A production professional’s growth trajectory
The demand for professionally shot videos and photos continues to grow exponentially in Nepal. Almost every business or organisation you can think of probably reaches out to production professionals to create corporate videos, proposals, advertisements, etc. And a growing number of Nepali families today contract out video/photo production duties related to documenting the important social occasions in their life–marriages, pasnis, bratabandhas, etc–to professionals too. It’s thus not surprising that many youngsters, seeing the opportunity, have become photo/video producers. Many of them start out gigging, before setting up a production house run by a full team. Quite a few photo/video producers begin, essentially, as one-person units before going bigger. Apexian Anit Basnet (BBA-BI, 2017) –who has already worked with the Magic Marble Foundation, Kaalo 1, Silk Transport Cargo, Answer Nepal, and Doolie International, among others–is now at the stage where he is readying to take that big leap. Below, he details for us the perks, pitfalls, and learnings related to his half a decade of gigging. His findings can serve as lessons for his fellow students thinking of getting into production.
Staying lean and flexible
I have been working in the production sector for around five years now. I’d always wanted to get into this sector, but I knew that my startup costs could be rather high–on equipment, training, forming a team, etc. So when I started out, I invested in only the absolute essentials: a mirrorless camera and a 24-105 mm video lens. I also needed to invest in developing and sharpening my shooting, cinematography, and post-productions skills. Instead of learning from institutes, I took to learning everything from YouTube. And instead of hiring personnel to man the lights and second camera and perform other on-site roles, I would bring in friends and cousins, with whom I would split my earnings.
Some of the central challenges in gigging
You are mostly working in the midst of quite a bit of chaos and unpredictability. You never know when your choice client will call you with an offer of a promising project that’s got a tight deadline. When that happens, you need to quickly get on board the personnel you’ll need to accomplish your project. To ensure that you can rope in the personnel when you need them, you’ll need to create a ready pool of deck hands you can reach out to quickly; given the nature of gigging, many members of your pool might already have other commitments, so you will have to flip through your choices and fill-ins where needed. You also have to be prepared to fill in for roles you can’t find takers for.
Investing in continual learning
Over the last few years, the production sector has become an exceedingly attractive one for today’s youths. But that also means the competition continues to get that much more intense. The only way to survive in such a setting is by skilling up regularly. Even today, I spend a good two hours or so every day picking up new photography, videography, and cinematography techniques via YouTube and other platforms.
The importance of building an impressive portfolio
I cannot overstate the importance of building a good portfolio. Unlike in other walks of life (where your degree, etc can matter a lot), in the production sector, your past work is your calling card. That is why I often take on projects that might not pay much–as long as working on them will help me add more shine to my portfolio.That said, you do have to keep your revenue stream flowing as much as possible. That is why, during wedding seasons, I am not averse to taking on wedding assignments–even though my primary career interests lie elsewhere. And although these shoots don’t appear on my professional portfolio, they do help me refine my craft and keep me afloat.