After running my own video production company in Japan for almost 2 years, I’ve decided to focus on color grading and start accepting color grading clients from all over the world.
I have to admit, one of the reasons was it pays higher with less work.
If you run a video production company, most likely you are the director, cinematographer, gaffer, editor, colorist, and more. I grade the films I create the same way I grade the films that directors ask me to grade but I make more money just grading films.
One of the reasons is that here in Japan, we cannot tap into the Japanese market yet due to the language barrier and other requirements. Our clients here are Filipinos that are most likely doing an average job that’s just enough for survival.
Our competition here is pricing really low. When I started my company here I didn’t check the pricing of others so I priced myself at a reasonable price for a Filmmaker, around $1500.
People were asking my rate and when I tell them that price they are so shocked because other filmmakers here are accepting $100-$200 for a film. Yes, a wedding film costs just $200.
Because I was passionate about making films, I priced myself at $350 only. I got fewer clients but I got better and nicer clients at that price. They were more generous and they really appreciate art and not those who just want their films to be covered.
Even though I get $350 per gig, I pay my lights man $100. I’m left with $250. It wasn’t even enough to pay my rent. For that amount of work, I am terribly underpaid at that rate.
I joined a team here in Japan because I planned on quitting and I want my clients’ films to be uploaded on a Facebook page that will still continue making films. Since I was about to quit, I don’t want to leave my clients hanging.
There was this event that I thought would make me rethink quitting filmmaking here. It was a concert by a famous person from our country. Our team covered the event. I was the main shooter for video and I was also the editor and colorist.
I was asked to create 3 videos. The arrival, the meet and greet, and the main concert. They also asked me to rush it. I did. When I received the payment. It was $300. I didn’t say anything and I don’t know what really happened but I trusted my team’s owner that’s why I told them that the amount they’ll pay me is up to them.
I kinda lost my trust in the organizer of the event, that certain team’s owners, and making films in general here in Japan.
I have never been that underpaid in my entire life. I actually canceled one color grading client for that event because I know they need help.
Here comes color grading.
A client asked me to match a certain clip to an image and paid me $200. It didn’t even take me an hour to do that. Another client asked me to color correct a video greeting because they shot it in LOG format and they don’t know what to do. They gave me $300. A client booked me for $4200 to grade a feature film.
I still made a lot of films this month because I had to finish those who booked me but I’m not accepting more clients as color grading is also very time-consuming.
Even though I love making films, I can’t feed my family with that at the moment. But, Color Grading is really worth it. Soon, I’ll be expanding my services to complete post-production. We’ll be serving clients who need sound design, visual effects, and different types of video editing.
At the moment, I want to niche down to cinematic color grading. Yes, there is a lot of money from commercial color grading but I’m aiming to master color grading feature films and short films.
It’s actually a blessing in disguise that I switched from Filmmaking to Color Grading because color grading is a subject that needs more attention and is not just a part of the filmmaking process. It needs focus and deliberate practice to be good at it.
Pro colorists even compare color grading to basketball. You cannot be good if you just do it once in a while. You should be practicing every day. When they take a long break, they need some time to get a good grasp on color grading again.
I still plan on making films in the future but those will be feature films and not weddings or other client works.
I’m going to create a trustworthy and talented team to reach that goal together.
Thank you and I’m sorry if I haven’t been updating this blog for a long time. I’ll try to make more content here. Check out my Instagram and Youtube because I’ve been focusing on creating content on these platforms. I’m trying Tiktok but I still don’t get how it works and how it’ll help my business.