I feel pretty out of place


I feel pretty out of place here among all you bigshots, then, since I do a lot of video production work for people at below minimum wage. My pattern is to claim a certain number of hours and a minimum-wage rate, but actually work a bit more than the hours I’m stating, which effectively reduces the rate to approx. $4.50 or $5/hour. I’m happy with that and the people who hire me are pretty happy with it too. BTW, I use Adobe software too – CC (Creative Cloud) plus Lightwave & 3ds max for 3d animation, and a bunch of other tools/equipment. I paid for the software, BTW, it’s all legal. It took a while to cover all of it, as you can imagine.

In my experience everybody expects video editors to work for free or nearly free, and [also] expects the work to be done in a much shorter time than the work actually takes. I once did a job for free where I pulled an all-nighter trying to turn around the 15 VFX shots by the next morning, when the customer needed them. They got mad at me being ‘tired’ when I showed up on time looking exhausted. I said that I was tired because it took me all night to do the 3d animation, motion tracking, rotoscoping, etc. They said I was lying, that it couldn’t possibly have been that hard to do it. This from a client who had no clue how to do the shots themselves. I smiled and apologized for being slow at my work.

That is typical of my experience. I sort of wonder what other planet all of you guys come from, where video/VFX artists are in such demand that people will pay $85/hour for that work. Here in Houston, Texas, the nice, high-paying employers have not been my experience. My experience is struggling to land jobs where I was not paid anything, followed by slowly assembling a positive reputation, getting paid $2 per hour and gradually climbing to $4 or at best $5/hour. I recently spent the better part of a week (about 20 hours) working on an architectural previz project in Unity 5, for which I was paid a whopping $64.00, and that was one of the best jobs I’ve had in recent memory. Seriously, it was great. I sincerely mean that, I say that without sarcasm, the employer was nice, friendly, good communication, great guy, patient with my taking five days to get everything just right, and they actually paid me the amount I asked for! I can’t really expect anything much better than that. I’m very grateful for these $3 or $4 an hour gigs because they are way better than the unpaid work which often is all I end up landing.

I know what you may say – you’ll probably be angry with me for ‘dragging down the value of video editing’ and causing a ‘race to the bottom’. And I’m sorry if my work has had that effect. But I’m trying to build a career here and pay the bills, and doing this stuff is the best option I’ve got at this time. It’s the only way I can sustain my life. And yeah, I’m in the United States, I’m ‘unemployed’ officially even though I work 12 hrs/day most days, and I have a strong work ethic, a lot of enthusiasm for this type of work. It’s exciting. I just wish there were more gigs that I could land.

If anyone wants to hire me, contact me at matthornb@gmail.com, we can discuss your project and maybe I can assist a bit. I’ve been editing videos for over a decade now and I’m getting pretty good at it.

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