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Making It Work: From filming fashion shows to live-streaming funerals

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Australians have had to adapt after their livelihoods took a hit from government restrictions introduced to curb the spread of coronavirus. In this series called Making It Work, we look at how individuals and businesses have pivoted to stay afloat during the crisis.

BAM Studios

Videographer Tristan has been running his own business, BAM Studios, for the past six years as a specialty video studio for corporate work, cinematography and live performances.

making it work tristan baker

With his skills focused on video recording, production and editing, the cancellation of events meant the loss of bookings.

"I've been doing this business for six years and my focus has been the arts/corporate work - a lot of talking heads and story-telling," Baker says.

He filmed live events ranging from Shakespeare to big council events like Australia Day in Parramatta, live performances and promotional events such as a Brazilian Carnival event at the Ivy.

For big corporates, Baker also filmed fashion shows and product videos, often working hand in hand with creative agencies and production houses - all of whom are suffering currently from the bans.

"Most of the work has gone because they are event based and events have all suddenly dried up," Baker says.

"Everything has closed down - I was lined up to film Shakespeare for theatre company Sport for Jove and also a bunch of things lined up to shoot at Riverside Theatres, who I've partnered with for many years."

Undeterred, Tristan looked for new opportunities to use his skills and found one in an unlikely industry.

The limit on the numbers of people permitted to attend funerals created a need for services to be streamed live online to loved ones.

And some former clients are now working with Baker in new ways, such as the Riverside Theatre looking to hire him to film a guided tour through the theatre for educational purposes.

Under pressure

As soon as events were banned Baker's work was affected.

"Parramasala (in March) was the first one that dropped out, and then the next one was a brand launch around the new Parramatta Stadium for the NRL," he says.

"Every job I had from that day cancelled.

"Most of the work is with people and getting them together."

Baker juggles his income as a freelancer with his wife who works part-time and they typically live week to week, paying a mortgage.

"I don't have a standard pay check coming in. Some weeks it's close to the bottom."

They have two kids and typical expenses, including a car loan.

Baker says if he wasn't able to earn an income any more he would need to put all loans on hold within a few weeks.

"I've applied for the JobSeeker but I'm not sure if eligible as a freelancer," he says.

Learning to adapt

Baker says when business dried up, he quickly realised live-streaming seemed to be the obvious direction for his business.

"I had done it occasionally but there wasn't much call for it," Baker says.

"As soon as the announcement for the 10-person limit at a funeral was announced it became an obvious market to appeal to."

Baker has live-streamed one funeral with several more in the works.

"At the end of the service, the people were very grateful that we had put it together very quickly and that we could do it on the scale we did with a couple of cameras, video and music."

The first funeral, in Ingleburn in Sydney, was attended by six family members, a priest and three funeral home members.

"I had to work from the boot of my car as the 11th person," Baker says.

More than 40 people watched the service on Zoom.

Staying afloat

"Funerals are a new area and if we really have 90 more days ahead of this social distancing I expect to see a couple of bookings a week, depending on how quickly funeral homes are set up to do it," Baker says.

While the restrictions of gatherings and travel continue, he anticipates there will be work in this industry.

The future

"One of the reasons I equipped myself and trained up in the live-stream was that I had a client who, early in the piece, said we have some events we need to put on hold," Baker says.

"They then suggested that they live-streamed the events and within 24 hours I managed to put a promo together on producing live-stream events for clients.

"But it started with one client asking me to do it."

Baker says he then realised his wife, who is a dance teacher, could live-stream her classes, so he made sure she had the right technical equipment for this, too.

"I realise that there are others who are now advertising as similar service, but I am one of the few that can really offer it with the right equipment to do it professionally," he says.

The demand for live streams and also general video sharing has provided another opportunity for his skills.

He has been hosting his own webcasts giving people tips on how to make good videos, and how to use video equipment professionally.

Another video source - which was new, came from private schools' principals needing to announce updates to school parents.

And from one school source - came a new another new experience which was connecting all members of a school band so they could all play virtually as an orchestra.

We're cutting through the confusion to help you manage your money during the coronavirus outbreak. Click here for more on how COVID-19 could affect your job, budget, super and investments.

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Julia Newbould is a financial writer and commentator with a background in journalism. She was previously editor of Financial Planning and Super Review magazines; managing editor at InvestorInfo and at Morningstar Australia. Julia co-authored The Joy of Money, a book on women and personal finance. She holds a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Sydney where she serves on the alumni council.
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