Filmmaking at TAI

How to Make Lots of Money in the Media Arts: Part 2 (Filmmaking)

In the last post, I explored some of the ways you can make money as a photographer. Today, we will look at filmmaking. I will go straight to the point (if you have not read the last post, please find it here).

Making Nollywood-style movies can be very profitable. But Nollywood is, in many ways, a cabal. I encourage new filmmakers who need cash to explore these three options for more constant income:

  1. Cinematic Weddings: Very few people have the time to watch a 4 hour video recording of their wedding. But most people would wish for beautiful, short, cinematic renderings of their special day. Doing it properly take time and a good array of skills. It can be very rewarding, though, if you are able to capture the right clients.
  2. Documentaries: This is my forte (I make documentaries for non-profit organisations). A lot of NGOs want to showcase their impact and tell their stories. They often need documentary storytellers to help with that and are often willing to pay quite well. Just like for cinematic weddings, this is a skill that requires a high level of mastery. You often need to be able to summarize effectively (tell entire stories in two minutes or less), direct (you are often the director, cinematographer and “scriptwriter” as you are in the best position to determine the flow of the story), edit (and very quickly too), and make use of the right terminology that resonates with people in the social entrepreneurship space. I love this genre of filmmaking because you will not find every Tom, Dick and Harry doing it and can therefore charge your clients relatively well.
  3. Music Videos: We all know that the best known artistes shoot music videos in exotic places and have huge budgets for it. Top artistes probably won’t ask you to shoot their video (if you are not already well known) however you can more easily target upcoming ones who are often willing to shell out a few hundreds of thousands of Naira for those videos. The key here is to learn all you can about music and more especially music promotion. Most artistes are doing those videos because they want to get popular. Can you guarantee that your video will get them air play on some of the popular TV stations? Can you get it on the popular blogs? If you can make the right contacts, you are much more valuable to the artiste than a mere filmmaker.

A few points:

  1. Ensure that your sound quality is very good. This often means using an external microphone with your camera.
  2. For videos, digital noise becomes a big issue very quickly. Invest in some prime lenses. Cheap options such as Canon’s 50mm 1.8 and 40mm 2.8 lenses can be lifesavers.
  3. Like I said in the previous post, put some effort into building the kind of portfolio that would attract your target audience. It is much easier to sell your skills to people when you have relevant works to show.
  4. We have a fantastic Digital Filmmaking course at The Twim Art Institute. However, I must add that we tell our students that the video world keeps evolving every day. Learn, unlearn and relearn regularly.

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