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Trying to get into subtitling. How can I get work?
Thread poster: Aquamarine76

Aquamarine76  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 04:10
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Nov 9, 2005

Hi, I am new to this forum and just moved to the Netherlands. Staring over again, house upside down that kind of thing.

Sigh, after countless days (2 weeks) of emailing, and doing a wonderful course on subtitling at university this summer, my enthusiasm on the matter is deteriorating with each passing day...do these people ever reply?? Let alone do tests...I thought id get hundreds of them due to having such an extensive translation experience (over 10 years) in very complicated topics (defense, military, law, publishing, nature, veterinary,zoology)...but nothing....i feel like throwing my laptop out the window... Is this normal?

I want to try a different translation and wanted to start getting work in this area, even if i don't have experience but i gotta start somewhere. I don't mind if they even pay me less til I have some experience. Sigh, I know my translations are good and I really don't know what to do to get a break here.

I have written to softtitler, SDI (very polite and impressed with my CV but have nothing right now though wanted to keep it for future reference), softel, and a whole lot more.

Anyone have any advice....i am on the verge of loosing all my enthusiasm, and i really really wanted to do this, specially with documentaries and nature related themes.

Help!

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2005-11-09 18:49]


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Juan Jacob  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 22:10
French to Spanish
+ ...
Let's see. Nov 9, 2005

Three problems, IMO:

1.- Subtitling translation world is quite small because it is a very specialized job. Few studios, few translators, everybody knows everybody: some kind of a big family, and, sometimes, some kind of a "mafia" too. I mean, your "know how" is indeed importante, but also your "know who". Sending resumes won't be very usefull, I think. Knocking at the door and see Mr. XXX in person would be better.
2.- With no experience, that's harder. You'll have to say to Mr. XXX that you first want to learn how to do the job, putting yourself in a training period.
3.- You want "specially documentaries and nature related themes." Those are the worst because they are always speaking and, very often, they don't come with a dialogue list (In the case of documentaries with interviews): you'll have to translate "by ear", and that's quite rude, believe me.

So, your approach should be personal and with a "low profile", not asking for work, but for learning.

Wish you best of lucks, and please excuse my poor English writing.

Juan.


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Ania Grajek  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 06:10
German to Polish
+ ...
I don't think there is something like "mafia" :) Nov 9, 2005

Hi! I cannot agree with Juan as far as the "mafia" thing goes. I started working as subtitler as a result of applying to a couple of companies after they published a job offer. I passed their tests and I got the job. Without "know-who"... It also happened once, that the certain company simply found me (at Proz.com!).
Sending resumes might be useful in the long run, because, if you pass their tests, they will keep you in their database (some of them at least) and let you know if there is stuff to do. I think it is basically a matter of luck to apply at the right moment. Also, be sure to check job offers at Proz.com often!

I hope other posts will be more helpful than mine

Cheers,
Anna


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Juan Jacob  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 22:10
French to Spanish
+ ...
Hi, Ania. Nov 10, 2005

Right... I said "...sometimes, some kind of..."
Love your penguins! Even them make hard living to each other, isn't it?

Saludos desde México.


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Aquamarine76  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 04:10
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thanks...will keep trying sigh Nov 10, 2005

Thanks to both of you...I will keep trying ...its just that I don´t even get a chance at doing these tests, let alone even trying out for a while as "trainee" even though I did do a university course on it and feel quite confident on what I learnt. No one has even replied or sent me a test. The last 3 weeks I must have sent my email to more than 200 companies...honestly I feel humiliated. I do have over 10 years work experience and I have worked on a contracted and pay-role basis (never as a freelancer) til now for some of the world's biggest defence giants and law firms, but worked on-site. It seems impossible to get free-lance work now even though whenever i went for a real interview I always got the job..sigh..i feel useless. I am currently preparing myself to enroll in a course for obtaining the DipTransIOL but now wonder if there's any point...I really feel undervalued.

Anyhow thanks you guys, I will take on the humble approach as suggested and just keep trying, the going to meet people in real live to get a job seeems useful but where I live in the netherlands i'm in the middle of nowhere, and i also do not have a car now since i just moved. I also have no clue as to what i have to here to get started as a freelancer, since i always worked at home the last few years but on a pay-role hired basis not freelance. I was hoping to get a few assignments on the way but this seems so hard...when all i wanna do is what i have been doing for the past 10 years, but free-lance! Very upset..


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Ania Grajek  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 06:10
German to Polish
+ ...
Indeed! Nov 10, 2005

Juan Jacob wrote:
Love your penguins! Even them make hard living to each other, isn't it?

Seems like they have a lot in common with humans


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Ania Grajek  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 06:10
German to Polish
+ ...
Be patient! :) Nov 10, 2005

bcandilgarcia wrote:
I also have no clue as to what i have to here to get started as a freelancer, since i always worked at home the last few years but on a pay-role hired basis not freelance. I was hoping to get a few assignments on the way but this seems so hard...when all i wanna do is what i have been doing for the past 10 years, but free-lance! Very upset..

Be very patient, that's all I have to say... I was close to dumping this profession a couple of times but in the end it paid off to wait.

Building up your clients' base takes a while but once you've done it, you can finally enjoy freelance work. My advice is to read articles on freelance work at Proz.com, check the website for jobs regularly, maybe sign up to some other translators databases, try earning some KudoZ points - this will get you on top of the translators list. Put your fields of expertise in the profile, too

What I also noticed - your languages are English and Spanish. I think this is the most lucrative combination of languages in the world of subtitles, especially in USA, so I am sure you will get your first subtitling job in the end. Cheer up and be patient!


