The Easiest Way to Make Extra Money As a Filmmaker? Try Shooting Live Events

Shooting Live Events
Freelance filmmaking and steady income rarely go hand in hand. If you find yourself in a pinch and need some extra cash, shooting live events might be the best way to go.

Live events can literally be anything. Weddings, concerts, bar-mitzvahs, speeches, corporate events, and so on. The spectrum is wide-ranging and often surprising in its diversity. In another fantastic episode of his ongoing Lynda series Pro Video Tips, Anthony Q. Artis shares some of his tips for covering live events, and gets into the specifics of one of the most difficult tasks ever, shooting live events with a single camera.

Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VAyFWuq8Yk

Easily the most actionable step to take away from Anthony's presentation is that you need to plan ahead and shoot for the edit when it comes to covering live events. It may seem like an easy task to just show up, set up a camera or two, and call it good, but I can guarantee you that a little planning ahead will make your client – and you if you're tasked with editing the piece – much, much happier. In order to shoot for the edit, go on YouTube and search for examples of live event videos in the style that you're making, and pay close attention to the types of coverage that are used. As Anthony mentions, however, you're most likely going to learn proper event coverage through trial and error, especially when you sit down to edit and find that you don't have the shots you need.

Finding live events to shoot can be tricky, but online resources like Staff Me Up, ProductionHUB, and even that most unwieldy of internet beasts, Craigslist, can be extremely helpful in your search. You can check out the other videos in Anthony's free lesson over on Lynda, and I definitely recommend that you do because he has some really helpful tips for shooting live events as a one man band.

What are some of your favorite places (and websites) to find live event work? Share them with us down in the comments!     

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14 Comments

I some amateur practice with this mostly in church settings (everything at https://www.youtube.com/user/compassmovement/videos?sort=da and non-church https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCBFFE6CD105CDA88) but monetizing any of it never even crossed my mind. Obviously in my case it was because it was mostly church (duh) but it could be a challenge to find monetizable events to shoot, I never considered it, but thanks for giving me some ideas and links.

May 2, 2015 at 2:24PM, Edited May 2, 2:29PM

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Churches have the most money to spend on these things. I used to sell automated cd duplication machines and mega churches spent a lot of money, like $80,000 on one purchase. They would then record the sermons and as soon as they finished, they would start burning the CDs as fast as the could to sell to everyone as they left.

Get a 3 camera setup, a live switcher and edit everything live, then burn the DVDs on the way out, that's money right there.

May 2, 2015 at 9:02PM, Edited May 2, 9:02PM

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Julian Faras
Editor, Cinematographer, Director
464

We should shoot for the church for free. Donate your time and learn. If you have enough motivation and desire you will figure it out through shorts, music videos, features, sports, commercials, ect. We should always give back our talent to the community and the king. He will bless you no matter what. Now get to work..

May 4, 2015 at 9:13AM

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Kyle Lamar
Director Producer DP
1231

Why would you ever work for free for the biggest business in the world?

May 4, 2015 at 8:58PM

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Very interesting. I actually work for a church, as staff. I hire people to decorate, film, play music, build stuff, etc, all for the church. Some people specifically desire to give their talents freely, or for a tax write off, which is great. BUT, as someone who hires professionals, and really believes in my church, my policy is, the church should be at the forefront of patronizing local professional fairly and over and above. Professionals should feel very well taken care of and respected by churches. I discourage local professionals from giving discounts because "it's for the church".

After all, in the Christian church, it is taught that money is not to be idolized. SO, that SHOULD cause the church to be very generous with it's money, especially to professional who earn their living from their work.

So i get that professional should be doing some kind of "pro bono" stuff for their communities. BUT, the church should always look to patronize excellently. Perhaps encourage filmmakers to donate their time to an orphanage that needs a promo video, or a homeless shelter that needs greater internet exposure. The church is wealthy and usually has a steady and strong flow of income. Church staff should never seek to cut corners of get freebies, but should be known in their communities as great patrons of the arts.

May 5, 2015 at 9:51AM

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I once shot a two day conference on Condensed Matter and Particle Physics. I thought it might be quite interesting, having read some layman's books that were vaguely related...

I didn't understand one sentence in its entirety from 9:15am to 6pm each day. I have never been so bored in my life. Several of the delegates spent most of each day asleep in the lecture theatre. My friend and co-cameraman had drawn the long straw (locked off wide-shot) and spent the day sat in the row behind me, sleeping or playing on his phone. I was on a MCU, and had to follow the speakers as they paced back and forth. Honestly, however much we got paid was not enough. 'No reward is worth this'.

In my experience, filming live events is never the easiest way to make money. Editing commercials. Editing commercials is the easiest way to make money.

May 2, 2015 at 2:36PM, Edited May 2, 2:36PM

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Alex Richardson
Director
3695

Couldn't agree more about live events. Conferences and the like are the most boring things on earth. I have serious issue not falling asleep even while standing up tracking as the MCU on conference shoots.

Would kill to get into editing commercials..any tips how to go about finding them? The only stuff we've ever gotten to edit are ones we've shot ourselves and they're few and far between.

May 3, 2015 at 12:52AM

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Jeremy Abbott
Video Producer/Independent Filmmaker
379

To be honest, it's been luck more than design - I'm in the UK, got in with a couple of places that regularly cut stuff for big ad agencies, and then developed relationships with a few production companies and directors... Ideally, I'd say you need to be based/able to access wherever the majority of advertising/editing work goes on in your country - in my case, that's Soho in London.

May 3, 2015 at 7:17AM

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Alex Richardson
Director
3695

He makes some good points in this clip. But he isn't talking about shooting a live event. He's talking about filming it with a view to edit - basically making a highlights video. This kind of job usually can be fun - filming a chunk of a conference, and grabbing cutaways, smile shots, people having a ‘good time’, the inevitable post conference booze up. Then editing down to a punchy clip they show at the end of the conference so everyone knows for sure what an amazing time they've had stuck in a windowless room listening to bosses drone on about the business’ new direction for two days.
Most live event jobs like this will be shooting a conference, a launch event or, god forbid, a wedding. On jobs like these you can rarely stop recording the event to get coverage shots. Clients want every second of their event on screen. And you can’t do this well on one camera. I’ve filmed hundreds of conferences and on the odd occasion the client won’t have the budget for a multi-cam shoot so the production company stick in one camera. This makes your job doubly hard and produces terrible results!
My advice for shooting an event is to have at least two cameras – one for a wide, one for mid and two-shots of speakers. Record the whole thing – preferably with the cameras timecode synced. Make sure you have a hundred batteries or, preferably, mains power. Get a GOOD SOUND FEED from the mixing desk. Edit it as simply as you can. Top and tail the edit with a graphic. Give it to the client. They’ll be overjoyed then stick it in a drawer and never look at it again.
And pray nothing goes wrong. Because it invariably will, and clients are very protective over these things. The last thing you want is for a camera to go down and the whole thing to screw up!
In my opinion, the easiest way to make money out of live events is to be a freelance camera op. Get in with an event production or camera crewing company. This way, you just have to turn up at call time, possibly rig the cameras, shoot the event, derig, and go home. As long as you do your one job right (pointing the camera in the right direction), nothing can go wrong. It’s not your kit, you’re not worrying about sound feed, about the edit (usually this is a live vision mix anyway) or the client going ballistic.
I did this for a good few years alongside building up my production business and, whilst days were occasionally very long and finish times often went after 1am, it was a simple and easy way to make £200 - £250 a time, which helped tremendously in those lean periods. Plus it introduced me to hundreds of crew and several production companies I now provide services for.
If you really enjoy it, you can move into live event coverage properly. But by this point you will have learnt a ton working on other people’s jobs and other people’s kit without any pressure.
And it’ll make you a better camera op.

May 4, 2015 at 1:36AM, Edited May 4, 1:36AM

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Chris Johnson-Standley
Owner - Rogue Robot Visual Industries
80

As a former Fox News and live sports director/TD, I can state with some authority that this Lynda video grossly over simplifies live event recording. The best advice I could give to record live events at low cost is obtain (or borrow if necessary) as many camcorders as you can for shot variety and save the best camcorder(s) and operator(s) for the close up(s).

Live corporate multi-camera interactive events are my business and they are informative and engaging, not boring. We do thousands a year globally. You have to approach these events just like broadcast television.

Ping me at webcastdude@gmail.com for more information.

May 4, 2015 at 5:59AM, Edited May 4, 6:01AM

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Andy Kochnedorfer
Sr. Director, Global Production Management
146

The only thing I would add to Anthony's comment is that this tutorial video is called "Shooting a live event on a single camera." For the single shooter with only one camera, the entires series (which I watched) is full of great advice which would boost the quality of the finished product.

May 5, 2015 at 7:03AM, Edited May 5, 7:03AM

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Clifford Duvernois
Director and Producer
90

(EDIT: Sorry, for some reason, couldn't reply directly to Anthony's post, so this looks like a reply to Clifford.)

Hey Mr Artis, I thought I recognized your name. I got your book a year or two back, good work. You're good in front of the camera, too.

In my profile, I mention that I'm a dad that films kids' piano recitals and make DVDs for the parents. I would bet that they watch it once and never pull it out again. Last time, along with the produced DVD, I made available the raw footage so they could do their own thing with it. No feedback, no one probably ever did anything with it. But I am discovering how much more awesome two cameras are, wow, what a difference! The final product was a thousand times better (though I won't embarrass myself by posting a link).

Anthony, thanks for the help to get into the water; you're right, it's not bad.

May 8, 2015 at 10:05AM, Edited May 8, 10:07AM

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Rob Jaworski
complete amateur
74

Live events are the epitome of low-integrity filmmaking work.

They're hard to shoot, rarely compel anyone through their content, don't necessarily pay well, and don't leverage your artistic career whatsoever. That's why you find a lot of amateurs and low-grade professionals doing live events... because regardless of how talented you are, no one will watch your content if it's from a live event hahaha! And that goes for weddings, concerts, conferences, and so on...

May 7, 2015 at 6:00PM, Edited May 7, 6:01PM

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Raph Dae
Screenwriter & attempted director
680

I've shot events myself and I think shooting events is not really good for an aspiring filmmaker since the budgets for those type of projects are really minimal and you have to do a LOT of those to sustain yourself. Mind you you still want the time to do your own films, right? Shooting events is just a commodity and clients who need a shooter for their events often look for the cheapest alternative.

You might be better off to build a small side business in a super niche. For example you could specialize in the field of medical promos, or real estate advertising. Meaning to say choose a field where there is MONEY and build a clientele there. With this you can do 1-2 projects every 1-2 months that take no more then 2-3 weeks from start to finish and you can easily earn $10-20,000. That should give you enough cash to sustain yourself for a few months and work on your own projects.

Shmuley
EntreFilmmaker.com

May 12, 2015 at 7:50AM, Edited May 12, 7:52AM

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