Follow Church Films on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook


Fellow microbudgeters and video production ladies and gentlemen, this post is for you. It’s quick-ish (actually, it’s kinda biggish), it’s easy, and it’ll shed some light on some of the fog surrounding this big move of yours.

I’ve worked video production as a PT side gig. I’ve done it as a FT freelancer/self-employed/single-member LLC. I’ve worked at 2 different W2 (i.e. someone else can claim me as their employee) video production jobs - FT - in 2 different states. And since I left home at 18, I’ve lived in 9 different states/countries, sometimes as brief as 8 weeks, and at other times, as long as nearly 5 years. I’ve had more changes to my address than Prince did to his artist’s name. Part of that was being in the military, part of that was job-related. By no means am I an expert on moving, but along the way, I’ve learned a trick or two. While this list is by no means comprehensive, it’ll hopefully shed some light on areas you’re not thinking through just yet.

And what’s more, if you stick around after the show for the free performance by Limozee—, er, the bonus section, you’ll get a FREE SALARY WORKSHEET. It’ll help you budget what each dollar is meant to do with your new W2 video production job so you can make smart decisions and eat something other than Raisin Bran and canned peaches every once in a while. I’ll also have a bonus video for you with 10 more tips.

1. Make sure where you are moving is legit

I’ve heard horror stories of moving into a place that wasn’t on the up-and-up. I’ve never had that problem, and I don’t want you to be a Craigslist horror story.

Check Google, Yelp, the BBB, Facebook, heck, even Myspace! Research, research, research. Drive to the place and check every nook and cranny. Drive around the place at night. Be thorough.

When I left the Air Force, I moved out west to Utah and landed a room in a house with some Mormon dudes. Which, theology and beliefs aside, was a really good idea. Observant LDS folks don’t do a lot crazy things. They’re pretty laid-back, and there’s a reason why the FBI loves ‘em. Anyhow, their house made for a stress-free living situation.


It was a gamble. I was young and dumb and I could have been swindled. I didn’t do my homework, and I should have because I found those bros on Craigslist, packed my car full of clothes and headed off on a new adventure.

It could have backfired - big time. Thank God Almighty it didn’t, but I sure could have been up a creek without a paddle.

The only thing I had going for my move (as far as peace of mind goes) was zero red flags and a chummy chat or two between me and the property owner, himself a former Air Force vet. A veteran can sniff out a fellow veteran from the pretenders. That doesn’t justify my stupidity, but that’s what I went on, that and a prayer, Jon Bon Jovi style.

When we moved to MO, we looked everywhere. We even checked with the secretary of state’s website for MO to make sure the property management company was on the up and up because I didn’t have the benefit of scouting this place out. I did it all virtually.

Does your state have a division of real estate? Visit their site, call them, send smoke signals or holler like Rocky Balboa.

If you can’t drive around and check the place out from top-to-bottom, you’ll have to be extra discerning. Don’t be a sheep; do the homework before you move.

If you can check the place out before signing a dotted line, function check all the appliances in the house. Test all the power switches and test all the running water. Run the water in the W/D (if possible), the shower, the sinks, and flush the toilet several times.

For example, I once moved into a place where water backed up in the toilet and the shower (ditto the washer) just about every time any two of those were run at the same time. Or even just one of them. It’s something you take for granted, right? I sure did, not being able to flush or shower.

After about 9 days of the landlord troubleshooting, it turns out there was a line from an internet/cable company that had run right through the sewage/drainage pipe coming out of the house. No wonder things were backing up!

2. Update addresses

Internet, gas, power, phone, water, sewage, trash, insurance, banking, Amazon Prime, Jelly-of-the-month club, the VA if you’re a veteran of the armed services, Netflix - this list goes on, really.

Note for veterans: you *should* be able to do this inside ebenefits in one fell swoop. I did, and I don’t even have the club jacket. If I’m wrong in your case, don’t bludgeon me with a baguette - call your local VA hospital and ask for help.

3. Get moving cubes

Since you’re moving across state lines, moving in a U-Haul is for the birds.

I left everything that was a major appliance in my home in Salt Lake when I moved down the road to Sunny Vegas. I still picked up a 15’ truck and towed my motorcycle behind it. That blasted U-Haul truck got 2.5 miles to the gallon.

I like to use hyperbole on this site, but in this rare instance, it’s no joke: 2.5 miles to the gallon.

Your boat probably gets better mileage than that, and your gigantic F-750 probably gets better mileage than that. Heck, an Imperial Star Destroyer gets better mileage than that.

If you have a family, the added plus of going the cubes route is you’re traveling with them and not in separate vehicles (try taking a car and little ones in car seats across state lines with you in the U-Haul - see how that works for your family).

I used a great service called UPack, and I had zero problems with them.

If you’re getting cubes, go the extra mile: get professional movers at both locations (the one you’re leaving and the one you’re moving to). They’re licensed and insured so if something goes south, you aren’t destroying a friendship with a buddy you were too cheap to pay.

Las Vegas: If you’re moving to or from Southern Nevada, I used and recommend Move 4 Less (showed up ahead of time, finished early, and filled two cubes perfectly without having to fill a third cube… they even left some courtesy tape and wrapping materials… top-notch guys). They are not, as best as I can tell, in other parts of the country, hence the note for “Las Vegas.”

4. Get Pelican cases

You never know what your move will do - protect your most valued gear with pelican cases. It’s worth it, and unless you’re able to trot all of your video production gear in your vehicle, you’ll end up storing some of the equipment in cubes. If you have the golden passport to Shambhala, you’ll want to tuck that away in a Pelican case and not just any old gym bag.

What about after the move? Besides making sure your theater subscription pass is updated so you can keep up with your flicker shows, here are some odds ‘n ends you’ll want to tackle.

1. Find a new credit union

Not every credit union is as big as Navy Federal. So, your mom and pop credit union in Cheyenne probably won’t be around in Timbuktu, or wherever you’re moving. Between the sites I mentioned above (BBB, Facebook, Yelp, Google), you have plenty of ammo you can use to discern whether someone is worth your time and money when you’re heading across state lines and rebooting.

I recommend finding a group that offers free business checking, and if the best you can find is a small chain that offers free checking up to 250 transactions, that’s enough to start, but I’d keep looking.

In Salt Lake and Las Vegas, I used America First. They were nothing short of phenomenal.

Note for veterans: USAA, for all its glitter and downright awesomeness, does not offer business checking.

2. Get busy looking into the home-business licensing laws in your area

Some places are about as indifferent to home-based businesses as the general public is to yet another Transformers movie (hint: they’re burned out).

