Creative Cinematography 6 - Making Money as a Cinematographer / Videographer | Phil Ebiner | Skillshare

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Creative Cinematography 6 - Making Money as a Cinematographer / Videographer

teacher avatar Phil Ebiner, Video | Photo | Design

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

11 Lessons (19m)
    • 1. Course Introduction

    • 2. Top Ways to Find Cinematography Work

    • 3. How to Negotiate Your Rate

    • 4. How to Get Paid with an Invoice

    • 5. Understanding Taxes as a Freelancer

    • 6. Lights, Camera, Action! Order of Occurrences on Set

    • 7. Set Etiquette: How to Act on Set

    • 8. Guide to Being on Set

    • 9. Creating an Amazing Website and Reel

    • 10. Going to Film Festivals

    • 11. Doing Work for Free

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About This Class

This online Cinematography Course will teach you how to shoot beautiful videos with any camera.

Enroll in all the modules:

  1. Camera Basics
  2. Getting the Right Exposure
  3. Composing Better Images
  4. Adding Movement to Your Shots
  5. Lighting Your Videos
  6. Making Money as a Cinematographer

This course is designed to teach you the ins and outs of professional cinematography - the art of making motion pictures. While there are plenty of video courses, it's hard to find a comprehensive course that teaches you everything you'd want to know about shooting video.

This is the sixth course in the Creative Cinematography series. Please check out the rest of the courses in the Creative Cinematography series to continue your cinematography education.

In this course, you'll learn:

  • The top ways to find cinematography work
  • How to negotiate your rate
  • How to get paid with an invoice
  • Understanding taxes as a freelancer
  • How to work on set
  • How to create an amazing website and reel
  • How to use film festivals and free work to your benefit

This is the course for you, taught by a professional Hollywood cinematographer, Will Carnahan.

Regardless of the type of camera you are using - DSLR, Professional Cinema Camera, GoPro, iPhone, or Film - you can shoot beautiful video. Learn professional techniques that Hollywood filmmakers are using to capture powerful images.

If you want to learn how to shoot great videos and making money doing what you love, this is the course for you.

Start shooting better videos today!

Enroll today, and we'll see you in the course.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Phil Ebiner

Video | Photo | Design


Can I help you learn a new skill?

Since 2012 have been teaching people like you everything I know. I create courses that teach you how to creatively share your story through photography, video, design, and marketing.

I pride myself on creating high quality courses from real world experience.


I've always tried to live life presently and to the fullest. Some of the things I love to do in my spare time include mountain biking, nerding out on personal finance, traveling to new places, watching sports (huge baseball fan here!), and sharing meals with friends and family. Most days you can find me spending quality time with my lovely wife, twin boys and a baby girl, and dog Ashby.

In 2011, I graduated with my Bachelor of Arts in Film and Tele... See full profile

