Art Doesn’t Pay

In the short time since its 2015 launch, has become a leading video collaboration site. Going beyond its early roots as a video review-and-approval site, now supports numerous, long distance workflows that empower creative video professionals all around the world. Most companies feature blogs and customer profiles as just another form of marketing. For, these are a way to give back to the post production community. Their blog features tips and tutorials that benefit editors and other creatives, whether or not they use the company’s services in their daily workflows.

The newest outreach is Masters, a short film series, featuring renowned filmmakers who also happen to be customers of the site. Emery Wells, CEO and co-founder, explains, “We wanted Masters to be delivered in the voice of the creator. These are personal stories, brought to life by having each filmmaker make their own film, with no direction from us. It’s a manifestation of what is all about – a collaborative effort that will serve as inspiration for aspiring creatives in every facet of the word.”

The inaugural video showcases sought-after Australian commercial filmmaker, Mark Toia. His inspiring short film, entitled Art Doesn’t Pay, is a showreel that features a wide range of his impressive work. The title stems from what Toia was told in school. As the film demonstrates, art did indeed come to pay for Toia. Heeding his teacher’s admonition, Toia started his working career as a steelworker. But an amateur interest in photography brought professional attention that resulted in a new path following his natural artistic talent. This eventually brought him to commercial filmmaking.

Words that motivate you to use your talent

When I asked about the apparent contradiction of the title, Mark Toia replied, “My teacher said to me, ‘Art doesn’t pay’. This was a motivation for me. These words were the drive behind my push to prove him wrong.  At the end of the video, I state that ‘My teacher was wrong’. What I should have said at the end was that art does pay. Because with commerce, marketing, and general good business practices, art does pay.”

Photography, painting, and cinematography are very “hands on”, in a similar fashion to some blue collar jobs. Do these follow the so-called “10,000-hour rule”? That’s the premise that you get good at something only after having invested a lot of time doing to it – thus, the 10,000 hours. But Toia wasn’t completely convinced. “Not sure about that. I’m a firm believer in natural ability. I could pick up a brush and a pencil and draw or paint real life almost instantly. This was an obvious natural gift. I had no formal training in photography, but quite quickly obtained the right eye for it and was better than most of my peers in very little time and made money from it very early.  So the 10,000-hour rule may be the case for the people with a natural ability. I do not doubt that at all. For example, I wanted to be a professional motorcycle racer. I put thousands of hours into trying to be the fastest I could be. I remember this person started racing against us. He was new to the sport and quickly beat us all – and ended up winning five world titles. His name was Mick Doohan. Another natural.”

Art meets technology

Toia is obviously a natural artist, but he is also no stranger to the technology. I see his frequent posts on the RedUser forum about RED cameras and using Final Cut Pro X for editing. Toia explained, “I’m very open about not being a fan of a logo or a brand, but more a fan of time savings, speed, and performance. Not caring at all who made the app or camera. I’m not loyal to any brand. I have told Jim and Jarred of RED many times that if someone else brought out a camera that was faster, lighter, smaller, with more dynamic range, and with faster frames rates, then I would jump ship in an instant. And they know this very well, as that’s the reason why I jumped to RED in the first place. RED produces a camera that ticks most, but not all, of my boxes at the moment, hence, why I use RED. Overall I’m only loyal to a tool that gets me to the results I want quicker, at a high quality, and what gets me to bed earlier, makes me work fewer hours, and helps me make money more easily. Simple as that.”

“When it comes to editing and compositing programs, I made a point of learning them all to a high level, if only to make sure I was making the right judgment and choice of using the correct tool for the job. Flame, for instance, has a great keyer – Color Warper. But it’s a slow machine, so I only use it for that toolset. It’s actually a fantastic program, but just slow to use overall. If it could use the GPU like After Effects and Apple Motion – giving near real-time feedback – it would be a winner. Nuke is slow, too, but great for multiple layers of 3D.  Cheap, but again, very slow. After Effects is very fast for 90% of everything I do, so I use that for my 3D and 2D compositing work.”

“From an editing perspective, Avid was my go-to for many years, but FCP7 was quicker, so I jumped to that. Premiere Pro came out being able to use multiple codecs, so I used that for a couple of years, but… again it wasn’t as quick to use as FCP7. Then FCPX came onto the scene and I hated everything about it. I tried to love it, but could not get my head around the magnetic timeline. After my third attempt of trying to learn and understand it, the penny finally dropped. I got it! Now I quite literally work 30-40% faster in FCPX than any other edit program. I still work in Premiere from time to time for older projects I have.  I know both programs intimately, so I can 100% say that FCPX is far more stable and quicker to use than Premiere, giving myself more time to be creative. And that’s were it wins. Speed and performance is always my drawcard. Not the logo on the box. I couldn’t care less if Google or Coca-Cola invented it. Time makes for better creative, a better end product, and better profit margins.”

Mark Toia shows us that natural talent combined with a drive for the best results is a winning combination.

Originally written for RedShark News.

©2018 Oliver Peters