Monday, May 30, 2011


I just got a check for $315 for the "deferred payment" job. It took a few extra phone calls, which generally ended with "yeah, I'm signin' em as we speak!"

 And I'm totally not fully of shit. I've signed this check six times over two weeks, I promise.

Things are lookin' up!

Also, any other videographers ever have a client who gets fresh and friendly with the camera, presuming to ask where various manual controls are and adjusting the tripod to set up a shot rather than asking you, the educated professional, to set it up for them? I met this kind of client for the first time recently, and I must say, I was pretty surprised. He said he was an "amateur photographer," so I guess that's where the behavior came from, assuming the equipment was the same. Presuming that it's acceptable to do so, however, is pretty ridiculous. If someone were to do this with a different profession, I think they'd quickly run into trouble, and by "trouble," I mean a man of considerable size who would like to hand their ass to them for being a doofus.

So, I'm going to pay for my pizza, and after that, I'm gonna go back and make it myself, cool? Also, I'm going to deliver it to me, so I need to remember to tip myself.

Also, I got this email today. I felt like it was a pretty good standard for what Craigslist emails are like.

The potential client (I use that phrase vaguely, because it can range from "someone who's likely to be a client" to "a drooling marsupial who wants pretty picatures for a Ruby Tuesdays gift card") posted a listing looking for a "Music Video Editor." I sent them my cover letter and resume.

They responded. No hello, no greeting or closing, just a list of the three music videos they wanted done, song titles and general ideas for the video. Not particular articulate.

I asked if they had a budget for the project (not for ME, or other crew members, for the project costs), any other crew, etc, or if he still needed a shooter and director.

He responded.

All I need is someone to record it,edit it and get it up on youtube.What do you think I need?

Remember, he was looking for an EDITOR originally, someone to edit the final project from the ALREADY SHOT material. Then, he made it obvious that he was still in pre-production, at which point I asked some pretty straightforward questions. That was his response.

This is the equivalent of going into a auto paint shop, telling them you need your car painted, and then letting them know that you have extra needs beyond the description of their services on their fucking sign out front.

I need a new engine, my brakes checked, and the gunshot hole in the windshield drilled so it'll stop cracking... Then you can repaint it. Deal?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Labor not included

I was contracted for a job that I completed last night. It was pretty unusual, but it wasn't too bad at all. I brought along another videographer and we shot on either side of an MMA fighting ring, recording the fights and simultaneously broadcasting our feed to the big screens for the audience. 23 fights. Pretty ridiculous.

I've had enough testosterone for a month, I need to watch The Notebook promptly.

Aside from the fairly usual "oh, I conveniently forgot to read the invoice or contract before you got here and I have issues with it (don't want to pay for various things)," everything went pretty smoothly. The client was pretty nice, no real problems, except for my balance and ability to stand on a platform the size of a four square section that's attached to the ring, and therefore moved about when the fighters do, and do handheld camera operation while holding on for dear life. The trouble came when we were about to leave, and waiting for payment.

The client said, "alright, a few things," which never means good stuff is about to come out of their mouth. At that point in the job, there shouldn't be "a few things" to discuss, unless they'd like to talk about each monetary bill individually and their aesthetic merits.

"Seriously, dude, if you fold it just right, you can see the twin towers... but beavers railing eachother is still funnier."

There weren't really "a couple things." What he told us was that one of his employees was headed to them ATM to get our payment, and that we "still needed to help them tear down their equipment, as was part of the agreement." This was never "part of the agreement," nor is it a videographer's job to help another production company tear down their station, dozens of lights and speakers, truss, and other equipment and load several tons of it into a panel van. He did say, at one point, that if we had extra time before shooting and they still needed help setting up, he'd pay us to assist. However, this wasn't in writing (phone conversation), and "part of the agreement" doesn't smack of "pay us" for the added labor. I didn't argue it, because he had already made a fuss about having to compensate us for gas and tapes as per the invoice and contract, so I figured we'd help them throw some stuff in the van. Add to that, we had foolishly handed in our tapes to the PA as we shot, so we had no leverage. He had our work in full, completed, and we had nothing in return. That was before I realized all the lights and truss was theirs.

 "Octamania," no longer limited to tentacle porn festivals or witty nicknames for one's penis.

Four hours later, we had loaded the panel van and a secondary truck with equipment. We collect our cash, a few dollars short of the invoice and without any extra payment for the labor, and we head home.