In southern Nevada, it was pretty darn laid back. In other places (e.g. Raytown, a suburb of Kansas City), it’s pretty vague. Do your homework and dive in when you have some revenue coming in. Don’t spring for an LLC when you have nothing to your name and no revenue - classic rookie mistake (yep, been done, done that - have the T-shirt, shorts, and cap)

3. Update your will

If you’re an adult, it’s time to adult. If you have kids, you can’t afford to let your will lapse. Man knows not his time.

Find something off docracy and go to town with it. You might be able to find a notary at a UPS store; your bank probably won’t touch your will with a 10-foot pole.

Check your new place of work; you might just find (on a large team) a notary who is current on all their i’s and lower-case j’s.

Just don’t be a rookie like this guy walking with head held high into a UPS store only to forget my witnesses. Yes, witnesses. If your parents or Uncle Bob comes back with a vengeance when you’re pushing daisies, you want witnesses who will defend your name (your will) in court.

4. Reboot your niche or find a new one

This one’s easy. See if your town is without a legacy video girl or guy or maybe there’s nobody that does country music videos. Heck, you could be the first to carve out a niche filming Quinceañera videos. If so, be the best at that role, and get some ads going to let people know you’re in business.

And tell everyone. No matter how old or young. Explain your niche in such a way your 6-year-old nephew can tell people what you do.

5. Hit the gym

Moving really does allow you the best possible way to reboot. Hitting the gym and cleaning up your diet are a 1-2 punch you can knock out with this new transition and you should, regardless of whether it’s for weight-loss or just overall health.

For example, I put on a lot of bad dad weight after my oldest was born - you can see it in 2017 YouTube videos compared to 2018/2019. Like Elvis in his later years, I wore dark clothes to hide the fact. Well, in 2018, shortly after New Year’s, my wife introduced me to the app MyFitnessPal. It’s free to get started, and it’s got enough punch in it to see your weight loss over time, calories you’re burning by walking (or manually if you add them or other exercises), and what nutrients like fats and sugars you’re eating too much of.

It’s a great way to visualize weight loss, and let’s face it. We all spend too much time on our phones anyways, so you might as well add the app and lose some weight.

I went from a robust 210 at my worst in 2017 to a lean 185 at my best in 2018. All because I tracked what I ate and stuck to the nutrient goals outlined in the app. Up until 2018, I exercised regularly. Heck, I’ve been exercising since Washington crossed the Delaware that one blustery winter morning, but it really is about your diet when it comes to weight loss.

Let’s bring it full circle now. When you move, so much gets the reset button. Go the extra mile and leverage that momentum to get in shape, lose weight (if you want to), and more importantly, have a healthy heart and body.

Note: In the same year, they (MyFinessPal) had a huge hack, so if you use the app, don’t offer it personal details you’re not comfortable tossing to the wind. Headsup!

6. Plug into a group

Find a church, a VFW, a meetup, join the Chamber of Commerce - perhaps all of the above. You weren’t created to go it alone, and that’s an immutable, God-given truth regardless of your in/extroverted-ness.

Surround yourself with people who will become your new home away from home; use the new digs as a chance to hit the reset button on generosity too. Be generous with your time and money; you’re meant to be a servant leader, in your video production and in your standing as a new resident in Timbuktu.

But none of that is possible if you wall yourself off from the new town you’re in like Ben Kenobi wandering the desert, hoping to stumble upon Luke Skywalker and R2-D2.

This part’s hard, and as Simon Sinek said, there’s no app to shortcut the relationship-building. So buckle up.

7. Last but not least… your car(s)

One thing you’ll want to do in ADVANCE of getting new licenses, new plates, new registrations for your cars is to get a safety/emissions test (sometimes it’s one or the other or both) two months before you’re going to run the DMV gauntlet.

In my experience, you have 60 days from the time you get a safety/emissions test to trot out to the DMV and get your registration updated (COMMENT below the post if you know of a place where the safety/emissions test is NOT good for 60 days).

So, why is getting a jump on this early (enough) so important? Two reasons, muchachos. One, if you’ve got a bug in your car, it’s best to find out now than at the last minute (like this guy once did). Two, if you’re moving to a place like Missouri, as I’m discovering, there’s an extra layer of red tape to get through between the safety/emissions test and the trip to the DMV, and that’s the tax assessor’s office.

What the deuce?

I agree, and I’ve lived in several states, plus I had a 6-month jaunt in Afghanistan. Only in the great state of MO have I found an extra step of bureaucracy. Can you tell I’m a libertarian?

Give yourself time to get these steps done, lest you wind up illegally driving on your “new” roads:

  1. Safety/emissions

  2. Potential middle step/bureaucracy/red tape

  3. DMV

Closing Thoughts

Over-deliver as if you were serving clients outside your organization. Remember to smile, shake hands with folks, listen well, and remember who you ultimately serve. Submit to the authority of those over you, eat your vitamins, say a prayer, and keep creating with the King.


This site exists to share everything with you, good, bad, and/or ugly, in the journey of getting a TV show made. You’ll learn financing and marketing tips for you, the video producer, to engage your local community in whatever niche you apply yourself to.

So, join the newsletter below where I won’t spam you or resell your information to Icelandic crab fishermen. I, like you, want to tell stories of the hope we have in the Almighty to the masses, and if that’s you, hit that big subscribe button. I’ll send you a bonus video that’ll share 10 more pro-tips for moving across state lines, plus that worksheet.


  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Today, we’re going to reflect on all the wild and wonderful things our prospects and clients do that just drive us bonkers - and how to respond and more importantly, when to have a healthy dose of self-awareness (i.e. know when you’re the rotten banana in the bunch). So, if you’re new to video production, I recommend starting here. Then read this post so you can see the warning signs on the road and learn how to react. I don’t want your video production business to go flying off the rails like Alan Parrish’s parents. You can’t always control how other people will treat you, but you sure can control how you treat others. Remember the golden rule here, Bubs, and go serve your video production prospects/clients right now with a big ole smile and a hearty handshake.

Bonus: Stick around after the show for a free performance by Limozeeeen! Actually, I’ve got a guide for you that will walk you through, A-Z, everything you need to start your own video business from scratch. Because clients (or your own lack of responsibility) that drive you bananas are just the tip of the iceberg; you’ll deal with non-profits who want to undercut your services, payment processors who want their cut, and the interminable question: what do I charge my clients? All this and more are in the bonus section.

Thing # 1: drag their feet on deciding what they want

This can happen in oh so many ways (i.e. dragging their feet, in general). I spell out the obvious ones below, but this is generally your fault if a prospect doesn’t feel some sense of urgency in the process. You need to take ownership in the video production process and if they’re dragging their feet, I’d take a hard look in the mirror first.

But when it comes to deciding what they want, this can be a big pain, and if you can’t help them find an idea/solution to what they want/their problem, you won’t be able to close them, get paid, or produce a video for them and thus serve them.

