Why is Art Important?

This has been a subject of mine that I’ve grown more passionate about over the years.  I did graduate from an art school so my relationship to the art world comes from first hand experience, and as a filmmaker who utilizes composition, color and design in my work, art is still a part of my daily life.

Andy Warhol said “Art is what you can get away with,” and though I don’t personally agree with that statement, it sure did work out fine for Warhol.  For me, art is something made by a person or persons that moves people.  Even if it’s just for a moment in time, to be impacted by a work of art is outstanding.  It can be a patron standing in front of a Renaissance painting, a theatre goer breaking into tears during a powerful performance, a poem being read at a wedding or a funeral, or even a handmade sweater from grandma.  Art compels people.  It makes them laugh, or cry, or best: think.  Art creates a dialogue, sometimes an internal monologue, it changes the way we think or the way we see.  Art is what’s left of artists after they leave this earth, like the paintings of Van Gough or Rembrandt or Rothko.  

Art is subjective.  It’s not likely anything that anyone makes will be universally liked or even understood.  It’s a response to the time, it’s encapsulating a moment, it’s color and light and dark and more, and sometimes less.  It’s conceptual, or void of concept.  It’s beautiful and disturbing and guttural and light hearted.  It affects the viewer, the artist, sometimes the community, or even the world.  

Some of my favorite photography is from Dorothea Lange, a photojournalist who documented people during the great depression.  For her, the photographs were a document, a black and white straightforward representation of what was going on at the time.  But for me, it’s art at it’s best.  Her work is great from a technical standpoint, but she also captured the struggle of people going hungry, wearing rags as clothes, and wondering when their next meal would be.  It was instances in history that happened nearly a century ago in America, and sadly still occurs today all over the world.  Yes, it is a document of the time, but it’s hard to look at her work and be unmoved.  Those bits in time will now last forever on printed paper because she was there to capture them.  Students learning about The Depression are able to see first hand what these people went through when they look at those photos.  That is powerful.

I didn’t have the best history teachers in high school, but the ones in college were phenomenal, and everything I retained about history I learned in my art history courses.  If it weren’t for the sculptures discovered by archaeologists dating back to up to 30,000-27,000 years ago, our understanding of the past would be diminished.  What would be in museums without art?  Without sculptures and paintings and photographs and lithos and jewelry and clothing and inventions?  It’s fascinating to look through paintings over the years and see the way early painters would interpret perspectives, until one point, two point, and three point perspective was discovered and accurately rendered.  

There’s also the technological and utilitarian products that we see everywhere that were made to be more visually appealing.  We all wear clothing that was created by designers, some of us follow trends and check to see what colors will be in season.  Most of us use smart phones or computers, with aesthetically pleasing visual set ups and interfaces made to be user friendly.  We listen to music on our devices which was composed by musical artists.  We hang pictures in our homes, and get furniture that compliments it, and paint the walls colors we like because we want our dwellings to look nice.  Color and visual appearance comes into play much more than we could ever imagine. 

Acting is one of my favorite art forms.  From the times of Ancient Greece when people would hold festivals to honor their gods, to classical theatre, to the more modern film and television industry, chances are that every single person reading this has seen someone act.  Nearly everyone has a favorite film, or T.V. show, and be it a comedy, drama, horror, fantasy, or other genre, it’s able to evoke emotions from people because of how the actors makes them feel.  One of my favorite things is to see a character put into words an exact feeling that I’ve experienced before but was unable to articulate it.  It’s a tremendous thing to have your heart strings pulled on by your favorite character’s death, or to celebrate it when the villain gets what is coming to him, or just to laugh hysterically.  And after studying acting and performing in short films and plays, I can assure you that it’s arduous work, a lot process, and a huge effort for the actors and directors and production or stage crew to take a script off the paper and create something that will suspend reality for the time it takes the viewer to watch a performance.