From now on, we're holding tapes and other media until we're paid in full, and I've added "for legal and insurance purposes, we cannot do labor for other production companies unless contracted and paid" to our contract. Lesson learned.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Here's a quick one. I've been trying to keep my stories spaced a bit so, under the hopeful assumption that the human race will somehow get smarter, less skeezy, and more reliable in the course of mere months, I will still have stories to tell and keep the blog running in the future. However, this was my day, and I thought I'd put it in writing.

The freelance video work I do most frequently is pretty cut and dry. Travel a few hours, shoot a video, bring it home, cut it, turn it in for a pretty low-rent return, at least in the eyes of the average professional freelance videographer or editor. The company collects the clients, they arrange a shooting date, the shoots late two hours (hypothetically), I do the leg work, I turn it in, they do the final touches and get it back to the client. Clients are generally small businesses.

There've been a few snags. That happens when you bring living, breathing people into the mix. Some videos have taken hours extra because clients are unprepared, some clients are huge, ravenous hosebeasts bent on the domination of the cosmetic marketing world and my testicles

I never use them, if you want them that much, just have em and stop emailing me

And others are just clueless. Sometimes this is ok. There've been plenty of times where I've walked into a shoot and a client had no idea what the intended to say or do. No problem. A few times, I've walked into the office and the client would say, "oh, that's today?" That's fine, because generally, they are polite enough to realize they forgot, and the fault is on them. A few times, however, clients simply back out. They forget, something comes up last minute (by last minute I mean the landlord is doing renovations and they JUST realized that jackhammers are loud), or they just ate a whole Winchester House worth of lead paint a kid and it's starting to kick in.

I thought I'd be like Spiderman, instead I got a non-operable benign tumor the size of a caribou, but the plus side is I can do this

Actually, this happens so frequently that they actually have a clause for it: a $25 payout for a same-day cancellation. Sometimes that means they cancel while I'm still in bed, other times it means I'm in my car, driving, or even there already, when clients shit the proverbial bed.

I guess they could have cancelled while I was still in bed by shitting in it, but that seems premeditated
When I'm driving from WV to DC, the trouble with that is that this complimentary $25, the equivalent of a pair of Sketchers when the Green Iguanas get second place on Legends of the Hidden Temple, is that the consolation prize doesn't even cover gas if I'm already there.

Today was a new first. I traveled, I called the client on the road, and guess what? No answer. Whatever, I still have to make the appointment. I park and approach the business, located in the middle of a strip mall, and notice the sign on the door and darkened store front.

It was a dance studio, I don't know why I chose a photo with barred windows like an inner city pawn shop
I called the office to check in, and while it was a bummer, they didn't seem surprised. Clients like this crop up all the time. I think a few extra "remember the appointment, champ!" calls could fix this issue. But until then, I'll be driving really far for coffee from the high-priced bistro that always seems to be right next door. Thank God for them.
Note to self: fewer human clients.

Pardon me, but would you like the killing of all humans video-graphed?

Remembering classes is the toughest part

So, it's 6am, and since about, I dunno, 9pm last night, I recorded a voiceover for this client's video (read: class work), edited it down, found dozens of stock photo images, placed them all in properly, animated them, added a few video clips, and placed some generic music behind it. It's... ludicrous.

I used a clip of surprised kitten and the phrase "I put studying before doing other things, like watching TV or playing with animals." I'm not kidding.

It may sound like I've finally snapped and started wearing a tinfoil hat (also in the video, there was a photo of a man in a tinfoil hat), but I should specify that I sent the client the script, along with the invoice and contract, and he approved them all and returned the contract signed. He was into it, and willing to spend his cash on it.

The client gave me virtually no information himself or the class, and the presentation was supposed to be very personal, and relate to his success in college and, specifically, that course. When I asked him the name of the class, this was his response.


That's it. One word.

It seemed that, if I asked more than one question, he only answered one, so I slowed it down a bit. I later asked again, the name of the course with which he was hiring me to do a video for. I asked what DS106 was an acryonym for.

"I have no idea honestly class description only says "group success" I'm forced to take this class before graduating because my freshman year I failed 2 classes"

HE DOESN'T KNOW THE NAME OF THE COURSE HE'S TAKING. And, being that it's the end of the semester, this suggests he's been taking the course, this is his final, and he DOESN'T KNOW THE NAME OF THE COURSE HE'S FINISHING.

So, I worked with what little information I had, and literally outsourced the would-be term paper part of the project out to CJM Venter, because I literally couldn't write a paper about a dude's life who I didn't know constructed entirely out of fiction, bullshit, and cardboard.

