Here's the scenario...
A few years ago you decided to get into filmmaking. You purchased a camera and did some shooting. You added some small LED lights and some audio gear to your equipment package. You did some free work (shame on you) and you're ready to jump in and start making some money back on your investment.
Where do you look?
Let's get something straight. The companies on this list don't let just anyone make videos for them. You'll need to have some work samples or a reel to get your foot in the door.
Smartshoot accepts shooters with an HD camera, audio equipment, and a basic lighting package. You can be anywhere in the country, but those closer to big cities will have more opportunities. Once you've met the requirements, you can check the job market and claim jobs based on a first dibs system. You see it first, you claim it first, it's yours.
Most of the jobs on Smartshoot are for Yelp which means you'll be heading out to a small business for a 90 minute shoot consisting of an interview with an owner or manager followed by a healthy dose of unscripted b-roll. You'll need to be prepared to work in different environments both inside and outside, as well as with clients who are at times quite unprepared. You'll also have to shoot in some dark interiors (I find that most often it was bars and restaurants that were the darkest) so you'll need a camera that performs well in low light and has higher ISO values.
Smartshoot prefers most shots to be done on sticks with no compound movements (so we are talking very basic pans and tilts). You'll use natural light most of the time because 90 minutes is not a ton of time to get everything you need.
I've taken several of these types of jobs with Smartshoot and found that a monopod is one of the best ways to get through a shoot. It allows you to move quickly and if you have a steady hand you can even knock out an interview this way.
Once you're done with the shoot, you'll have 48 hours to edit your footage into a 45-90 second finished piece. It definitely helps to think about the edit as you are shooting. The fee for one of these shoots is $200.
Smartshoot also offers some real estate shoots for Zillow and also has an open bidding system for clients looking to make different types of videos.
MY OVERALL RATING (3 OUT OF 5 STARS) - Smartshoot is a good opportunity to connect with local business owners and if you have chops, turn them into potential clients. Depending on where you live you may have to drive a bit to get to some of the shoots. Just because you claim a job does not mean the shoot will happen. Many of these business owners will change the shoot date and some will just flat out cancel. If a client cancels on you the day before, you don't get paid. If you show up and a client cancels, you don't get paid (maybe a gas fee).
If you've stepped up your game significantly and are ready to start taking on some big clients for bigger money, than Videopixie may be a good place for you - there's just one caveat - be ready to do a bunch of work without getting paid.
Videopixie allows clients to post a job and provide some details about the job and their brand (a lot these jobs are for Kickstarter videos). Videopixie then invites 20 registered users to bid on that job. The client can then open up a dialogue with one or more creatives they may be interested in working with and this is where the free work begins. You'll most likely be asked to submit a concept or treatment for the video and it would be wise to first have a conversation with the client to better understand their brand, their goals, their values, and exactly what they need in a video. Just because you put a lot of effort and time into writing a treatment does not mean you'll be selected.
Creatives who do well on Videopixie have solid portfolios and experience taking an idea from concept to completion. They also have a solid team to work with and most likely a good amount of equipment to work with. You'll definitely need to be strongly creative in concepts and be able to communicate that well on paper.
I've been lucky to find some very cool clients through Videopixie including HelloFresh who I did work for earlier this year.
MY OVERALL RATING (4.5 OUT OF 5 STARS) - This is a good platform with some clients who have good mid-range budgets to work with ($5g - $25g). My only complaint is that you are asked to bid a dollar amount before you can really establish a good understanding of what you are being asked to make.
Studionow is a very similar platform to Smartshoot, but has some advantages for creatives. You'll be creating videos for Yellow Pages, Yelp, and iMatrix and your shooting format will be very similar to that of Smartshoot. You'll have a limited amount of time to shoot (90-120 minutes) and you're edit will be due within 48 hours of your shoot.
Studionow doesn't have a marketplace where you can claim jobs - instead, you'll receive a call from a Studionow producer who will book you on a job. The negative to this system is that you'll need to get in the good graces of a producer who likes your work and wants to book you frequently. The positives of this system is that the producer does all the leg work with the client to ensure that the shoot you get booked on is going to happen and the client is going to be prepared. Studionow rates are also slightly better than Smartshoot.
MY OVERALL RATING (4 OUT OF 5 STARS) - If you don't live in a big city you may not see much work through Studionow so don't expect this to be anything more than a once or twice a month gig. Studionow has another tier of shoots which pay better and I've been lucky to be hired for some of this work including a nice paying gig for Dolly Parton's Imagination Library.
4. MEDIA DISTRIBUTION SOLUTIONS
Media Distribution Solutions offers creatives a few different types of shoots. They sell their service to the end user in bundles so you'll be asked to do work on shoots that last between 2-4 hours where you'll once again be conducting some interviews, testimonials, and shooting a lot of b-roll for a series of videos.
I've done a few shoots for them and in general their rate is $100/hr and the shoots have all been within a 30-60 minute distance from where I am located.
There is no marketplace - you'll be contacted by email or phone by a producer who will ask for your availability and then book you to a shoot.
You'll have 24 hours to then upload all your footage through an FTP site which worked well enough.
MY OVERALL RATING (3.5 OUT OF 5 STARS) - The jury is still out on this one but so far this platform seems pretty good.
There are tons of other places to look find work like Mandy, Production Beast, and Media Match. Know any others? Share them in the comments below and good luck!