Basically everything I have said thus far pertains to art being a healthy escape for all involved in it’s making.  It’s a chance for the artist to convey his message, and for the viewer to feel something different and gain a new perspective.  It’s a chance for people to learn history.  It’s even a chance to create history.  Art reminds us that we are not alone.  That we share the same feelings, and that we can share them together.  It’s subjective and lovely and sorrowful and beautiful and dark, and it will always change, but still in some facets, forever stay the same.  

Why is Hiring a Videographer So Expensive?

I’ve been shooting and editing video projects for a few years now, and have had an official Production Company as an LLC Partnership for just over two years.  In that time I’ve been met by some resistance when it comes to the price tag.  “Really?  That’s how much it would cost me for just an eight hour shoot?” is a question that I’m sure many others in this field has been met with.  But here’s the thing: it’s never “just an eight hour shoot.”  Rarely is a gig ever close enough for a ten, twenty, or even thirty minute car drive.  Even more rarely do people ever want just the raw footage, they want a completed, edited product, often with a musical bed, voiceover or audio track, color correction, audio clean up, etc.  And even if it is “just” a shoot, I will ask you this: have you ever lugged a heavy duty tripod along with a camera, audio mic, and lens up a hill on a ninety degree day seconds before a storm to quickly catch a shot?

Shooting videos is a lot of fun.  You get to meet lots of new and interesting people, build relationships,  and every experience is a new opportunity to grow.  But it is work.  It’s physically demanding, equipment is heavy, sometimes you’re on your feet for eight hours without a chance to eat or even go to the bathroom, and you have to work hard to put people at ease and be approachable every second you’re out on the field.  Sometimes there are even multiple locations required, so being able to quickly disassemble all of your gear, sometimes alone, and then quickly reassemble everything at a different location under a time crunch is of the utmost importance.

Then there is the more obvious reason for the cost of video production: the cost of equipment.  Yes, video equipment has become more affordable over the years, but at the same time there is much more to think about than just the camera.  Even the cost of a DSLR (that normally comes as just the camera body with no lens) will see you back over two grand.  I myself shoot mainly with a Canon C100 that was over $6000 (for the body) when it came out initially.  Then you have lenses, lighting, sliders, tripods, steady cams, drones, follow focus, camera cases, batteries, back up batteries, LAV mics, boom poles, boom mics, mixers, editing software, a computer to edit on, SD cards, advertisements, the cost of extra cloud storage, external hard drives, inevitable equipment upgrades, and so forth and so on.  And if you’re like me, you have the monthly student loan payments of $600+ for over twenty years.  It all adds up.  Good video production companies invest in good equipment to create a quality product.

In addition to the body wear and tear, travel time, cost of gas and cost of equipment, there is the time it takes to edit.  It usually takes more time to edit than it does to shoot, because a good editor will take the time to review every bit of raw footage that’s been recorded, then you have to figure out what the best take is, and label and tag everything so it’s easier to edit.  It’s great to be able to work remotely, but it is still work.  Lot’s of thought and creativity and intuition goes into the editing process, and if people request motion graphics and animations to go into their project, that can easily double or triple your workload.  And if they want a music bed added to the video, there is the time of looking for applicable copyright free music.  I like to give people a rough cut, an initial edit they can look at and see what’s working and what’s not, and then I go back in and do a final edit.

Lastly, but absolutely not least, there’s preproduction.  I’ve learned that when this is taken to account and ironed out, then everything else, the shoot, the edit, it all goes much more smoothly.  This stage of the production process is where you secure the location, write the script, edit a story board, get your shot list, hire actors when needed, and secure your shoot date(s).  This stage can sometimes be the most time consuming when it’s all left up to the video production team.  Not every shoot will take all of these into account, sometimes the client will have his own script and location, sometimes it’s all up to the videographer, so it’s important to have a good line of communication open to the customer.  Even when the client insists to take care of everything, a good shot list is invaluable to make sure you are covered.

And there you have it.  I hope this post is able to shed some light on the indelible question of why video production costs so much.  I’m very happy to be able to work as a videographer, but it was a lot of work and sweat and reading and trial and error to get me to this point.