Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Welcome to Museum TV - but not as you know it

Some of the best museums in the world, renowned for their cultural and enterprising educational value could also be some of the best online TV stations around.

A couple of months back I had lunch with senior figures from some of London's top museums, which in turn came about from Jude Kelly, e new artistic director of the South Bank, drawing people to some of my previous installation-news work at one of her functions I attended.

They'd just had an Iraq exhibition of antiquities and were bouyed by the reception.

TV had covered it in the news with features, but when I asked whether they had their own films - they were a little surprised.

The Terracotta Army works in London present an interesting feature as well, also documented on the News and in this case a longish feature -a programme in itself.

But for every nugget that finds TV thousands of exhibits don't.

And here's where Museums are losing out in the content game.

There exists an overwheling feeling amongst the arts that TV is abandoning it.

TV Figures do show a decline as an observation rather than from emprical data which I don't have to hand.

But could the execs at the museum up their game?

Corporate VJs to the rescue

Here's how.

Raid the journalism colleges in your vicinity and attach a videojournalist, with also web skills ( SEO copy writing) to your unit.

They film those in between important events, even the high powered meeting discussing whether Banksy should be given pride of place in the main hall.

Weeks before the show, release the film and watch your attendance rise.

Firstly, less you fely you need a TV film crew; you don't and the cost of a VJ is well, affordable.

Secondly, you may well end up owning the rights.

And if there is one way of wooing TV back to an issue, it's when you have archive et al to give it context.

So if you're from the Smithsonian, Guggenheim - where I filmed some time back as part of CIRCOM ( Regional TV body) and am yet to post.

Or you're from the VA, you might want to consider this.

Last night I had an email from one of the UK's forward thinking companies wanting to give me a press release.

I emailed her back to say a videojo, video new release - call it what you will would be better served for the Youtube - visual age.

We'll see.


sionphoto said...

Hi David, I check your blog regularly for inspiration but I have to say in this case, unfortunately you let the stream of great ideas get away with ya...

"Raid(ing) the journalism colleges in your vicinity" for VJ students, then paying lousy rates, because 'the cost of a VJ is well, affordable' (or free, cos its a student and they'll do it 'for the experience'), then hinting the institution could perhaps ahem...'encourage' a rights grab of the content produced is a one way ticket downhill for VJ, before its even got established as a viable working method.

For a start it condemns the VJ students you're teaching to never being able to earn a decent living when they leave college - because potential clients will just get the next raft of students off the conveyor belt, and you'll have embedded an expectation in those clients that they never have to pay anything decent for the work.

So they never will.

Speaking as a photographer/videojourno, its this idea amongst clients that content can be got on the cheap, or quite frankly, stolen, thats one of the reasons why the editorial photo business is tanking overall.

I'd like to think that the next wave - video journalism - doesn't end up going the same way...but that is really up to the practitioners valuing what they produce.

I approached an NGO recently and did exactly what you've mentioned - made them a video news release for YouTube, e-mail embedding, their website etc, to publicise a lecture they wanted showcasing on their site. I'm glad to say they were pleased with the result.

But I charged a rate commensurate with the product.

Sure it wasn't as expensive as 'proper telly'...but it wasn't a peanuts-payin' college fodder rights grab either.

You ought to be suggesting VJ as an added value for the institutions, and if its seen as adding value, then that should be also realised in the rates and terms for the product produced.

This applies to freelance VJ's or any VJ's looking to be staff. Their wages will be commensurate with what the employer thinks the work is worth.

If they think the work is easily replacable and cheap, then the staffer will be paid badly and easily fired.

bluprojekt said...

Last night I had an email from one of the UK's forward thinking companies wanting to give me a press release.

I emailed her back to say a videojo, video new release - call it what you will would be better served for the Youtube - visual age.

I think you have nailed it on the head mate - I just pitched a small project like this just yesterday for a unique local company - as you said in your last line - We'll see..


Cliff Etzel - Solo Video Journalist

David of said...

Sionphoto - Nooooo

I haven't even read past your second para - and I'm despairing.

I'd never advocate anyone paying lousy wages.
Average price for a VJ intern should be 250-150 UKP per day.

For a crew that's about 1000 UKP
That's a win win in my book for the hirer and the VJ.

Was able to get an editor from one of the UK's top brand newspapers to "raid" our uni for one of our students - now graduated.

And yep those would have been good "greenbacks"

Incidentally raiding - that word!

Where are you Sion as this word has different connotations.

Right.. now I'm going back to read the rest of your post.

David of said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David of said...

David of said...
Are we having an argument? Naa. But like the fact you've got raw.. now where were we.

Read it through now - actually we're on the same page but haven't been able to talk it through.

"For a start it condemns the VJ students....."
It doesn't....". It doesn't and shouldn't. This is all in the negotiations and that word value - videojournalism brings.

We do a Nato exercise with students who don't get paid at all, but boy do they love what they do and it's great addition to the CV.

But lets get back to commercial. In this case if a commercial outfit rings me up and wants to come and raid... we'd have a nice conversation.

You'll note I said something along the lines of "rights" when filming.

Again another conversation predicated on payment versus relinquishing film rights.

But I accept it's a tough industry and in the scheme of work placements ( UK here), there are guides that employers and academia follow.

I'm drawing on my experience here as council member at something called the Broadcast Journalism Training Council.

The original post was attempting to eke out a theme, that is, videojournalism shouldn't be confined to the status quo.

It may have its roots in tele, found favour with newspapers, but has a wider canvas to play on, which should/colud include Museums, Councils, Theme Parks etc
( Have a friend who has become a senior press person at a theme park..I'm trying to get a VJ in there)

This expansion in repertoire can only be a good thing for this still evolving profession (when will it stop?).

And as it expands it'll be up to us, me, you everyone that believes in this to argue and continue to do so about its worth.

I might add when we started in 1994, the industry loathed us ( woops strong word but we took some hits)

I'm for change.... "I just hope the stream of great ideas don't get away from me".

First round at the bars yours Sion :)

Nice to make your acquaintace.