With both freelance and agency experience, Overit’s Director of Video and Motion, Solomon Nero, gives insights on working with clients and shares his advice for younger filmmakers.
Where did you go to school?
I went to school at the Art Institute of Toronto for 2D and 3D animation for film.
What jobs have you had in the industry leading up to now?
I got a job working at IBC Digital in Buffalo, animating 3D characters for PBS and various commercials. Then I moved on to Four Directions Productions in Oneida, where I was a director, 3D animator and writer. We would take Native American legends and turn them into 3D animated short films to preserve their cultures.
I had bought a DSLR and shot a music video for my brother, just goofing around. A cinematographer at Four Directions saw it and said “Hey, that’s really good, do you want to work with me sometime?” I studied under him and worked with him for a bit.
After a while I left [Four Directions] and started doing cinematography and motion graphics on my own where I started Nero Minded Productions, which was my own company. I freelanced under that for 5 or 6 years, and then Overit picked me up a few months ago.
Having experienced freelancing under Nero Minded Productions , can you talk about the [freelance] market in Upstate NY?
Freelancing in this area is very challenging because finding the circles to get proper work is very challenging. You either have people who want you to do everything for nothing, or when they do have money, they want you to literally do everything so you are every job on set.
The freelance industry, period, is either feast or famine. There will be times when you’re turning down work and other times you’ll take something for next to nothing. It’s very unstable when it comes to finances. It’s also very exciting because I never had the same type of work. I had a few solid, regular, clients but the rest were different agencies coming through bringing different clients which was kind of fun. Which is the positive side: After you get hooked in, and start meeting and working with the right people, then things flow much better. Expectations are a more realistic, and people begin to trust your creative instincts and ideas. Thats when it actually becomes pretty great to work freelance.
Can you explain what Overit does?
Overit is a marketing agency. We do everything from web, magazines, print, video, music and voiceovers. It’s essentially a “one-stop shop”. We come up with original concepts, bring them into existence and deliver them to the client in whatever form they need.
What do you do as the Director of Video and Motion?
My job is to oversee and facilitate any type of video requests that come through. I’ve only been here for about three months now, so I’m still getting a feel for how things are done.
How do you work with the client’s budget in mind?
It’s one of the most difficult conversations to have with a client because quality is not cheap. You can get something fast, you can get something cheap, and you can get something great. You can have two of those, but you can’t have all three at once. If you want something that’s great quality and cheap, it’s going to take a lot of time.
That’s probably the biggest thing- explaining to them that if they want this vision that they have they may have to come up in price. We do our best to accommodate and sometimes we’ll even bite the bullet here and put a little bit of the cost on us if we think we can make something really great.
What do you when you’re not feeling creative?
Thankfully I have a lot of different outlets that help. Music is probably one of the biggest.
Honestly, changing scenery- I’ll get up from my desk and just go outside and breathe fresh air for a minute. Whatever it is, I’ll just take my mind off of it for a minute and come back and usually I can come back with a fresh perspective.
I don’t think I’ve ever had “writer’s block”. I have had moments where I just need a moment away, but it’s never been totally stunted. The other thing is, in a place like this it’s hard to [not be inspired] because everyone’s so creative it’s contagious. I’ll go to one of my team members and we can build off of each other’s creativity. I always have so many great minds to work with to keep my creativity sharp.
How do you know when a project is complete?
A project is never complete, there’s a point when you stop. That’s the difference between a professional and a perfectionist. I believe it’s impossible to be a perfectionist in this industry because I could refine and refine and refine. I could spend hours tweaking lighting but there’s a point, especially when there’s a timeline and a budget, when the professional thing to do is to say “Okay, how much can I afford to put towards this thing?”.
Is there a mistake you see filmmakers make regardless of experience?
I would say the most tragic mistake filmmakers make is when they think they know enough. There’s far too much to know in this life, let alone in what I do professionally, and there’s always going to be someone who knows something you don’t. You never know what someone else might know or see that you don’t.
Do you have any advice for young filmmakers?
You shouldn’t [aspire to] be an all-around person who can do everything because it’s really all about a team. You need to be able to rely on other people to do their jobs and to do them well so you can do your job well. There’s a reason why director of photography is one job, gaffer is one job, and a grip, key grip (etc.). They’re all different jobs because they require the focus of one mind. When you’re doing so many of those jobs at once it’s easy to miss things.
If you love it, don’t give up. When it comes to actually making films, make them even if they’re low budget. You’ll learn from those experiences.