The Zero Budget Fallacy

Another day, another couple of links to interesting projects…. projects that are interesting not just because they were executed well, and created something worth seeing, but interesting because once again the people behind them claim that they did it for “zero dollars” or “300 dollars” or some other number that is ridiculously low.

As someone who has worked in the creative industry for many (many) years, I know it’s not true, and I’m guessing others in the creative industry also know it’s not true, but does everyone know? Does the general public know? Do potential clients know?

One project was a film that someone worked on for 6 months, and the end result was pretty damn cool, but by claiming the project cost $300 the person is suggesting that their time was worth nothing, and their equipment was worth nothing, and somehow it all just materialized out of thin air.

Another project (again, a film) said it was done with “zero budget” which I guess means the experience of the people involved was worthless, and the $10,000 worth of equipment they used was just sort of magically handed to them, and anyone could have it.

If your band wants to shoot an epic music video for free, and you manage to get your friends with the experience and the equipment to donate their time, and the results are amazing, that’s cool… I’m all for it. Just don’t devalue the efforts of all involved by saying it was done for $0.00

I’m going to assume that the people behind these things know what they are doing, and my guess is that what they are doing is marketing. To that I say well done! It’s clever, I’ll give them that.

But wait, don’t I do the same thing? I mean, I shot like 50 free portraits at BarCampMilwaukee4. I could say it cost me NOTHING but in all honesty, Sam Dodge and I spent a few hours doing the shooting, and I spent many more hours editing and posting the photos, and I had to buy my equipment in order to even take photos (as did Sam) and I had to put in hours to learn how to shoot portraits… Don’t get me wrong, many things can be done for low-costs, but to assume it costs nothing seems silly.

If you look at a project like Help-Portrait, it’s about giving back, from people who are skilled, and have the equipment, and want to help others. It’s only made possible by the fact that people are willing to donate their time (which has some value) and that people have the needed equipment/supplies/etc. (which was probably paid for from some other paying job.)

If it’s a labor of love, and a project you want to do, by all means do it, do it well, do it great, and talk about it. I just have an issue with people telling other people it cost them “nothing” to create something. I’m working on a film and while I’m doing it for very little cost, and even though I’m borrowing a lot of the equipment, there’s still consumables like gasoline, and tapes, and paper, and ink, and things like hard drives and software, and web hosting, and there’s the many, many, many hours I’ve spent (and will spend) shooting, and editing, and eventually promoting it.

There’s an old saying that comes to mind: It’s only free if your time has no value.


Biking to Work (Again…)

Well I managed to bike to work again. (I did it a few months back.) This time it was a 7.28 mile ride, which was slightly shorter due to taking a different route. I saw my lowest speed about 5 MPH and my top speed was 23.8 MPH. It took 42 minutes and my overall average speed was 10.2 MPH. I didn’t make any stops but I did end up walking up part of a particularly nasty hill.

The most embarrassing part was when a guy who was probably 10 years my senior passed me on his bike like I was standing still. I was probably going close to 12 MPH and he whizzed passed me. He did have a racing-type bike and the whole serious biker outfit, so I didn’t feel quite so bad. As usual, I didn’t bike home. The wife came to pick me up with the Honda and the bike rack at 9PM.

We also hit the Bugline Trail over the weekend. We took the kids, so we only went about 6 miles, but it’s a nice trail. There is a reason it’s called the “Bugline” though. We got completely bitten up by mosquitoes. We’d like to take this one again when it’s cooler out.

As long as we’re talking about biking, the Milwaukee County Zoo is holding it’s “Ride on the Wild Side” Family Bike Ride on September 16th, 2007. We might do this ride, depending on how busy it is that weekend.


I Biked to Work (Last Week!)

I mentioned Bike to Work Week last week, because that is when I Biked to Work.

Even though my youngest child did not support me (“What if you don’t make it?” she said) I did it. According to the GPS it was a 7.6 mile ride, and took about 43 minutes. My average speed was around 10 MPH. Going uphill it was around 6 and going downhill it was more like 20. In fact, 24.9 was the fastest I could go.

Trek 7200

It was fun, but not something I could do every day, or even once a week. There are so many days when I just need a car. Obviously I can’t bike to work on the days I need to pick up the kids, or have to meet someone in Brookfield or Milwaukee, or whatever. And since I sometimes work long days, I wouldn’t look forward to riding home in the dark after working 12+ hours. Of course, I’m just an excuse-maker.

But it got me thinking… What if I got a scooter? I mean, sure I wouldn’t exactly be getting the exercise, but think of the money I’d save in gas and wear and tear on the old CR-V! This line of thinking lasted about a day, and included looking for used scooters on Craig’s List, and chatting with a friend who knows more than I do. I even tried to do some rough math and figured if I got a used scooter cheap it would pay for itself in car/gas savings after 3 years of riding it to work. I’m insane like that.

I’d like to try biking to work again this year, and the crazy scooter idea is on the back-burner for now, unless you know someone who wants to trade one for some freelance web development and hosting.


Bike to Work Week 2007

It’s almost time for Bike to Work Week 2007…

Bike to Work Week 2007

Now, for some reason I thought it was this week, so I’m planning to ride to work tomorrow. It’s about 8 miles, which means I should be able to do it under an hour at a comfortable pace. If for some reason something goes wrong (flat tire, get hit by a car, fall in a lake) I’ll be calling one of my co-workers who drove to come pick me up.

I’m all in favor of riding to work (Ernesto the Biker does it!) but it’s just not always practical. I mean, I left work at 2:30 AM the other night, so riding home would not have been too pleasant.

Anyway, if there is a chance you can ride to work next week, do it. You probably need the exercise.

If you’re in Wisconsin, check out the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin, and if you’re in Milwaukee, check out Bike