For example, I once had a client who paid the customary half upfront for work to begin. But in chasing perfection, we never launched. The work never started and the money… just sat in escrow. Months went by with phone calls and emails but nothing ever got off the ground.

So, my fellow microbudget filmmaker, indecision can occur before they render their John Hancock on the dotted line and it can occur after they sign. A signature and a deposit are not safeguards against one’s inability to make a decision and press forward. Headsup!

Try this instead: in your contract, outline deadlines and progress checks. If the client fails to stay with you in the project timeline by some excessive amount, let them know their project will move to the back of the queue (and possibly add a “reactivation fee” - I haven’t implemented the latter but I have the former; if you have a “reactivation fee,” comment below: how did it turn out?)

Thing # 2: kick the tires

I once had a prospect always ask for the latest and greatest price on their next idea but never commit to doing any business with me, even when I set the service at a super-entry level price-point of doing business, just to get them in the habit of pulling out their cc: one hour of consulting. Nope - nada. Every call/email was about the next idea and how much would it cost rather than “let’s roll!”

I finally wizened up and automated the trash can on their emails and stopped answering their calls.

My fault for failing to deliver value? Absolutely. My fault for getting strung along with a tire kicker? You bet.

Another client strung me along for months about a project that always had a setback. And then another setback. And another. I finally wizened up there too and stopped following up. Yes, Grant Cardone believes you should follow up ‘til one of you dies, but his Vice of Sales also takes a more level-headed approach: there are 7 billion people in the world. Move along; they’re not the droids you’re looking for.

This is a biggie you’ll have to sift through the hard way when you’re brand new and starting out, but with training and time, you can sniff out the tirekickers very quickly. I wrote a much more detailed post here and I suggest you learn how to qualify the real prospects from the tirekickers here.

Thing # 3: disappear for stretches at a time

This one is frustrating in its own unique way. They can sign and pay but then disappear. They can sign but not pay. They can disappear altogether during negotiations and then reappear ready to rock ‘n 'roll later. It might be some combination of all of the above, and if they pull this Band-of-Brothers-Lieutenant-Dike move on you once, that’s no biggie. Twice? It’s likely a weather pattern you can bank on again… and again.

How to mitigate it? Practice your sales training daily. It starts with you creating a sense of urgency for the sale and your leadership to guide and funnel the process from cradle to grave with milestones and expectations, which you should be over-communicating regularly.

After all, you can’t have a client show up and expect you to drop everything at once for them when they’ve been AWOL for a month. Stay in the communication loop, tell them they must as well or the project goes to the bottom of the priority list (as hinted at in the first thing above), and put it in writing as well what those timelines are - then regularly reinforce them.

Thing # 4: stall on signing the contract

You might have a tirekicker (referenced above), you might have someone who is legitimately swamped. It might be budget season and they are scrambling to tie up loose ends before the next fiscal year begins. Maybe they’re trying to buy time for George to plant a big one on Lorraine so Marty and his siblings don’t disappear. The possibilities are virtually limitless.

If they’re stalling on signing, it’s possible they’re shopping other vendors. Follow up regularly, creatively, and offer outstanding service. Sometimes just being local is the dealbreaker that works for or against you as well. If you’re in a tie with another vendor for a company’s contract, then chances are, the guy who’s closest wins. That happened to me once, and thankfully, I was the guy who was closest. But I wouldn’t have landed the contract if I hadn’t remained enthusiastic, consistent, creative, etc. If at any point I threw in the towel, I would have fallen off the radar.

I once hired a moving company simply because they picked up the phone, their competitors didn’t, and they called back 20 minutes later to let me know some additional info they forgot to share, but wanted to make sure I knew. The guy didn’t even ask for the close; it was a service-oriented move, and he had my business. Visa promptly joined the party.

Thing # 5: stall on paying you

This one you can mitigate by dumping LARGE watermarks on your work ‘til they pay up, which I talk more about in the post on contracts.

As the Good Book says, in this world you’ll face hardships, or in my parlance, you’ll have tough video clients (Jake the film guy-ians 1:23).

And it might even be as simple as confusion on their part. Just because it’s a hyper-technological society, it doesn’t guarantee you’ll have clients who know how to use Paypal, Apple Pay, BItcoin or any of the other ways you prefer to be paid. If you’re old school and only want checks, you’ll probably gel with every client under the sun in this arena, but be flexible. Take what payments they can give, but at the same time, know they might be scared at the thought of checking out through Paypal. Zoinks, Scoob! Read more about the different ways to get paid here.


Sometimes, you’ll do work that can’t be watermarked. For example, you might be hired to only do the video shoot. In that case, I wouldn’t fork over the footage until you at least have some peace of mind. First of all, don’t go into battle without a John Hancock from the client. Second - and this is at your discretion because you know your client - consider getting some skin the game (e.g. half up front).

But what if it’s a day-rate gig to capture live footage at a conference, for example? Meaning, nothing upfront. Having been in Vegas, I can guarantee there are no shortage of such events, and chances are, you can find some corporate gig coming through your nearest Metropolis and they need you to be behind the lens at that event. In this case, I recommend holding off on delivering the footage until you can be paid.

Veteran video producers will twist my arm about this, I’m sure, and they’ll probably yell and stamp their feet, but hear me out. In the absence of a signature (say the drill is to simply invoice the client), then push for reviewing footage with the client, handing it over to them, and getting paid in one fell swoop. I mean it. If you lack the guts to do it, that’s on you. Can’t/don’t want to set up a meeting like this? At least get a real signature from a decision-maker that they owe you $ before you hand over your assets. Even then, do due diligence; do your homework. Check the BBB, Google, Yelp, even Facebook, and see if they’re shady. If applicable, see if your client is even a business registered with the state you’re in (go to #3 HERE to learn how to find this info) If you have the slightest inkling they might be shady, they probably are. This happened to me once, and I didn’t have a written agreement in place beforehand, but neither did I give them the footage until I at least had a John Hancock on my invoice I sent them.

Bottom-line: chasing accounts receivables (i.e. your paycheck) is no fun. Nobody likes net-30 or later, and nobody wants to chase $ in small-claims courts (thankfully, I’ve never had to, but at the same time, that also makes me a poor teacher on what to expect should your client relationship turn south in a hurry).

Thing # 6: change their mind at the last minute

Sometimes this happens with no explanation, which is okay in the short-run, but a long-term relationship should naturally build trust. In the absence of “why” in these moments, you’ll probably go bananas. If it becomes a habit, be forewarned, you’ve got a problem child on your hands. Your best bet after signing (and being paid!) is to simply go your separate ways.