Sort of like the props in Star Wars. Seriously, do you see a lightsaber there, because I fucking do.

  He used a lot of jive words and synonyms for success, and sprinkled some English instructor juju on it. He created a backstory for him where he was doing poorly in all aspects of his college career, his personal relationships, and his professional life. Even his parents thought he was a putz. Then, his older brother, who was always more successful, likeable, and apparently, nail-able than him, went to jail for driving under the influence (pictured in video: alcohol, pills, pop rocks/soda).

No, no, officer, really, I put the pop rocks in my mouth, choked a little, and when I drank the soda, I thought I was going to die, it was like a coronary in my face.

Then, he got his life together, did better in class, and is hoping to become a pilot or join the police academy after college graduation (pictured in video: blow-up pilot from Airplane, cast of Police Academy).

He approved that script, I did the video to suit. Good luck, man, let's hope your professor has the same sense of humor we do. I'm going to bed.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

College is hard

Hope everyone had a good May the 4th.

Yes, that's me, and yes, I'm a huge fucking nerd.

Anyway, I have a new story. This one, however, ends like a choose your own adventure. I have yet to get to the ending. We'll see how it goes.

A young man posted an ad looking for someone to shoot a video for him for a college presentation. It seemed honest enough, and I got in touch with him.

He told me he needed a video shot for a class, he wanted to have a video rather than, say, a Powerpoint, I guess. He didn't give me many details, and he told me it was due fairly soon, so I asked him for as much information as possible.
I didn't hear back from him for a few days, so I sent him another email, knowing he had a due date for the presentation, and thus the project. I didn't hear back, and assumed he had changed his mind.

Today, four days before the project is due, he sends me this outline.

Sorry my phone got disconnected so I had no Internet access and finals are killing me.... here's the assignment...... 

Show a presentation of how self management, personal responsibility, interdependence, and self awareness have helped you become successful this college semester..

2. Show and discuss 4 ideas that help you in your pursuit of educational goals... Make it personal

3.) presentation must be 4-7 minutes

4.)although I will grading the content more than anything keep in mind you have to have a formal presentation including and intro a body and a conclusion

So... What this means is, from my best guess, he doesn't just want me to do a video for him... He wants me to do his homework for him.

 Reason: Medical marijuana, Lasagna. 

So, I ask him to clarify, and if he has any idea... What so ever... About what he'd like this presentation to be on, seeing as the questions are fairly personal, and I know about as much about this guy as someone might know about a first date.

 Actually... Yeah, this one's a keeper. 

His response:

Well just swing it use common sense you know? Bullshit the thing basically lol

I'd say I'm in for a fun ride. I have 4 days to complete a 4-7 minute video project about a complete stranger. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Deferred 15... No, 30... Make it 60... Ish.

Here's a story of a job that I actually completed. The wackiness is still about, however.

This was another random resume send, and I didn't hear back. One Tuesday night, I get a call at 10:30 at night. This seems like a popular time for DC clients to make business calls.

Ugh, this shit's wearin' off... Oh man, I gotta call that guy...

The caller tells me he got my resume a few weeks ago and he wants me for a job in the morning, it was urgent. I was a bit baffled. Weeks to fill a position and he calls me the night before, after most people are asleep or winding down. Or, in his case, doing PCP. Anyway, I ask when the job takes place and where. He tells me it's in DC, at 10am. I sigh. For anyone who drives into DC in the morning, you know why. I ask how much it pays, and it's actually a decent amount, which was the first pleasant surprise of the conversation. Screw it. I'm in.

He emails me a contract, which is basic enough, the sort of thing you Google and find for free, and that would probably hold up in court about as well as a napkin with a drunk girl's phone number would hold up as "intend to commit sexual conduct."

I swear, your honor, she handed me that napkin and I feared for my safety... Have her cut me a check for mental duress.

I drive to the location, a hotel smack dab in the middle of DC. The contact number I am told to call is not for the man I spoke to the night before, but the other freelance video guys working the gig, who have just about as much stake in whether this things works or not as I do. I, of course, don't know that until after I started calling them. Walking to the hotel, I meet a very confused sound recorder on his way to the same shoot. Apparently he had just about as much info on the job as I did.

The job itself was actually very easy. Set up some equipment, shoot some very small interviews, eat really awesome hotel desserts. Score.

