video for a band, they may make you a deal when you have a project and want to use their music. You can also help them record their concerts, which leads into our next point.
3. Live Events
Concerts, corporate events, product releases, speakers, conferences. That’s just the starting list. Aim for events that are reoccurring. If an agency wants you to film their new product release party, make a video great enough that they call you back for the next product release. Same goes for yearly events or conferences. Companies will promote their next event with a video from the previous year. Then you’re setting yourself up for a yearly gig.
Speaker series are also an awesome opportunity. Not only do you get to make videos each time a new speaker comes to town, you get to meet some incredible people. In one month I once met an astronaut, a World Series champion, a legendary comedian, and an award winning poet. Had I not filmed the series, I wouldn’t have been able to meet and talk to them.
4. High School Sports and Highlight Reels
It’s easy to start doing this when you are in high school, but even after you graduate, you can always return to your alma mater. Most of these jobs are incredibly easy, especially if you are shooting footage for a coach. A coach just wants a wide shot of the field, that way they can analyze every player during each play. All you have to do is follow the ball.
You shoot the footage and immediately turn it over. No hours of editing, just a dvd or digital copy of the footage is all they need. Come the end to the season, juniors and seniors are looking to make highlight reels to send out for potential scholarships. Their parents will gladly hire you to put together a highlight reel of their child’s best plays. The best part: you already have all the footage from the games you shot.
5. Tutorials and Monetization
There is nothing worse that the saying, “If you can’t do – teach.” The film industry was once notorious for being an unfriendly environment. Many people wouldn’t take the time of day to help up-and-coming filmmakers. It became the classic “old-boy” network, where you couldn’t get a job without having a connection. Then came the internet and digital revolution.
People began sharing tips and tricks in forums, eventually making video tutorials on YouTube. It’s easy to forget how much this industry has changed since the days of YouTube. You now have access to any tutorial on any subject. If you make tutorials, you can set up your YouTube page for monetization. You can start making money of the knowledge you have acquired. If you aren’t an expert on a subject, you can also interview experts. Have an uncle that fixes cars? How about a mother that has an incredible garden? You can make tutorials about anything. Someone will search for it.
Crowdfunding is a double headed beast. Yes, if your passion deserves to be backed, you can raise the funds to make your projects. However, some projects are only able to raise enough to fund the project itself. So you may raise enough to make the film, but not enough for you to get paid too.
There are tons of sites out there. The most popular are Kickstarter, Seed & Spark, and Indiegogo. I was able to raise funds online to work on a documentary, but I still put in a lot of my own money into the project as well. I certainly didn’t make any money on the project, but I wouldn’t have been able to complete it without raising the additional funds.
7. Real Estate
Build a relationship with a realtor or two and you are already on your way. Every realtor uses still photos on their website. However, photos aren’t enough when it comes to large houses or large properties. That’s when they turn to video to reach a larger clientele. Be sure to also capture the surrounding area and nearby amenities to really help push the sale of the house. Like always, if you do a great job on the video, you’ll be asked to shoot more properties.
8. Freelance News Reporting
Image: Nightcrawler via fandango.com
This job is tricky to pull off, but it can be done — especially if you get some great exclusive work. Don’t let a station ask to share your video, you need to sell your work. Offer them exclusive use. Smaller stations don’t have the biggest budgets, so you really need to be in a major metropolitan area to pull this off to make any significant money.
9. Stock Footage
Just like stock photos, someone has to create that work. You can sell your footage to places like Shutterstock. Stock footage also incorporates just about anything. People are usually looking for b-roll when buying stock, so that should be your number one priority. You can shoot landscapes, buildings, people, just about anything. Make sure you are shooting at least 1080p, but most buyers are looking for 4K footage. There is an occasional request for older looking footage, so you can shoot on old 16mm cameras too.
10. Rent Your Gear
If you aren’t pulling enough work on your own, you can always rent out your gear. It’s also a great way to make connections and eventually work your way onto more projects. Understandably, you may be hesitant to rent out your camera, especially if you only have one. This is usually a better option if you have an older camera you aren’t using often. That way the camera is still making money for you, rather than getting dusty on the shelf. Take a look at places like ShareGrid to rent you gear. We previously covered ShareGrid when they first debuted, and they are only offering service to the Los Angeles area at the moment.
11. Online Freelance and Competitions
As previously mentioned, the internet has totally changed this industry. Now you can create profiles on sites like Upwork, Thumbtack, and Fiverr, where agencies and clients can find freelancers for any project. You can also follow industry sites like Staff Me Up or Stage 32 for gigs in your area. There are even competition sites like MoFilm and Tongal, where you make a pitch or video in attempt to win serious amounts of money from major brands. As always, there’s also the Craigslist route too.
Was this list helpful? Do you have some new clients to target? Let us know in the comments below.
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