For example, I had a client who waited ‘til the 9th hour on every decision in the project, and when the 9th hour approached, if they (in the off chance) had made a previous decision, they would change their mind. This indecision is a cousin to thing # 1, but in this particular instance, it was my fault for not having a stronger contract in place to mitigate this kind of last-minute decision-making. We scouted a location that was decided on 24 hours before the shoot, and in the interim of scouting location A and the next morning when we’d be shooting, the location changed to location B (which thankfully we had seen before, way back when).

Was it their fault? Nope. Again, I should have had a stronger contract in place to avoid these kinds of headaches. After all, if I can’t lead well on a smaller project like this, why should I ever be given 5 talents or 10 talents to manage?

Regardless of whether you cover your rear before pre-production, smile and don’t waver in your enthusiasm. Be like Tony Horton in your excitement for the project, and remember ole Winston Churchill:

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.Thing # 7: complain about past vendors/contractors

If it happens early on in negotiations, flee! You’ve got a problem child on your hands, and you’re not going to be their savior. Get out of Dodge as quick as possible! No money amount is worth the pain they will drag you through. A complainer is not a leader, not a reliable associate, and not a good client to keep around! Keeping them around will drive you bananas to no end, and they’ll likely cut into your margins with endless talking, complaining, and revisions - no work, no matter how much TLC is given to it will ever be enough. You could lasso the moon for them; it’s not enough. P.s. Michael Hyatt has some pearls on this very subject HERE.

You’ll go bananas passing up the money too, but it’s the best option. Either way, you’ll go bananas.

I had a prospect that I had to fire before he signed the dotted line. He complained too much about the past vendor, and I had rose-colored glasses over the price tag on a 3d animation job. Thankfully, my wife could see the forest for the trees and if you’re able to surround yourself with people who can do the same for you, listen to them! After all, in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was his inability to follow simple details in the written agreement. He bucked at everything, no matter how clear the process was made to him. I knew at that point my wife picked out the danger long before I did, and I was naive to think I could swoop in like a Phoenix. I fired him, and he had to get the last word in. Yep, he was that kinda guy, and the proof was in the pudding.

So, my fellow microbudget filmmaker, if you’re doing video production on the side or even FT, don’t get starry-eyed over a high price tag when it comes with a lot of baggage.

Thing # 8: fail to assume responsibility

Tangential to the last one is the subject of my 2nd book, Nobody Told Me There Was Mustard On This Sandwich: Take Responsibility At All Levels Of Filmmaking. Truthfully, it’s the backbone of all these items in this post.

In short, when it’s the weather’s fault, the landlord’s fault, YouTube’s, Facebook’s, or even the POTUS’ fault, the prospect’s/client’s lack of assuming responsibility will drive you bonkers. I know how awkward this feels when your client complains, out loud, in front of you, especially if it’s about their customers or their employees (egad). I’m embarrassed for them because the formula usually looks like this:

  1. Problem arises

  2. Complaint surfaces/defensiveness ensues

  3. Problem persists

When it should really be more like this:

  1. Problem arises

  2. Zero complaints

  3. Action taken

  4. Apology issued/owns the problem

Or, if a ‘B’ effort is still passing in your book, the sequence might look like this:

  1. Problem arises

  2. Complaint surfaces

  3. Apology issued/owns the problem/proposes solution

  4. Action taken

There’s not much you can do for your client here other than some honest prayer. But… with your team, be direct about this with your subcontractors:

This is how we will act - we will assume personal responsibility and responsibility for those in our circle. Always.

Starts with you, director. Model the behavior you want duplicated.

Chances are, if you see your client blames everything under the sun for their mishaps, you’re going to be in the crosshairs soon enough. For example, I had a client who blamed everything: the venue, the audience (or lack thereof), the time of the day, you name it. I tried to reassure and focus on the highlights of the gig, but to no avail. When I sent the footage to the client, everything was wrong. They said I missed x, y, and z, and nothing played or worked as it should.

In those moments, put on your teacher’s hat and serve because chances are you have an excellent opportunity to model leadership (and thus responsibility). I had to walk the client through the strong possibility 4k wasn’t playing back on their Macbook the Apostle Paul was using (and of course, I softened the blow as much as possible). I knew the footage was there, it just wasn’t fun for the client to scrub through piles and piles of footage on a machine that wasn’t even built for 1080p.

Thing # 9: let you know they’re shopping your first draft around to multiple influencers and/or decision-makers

To echo the earlier Proverb, I’m all for the complementary Proverb that says “plans fail for a lack of counsel.” I absolutely believe in peer-review, and I firmly believe if we’re going to level-up as filmmakers, then we need to get away from the “one-man-band” dead-end (yes, it’s a dead-end - look at the credits of any of your favorite films… Orson Welles said it really well: it takes an ARMY to make a film). To do that, we have to grow as leaders and great leaders surround themselves with counselors and people who are truly smarter/better than them in many different areas. Suffice it to say, we should all be getting feedback/reviews/suggestions on our work, from the script to the sound mix to the coloring.

If your client does this though, and they let you know about Bob, John, and Rick taking a look at the video before they give you the notes you need for your next revision, it shakes your confidence in their ability to make the decisions that are needed to move forward.

Of course they need to surround themselves with their fellowship. They need their Samwise Gamgee and Gandalf as much as you do. But when they enumerate their counselors and how the video is making the rounds with each of them, it invariably SLOWS down the process and makes you question their decision-making.

Clients, your best approach is to simply be THE POINT-OF-CONTACT for your video vendor. Be the filter. Let them know, if you must, we are reviewing, and I WILL get back to with you notes. Be the leader in the dialogue between your team and the video company/vendor. Don’t be a hapless middleman who appears to be incapable of making decisions, even if you truly are - take a cue from the Air Force playbook: perception is everything.

Filmmakers and video producers, spell it out to your client: all communication needs to be routed through YOU, the client. You don’t want your Slack, e-mail, Trello, Asana, pigeon courier bogged down with too many chefs in the kitchen.

Thing # 10: never use your completed video

To the best of my knowledge, this has only happened once in my lifetime as a film/video guy. I had a client pay for a small business ad; the ad was completed, the ad was delivered, and then I even came back a month later to do some pickup shots of an informal shake-take-salute ceremony (to all my non-military folks, I think you should look it up). The client, despite my asks, despite my offers to upload and come up with copy for the ads, just sat on the videos. If there were physical VHS tapes, they would have collected dust… in the back of the attic next to the “Best Of Bread” on 8-track tape.

It made zero sense. We rolled out actors, scouted locations, brought in a small crew, etc.

I never got an explanation, only smiles and a “thank you.” Were they embarrassed by the product? Quite possibly, but then again, the shake-take-salute video footage was never shown the light of day either, and that was something near and dear to the client.

