I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: we all make tons of mistakes and it’s a way of learning. However, some mistakes are just cute little “hiccups,” while the others may cost you a lot of your time, effort and wear you out emotionally. In this video, Gene Nagata a.k.a. Potato Jet shares five biggest mistakes he’s made as a freelance filmmaker, and they apply to photographers, too. I’m sure we’ve all made them, and many of us still do. So, this video will remind us to stop making the same mistakes and starting making the best out of our filmmaking or photography careers.
1. Avoiding negotiation and making it weird
I don’t know about you but I hate haggling. It makes me feel super-uncomfortable. Well, apparently, Gene used to feel the same way too, and he avoided negotiating over the price of his work. However, this can cost you a lot. People will always try to get the lowest possible price (or make you work “for exposure”), and it’s perfectly normal. So it’s time for you to start thinking that it’s perfectly normal to start charging what you’re worth. Because it is!
As a professional filmmaker, photographer, or any other kind of creator, you’re assigning a certain value to your work. You need to figure out what that value is, and find clients who are willing to pay for it. Be ready for some negotiating, but always be aware of how much you’re worth.
2. Doing everything yourself
It’s great to be skillful in many different areas and to be able to do a lot without anyone’s help. But there will come a point where it will simply be impossible to do everything alone. Large project will require you to hire someone to help you, and that’s perfectly normal. You may need a second shooter, or a team of people who work in different areas of the project such as hair and makeup, sound, editing… You may need to give up some of the creative control, but hey – if you hire the right team, the project will be even better than it would if you did everything by yourself. Not to mention that it will be finished much faster.
3. Not planning enough
This can be in a way related to the previous point. If you’re trying to control all aspects of the shoot, you may fail to plan the shoot itself thoroughly enough. Gene admits that the first time he used a storyboard was when the client requested it. But that’s when he realized how smoothly the shoot can be done when you actually have everything properly planned.
4. Accepting “handshake deals”
Oh boy, did I learn this the hard way! Not in photography though, but back when I was in final years of college, doing some translation work. Trust me, no matter how well you know someone and how much you trust them, make the contract. Work it out with a lawyer and with the client so both sides are satisfied and protected.
5. Not being aware of your most valuable asset: trust
When you’re doing creative work, you should certainly be good at what you do if you want to get clients. You should have your own style, produce high-quality work, and act professionally. But all this is not enough if the clients don’t feel that they can trust you.
Be consistent with the quality of the work you deliver, respect the deadlines, and be aware of your strengths and weaknesses. This will all help you build great reputation and make clients return to you and recommend you to others.
Honestly, I’ve made most of these mistakes in my professional career. Even though the video refers mainly to filmmakers, these mistakes are applicable to all creatives, and even people beyond the creative industry. I’ve personally made them mainly as a content writer/translator, and although I’ve learned from them, they cost me a lot.
I’m interested in hearing your thoughts. Have you made the same mistakes? And how did they affect you?