How to Make Money as a Filmmaker – Parts 1 & 2

Parts 1 & 2 are availble to watch below.
Watch episodes 3 & 4 here.
Watch part 5 here.

When it comes to traditional ‘passion’ careers, like filmmaking, no one ever wants to talk about money. But how does a full-time filmmaker make a living?

The Zacuto Duo, Steve and Jens, sit down with Executive Producer Phil Wnuk and cinematographer Kevin Otterness for a frank conversation about money, filmmaking, experience and having a 5-year plan.

“The single least talked about thing in our industry is making money. I think that’s like, the dirty secret. We all talk about equipment, it’s all they talk about…oh, look at how good my picture looks and look at how good my films looks! That really doesn’t matter. When you make a project…it’s really all about marketability.” – Steve Weiss, Director/Producer

Watch Part 1 – The Dirty Secret

Watch Part 2 – Would You Rather?

Who are those guys anyway?!

steve weiss headshot Steve Weiss is an Emmy winning Director and Producer with over 700 commercial, corporate, documentary, web-series, and fashion projects to his name. Steve and Jens founded Zacuto and have been at the helm of every product innovation. Steve has been an avid supporter of web TV for many years, with shows like Filmfellas and Critics. See his full bio here.

His new company, Binge Watch Films, aims to support the indie film community in funding episodic original content for streaming services and licensing.

Jens-Bogehegn headshot Jens Bogehegn has been shooting, photographing, producing, renting & inventing in the film & photographic business since 1978. Bogehegn and Weiss have worked together as Director and Cinematographer since 1986. Jens is a founder of Zacuto and is an active Head Product Designer. He continues to act as Director of Photography on Zacuto Films projects and has won multiple Emmy (midwest chapter), Telly, and Webby awards. See his full bio here.
phil wnuk headshot Phil Wnuk is an Executive Producer, Writer, and Director with Roark, Pirsig, & Dobie since 1997. He has produced television campaigns and movie projects with Tom Clancy’s Red Storm Entertainment, television campaigns for some of the most successful video games with Konami, a business documentary for a $3 billion dollar construction firm, and a global video series for Astellas Pharmaceutical. His recent work also includes developing and producing a library of video content for a global manufacturer and an innovative point of purchase company
kevin otterness headshot Kevin Otterness is a Chicago-based cinematographer, editor and director who works on feature films, music videos, behind-the-scenes documentaries and commercials. A 26-year veteran in the film and television industry, Kevin is most known as a director of photography for his truly cinematic look with richness of color and quality composition. His collaborative work style, visionary skill, and overall professionalism enable him to give his clients a product that is uniquely theirs. Some of the brands he has collaborated with include The Second City, CBS, American Music Awards, Jeep, Motorola, MTV, Footlocker, American Family Insurance, Miller Lite, DJI, CBRE and the Berkshire Group.


Join the conversation

12 Responses to “How to Make Money as a Filmmaker – Parts 1 & 2”

  1. John N on July 25th, 2017 8:47 pm

    I liked the Filmfellas series. Missed it. Glad you’re back with this series.

  2. hikikomori78 on July 31st, 2017 1:01 pm

    Agree with Kevin (Part 1 – 4:09). Getting under-cut is major problem. Not sure if there is a solution.

    Would love to know how to get involved with, “Binge Watch Films”.

  3. Rachel Mahrle on July 31st, 2017 1:03 pm
    Rachel Mahrle

    It’s a super new venture for Steve. Will hopefully have some info coming out with the next blog!

  4. Drew Sherman on August 1st, 2017 1:49 am

    Just saw Part 1 shared on the Frugal Filmmaker Facebook group. I recently decided to quit my non-existent freelance “career” after 30 years and look for a job in the industry. After two months, 70 applications out, and not even one response, I couldn’t help but chuckle at some of what you all said. Jack-of-all doesn’t seem to mean jack out there. So how about one of you hire me? Cause that’d be great. I bring a ton of raw talent to the table. 😉

  5. Steve on August 7th, 2017 7:44 pm

    Drew, I feel you buddy! I’m out here in Silicon Valley where there should be TONS of opportunities, but if you are over 35 then plan on silence from employers…the “every mom and pop business” needs video from a freelancer was my idea too, I gave it more than 7 years and couldn’t cobble together a living…not saying it’s impossible but it’s a LOT harder than they make it sound. Good luck to everyone!
    (Oh and don’t get me started on those businesses that create networks of video folks willing to do a 3 minute promo video for $100 and then sell it for $700 plus)

  6. Allan Crocket on August 9th, 2017 3:31 pm

    Really excellent stuff. I made a comment on social media that Steve commented on. We do what we can so we can do what we love. For me that means doing some corporate, TV commercials so I may shoot stories that can make a difference. BTW the video looks great, although its all about the content. Thanks!

  7. Rachel Mahrle on August 9th, 2017 3:32 pm
    Rachel Mahrle

    Thanks, Allan!

  8. Adrean Mangiardi on August 9th, 2017 3:59 pm

    Is there a possibility to include closed caption for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing filmmakers?

  9. Rachel Mahrle on August 9th, 2017 4:17 pm
    Rachel Mahrle

    Hi Adrean,

    Thank you for reminding me! I completely forgot to upload the cc files. Just did for all 5 episodes. Enjoy!

    – Rachel

  10. Peter Berman on August 9th, 2017 7:22 pm

    Great series. Kids…pay attention to this series! The best advice for people who have the passion to work in the industry and make it a career. Learn everything, get experience doing every type of job, network, don’t let your ego get in your way…the money will come. Thanks guys for doing this series.

  11. Rachel Mahrle on August 10th, 2017 9:03 am
    Rachel Mahrle

    Thanks, Peter! – Rachel, Z-Team

  12. Dee on August 31st, 2017 12:26 am

    And let’s face it, it is okay to think this way. The truth is, you and I both know your stuff is better than 90% of the crap that comes out every summer. But the problem is, there are a TON of poorly produced backyard indies flooding the market each year.

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Zacuto creates production grade, filmmaking camera accessories. Our gear is made entirely in the USA, designed by filmmakers for filmmakers. It comes with an unparalleled lifetime warranty and our world renowned customer service. Our focus on high-end electronic equipment and universal balanced rigs is the future of Zacuto and the industry. Our iconic red and black gear has a loyal fan base around the globe. From Hollywood cinematographers to indie filmmakers to event shooters, there is only one choice—Zacuto, the industry standard. Zacuto’s original designs free filmmakers to focus on innovation, inspiration, and creativity.


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