I have only been in this game a few years – nearing six to be exact. I’ve only worked for a few video companies and have personal relationships with a number of editors. However I’ve been around long enough to be a firsthand witness to a disturbing issue that is hurting our industry.
We can be afraid of each other and can purposely veer one another off the right path.
And years ago because of this I got the worst advice I’ve ever received. I followed it and as a result I completely changed my outlook on the industry and I set out on the path for what I’m doing today.
Where to begin…
It was Spring 2010. My girlfriend, now wife, and I had been out of college for almost a year. We had decent entry-level jobs in the Northern Virginia area in our industries. I was as a lowly assistant editor turned senior editor, but that’s for another post. The allure of adventure was calling us, urging us to move away from our hometown and start fresh somewhere else.
Some of my family moved to Charlotte, NC a few years prior. I enjoyed the city and slower pace of life. They were lobbying hard for us to move down there. We obliged and started looking around. Our realtor showed us houses that were half of the price and double the size of anything we could get back home. We were hooked – 23-years-old with a minimal mortgage in an up-and-coming hipster neighborhood? Where do we sign?! Slow down. First we have to find jobs.
Building a network takes time, a lot of time. I was starting fresh in a new sect of the same community of video editors I had grown to admire in Virginia. A family member in the PR industry set me up with two local post houses to talk about the local video industry so I could introduce myself. What happened next showed me the ugliest side of the video business I’ve ever seen.
The Meetings, The Advice
The first meeting went pretty much as I expected. I met with one of the senior editors and he told me about their shop and what they work on. He asked what NLE I use, why I want to move to Charlotte and those general questions. I worked up the nerve to ask if I someone like me would be considered for an assistant editor position. He told me he’d take a look at my reel but not to be optimistic.
Now before I talk about the meeting where I get “the advice,” remember that at the time I was still a 23-year-old kid. I’m full of ambition and just want to make my mark on the world.
The second meeting I met with the owner of the post house. This is pretty cool for someone fresh out of college. He showed me around and told me about his place. I told him about myself and asked him about the market down here.
Next is approximately what I can remember some five years later:
“Over-saturated. Everyday I’m stuck arguing my prices with clients because some marketing director’s nephew says he can make them a video for $200 in iMovie. I don’t need more competition. Don’t move here because you won’t be able to find enough work.”
Don’t move here… Those were the words still ring in my ears all these years later. He legitimately told me not to come to his city because he sees me as someone who will lower his prices. He didn’t see me as someone just starting out looking to gain experience. He didn’t see me as someone who could help his company by working for next to nothing. He didn’t see that his company’s reel would crush me any day of the week if we went after the same clients.
Maybe I haven’t been around long enough. Maybe I haven’t met enough video professionals. Maybe I don’t understand living gig-to-gig.
I listened to him though. It was partly because I was turned off with the industry down there and partly because my better half couldn’t find a high enough paying job. I’m glad I listened to him though. I love where I live and what I’m doing today. But something about listening to his advice still haunts me.
I will never know what kind of life I would have had down there. Who knows… all the glorious North Carolina BBQ might have sent my health spiraling out of control. What I do know is that if I wouldn’t have listened to him then I would have had a chip on my shoulder. I would have made a name for myself, even if it would be $200 at a time. I would have seen him as competition and one that I would have defeated.
Once I was able to take a step back I made a vow to myself that I wouldn’t see other editors as competition. We are a growing community that needs each other’s support. We push each other to do better work. That’s why I’ll always answer questions and help other editors. I’ll sacrifice my time to help someone take those first steps breaking into the industry, not turn them away and wish for them never to return.
This was the worst advice I ever received but it made me into the person I am today and I’m thankful for that.
What’s the worst advice you’ve received about video post production?