They gave me and my onscreen (and offscreen) talents permission to use the footage for our reels, etc. But they never shared one iota of the ad or any of the videos themselves whereas my earliest video with them, they did push out on the line.

Baffling? You betcha.

Your turn: What else would you add to this list? Comment below!Bonus

Ready to get started with your video production business? Of course you are! You can do it on the side or even as a full-time job. You don’t need massive amounts of debt (Mark Cuban: you can always bet on the bank coming to collect, regardless of how well your business is doing/isn’t doing) - just a little bit of sweat equity, grit, and maybe a vitamin, a prayer or two, and a niche.

Get the rundown below - IN ORDER - when you join the Bold Nation newsletter below (no spamming, no selling your info to Boba Fett, Jabba, or other scoundrels) on these topics:

  • Pick your niche and pick only ONE (don’t try to do everything!)

  • Build credibility when you have none!

  • Places to find clients

  • Do this first when talking to your clients! Qualify your clients!

  • Find emails to clients you want to work with!

  • Need help finding those emails? Get some help!

  • Emails? Great! Here’s how you cold pitch them!

  • Emails? Supa! Here’s HOW NOT to reach out to your clients!

  • QUESTIONS, QUESTIONS, QUESTIONS - ask your client piles of questions!

  • 3d animation? Do’s and don’ts for you and the buyer!

  • Cover a live event? Here’s the essential checklist!

  • My client isn’t ready - how do I followup with them?

  • What DO YOU CHARGE THEM? Stop guessing and stop waiting! Here’s how!


Get in on the action below:

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

My fellow microbudget filmmakers, most of the site's content is for the freelancer (whether on the side or F/T self-employment) and second to our community, the businesses who need videos. 

But what about video producers who are thinking they want to be gainfully employed by someone? I.e. you're someone's W2 problem. You pay half of FICA. You're paid for time-in-chair (e.g. 8-5, M-F) or even as an on-call video producer (but W2 nonetheless). What about these video producers who dream of telling stories of hope on the big screen or the little screen? 

I don't mean to neglect this segment of video production. Truth of the matter is, all of us video producers have a fair shot of making it onto someone's team. And by that, I mean work with a few bright minds as their employee. Yep, we all want to be the next Nolan, but until then, we must work for clients or a company or both.

In this post, I'm going to outline some of the hard lessons I've learned in my past experience of shopping around at other companies/groups. I'm going to give you a tested (not theoretical) approach to navigating interviews and using your God-given senses to know if they're interested in you and if they're a good fit for you.

Bonus: Stick around, after the show, for a free performance by Limozeeeeeeen. Actually, I'll send you pt. 2 of a list of quality questions to ask an employer that I've learned and adapted to our world, questions I learned from people who are much wiser than I am (e.g. Patrick Lencioni). And just as useful, I'll give you the script I've learned to ask about the SALARY question, when you should pop the question, and how to handle any push back, plus YOUR RIGHTS as a worker and what you're not required to divulge. 

Step 0: Homework

Do your homework. Study up on the person you're interviewing with, and study, study, study. Where to study?

1. Their website

Do they have a video embedded somewhere on their website? If so, that's their welcome mat. Ask what they'd do differently with that video to make it a 10/10. 

If they don't have a video embedded on their site (and not in a blog post but an actual landing page), this is a problem to be solved and one you can come out swinging with. 

2. Their social media pages

Particularly the 2nd biggest search engine in the world - YouTube. Facebook as well. Might as well check Instagram while you're at it.

Look for these areas of improvement:

  • are their videos maximized for web engagement (call-to-actions, links to their site, etc.)?
  • are the videos properly color-corrected?
  • are shots colored consistently or do their color temperatures vary wildly in the same scene?
  • do they sound okay or could they use some EQ?
  • do they answer questions on their social media pages (each question unanswered is a chance for furthering the brand by doing a video FAQ response)?

Think through any technical issue you notice and write it down. Chances are, to get to the point they need YOU as a F/T, W2 employee, they've had to cobble together videos from multiple vendors or even current staff who are generalists and not specialists. If so, there will be plenty of problems you can solve.

3. If they're a non-profit, study their form 990's

I talk a great deal about these in the context of doing video production for a non-profit HERE and why you should study the form 990's before pitching an NPO. The same concept applies here, but rather than a 1-off job (or jobs), you're pitching yourself to work for the NPO. In either case, study the form 990's that are available and see where their dollars go (and check that post from yours truly to get the nitty gritty as a video producer).

4. Review sites

These include:

  • Yelp
  • Facebook
  • Google (Reviews)
  • Glassdoor
  • Indeed

I particularly want to emphasize the need to research glassdoor.com and then indeed.com for employee reviews and any salary information others might have shared. Glassdoor cares about bulletproofing their site from tampering, but I'm sure it happens anyways. Still, I find they're the S&P 500 of company review aggregators. 

If past employees (plural, not singular) are airing out dirty laundry on Yelp, Facebook, or Google (Maps/Reviews), RRRRRUUUUUUUUUUUNNNNNNNN! Do not collect go!

5. Misc

I also recommend studying up on sites like salary.com to see if what you want to earn with ole Uncle Bob is a fair market value for the location Uncle Bob is in.

Additionally, go to sites like payscale.com, nerdwallet.com, expatistan.com, and bestplaces.net to see what the cost of living is in that city (if moving to another city or even state) will do to your finances. I've used all four and use all four any time I'm even remotely curious what living in Austin, TX looks like vs. Casper, WY. Of course, the easiest way to get all four in one place is to type

"cost of living" "NAMEOF CITY"

into Google. You should see all four sites in the top 5 results for the city in question.

Additionally, see what pops up in the news for that company/NPO/church on Google. Limit your search to the last year and go from there.

Lastly, check the yearly weather if moving to another locale. You may be like me and loathe humidity, so working in Sarasota, FL would be about as bad an idea as Dr. Seuss' infamous cat babysitting your niños.


Step 1: The First Interview

Now that you've done your home work, come out swinging.

I.e. regardless of how that first question is phrased, come out of the gate ready to storm the beaches of Normandy with an M1-Garand. Tell them all you're going to do to take their video content to the next level - and be excited about it. 

But Jake, it's an HR rep in the first interview.

That's okay. It shows you're eager, forward-thinking, and you care about solving their problems. Don't be super esoteric, but do let them in on what and how you're going to elevate their videos, and do it in the first question.

Think of the ole timer who you casually meet and ask about their time in Vietnam and then they take that platform and run to town with it. 15 minutes later, the MC at the event finally speaks up, effectively ending the ole timer's monologue that started with Vietnam and ended with the elevators going inside the Biltmore ca. 1890.

Learn from the ole timer - use the first question as a launch pad and SEGUE if you must to come out swinging. 