I mail back the flimsy contract along with an invoice and my receipt for parking. I don't hear back from the guy for 2 weeks. He was apparently "on a shoot."

Another 2 weeks, a month to the day after the work was done, I inquire about payment. I had yet to see a paycheck.

"I guess the invitation just got... lost in the mail..."

His response.

"Hey Charles -

I am still awaiting payment from the client.  I apologize for the delay, but expect payment this week or the next.  As soon as I receive payment, I will turn around a check for you the same day.

Thanks for your patience.


I waited another two weeks and sent another email asking how things were going.
"Hey Charles -

I just spoke to them today and they said checks are going out on 5/3, so I should have a check no later than 5/10 and will turn around the same day.  Sorry for the delay.  They did not tell me it was net 60 from the outset, and just sprung that on me today.  I apologize for any inconvenience.

This was just about three weeks ago. This marks two months.

Just out of curiosity, where do these people come from?

Where dinosaurs roam, humans rule and ride, and you can send a paycheck for work completed when ever the hell you feel like it.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The email

This is the email to go along with the previous post. For anyone who likes to read the legal info at the bottom of websites, do their friend's taxes for fun, or attempting to understand DC gun laws,  this might be for you. Be wary, it makes about as much sense as the rules to time travel in Time Cop.

What? I kick time, you travel through it, what's not to understand? Who wants toast?

Video shoot, Videographer needed

This is one of the emails in my "silly" folder. The email itself is pretty useless, I'll include it for anyone with a morbid curiousity. Basically, it gives no real information for the videographer, and it was their immediate response to my resume. No mention of... anything, really. I spoke with the representative, it was apparently a mass email mainly intended for the models, who apparently they feel have a brain the size of a peanut.

This is what came up when I Google'd "sexy triceratops." Well, this and furry porn.

Apparently they expect models to show up late, talk a lot, be out of makeup and undressed for the occasion. Why this makes me think of a scene from Dirty Harry is beyond me.

Go ahead, don't be dressed on time, it'll be what you wear to your funeral.

This is a video shoot, the models, the location, the makeup artists, the lights, everything has been secured and paid for under the express purpose of shooting a video. So, a videographer is kind of key. 

 Oh... Right... We need bullets for this kinda deal...
Anyway, the email implied that I was expected ("CONFIRMATIONS or CANCELLATIONS IS A MUST"), and I wanted to be sure we were on the same page. The representative said that the gig was unpaid, and tried to convince me why it was a good idea for me to shoot, anyway (if I hear "for your portfolio" one more goddamn time...). I told her it would cost me money just to travel there, so I couldn't do that. She asked how much it cost me to drive to DC, and I said $30 or so in gas.
The representative calls back the next day. At 11:30PM.

She is very polite, and tells me they've secured $30 for me. I told her thank you, but I couldn't work for free. She asked my normal day rate, and I said $120 for 2 hours. That's what I get for the stuff I do most often. I thank her, and she's on her merry way.

Keep in mind, these people were expecting to HIRE someone, not bring in someone for free. The space rental, the models, the assistants, everyone else is being paid for that SOMEONE can shoot this masterpeace. This shouldn't be a surprise.

"Happy 16th, sweetheart! We got you gas, and this sweet keychain, and... wait, you need a what now?"

She calls again the next day. She says they've secured $30 for travel and $50 for the shoot. I remind her of my usual rate and thank her for her time. She tells me she's going to try to arrange for that price or similar. The shoot is now something like five days away.

Four days pass, and I haven't heard word. So, as not to put this company in a rather lousy position, I call to be sure everyone is on the same page. A new representative answers.

"Good news!" he tells me! I'm excited. "We've secured $30 and $20 for the work!" I'm no longer excited. Somehow, the rate has gone down. I politely tell him that the price seems to have gone down, and I cannot work for that amount. He seems rather confused, reminding me that they no longer have someone to shoot their video shoot, for which they've dropped a significant amount of money in every aspect EXCEPT THE VIDEOGRAPHER. . "So, you're declining?" he asks politely, however baffled. "Well... yeah..." He thanks me, and despite my friendly follow-up email and offer to shoot last-minute if needed, I never hear back.

I see this company's ads very often. They're always looking for "hot models" and shooters, so, if you're a pretty girl and like money, or a videographer and dislike it, email me and I'll be sure to forward their info.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mr. President, we have Catfish Elvis Von Nessie on line 1. He says it's about the sour kraut again.

I have a folder of emails that I've moved from my normal inbox to remind myself of the more outlandish, babblingly incoherent  insanity that some potential "clients" expect. Generally, they include the phrase "we can't pay you, is that ok?" Often times, they follow that with an expectation, a phrase that attempts to lock you into doing the work whether you're interested in working for free (an oxymoron, like "jumbo shrimp" or "cleanest rest stop on the Jersey turn pike"). They may include, "so, we'll see you there!" or "let us know if you need anything else before the shoot," something friendly and polite that tells you, yeah, they still expect me to show up. Sometimes, they're a bit more aggressive. Sometimes, they're just plain weird.

This is the email that made me decide to start this collection of stories. I'll start with a bit of explanation.

I respond to a lot of Craigslist ads looking for videographers, editors, camera operators, of all-in-one video productions, knowing full well when I walk in that this is the waterlogged wood pulp under your fingernails from the bottom of the barrel. These people have seen what a videographer's normal rate is in their area (generally DC), said "screw that, that's preposterous!" and assume they can find someone for 1/10 of that by posting a simple Craigslist ad. Judging from how many people respond to these ads, it probably works, but to what end? More on that later, I'm sure. Still, I can always hope that the average poster has common sense, a scrap of dignity, and a bit of courtesy and respect for their fellow man. It's probably very similar to the hope a Miss America contestant has their her lifelong hope for "world peace!" will actually be met with... well, world peace. Slim chance, sugar.

This particular poster was looking for a "broadcast camera" and an operator for it. There was little information, except that this person would need government security clearance, or as they put it, "secret service clearance," which I have from my work as a security guard for a government contractor (not shown: photo of me, the last person you'd ever expect to secure, guard, or otherwise protect anything except their own virginity).

My resume and cover letter include my location, an explanation of my frequency with which I shoot in and around DC, the specifications of my current camera, which shoots to tape and digital card, and for this particular ad, my security clearance level. It appears the poster didn't read the resume.

This was their response. I have no altered any grammar, spelling, or content.

"not seeing the things I asked about in the ad

So I guess instead of passign you over I will have to waste tiem goign through them one by one
but it's hard to hire soemoen who has trouble following directions so let's try to get on the same page
Have you ever been cleared for a secret service check
if so can you prove that?
lot of non broadcast cameras shot what they call 720 and 1080
tell me what camera you have?
are you shooting tape?
you mention in the ad due to your loctaion you go into DC often
where are you located. I am really looking for a guy who lives in DC.
and most important I don't see a price or bid.
normally the first thing I do is type a name and number into a google search but I am not getting any of the info I asked about, so not ready to waste time with google search before I have your name run through Secret Service, which I can really only do once. I asked about prove because I need someone who has done it before"
I followed up with the requested information, despite it being in my resume. A scathing, patronizing, and belittling email followed, to which I told them I would not be interested in the job. I was going to leave this post at their original email, but I just received a follow-up that smacks of crazed anti-government basement dweller with delusions of grandeur, and I wanted to include it. Expect this man to be climbing a clock tower near you. Enjoy this snippet.

"don't you get who the meeting is with if I ask about secret service. the group you woudl have been video tpaign goes a few miles a way to a place where this guy lives and works in a house rigth by captial hill

maybe oen day you will be ina  psotion to video tape the leader of the free world but I doubt it"

I hope this makes you day seem more sane by comparison. America, hell yeah.

The Journey Begins

This is my blog description, as well. I typed it out, as I wanted to explain the purpose of this whole damn thing. It was too long, so I thought I'd make it my first post.

I am a freelance artist. I have a fair amount of work under my belt, including a feature film of my own, several short films, and a pile of commercial work, advertisements, and other video credits to keep me clothed and fed (sort of). I am college educated in my field. I also am a fairly young man, and will consider most any job that pays decently, or even a bit less than that. I send out a lot of resumes and cover letters. I mean a LOT. Most are for gigs rather than steady positions, single-day shoots or short video jobs to keep my rent paid, Taco Bell in my stomach, and myself active on the camera. I started this blog to share some of the sillier responses I get to my resume, the crazier clients I meet, and the more absurd offers and expectations placed on a freelance videographer. Trust me, I tried ClientsFromHell, and some of this stuff just can't be reasoned out or rationalized. I'm doing it as much for myself as I am for others, to remember the insane stories and put into record the in-between; the place between professional business and amateur cameraman. I'll also be featuring stories on my friends, other freelance videographers, editors, graphic designers, web developers, etc. I hope you enjoy.