Insipid – Or why the small stuff sucks

The following story is real, the names have been omitted to protect the innocent from the stupid.

So I did a friend of mine a favor. Which is fine, she’s a good friend, and very considerate. Transferring a few minutes of video to a DVD. No charge, after all she’s a friend. It was a bit of work, because I had to dig out a DV camera, and cables, then remember how to ingest footage from tape into Final Cut Pro. Now there was a trip down memory lane – tapeless , remember tape, anyone? I haven’t shot tape in a year or two. Of course there was a time I would only have shot on film, but we transferred that to tape, so I’m good at handling tape.

I dig up the mini DV camera (to use as a deck) charge the battery, connect it up, capture the footage and author to a DVD – no problem, thank you Apple – too easy with iDVD. Then I upload the files as well  to YOUTUBE, so everyone involved can share in this short film from 9 years ago. Hey, who am I to judge, it takes me long enough to finish my own work.

Then my friend says this filmmaker has some more stuff, and do I think I could put that on DVD – a couple of hours on VHS. Now, really, it is too simple, I have a DVD burner that takes a video in input, and will burn the DVD, very nice. I don’t know why everyone doesn’t have one – dirt cheap, if you can still find them. Dirt Cheap – Understand. Got to read the Laws of Media by Marshall McLuhan. Here is my extension to the laws – when the media becomes so cheap, then we stop valuing the content. Also when we gain too much control over our media then we don’t value the content either – how many people pause the show they are watching to talk to someone, or because they weren’t paying attention and have to rewind, etc. etc.  Once we stop valuing the content, then we stop valuing the content creators. Okay I’m digressing, back to the story.

Two hours of VHS tape, easy enough to burn to a DVD with the set up I have. Of course at some point I will have to watch the DVD to make sure that it came out. There is no way, absolutely no way anyone is going to be willing to pay me enough for my time. Really, think about it,  the two plus hours of machine time, plus the 25 cents for the DVD disk, plus my time, for which I like to get paid more for than I pay my babysitter who makes $16 an hour, (while we do have a babysitter we can call for $12 dollar, we like to come home to kids that aren’t cut and bleeding.)

So my friend calls and asks about my transferring the video for her friend, and then says that she doesn’t want to get in the middle, which is wise. I tell her, he will never be able to pay me what it is worth for me to do it, so just throw me $20.

Think about it like this. Another filmmaker has apparently promised to help out a friend of theirs. They don’t have the gear or the technical know how to put vhs video onto a DVD. You would think the other filmmaker would understand just what they are asking of me. Twenty bucks isn’t anything, it doesn’t really come close to covering my costs, I’m just doing a favor, giving another filmmaker a professional courtesy. The response of this “filmmaker” – whose head must really be way up their ass is – “No way, too expensive.” Too expensive, give me a break – WHAT a SCHMUCK.

There’s a $20 set up charge for walking in the door to any transfer place. The door opens, the bell on the door rings, and two mechanical hands grab you and shake twenty bucks out of your pocket. Then they charge you more for the transfer. I’ve got to transfer this, check it, and I’m sure I’ll have to sit there and find in and out points. Not worth it.

Well I’m glad they said no. Let them find someone else to keep their promise for them, or let them spend the money and buy their own DVD burner. As for my friend who tried to connect us. All is still good. No hard feelings, she’s a #1 person I do favors for, because she is great, but this other guy – what a SCHMUCK.

Thanks for reading.

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7 Responses to Insipid – Or why the small stuff sucks

  1. Michelle Shyman May 5, 2011 at 11:49 pm #

    no kidding; what a schmuck

  2. Marc Baron May 6, 2011 at 7:38 am #

    No good deed goes unpunished.

    Like your one thought, too sadly true:
    when the media becomes so cheap, then we stop valuing the content.

    ..and when that happens, users don’t pay for content, and how does a professional make a living to make the content…or continue upgrading equipment, or skills, without income. Are we doomed to content becoming just an afterthought or spare-time creation?

    • sgladstone May 8, 2011 at 7:06 pm #

      It is an interesting question.

      Distributors would like that – at first, a bunch of people willing to give their stuff away to get seen. However that model wouldn’t last, and may already be over. At some point, Youtube will invite you to be paid. Part of the whole cost of the process is what happens when something goes wrong. If you don’t charge enough to pay for fixing what goes wrong, then you are suddenly in debt, and not getting more work – as a facility. I think that what is generally going to happen is that quality and standards drop away. Look at “Broadcast Quality” in the U.S. there really isn’t any broadcast standards anymore. So look at the quality of work. Big post facilities close down, because what they have to offer – standards, precision, timely turnaround, are deemed less important than price. So what if the guy in his mom’s garage takes 5 times longer, he is 1/1000th the cost. So what if the work isn’t quite as good. he’s 1/1000the the cost. Oh, and if he screws up, we’ll move onto someone else, at this price point there is no advantage to loyalty.

  3. Rubi Lavanchy May 6, 2011 at 11:03 am #

    Wonderful job

  4. Norman May 6, 2011 at 11:48 am #

    Sadly, happens all the time. Lower prices “as a favor” only to find you’re in a bidding war for the bottom. No solution. In these days of $50 HD cameras and free screening online, no cost can be too low because, as you said, nothing has real value.

    Oh, and while I have your attention, I have this stack of old VHS tapes and if you could bring your price down just a bit….

  5. sgladstone May 8, 2011 at 10:53 am #

    Spoke with my friend, and she apologized for even introducing the Schmuck to me. She is thinking, boy he doesn’t even get it. It was nice of her, because she didn’t even read the blog post about it, before she apologized. No apologies necessary of course, not from her. As she said to me – the other guy – he lost a contact.

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  1. Fright Night Film Fest Update – Day #1 « IndieKicker - July 22, 2011

    […] feel just horrible asking them how much and then saying, oh no that is too much. See the blog post Insipid. So instead I just gently smile and suggest I’ll come back. G-d it is just like in “The […]

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