Earn More in the Film Industry or With Video: Products and Services

Earn more with film and video part 2
Earn more with film and video, part 2 of 4 | © Graphic: filmpuls.info

You only ever have two options if you want to earn more from film or video. Either you own something that you can sell, rent or lend to other people for money. Or you could just sell some of your life’s work.

Just like in real life, you can do things right or right wrong. This post will help you make the best possible decisions if you want to make a living in the moving image business.

An article like this can help you ask yourself the right questions. But you have to decide for yourself what the right answers are. Just as it is always your decision whether you take your answers as a reason to change something in your actual state and whether you want to earn more. It is aimed at career starters as well as people who have long since gained a foothold in the film industry but are secretly wondering about development opportunities or potential for optimising their own income and would like to earn more.

Earn more with moving images

The series of articles on money and film careers at Filmpuls consists of 4 topics:

This second part is about what you offer as a product or service and how you can check if what you do professionally has potential for optimization and therefore you can earn more. If you have done everything humanly possible in this regard, your clients only have to find you. That’s why part 3 of this series is then about marketing and self-promotion.

Learnings from Part 1 about “earning more

Whatever type of service you offer or product you have available, there are rules of the game that you cannot escape as a participant in a free market if you want to make an income from moving images.

Summarized in one sentence, the amount of your income depends on whether you are the only one who can solve a customer problem that can only be solved by you in your own way in the future.

If you want to learn more about it, you can find more information in the first article.

All the information in this article always assumes that you understand and have present in your mind the questions from Part 1. If you follow the tips and tricks below without knowing the basics, you can fall flat on your face. Where you can earn more, you can conversely reduce your income with bad decisions.

1There is always room at the top

Assuming your environment is reasonably suitable for your offering (there is a market, limited competition, and your performance can’t be copied in a hurry), you don’t need to be an astrophysicist for your first opportunity to optimize. As in sport, there is always room at the top. You don’t have to be twice as good as your competitors to do that. In a race, a millisecond lead is enough to win. It is no different in business.

So when it comes to earning more, don’t waste energy and especially time and money building up an absurd lead over your competition. This only makes sense if your competitors are close on your heels and for strategic reasons you want (or need) to stretch out the time period until you feel your competitors’ breath on your neck again. Strategic means: You use this distance to further develop yourself and your product.

You can be completely ahead in two aspects. You don’t have to be at the top of both fields at the same time.

It’s enough if you can offer either the best quality or the best price.

Of course, it is absolutely important that your lead as a quality leader or price leader is recognized by your customers. Otherwise, you won’t earn more. Find out what you can do in marketing in part three of this series.

Remember that the film industry is divided into many different segments and sub-markets. There is a world of difference between a documentary and a commercial. TV reports and feature films, image films and CEO statements are also different.

You may be able to stay ahead in one area with the quality or price you offer, while barely getting off the ground elsewhere with the exact same service. Therefore, check not only price and quality, but also in which market segment you want to do business. This is another way you can earn more in the future without having to reinvent your business model.

You can find a real-life example of quality leadership here: When Hollywood calls you. How two friends made it to the top.

2Distinguish yourself. Or starve!

Making ends meet in the film or video business is no easy feat. It’s not just the rent that needs to be paid. This often leads to you having to take every opportunity to increase your income. An offer here, a chance for a few days work there – as long as you half know what you’re doing, you can be talked to about it as a client.

The problem you’ll get yourself into will kill you in the medium term!

Without a clear, identifiable profile, you remain the “go-to girl.” Even worse, as soon as there are more funds in the budget, it’s not you who gets elected, but a competitor who has positioned himself as a specialist in the matter in question.

If you’re honest with yourself, you know your profile. At least halfway. When you look in the mirror, you usually know what you are particularly good at. Open feedback from friends and professional colleagues can give you additional confidence in finding the right assessment. your answer must not be too narrow, but it must be right for you and provable from the customer’s point of view.

The trick now is to rotate that answer until it gives you perfect positioning. Because then you will be able to earn significantly more. In addition, a perfect true example from Scandinavia:

Case Study: From Nobody to Global Provider

The producer of a smaller, only locally known video production with five employees simply does not want to succeed in stabilizing his order situation. The production is regularly invited to tender and wins a contract here and there. Deriving insights into why you win or lose seems impossible. At the same time, competition and price pressure are constantly increasing. There is only one company that has been loyal to the production company for years – albeit at long intervals and with not too large an order volume.