If you don't sell yourself here, you only have yourself to blame. Your job is to convince the HR rep or decision-maker you're the cat for the job. No one else will do it for you.

Be sure in every question, you relate it back to SOLVING problems for their team. Even the ole trap opening line from an interviewer: tell me about yourself.

>>Imagine our favorite fishy general from a distant galaxy chiming in here!<<

I won't spend lots of time here how to navigate their questions. There are so many resources out there from people with far more wisdom than me.

But I will recommend the following for my fellow microbudget filmmakers and video producers:

  1. Be yourself - even if that's a zany persona like Tony Horton. No need to waste time if they're a bunch of stiffs and they won't pursue your candidacy any further because you're full of life and they're about as exciting as termites in a Georgia home.
  2. Be enthusiastic. Introverts, you can do this. You don't have to be Tony Horton, but don't sound like you're in a stupor either. Show them you're excited; try smiling and standing. Your voice is fuller when you stand, and smiling will naturally translate, even across a telephone.
  3. Share real weaknesses (and what you're doing about them) when they're asked for. Don't cop out here like a Dragonball Z episode that milks powering-up for 2.5 episodes. For example, I always say I struggle with information recall when information is passed on audibly -- but I take notes! And I tell them I'm allergic to long meetings that could be summarized in 5 minutes or by an email. I also admit I'm not the world's best closer -- but I learn sales training every working day.
  4. When they ask for strengths, opt for character traits vs. competencies. As my favorite Canadian pastor Carey Nieuwhof says, competency gets you in the door, character keeps you there.

When you've navigated the gauntlet of their questions, then ask how much time you have to run your questions by them. If they say "I've got x minutes," then pick and choose, and make sure the salary question is one of them (included in the bonus at the end of the post). Without further dawdling, these are questions I've battle-tested over the years:

  1. What do you love most about working with the team*?
  2. How would you describe the vision of the company/NPO/church - where it’s headed?
  3. Where do you see yourself in 5 years (yes, ask this to the interviewer - if they say "I don't know..." you should be leery)?
  4. How will success be measured for your video producers?
  5. What separated the good from the great in previous video producers?
  6. Is this role a new video producer slot? If not, why did the person before me leave?
  7. Who would I be working for? What’s the hierarchy for a vp (video producer)?
  8. Do you want the team to be a leader in the video space**?
  9. Who do you consider major competitors?
  10. What do you love about the culture (I recommend asking this later from #1 so you don't get as much regurgitation)?
  11. How would you score the team on living up to its core values? What’s the one thing you’re working to improve?
  12. What’s the staff turnover rate, and how is the team working to reduce it?##See below the asterisks##
  13. ASK THE SALARY QUESTION before the two wrap questions -- details are below in the bonus section
  14. Have I answered all your questions or are there hesitations about my qualifications?
  15. EXTRA (for the courageous only (i.e. takes action despite any fear - it is not the absence of fear)) question I learned from Uncle G: "How much of what I've told you do you believe?" Another variation is "Do you believe half of what I've told you?"
  16. What’s the timeline for next steps?

*Most folks are unprepared for this question (and #9), so expect long answers with no roadmap... show grace, they might not be used to these solid questions.

**Remember their answer here because if you're brought in on probation or as a temp 1099 worker to vet the working relationship, and if they try to pay you less than what you'd earn as a salaried producer with them (which means you have to look at their monthly checks they'd be cutting to you -- GROSS, not net -- and add another 10-20% for benefits), then their words and their actions don't line up and they truly don't want to be leaders. It's the classic example of Dave Ramsey sitting in on a board meeting at a church. Guy gets up, "Children are our most important ministry here!" Dave Ramsey disagrees, "Really? Their ministry makes up less than 3% of your overall budget."

##This usually makes employers a little nervous; be optimistic and smile when you ask. By asking the part 2 of the question (i.e. and how is the team working to reduce it?), you're effectively putting a positive spin on the question. If the numbers are high, I'd be wary of joining their team.


Step 2: The Second Interview (And Subsequent Ones That Are Also Not In-Person)

These loaded questions are available below, in the bonus section.

With this interview, you can bet you'll be chatting with a decision-maker, if not the decision-maker. The first interview is usually with an HR person or other influencer. Sometimes, the first interview is with your would-be-boss, but that's less common than Halo sequels. 

If you haven't already, this second interview will likely be via video (e.g. Skype), so bust out your interview special. As with all interviews where you are SEEN, you need to wear a suit. It doesn't matter if you're applying to work with a church, NPO, or an office environment where everyone is dressed like it's Silicon Valley and the CEO is 24-years-old. WEAR A SUIT.

Always, always, always dress up for your interviews.

I once was in a round of interviews where a group of us were testing all at once for this job. Two or three people showed up in t-shirts and shorts, and the company didn't mince words. They spent a good 10 minutes letting the entire group know how unprofessional we were (in the Chair Force "boot camp," if one person messed up, it was the whole group who was responsible... say "team" anyone?). 

While we're at it, a few common sense housekeeping items that might not be so common sense, and I'm saddened by the fact I even have to spell 'em out:

  1. Be in a well-lit area. Turn on your Kino if you must.
  2. Be in a quiet area. Don't interview outside. Don't have a dog yapping at a rabbit in the background. Make sure the niños are taken care of and won't interrupt your interview.
  3. Don't hold your phone. Interview via your laptop/desktop and have the former on a stable surface. There's a fair chance your interviewer won't like fetching dramamine because of your camera wobble.
  4. Be patient. Good teams fire fast and hire slow. For example, I once interviewed with a team for 3 months before they were going to bring me out for the in-person interview.
  5. If you haven't already asked the "how much of what I've told you do you believe" question from the first interview, you need to here. For example, I failed to ask this in my 2nd interview once, and the guy cheerfully said the next step would be a video chat with several of their team players. Guess what happened next? Nothing. That's my fault - not theirs. I failed to discover he didn't buy what I was selling.

My generation - level up! My son's generation - learn from your great-grandparents' generation when it comes to relationships: show respect, take responsibility always, and show up 15m early to all appts. 


Step 3: The In-Person Interview

You'll likely be meeting with several people in shifts. Singles, pairs, groups even. Smile often and do everything we talked about earlier, and for each *new* person you interview with, recycle questions from this post and the bonus section.

Put in your absolute best effort and remember to sell everyone you meet with on what problems you're going to solve for them. Be an active voice there, not a hypothetical one; it's an assumption close in action - you're working for them, and you're going to solve x, y, and z. 

Even if you make it this far, you still might not make it. For example, I once had an out-of-state interview carousel with several people, and weeks later, when I was back home, the head honcho said they were hiring locally. I.e. I did not close them on me being the right guy -- the fact they were hiring locally was simply one object. As Grant Cardone says, the unspoken objection is the one true objection.