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1. Course Introduction: Hey, everyone, welcome to a new section in the cinematography course. We have learned so much about the actual how do you shoot better video, part of cinematography. And now a big part is to take it to that next level of how do you find work? How do you work on set and how do you ultimately be a successful cinematographer? So will will be covering all of those things in the next few sections. So this is Cyan or a for a little while for me. But I hope you enjoy the next few sections because if you are interested in finding work and actually having a career as a cinematographer, the next few lessons will give you a lot of the practical skills and knowledge that will uses every day to be a successful cinematographer. So take everything to heart. This is truly what he is doing to be a cinematographer, and I hope everything works out for you as well. Thanks for watching, and I'll pass it to will 2. Top Ways to Find Cinematography Work: So in this lesson, I wanna talk about working as a cinematographer. So let's start off with my top ways of actually finding work as a cinematographer. Videographer. So number one Networking No working has been the biggest and best way for me to get jobs, Whether it's from school people from school that I've known, or just talking to people about the film industry, I think the biggest and best place that I found the best quality work has been from the people that I went to film school with. We're all kind of rising up in finding work as we go. But the best thing to do is to keep in contact with them, because when jobs come up, they will remember you and they will get you in. If you didn't go to film school, the best way to build your network is to start meeting people and start going to functions where people in the film industry maybe so. The best thing is to start meeting them, start shooting with them, start collaborating, maybe get out there and do some free projects because I don't really get you into the film industry and into the network of people that are actually working in the film industry. So number two working on sets even if you're not necessarily in the camera department. Just getting yourself on set meeting people who are around camera talking to people Learning. Working on sets is kind of one of the biggest and fastest ways where you'll be able to meet people, build a network and actually learn what other people are doing. Can also talk to the cinematographer and start to get in with them. Because if you talk to them and you meet their network, chances are they could always pass work off to you one there too busy or vice versa. And it's really just a good way to just start to get into the industry. Number three Online databases and websites are kind of a good way for you to start to get your name out there. If you've got a really you got a website, you want to go on to stuff like mandy dot com, entertainment careers dot com or even Craigslist. And just look for people looking for cinematographers. You never know what's gonna pop up. There could be a crapshoot, but I've gotten a couple gigs when I first started out through Craigslist and threw manny dot com, where was able to start getting footage for my riel and just meet People number four. The last thing would just be Shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot. If you want to be a cinematographer, you need to keep shooting if you want to shoot video. If you want to be a videographer, you need to practice shooting and need to share it. Need to get out there. Instagram is one good way where you can just shoot, shoot, shoot and show people your work. Video YouTube, Upload all your work. The more you shoot the Morial collect free riel, the more you can get out on Facebook and get out into your social media sites. You'll be able to tell people in show people the year shooting and you're out there and ready to be hired. 3. How to Negotiate Your Rate: So let's talk about rates. What do you do for a day rate? This ranges all over the place, so kind of just depends on where your market is and where you live. Depending on where you live, you'll be able to kind of distinguish your rate. The best way to figure this out is to network get on sets and talk to people about their rates without being too rude and see where they're at and try and work your way up in that regard. When I was coming out of film school out of graduate school about six years ago as a camera operator and as a DP, I started very low. I would camera operate for some conferences for $75 a day, and that's a 10 hour day. But as that progressed, I would start to tell people, Oh, it's $150.0 it's 200 0 is 300. Typically, nowadays I see camera operators getting a rate of 300 $300 a day over a 12 hour day. Now that changes and fluctuates depending on the project. On what you're doing, I've seen weddings that will hire camera operators anywhere from 300 upto 5 $600 a day for a wedding, but have also seen film sets Ohio higher camera operators as low as 1 50 up to 67 $800 a day. As a DP. It's a little different. You're also working on preproduction days. You got to take into that factor that your doing work beforehand and after hand. If you're into coloring so really kind of depends on where you're coming from and what specifically you're doing. A cinematographer on a commercial set it was only gonna work one or two days is gonna ask for a different rate, probably a higher rate. Then a cinematographer video for is working on a feature over 30 days. Also, that's different from a cinematographer on a wedding shoot on an event Shoot was only working one day, and who's building out a riel in that regard, so kind of depends on where you're coming from. The best thing I've always done is telling someone Hey, this is my rate. I'll shoot it pretty high. But hey, I really want to work for this project, so I'm willing to bring it down a little bit. That's been a really easy way for me to kind of slowly build up my rate. When I came out of school, I was shooting for 75 to $100 a day as a cinematographer. Now depends on what I'm shooting. When I'm shooting commercials for one day, I'll tend to make anywhere from 600 on the lower end up to 12 1300 a day on higher end commercials on narrative stuff. I'll make a little bit lower because it's multiple days at this point where I'm at. I try not to leave my house for anything less than $400 a day. 400 is really, really low for me at this point because I have so much going on. But I'll make anywhere from 400 to 800 for narrative multiple days, and that's also untaxed. So there's a whole other information that we need to talk about, far as that goes. The big thing is that you stay consistent. You're gonna have to do some free work to build yourself up, and it takes time. It really does take a lot of time if you're looking to be hitting those rates within a year . Within two years, it's not gonna happen. It's going to take multiple multiple years. I haven't reached this in a few years. I've been doing this for over 5 to 6 years at this point. 4. How to Get Paid with an Invoice: so getting paid. Most productions will ask you to either invoice them or though, have you fill out a time card. If you're feeling at a time card, easy peasy onset. Fill out your timecard. Make sure you got your numbers right. Make sure you talk to the unit production manager or the producer. And make sure you're feeling that out, right? Make sure you do all the paperwork necessary. If your invoicing it's a different story now, invoicing is kind of important. If you're gonna be a freelancer, you want to keep track of all that. The big thing for me in order to keep track of all that was to make sure that you keep track of it so that if ever God forbid you get audited, you can go back. And you can track all of that as much as you need. Teoh. So a big thing about doing that is by creating either job numbers or invoice numbers on your invoice. So if you're gonna do a day right, make sure has where they going to send the check to make sure as who, your invoicing, what the job was the date all that information along with. Please make check payable to William Carnahan or whomever, and then make sure you have a number up there because that will let you track your invoices and understand if things have gotten paid or not. There's multiple different programs online that you can use QuickBooks cost money, but it's fantastic to use as faras um, accounting and bookkeeping for your invoices. You can also track expenses. Been stuff. There's other things out there where you can use to track invoices and whatnot. Or you could simply use a spreadsheet. The big thing is to just stay organized, stay on top of things and make sure you bother the productions about being paid. If you're not being paid after 30 days, that's a bad sign. You need to be bugging them about that On your invoices. You can put 30 days, 15 days due on receipt. However you want to run your business. Typically, 15 to 30 days is the norm, but I would just make sure you stay on top of it. Make sure you stay invoiced and just stay pleasant because getting paid is what you need to be doing for your art. This is your job 5. Understanding Taxes as a Freelancer: so just a quick note about taxes. I really want to kind of talk about how a freelancer has to be cautious of that. Now. I'm no expert like you should definitely talk to a C P A and attacks person for the actual real information. I can give you my experiences, but legally you need to go talk to a real person who's educated in this and well versed in your particular situation. Everyone's situation is different. The big thing about taxes that you have to remember that most film sets most things to be working for are not gonna be taxing. They're gonna be giving you a full rate, which is why you should be asking for a full rate because it will get tax later on also going back to rates. If you can raise your rate so that you know that you'll be paying taxes quarterly, that would be really helpful. If you're gonna be a full blown freelancer, you have to remember that you've invested all this money into education into equipment into all these things, so you're worth it. Your rate is worth it, and when you get taxed, it's going to be taking away from that rate. So you want to make sure that even if you're getting paid $500 a day, that if 150 of that gets tax, the rest of it's gonna go to you over time. So the big thing is, make sure your rates high enough to battle those taxes, be aware of what you can and can't write off as a freelancer and also be aware of how much taxes you're gonna end up owing at the end of the year. 6. Lights, Camera, Action! Order of Occurrences on Set: so being on Set has its own etiquette and its own rules. It's a big difference between a cinematographer and sort of a videographer, whereas a videographer maybe out on their own shooting with their own lighting kit, shooting an interview, shooting by themselves, doing an event, doing a doc doing a narrative on their own is kind of in control of everything and is touching everything. A cinematographer on Set on a movie production is in charge of everything. As a manager, they'll have a lighting crew under them, and they also have a camera crew under them. Now, depending on how big your set is, it may be different on how many people you're managing, but typically you'll have an assistant camera, sometimes a camera operator, a second assistant camera under camera, and then you'll have a lighting crew. You have to be able to translate what you're trying to do to the lighting crew, whether it be lighting and look in power and what lights along with timing with the assistant director while talking to the camera crew and letting them know exactly what they need to do. As far as what camera goes where, where to go where it goes as far as height and length. What lenses to use, what settings to use. That's all your decision. So, cinematographer, you're running both of those departments independently of them of each other, and then you're telling them what to do, how to do it, making sure they get done enough time. We'll also talking to the director and figuring out how you're going to accomplish all that's faras shots. Timing goes what you need to tell the story. Now again. On top of all of that, you're working with the assistant director to figure out what shot goes when where to go where and then also, you're talking to the producer on what equipment you need, how much money everything is gonna cost and what crew you need. So really, a cinematographer is doing multiple multi multiple things, and that's why they're physically not necessarily touching lights and touching camera. Although the smaller sets, I'll tend to actually have to move light to move the camera because we don't have enough hands to move that fast. But as you get into the bigger sets, the bigger movies the DP just doesn't necessarily have the amount of time and capacity to do all of those things by themselves. They need to delegate to physical work, and then they need to be political and work with the other artists to accomplish the picture as a whole. That's the main difference between a cinematographer and a videographer. They're both accomplishing the look. They're both in charge of camera and lighting, but there's a little bit more managerial and political decisions on a cinematographer and collaboration, as opposed to video Aga, for his doing a little more things on their own and can accomplish maybe a little bit more just by themselves. 7. Set Etiquette: How to Act on Set: So let's talk into the order of occurrences on a set or on a shoot. As a videographer, you're gonna tend to look at the scene, come in, figure things out, set things up and get shooting. It's much more quickly. If you're shooting by yourself in a small interview setting like this, a cameraman come in, set up, the lights set up, going, Let's get going. And sometimes they may have to actually deal with sound as well. By setting up a mike. A cinematographer has to come in already have an idea of the crew that they have already have an idea of what shots they're going to be taking already have already prepped the camera the day or two before. If you're just walking in and then already have talked to the director and the assistant director and the producer about how you're going to shoot that scene for that day, so as they walk on a set, all those things are preplanned. You're gonna tell the assistant camera and your gaffer those air. You're to go to people what the plan of the day is. Let them go off, do their thing. They'll start to get prepped. You'll then walk in with the director and producer. You'll block out the scene with the actors. If it involves, actors will do a little rehearsal. They'll know. Step aside, you'll have the set and, in which case you can bring in the camera. You come start bringing in the lights. You can work with your gaffer to light the scene, and when you're done doing that, they'll come in for herself, will do a rehearsal and then you'll step back. And then we'll do a shot. Which means the assistant director will come and say, Are you ready? You'll say, Yes, I'm ready. Bringing the actors. They'll say, Roll camera, roll, sound. You'll roll camera your role sound. You'll make movie magic. Everything will start happening. It's just a big, more a giant machine where you have to collaborate with everyone. So that's kind of the order of things. APS ON set When you're done with that scene after multiple takes move onto the next one 8. Guide to Being on Set: so just really would quickly want talk about set etiquette. Um, as a videographer, when you're by yourself, you're not necessary dealing with a lot of people, although sometimes you do talk to a director or talent, a cinematographer. There's a bigger machine going on, so you want to be able to kind of know how to navigate with personalities and with other personnel on the set. So this really applies to both, depending on how big or how small the set is. As a cinematographer, you're in charge of the camera, but you'll have people be looking at your work. They'll be people asking about, Is it too bright there? Is it too dark? And even though that's not technically their job, they're going to be talking about it because everybody wants to be on the same team. Everyone wants it to be the best it can be. The thing about being a cinematographer is you tend to have to have a lot of patients for that, you're the one that's making those calls and doing your style while still maintaining the look of the client or the producer or the director. So the best thing that I can say as faras etiquette on set is to be pleasant, try to collaborate as much as you can and and kind of take it with a grain of salt when people are trying to correct what you're doing. The thing is that there are a 1,000,000 things going on, and even though everyone has their own departments, the entire film contend to be a family and content to be moving in one direction. The best advice I can give you for being a cinematographer is to not work on sets and don't take jobs where you know you're gonna be angry and bummed out, and it's gonna be hard. That's not the point of this job. We all do this because we love to do it, and it's fun to dio. So if you find a collaborator that you love working with, try and work in those kind of areas, and that will really make you a better artist in a better person and just happier 9. Creating an Amazing Website and Reel: So I want to talk to you guys about pushing yourself to the next level, and that is a different degrees about all of that. The big thing is you want to start with a rock solid riel and website. You want to be able to sell yourself as a cinematographer and show that you're a professional, that this is what you get paid to do every day. You've invested all this time into working on sets. You've invested it into school, into education. Online. You've invested into gear. You've really become a well rounded cinematographer. So how do you push that and get those bigger jobs? Get that higher rate and keep pushing yourself. Start off with a rock solid website. Have a real on it, have multiple reels. Right now, I'm working on a narrative real and a commercial music video riel. So I have multiple looks as well as maybe put your instagram page on their show your visual nous show your style. When people are hiring you, they're hiring you for who you are. It's a cinematographer on what style you're gonna bring to their work. There's tons of different camera people out there that they could go get. Why should they be hiring you? So make sure you have a good website with a solid real that's right there. Concise, ready to show. I don't want to go too deep into websites because I don't want to necessarily tell you how to build your website. But there are different ways where you can kind of quickly build it. There's sites like squarespace dot com, which lets you build out a really nice, beautiful looking professional sight very quickly. I believe it costs a little money monthly, but stuff like that you can also go toe WordPress and design your own site for free after you get the domain. The big thing is to present yourself in a manner that you'd like to present yourself as not only an artist but really a business person and really kind of a production company. In a sense, DP's are looked at as the kind of backbone to the way the whole project is gonna look 10. Going to Film Festivals: another way to kind of push yourself is by entering festivals. Now, if you shot something or directed something yourself, you want to push those into your own festivals. But you also want to go to the directors and producers of stuff that you've shot and have them enter in the festival's. If anything, if they don't win a prize, you can at least go and start networking and meeting people. It's also a really great place to start looking at seeing what other cinematographers and videographers air doing and sort of not necessarily stealing their style but try to incorporate. How did you do that? Like how? How can I learn from that? A cinematographer and how technology is moving constantly. You want to stay on top of the game and like what's trending? What looks nice? What are people trying to shoot? I think that's the best way to really kind of push yourself as's faras like what imagery is out there? So get out there. Go to festivals network learn. Start to figure out how you want to present yourself in your style and try and get your own work up into those festivals 11. Doing Work for Free: doing work for free is kind of a hard, hard thing to talk about. You kind of have to do it coming out when you first started, whether you went to film school or not, doing little projects for free will help you get going. It will help you get content for your website and for your riel, as Wells will help you Network Now as you go on 45 years into shooting, I'm still doing work for free every so often. But that's because you trade favors for people. I have a couple of guys that I work with her like, Hey, can you Come on, bring your movie on And maybe one day you can rent some of our cameras for free Sunday. Okay, so I'll go on. I'll work for free, and in that sense, we can exchange, do a work trade. So there's always that there's also ways of just having friends who have passion projects or really need that one extra guy to help out. That can really work in your favor as faras networking as far as getting favors done later , so working for free kind of depends on where you feel as faras. Is that worth your time? Do you feel like it's going to get you more gigs later? Do you feel like it's gonna help your career personally, or are you doing it as a friend? So there's a lot of different ways to look at it. The thing that I would say is the worst thing is don't work for free on a crappy production . The worst thing is going to work for someone for free and then it being awful and terrible . And you're not gaining anything from it even spiritually, because if you're out there as an artist shooting something and you hate it, there's no point in doing it.