Real Talkies

Real Talkies

Every cut is a lie. It’s never that way. Those two shots were never next to each other in time that way. But you’re telling a lie in order to tell the truth. –Wolf Koenig.

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Response to non-profits that seek experienced filmmakers with exceptional editing skills, reliability & punctuality for free

October 9, 2012 , , , , , , ,

Dear reputable non-profit organizations,

This letter is an open response to all organizations and individuals who seek the services of ” highly qualified experienced filmmakers with exceptional editing skills, reliability, punctuality and professionalism” for FREE like the ad listed below.

Videographer/Photographer Wanted — UNPAID Position (Washington, DC)

DC-based non-profit organization seeks experienced videographer/photographer to film a series of interviews that are to be formatted for social media distribution on major channels (YouTube, Facebook, etc.). A demonstrated concern for social justice issues and a progressive mindset are desired, as are exceptional editing skills, solid reliability, punctuality, and professionalism. Project is expected to begin later this month and continue indefinitely. PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS NOT (NOT!) A PAID POSITION, but these videos would add significant impact to one’s portfolio, while also providing the right candidate with potential connections to more project work with some of the leading non-profit agencies in the region. Please send resume and links to your portfolio — no phone calls please. Only preferred candidates will receive a response. 

An experienced filmmaker with exceptional skills does not need your help to add to their already exceptional portfolio. And the right candidate for the job already has several working connections and does not need your help.

First of all the creation of an exceptional film even if it is an interview requires skills, effort, tools and time. I am going to go a step further and itemize each of those costs.

  1. Travel to and from the location multiple times and parking the automobile costs money.
  2. Equipment used to film the video a.k.a camera, lens, mics, cards, batteries, tripod, lighting equipment, hard drives, laptops, editing softwares etc cost money. Even if I own them they depreciate in value, breakdown, need to be upgraded and replaced often. No one gave these equipment to me for free because I told them that they can add to their portfolio some of the stellar films I create. I am still paying credit card bills for them.
  3. I went to college for three years to learn this skill just like a doctor, engineer, mechanic and pilot did to learn their skill. Do you ever ask any of them to offer their services for free? I have genuine skills to create a quality film that would create tremendous visibility for your mission. The videos I create are entertaining and unforgetable and people will share, retweet and spread your word. Something your outreach coordinator is struggling with right now. When you stand to gain so much from it why not compensate me atleast for my basic costs? And for heaven sake, I have student debt to pay back :(.
  4. There is no dollar value to ascribe to the creativity, passion and professionalism a media professional brings to the table. And you know what we give that away for free anyways. Finally you can never compensate us for dreaming about the stories whole heartedly, thinking about it when we shower or living every minute of it till we deliver the product.

Non-profits we understand that you are doing valuable work to the community and we want to support you. An experienced filmmaker with exceptional skills is not going to respond to your email. A recent graduate who wants to build a portfolio and is eager to help is probably the person who is most likely to respond to this post. But asking us to work for free is unreasonable. You will need to compensate for transport, some reasonable (above poverty line) hourly rate for time spent and consultation charges for the idea. Please recognize that we bring tremendous value to your organization and we really love to do that for you. But without this bare minimum compensation we wont be alive to work for you.


Chithra Jeyaram

Filmmaker and Editor



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