How to prepare: before the in-person interview, check the social media profiles of the people on the team. If they love their job and their team, it will bleed over to their profiles. They'll have personal posts of their work, they'll be wearing company shirts all the time, and the evidence of them being "bought-in" will be staggering.

If you see this "bought-in" behavior in only a few of the key influencers and decision-makers, well, I have a theory (and pardon the ole math teacher in me, but a theory is just that - a hypothesis) this means the ship is going down or is rudderless. So far, I haven't been wrong. 

For example, I once interviewed for a video producer job out of state, and before I left, I checked up on all the key peoples' social media profiles. I then interviewed with 6 people in person, and of those 6, all but one interview were fairly formal to some degree or another. That part's irrelevant, but I what I found fascinating as I talked with these folks is how I'd ask the question of where they wanted to be in 5 years. Guess what their response was without fail?

I don't know.

Guess which of these folks showed off some company swag or just "having fun" pics from being "on the job" on their social media profiles?


A theory is just that - an unproven conjecture. Take from it what you will.

I'm leery of a team without a clear road map - aren't you?



Are you looking for more help with the interview process? 

First, read.

Second, practice.

Third, have courage. Be like Daniel in the Lion's Den - take action despite any fear that may come your way and kick that fear to the curb while you're at it.

This bonus upgrade contains questions you should ask in the 2nd interview, and it includes the salary conversation (and how to handle complaints/objections -- and your rights as a worker) you should be having in the very first interview. After all, there's no need to waste anyone's time if they can't afford to bring you onboard.

By getting this bonus material, you'll be added to the Bold Nation newsletter. I don't sell your email to anyone, as I've spent 3+ years building this community, and I will continue to do so for as long as I have breath in my lungs. Emails generally go out a few times a month, and every now and again, I'll send an offer your way. For the most part, it's just valuable information for us microbudget filmmakers as we learn to hone our craft (the business side of it), that we might tell stories of hope to billions.

Hit that big blue button below to get in on all the action. 

Then comment below: what is your favorite question to ask an employer? NEIN GET INSTANT ACCESS HERE
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Ever had a great-sounding video production gig lined up that totally backfired on you when you got to the price?

Don't worry my fellow microbudget filmmakers and video producers - this post is not a rehashing of the post on tirekickers. This post is rather about questions you need to ask a potential client up front - and fast.

Don't waste your time, your team's time, or their time preparing materials, finding out their problem, demo'ing a solution, and then have nothing to show for it. Don't be a sucker!

Stick around 'til after the show for a free bonus to prime you with EVEN MORE questions to ask your prospect.

1. Ask if they are the decision-maker.

I once prospected an architecture firm. I got the marketer to commit to a lunch. I got all the way through the first 7 or 8 steps of the sales process that Uncle G (Grant Cardone) outlined. I was doing good... or so I thought! He, the prospect, even agreed to a followup in a few days to close the deal and start working on their pain points (bad videos, sloppy editing, incomplete and cut by a non video guy but just a generic social media marketer). 

Towards the end of the convo, I realized he was not the real decision maker. He was an influencer, no doubt, but I had been wasting time persuading the wrong person. 

Still, I sent a video thank-you message afterward. 

Uninspired followup - YouTube

I followed up days later. Not yet he said. Sent another video or two and useful information some time later. 

Weeks later, I stopped by in person and dropped off fresh-baked bread with a note that I'd LOAF to do their videos for them. I got the dreaded: "We'll let you know if we're interested." 

I was a weak sauce salesman through and through, and if I could go back and watch a play-by-play of that sales process, I'd wince a time or two, and so would you.

The first big mistake was I DID NOT find the real decision-maker. I settled for a lunch date with a guy with zero buying power. 3 months and a lunch down the drain of effort. It was a mistake I didn't repeat.

I don't want you to repeat this rookie mistake either. Money can be regained; time cannot. These kinds of mistakes are beneficial, however, in this way: they are exceptional teachers, but you don't have to go to their schools to learn their wisdom. You can read this blog or watch its video.


Jeff Gitomer says in his little red book you shouldn't ask this question "Are you the decision-maker?" because they could lie. 

Good point.

But Grant Cardone is slinging more sales knowledge than Jeff these days, and I'm a fan of Uncle G, so ask away.

Or take Jeff's approach: ask how will the decision process work.

I wonder how Zig Ziglar would handle this question? I think I need to read some more Zig... you should too while you're at it.

Jake, I'm not in sales! I'm just a videographer/cinematographer/editor/grip/guy with a Movie Pass subscription. 

First of all... Not true - if you want with your whole being to make films and tell visual stories of hope or some kernel of redeeming value, you will sell people on your vision, on funding your vision, on showing up on time, on delivering when they're dog-tired at 5 am, and so on so forth. You are in sales because everybody is in sales! That's Zig for you.

Secondly, Movie Pass will be like Napster or Pets.com soon enough.

2. Ask if they're the head-honcho for x-dollar projects

Want another classic "I-biffed-it" story?

This one's more recent. Being in Vegas, there is no shortage of (live) AV work, so I decided I'd flex my sales skills I'm acquiring every day and bid on a live gig in Tampa.

After all, whose grandparents don't live at least part time in Florida, AZ, or Las Vegas? I wanted an excuse to go visit Opa and Oma. 

I had the right decision-maker. Check.

I didn't know how much to quote for this job. I had zero idea. I'm still learning how to pitch LIVE video jobs (we're talking a switcher, shader, camera ops, cabling, and so much more) as of this writing, and so I erroneously made my buddy waste precious mental energy and time coming up with a ballpark figure with me.

It turns out this prospect was fielding bids for a live video crew (with streaming, mind you) to work the weekend gig for about $1,500 all-in.

We're talking gear, manpower, and more across 2 days - live streaming by the way. 

My jaw dropped. It was just so... what Craigslist producers say (look it up sometime on YouTube; it's full of colorful language, but its truth can't be overstated despite their best attempts). 

But, it wasn't his fault he was looking to pay a penny or two on the dollar. 

Nope, it was MY FAULT.

I should have qualified his project from the get-go, not waste an hour or two of my buddy's mental energy, or waste my time (or his) for that matter. It was 100% my fault. I knew better and didn't execute.

But Jake, how do you qualify the price if you don't know what to charge?

I pride myself on lickety-split quotes; I have a whole tool for that express purpose (see below - the RED font), but it's only for pre-recorded live action/animation, even with a crew, per diem, etc. 

Live video production? 'Tis a whole 'nother story; I'm learning. I am, however, an ex-math teacher, and you don't have to be one to understand a floor or a minimum: quote a minimum for one factor you do know.

Like manpower.

