So you want to review camera gear?
As a gear focused magazine aimed at professional filmmakers we’re inundated with requests from videographers wanting to get in on the action of reviewing the latest equipment here at Pro Moviemaker. We regularly take filmmakers up on their offers because we want to be as thorough as possible with our reviews and let our readers know whether a product does (or doesn’t work) in a live shoot environment. We’re always looking to expand our bank of trusty reviewers so if you’d like to get your hands on some of the latest kit before anyone else, here’s some advice to help your next pitch to a blog or magazine.
Know your niche
First things first, know what you do best. While there’s nothing wrong with being a filmmaker who does absolutely everything (most of us do) let us know if your background is in editing, you have a particular interest in 360-degree videos or do a lot of streaming for instance. You’ll have more chance of being selected and being able to test run something that you might consider buying one day because it’s particularly relevant to your business.
Get your diary
The majority of the tests or reviews that I do for the magazine will start out in the corner of the office. I’ll assemble the rig, slider, cage or [insert random piece of gear on test] and check that it’s all functioning correctly before having a little dry run with an office plant or unwitting colleague as my subject. Once I’m happy with controls, ergonomics and basic performance I’ll try to incorporate it into a live shoot so that I can see how it delivers in real circumstances. For me that’s generally shooting wedding films through Happy Kettle Films link to: www.happykettlefilms.com – obviously I won’t jeopardize a client’s shoot intentionally so if a product makes it to this stage it’s usually a good sign. So if you’re emailing about testing something, let us know some key dates when you’ve got shoots planned in the coming months that we might be able to tie in with.
Be (objectively) opinionated
Great, so we’ve sent you the latest rig, slider, cage or [insert random piece of gear on test] and you’ve started working with it. You think it’s okay, not the best thing since sliced bread but it does the job. This is an example of the sort of opinion that we’d rather not get: if you feel you’re in danger of sitting on the fence, keep asking yourself why. Perhaps you don’t want to say anything bad about Canon because you’re secretly hoping they’ll pick you to be an Explorer one day (legitimate reason, but don’t agree to do a test if you don’t think you can be objective). But what if you’re just not bowled over by it? If you ask yourself why for long enough you should come to answer. The controls are hard to access, why? The cage is too small, why? Oh I’m using my CSC on something designed for a GoPro. Likewise if you absolutely hate something with the fire of a thousand suns try to be objective. Remember that lots of people probably worked tirelessly designing and developing something that they thought you, their ideal filmmaker, would love. I know it can be painful but search hard for those positives – whether it would be great for someone just starting out in the industry or be a good addition to a travel kit bag, it’s worth mentioning.
While we know you’re probably expressing your interest to test gear as an individual rather than a team, having an extra pair of hands available will probably make your life considerably easier as we’ll need visuals. Shots of the gear at your studio are great but what our readers really want to see is you using it (preferably on a live shoot) if you have someone else who can take a few behind the scenes shots that’ll probably be considerably less hassle than setting up a tripod and relying on the self-timer. Shooting some test footage with that new lens? Great! Please send it over too, the beauty of test footage is that it won’t require any editing time because we’re more interested in the raw capabilities of the glass than your ability to fix it in post.
Be true to your word
Out of all of this the most important advice I can offer is: deliver on what you say you will. If you say you can hit a deadline then make sure you hit it. If there’s any question marks (perhaps you have a job pending that might come in) then be upfront about it, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll miss out on the opportunity. Likewise if you don’t have any writing skills/experience but still want to offer your opinion, mention that in your initial email – in some instances editors will be happy to give you a call and chat through your impressions of the equipment. Also, that deadline I mentioned will likely be for everything – send over all of the copy, images and any footage together and do it before 5pm!
Still keen to get involved with ProMoviemaker? Drop them a line through firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to your website, attaching writing samples if applicable and they’ll be in touch.