This loyal client is a supplier of offshore oil rigs. The producer decides to tell him directly and openly about his problems with the acquisition. In the process, he hopes to get clues as to why this one customer is excited about him. The answer is as simple as it is perplexing for the company owner: not the quality, not the price, not the technology is the reason for the cooperation. But quite simply the fact that the employees of the production company have undergone safety training with the oil rig operator (no one is allowed to work on oil rigs without it). The crew knows what the rules are on an oil rig and accept (unlike full-blooded filmmakers who will break a rule if necessary for a nice picture) that avoiding incidents on the high seas must always be the top priority. This is where the production company differs from other market participants.

Two years later, despite quadrupling the number of employees, the video production company has to turn down orders again and again due to full order books.


It has positioned and established itself as a specialist in videos that need to be shot in locations where the very highest security regulations and requirements apply. All video crews of the production company are regularly trained, educated and certified internally as well as together with specialists of the customers regarding safety regulations. In addition to oil platforms, national banks, defence companies and airports from all over the world are now among the clients.

3Why less is more

The value chain model illustrates the processes required to produce a film or video on a timeline. First the concept, then the script, then the pre-production, the shooting and finally the picture and sound editing.

Many productions and filmmakers who want to earn more are reflexively looking at expanding their offerings along the value chain. After all, the client wants only one point of contact if possible, and every interface always means effort and therefore costs. So it makes sense to be able to offer your own camera as a cameraman, or the edit suite as a director.

The increase in the depth of added value in recent years has led to a situation in which “everyone does everything! The consequence: Nobody knows anymore who stands for what in the market. Being an expert on anything and everything is never believable.

Because everyone is doing everything, there is an oversupply. As a result, prices plummet and quality falls, which puts further pressure on prices and triggers a fatal downward spiral.

Conversely, it is often forgotten that the value chain can not only be “extended” but also “shortened”. Increasing your income and earning more is also possible with a reduction to key skills and a greater focus on your secret to success. For this purpose, the respective process steps and the associated margins are analyzed. The elimination of low-margin work steps creates scope for greater volume in high-margin areas. Provided that the homework regarding the environment and own positioning has been done and points in the same direction.

4Earn more: Thinking around the corner

In the digital world, the principle of A/B testing has long been established. The model means that two solution variants (variant A and B) are tested simultaneously on the target audience. Both variants have the same goal, but differ in the way they want to achieve this goal. After a predefined period of time, the variant that is more successful is expanded and the other is discontinued.

If the goal is “earn more” in the film industry or in the video production business, you define two ways to do that:

  1. One way can be your existing business model.
  2. The other a new or changed offer.

If you’re already making a living in the industry, the challenge is doing one thing without letting go of the other. Still, you should get used to this principle. First, because the day will come when something fundamentally changes in your field of work. Second, because it’s the easiest way to find out if you can earn more elsewhere.

You will never fail because of the new knowledge you gain from it. But at most, if you don’t have enough energy to drive on two tracks at the same time. Or you don’t interpret the results of your test carefully and thoughtfully enough.

5Ego please hand in at the cloakroom

Those who win in the film industry are usually looking for more than just a job. Recognition and self-fulfilment are usually important drivers for the decision to work in film. Most often, the path begins with an internship, followed by an assistant position. If you want to earn more, you have to climb the career ladder.

If you look back at your career path after 10 years in the film business, usually by this time you’re already stuck at some intermediate level, you may be stunned to find that former professional colleagues you thought you’d long overtaken in the rat race to the top are earning more and working more regularly than you.

How so?

We all logically move up the career ladder until we can’t move up any further. You can’t move up any further because you can’t perform at the level you’ve reached, which automatically recommends you for the next higher function.

We rise until we fail because of our own incompetence, thus blocking our further career. In a global corporation with complex structures and social responsibility, this is the rule – usually without any nasty consequences for those affected. Unlike the freelancer in the movie: here your incompetence is a serious problem. Because of your shortcomings, you will always be booked less and earn less instead of more.

Your former professional colleague decided at some point to fight less and run less fast and think more. He has decided not to achieve the best possible function, but to be the best at his level. With success.

Where every camera assistant and every director’s assistant wants to work as a cameraman or director himself as quickly as possible, young people with no experience dominate the job description, who additionally (from the cameraman’s or director’s point of view) bite the hand that trains and promotes them. As an experienced assistant who knows his job perfectly and enjoys it, you will have regular work and earn more than a mediocre cameraman who can only admit to himself after years that he will never get off the ground with his talent.

Next episode of the series “Earn more

The third article in the series is about marketing and selling yourself or your services. The last, fourth part shows possible scenarios for the development of the moving image market.

This article was automatically translated into English using AI. If you would like to help us improve the quality, we would be happy to hear from you.

Editorial Staff Filmpulse
About Editorial Staff Filmpulse 264 Articles
Under the designation Editorial Staff Filmpulse, articles appear that are created or edited jointly by several members of the editorial staff.

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