What I SHOULD HAVE DONE is qualify with a floor pricing:

Uncle Bob, are you the guy behind $5,000+ projects?

We needed 5 people on the gig. Excluding flight days, we would have needed, just for manpower (not gear), approx. $5,000 for 5 quality video techies across 2 days of all-day broadcasting. 

Could it have been $6,000 just for manpower? Yeah, but the point is to give a floor price, a lower bound, a minimum for just one facet of the production - and then mention it's simply for manpower. Gear, flights, hotels, etc. will be tacked on later; you can even assure the prospect right now you want to be respectful of everyone's time. For example,

Uncle Bob, I want to be respectful of everyone's time; are you the guy behind $5,000+ projects? 

Shoot, he might have gear and just need quality people, so err on that side of the equation and give a floor price that covers manpower and adds at least 10% profit just on wrangling people, if not more.

If he's fielding bids for the comically low $1,500, he'll lose his marbles here. 

The point is to save both parties time. Get them qualified quickly and if they're not qualified, move along; they're not the droids you're looking for.

Don't send this bitmoji, as tempted as you might be. I did this ONCE and the prospect let me know I was unprofessional. She was right, but she'll also remember my name from here on out. But don't follow my example with an ill-timed bitmoji; it is unprofessional, and we're called to serve others, not laugh in their faces when they want to undercut a business with a 90% discount.

When I have my head on straight, I typically give them a range. The guys at HubSpot advise against this. They think you should say a firm price point AND what that firm price point includes. 

In our line of work, that could look like this:

  • $2,000
  • 1 camera
  • 1 sound operator
  • 3-hour shoot
  • b-roll
  • two revisions
  • music that is free to use in commercial projects
  • a ham sammich
  • cloud storage
  • a thumb drive with your completed video
  • no actors
  • no voiceover
  • no locations (other than yours)
  • no scripting (your team handles the script)
  • no visual fx (for example, no green-screening)
  • some typography
  • 5 edited still photos of your new location
  • bonus: 30 keywords your competition isn't leveraging - .pdf bonus
  • 50% payment to book our pre-production meeting and the remaining 50% is due with your final deliverable

Or if it's animated project, it could look like this:

  • $2,000
  • no voiceover
  • Developer is not developing the script but will assist in crafting the language
  • Buyer will issue "storyboards" which can be dictated (see the attachment example) or roughly drawn with simple (even über simple) illustrations
  • two revisions (1st, 2nd, and final draft)
  • three-week turnaround if Buyer stays in the communication loop from the time of signing and consideration
  • use of music that is licensed in perpetuity from our library - no copyright infringements, ever
  • HD video playable anywhere, online, externally, or internally - even broadcast mediums
  • Indefinite access to web-ready and high-quality video files - hosted in the cloud
  • no DVDs, Blu-Rays, or physical media
  • 16:9 widescreen
  • customer service

      → available every day but Saturday & Tuesday, 8a - 5p PST
      → Office line (call/text): 702-JakeTFG

Back on track.

I combine sections 1. and 2. into one question: 

Are you the one who leads $3,000 - $5,000 projects like this or are there others you'd like to get involved too?

You can phrase it multiple ways, but scope out their personality first before you call them:

  • the head honcho
  • the big kahuna
  • the top dawg
  • the guy in charge
  • el capitan

Instead of "leads $3,000 projects" you can say:

  • oversees video projects
  • leads video projects
  • is in charge of videos
  • runs these kinds of projects
  • manages video projects
  • any variation of this with a dollar amount or range

The sky is the limit. Vary it up, be tactful, and ask the bloomin' question.

How to know what to charge?!

How do you know your range? Generally, a prospect will give some information, and if you've been in this business any length of time, you'll start to develop an intuition for pricing. If not, head on over to the post on quoting your clients to learn more about pricing strategies, and if you need more, there's always my worksheet to crunch numbers for you.

3. Ask if they're okay with remote work/an out-of-towner

Some people are fiercely loyal to their town, and they want their money to be reinvested locally. I can understand that, and I'm grateful for that mindset; otherwise, we'd lose out on a lot more jobs than we do to the guys on the other side of the world who will work for pennies on the dollar.

Back to Tampa, there was another gig I bidded on. This one was for a single person and not a crew. I was jonesing to go see the grandparents, so it made sense to try.

But after a fruitful conversation, the guy decided he didn't want to work with an out-of-towner, even if I footed the bill and worked as a local (so airfare, per diem are out the window). I volunteered that much.

He wouldn't budge.

I tried him from my second number with a creative folllowup.

I used my name again; I wasn't trying to be sneaky, but I also know multiple emails and phone numbers can help. Uncle G will call a prospect back, for example, and leave an immediate 2nd voicemail from a cell phone after he's already tapped his office landline. It's about coverage, creativity, and persistence.

The man was interested and completely spaced on who I was (again, I identified myself) - but he qualified me very quickly:

Are you in Tampa?

Thereafter, he made sure all of his jobs explicitly stated something to the effect of a bolded, all-caps NO OUT-OF-TOWNERS; IN-STATE ONLY.

Now, this question about location won't always apply, but it's a huge qualifier for any animated work. Ditto if your neighboring state has a gig, and you can easily drive over and visit/crash with Uncle Bob. 

Don't wait until you're halfway through talking to your crew, finding out the client's venue, and burning precious man-hours. 

Pro-tip: set up a Google Voice number in the nearest film mecca if you can work as a local and don't mind footing the bill for your own travel.

For example, I live in Las Vegas, so for LA (about 5 hours down the road) work, I don't want to pitch with my Las Vegas number. I should use an LA number when I'm making calls, sending texts, or sharing my contact information.

Sections 1 through 3 shouldn't take more than one minute. Talk about a time-saver!

4. Other questions

Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Why me? There are oodles of video producers in my town; you can almost throw a brick and hit one without trying.
  • Why now?
  • What will this video do for you?
  • (If they are the proxy and not the check-writer... i.e. not the real decision-maker) What does your leadership want to know, and I know you'll be talking with them, so that when you go to them, all of their questions can be answered?
  • What will your leadership team want to know?
  • What does your leadership want to know before they even look at a proposal?

The guys at Hubspot have oooooodles more you can pick and choose from.

Bonus Time

Are you ready to quit losing precious time with tirekickers, unqualified buyers, and the über price-sensitive?


I've got a bonus set of questions for you to mine valuable information from your prospects once you've qualified them. Repeating: they are not necessarily qualifying questions; most of them are not, but they are powerful in their own right and belong in your sales at various points. Here's a companion, introductory list of questions should you need them.

Your info won't be farmed out or sold or repurposed in any way - I send emails roughly once a week and sometimes share an occasional offer that will help you in your filmmaking journey!


Who do you know that needs this info? Share it with them por favor!
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview