Listen, it can be hard to get to where you want to be. Sometimes, it feels like you might be shooting weddings or doing very underfunded projects for the rest of your life. Some call it a rut, but others see it as an opportunity for growth. 

Valentina Vee, known for her high-end commercial and campaign work as well as shooting a few shows for Discovery, sat down with Stalman Podcast to talk career advice for starting cinematographers and editors and those who are wanting to move up to the next level. From rates to what tools you should use, here are some of NFS’s takeaways from the conversation.

If you want to check out the full conversation, click on the video below: 

Here are the main tips from the conversation.

Everybody wants you and your skills 

The market for cinematographers and editors is insane right now. From small, one-man productions on YouTube to marketing agencies to companies themselves, your skills are wanted.

We are living in a time where everything is cinematic. Companies now are creating in-house marketing and video teams so they don’t need to outsource. Vee said, “You could be a local cinematographer in like Kansas, and make bank making real estate videos.” There is no limit to what you can and could be doing with your skillset.

If you’re doing wedding videos, think about how you can make them into a documentary style of film. You are provided with free models and a free storyline, and since weddings tend to have the same or similar storyline, try to evolve the way you’re showing those key elements in your film. If you’re editing videos, try adding cinematic intros, live graphics, and different types of backgrounds and effects. 

Remember, someone will always be watching your work. It could be 20 people to millions of people. It’s not just for yourself, but for everyone. The evolution of film is a neverending phenomenon. Always strive to do the thing you want or evolve the type of genre you’re shooting or editing. 

Expand that portfolio to get the clients you want

At some point in your career, you might think you want to do something different. Shift what type of videos you’re shooting or editing, and that’s perfectly fine. So how do you get the clients you want? 

Expand your reel! 

Vee says she wanted to do a commercial for Air New Zealand, but her pitch got turned down. She asked why her pitch didn’t get accepted and their answer was simple: she didn’t have enough travel in her reel. On hearing this news, Vee booked a two-week trip to Europe and filmed everything she could capture. The result was a sick travel video that she proudly added to her portfolio. 

Clients find you and accept you based on what experience you have. If you don’t have the experience, go and get it. Don’t say you just want something, because what good does that do you? In the words of Shia Labeouf, “Just do it!” 

ValOn set with Valentina VeeCredit: Case Study with Valentina Vee

Make sure your shoot has a concept

Yes, making a shot look pretty is nice, but what is it doing? What happens when the pretty person is taken out of the shot? Is the shot cinematic? These are the questions to ask before shooting anything. 

It’s all about what is on the other side of the lens. It’s not about you, but more about the skill you have to show off concepts to the world in an interesting way. Don’t be selfish.

High dynamic range cameras allow for little to no work to be done, but cameras are not what is most important. It’s building a concept that is worth shooting. Look at the Dollar Shave Club commercial that went viral. The video is simple: the owner is just walking around talking, but everything that is happening around him is outlandish. The concept is what sold the video. 

Make sure your social platforms reflect the way you want to be seen

Social media matters in the digital age. It can show future employers what you can do, and if you’re the right fit for their company. Don’t have an Instagram page full of pictures of your dog if you want to work for someone that is looking to see how creative or experimental you are. Represent yourself the way you want the professional world to see you. 

Also, don’t be afraid to DM someone if you have a question to ask them. But here is how you should ask them a question. Make it short, specific, and respectful, and then follow up if they don’t answer it after a few days. More than likely, the person you reached out to was just busy, but by following up, you’re showing that you’re available and interested in the things they are doing. 

Remember, people are not tech support! If you need help finding what camera you should use for your next project, ask us. That’s why NFS is here. 

Gear doesn’t really matter

According to Vee, no gear out there in the world really matters. Vee rents all of her gear for a shoot because there is no point in buying something she may never use again. But if she had to pick one that should be held above the rest, it’s sound and lighting

Quality sound is super important because that is how everyone hears what is going on in the video. Set up mics where they are needed, and make sure you can hear the people who are talking clearly without any issues. 

If you’ve been a part of NFS for a while, you know how important lighting is. It can be expensive to get a full setup, but that is why the sun is here. The sun is the best light to use because it can create beautiful colors and is flattering to everyone, and the best part is that it is free. You can use a reflecting board to bounce the light in the direction it needs to go. It is very important to plan when you’re going to shoot in the sunlight. Make sure there are very few clouds in the sky and that you’re not shooting at noon when the sunlight is harsh. Plan before shooting! 

DaylightShooting in the sunCredit: Kristina Kokhanova

In the end, if you feel like you’re doing your best, then you’re fine. There is always room for growth, but only you can push yourself to do that. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or film something with a friend just for fun. The payoff might be just the thing you need to take that next step forward. 

What do you think about Valentina Vee’s tips? Let us know in the comments!

Source: Stalman Podcast