Thursday, December 06, 2012

Produce your own work?

More and more at acting industry/networking events, speakers and colleagues recommend producing our own work (POOW), to get noticed and thus get more work.

Quality video equipment and editing programs are much less expensive than they used to be.  And YouTube and Vimeo make it easy to post projects online.

To POOW, however, you’ll need to wear many more hats, such as producer, line producer, director, writer, location manager, cinematographer, editor and marketing manager.  Or convince friends to work for free, or raise enough money to cover paying people in addition to production costs.  I’ve seen so many Indiegogo and Kickstarter campaigns for friends’ projects. Is the novelty of contributing is wearing off? 
How many hours would you have to put in to create a short film?  A web series?  Then to promote it?  How much money will you earn, and/or how many people will see it?  Not every video will go viral. 

Some friends do theatre, and may earn nothing or $200-300 for the entire rehearsal process and run of the show.  If you put in 5o hours, you’re earning less than minimum wage.  But you may want to work with a certain theatre and/or director, hope for a good review or that agents/casting directors will attend and like your performance or be impressed by your latest credit.
Would all that time be put to better use self-marketing?  One new client might yield more benefits more than entering a short film I've made into festivals or being in a play that doesn't attract attention. 
Others record audio books, usually for $150 on up per finished hour (fh) of audio, with a novel being appx. 10 hours, or $1500.  That may seem like a good rate, but you have to take into account any research such as pronounciations of character's names or words you don't know, reading the book, editing, proofing or paying a proofer, and making any corrections. 
Audiobook site ACX estimates that it takes 6.2 hours to get one fh, which, at $150 per finished hour, amounts to just over $24 per hour of your time.  Much better than minimum wage, but much less than you can earn via an agent or for regular narration--if you get the work.  However, you can record audiobooks on your own schedule, assuming you have a satisfactory home recording setup.  And if you can score a fh rate of, say, $300, and can reduce production time, you'd make closer to $50 or $75 per hour. 

When deciding if a project is worth my time, I take several factors into account:

How much am I earning per hour of my time? 
Are there new skills I can learn?
Who will see/hear the project? 
How long will it run/be available?
Who will I be working with? 
How hard is the work?
How flexible is the turnaround time/schedule? 

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