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Aquamarine76  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 04:10
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
THX ANIA Nov 10, 2005

Im trying to be patient, but do have bills to pay i'm afraid...like all of us...and just cannot understand why after 10 years of working as a translator i feel like i just started...surely 10 years counts for something...i also do another language pair combination that I have found to be very appreciated in the past italian into english and spanish...again..i'm surprised i haven´t had feedback on this since in the business world where i moved, it was a very sought after combination...

I will try and find out what the kurdoz points are, no idea as i have just upgraded to platinum, thx

If i can ever be of help to you, lemme know, xxx Bea


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lim0nka  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:10
Member (2004)
English to Polish
It's not that easy... Nov 10, 2005

Hi Bea,

I am afraid it will take you some time to find clients who can guarantee you a regular workflow. It took me 10 years to be able to earn my living from subtitling only. When I started my freelance career, I translated various documents and subtitling was more a hobby than a job then. All companies want experienced subtitlers, no one wants to teach you everything. And as there are no general norms, every time you start working for a new company, you have to learn their rules. It's easier when you only translate the subtitles, when you time them, it's a different story.

And Juan is right, the mafia (or whatever you call it) is not that uncommon in this business. Sometimes it is easier to get assignments from international companies that specialize in subtitling and always need translators (as they usually pay very little) than from agencies in your own country. There you have to know the right person who knows the right person... who might - but only might - be able to help you.

Sending your CVs helps, but you might consider personal meetings with other subtitlers and employees of agencies and TV studios, going there in person rather than sending your documents by mail.

Anetta


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Juan Jacob  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 22:10
French to Spanish
+ ...
Right, limOnka. Nov 10, 2005

You're right: softwares for subtitling are different from one agency to another, as "translation rules" too.
Now, to bcandilgarcia: 10 years experience in other fields don't automatically give you the skills to do subtitling and don't guarantee the quality of your work.
IMHO, you should knock doors, as I suggested, and talk more about how good you are.
Best of lucks.


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juvera  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:10
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Subtitling Nov 12, 2005

I am afraid, a few weeks waiting is nothing in this business, when you are starting up. You may consider to take on a part-time job to tide you over until you get a few clients.

The scenario is also shifting all the time, some clients eventually may give you plenty of work for a while, and then it can change for all sorts of reasons.

Subtitling is limited, and you have to be at the right place at the right time to get into it. These companies are up and running for 10-20 years, they are not waiting for you, they usually have a number of experienced, trusted translators.
On the other hand, this is one of the branches of translation where they are most likely to keep your CV, particularly as you have done a course, so you have some idea about it.

Do not offer reduced rates! The rates are not high anyway, and it depends on your speed and the difficulty of the material how much you can earn per hour. There is very little scope for negotiation, usually a subtitling company has set rates for each type of work, and that's what they are using. It is not worthwile for them to give the job for you, just because you are offering a few pence reduction. Your strategy only works for one-off subtitling, like translating a corporate video for a general translation agency.

Subtitling companies usually only offer tests when they need more people in a particular language combination, and then they test a number of people, choosing the best few. (That's the other reason, why they would keep your CV, they would contact you for the test then.) It is not a question of "passing the test", but being one of the first few out of a number of people.

If you are one of the chosen one, you are likely to be on trial for a while. The length of the trial period depends on what you produce and how much work there is to give you. If they have a lot of work, they will be able to assess your potential fairly quickly, but during this period you have a chance to "get into it". Somebody used to tell me, you cannot call yourself a subtitler, unless you have done at least 50 projects. If you start well, you will have a chance.

As Lim0nka says, various companies and their various clients have different rules, so you have to know the basic rules, and be flexible to adapt, to be able to work with different criteria if necessary.

Another word of warning. It can be very fast, you may have to translate a (prepared) text of a feature film in 2-3 days. As for documentaries, there can be even more pressure, and you may have to translate it by listening to it instead of translating the text already written down by somebody, and timecueing it as well. You better wait with these until you really have some experience.

Best of luck
Judith

[Edited at 2005-11-12 16:41]


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Claudia Boday  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 05:10
Hungarian to Italian
+ ...
How to start?.. Nov 22, 2005

[quote]juvera wrote:


Subtitling is limited, and you have to be at the right place at the right time to get into it. These companies are up and running for 10-20 years, they are not waiting for you, they usually have a number of experienced, trusted translators.
On the other hand, this is one of the branches of translation where they are most likely to keep your CV, particularly as you have done a course, so you have some idea about it.


Hi Judith!(Vagy irhatok magyarul is?)I am new in this forum, so first of all, let me tell I'm really glad to find it!
I have a degree in American English and German Language and Literature and I wrote my final dissertation on film translation, in particular on Fahrenheit 9/11 (Michael Moore,2004). Since then it has become a real passion...I have been translating subtitles as a hobby and I find it an extremely involving and challanging form of translation.
What I would like to know is the way to enter in the 'small family' of professional subtitlers/dialogue writers. I live in Italy, in Turin - unfortunately not in Rome where there are certainly more opportunities regartding television and cinema. The fact is, I do not know where to begin.. I sent some CVs to Studios dealing with dubbing and subtitling, but I haven't received any answer so far. Is it really so 'impossible' to find work in this field of translation?
Va'rom a valaszod,
Claudia


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Aquamarine76  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 04:10
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! Still trying... Nov 22, 2005

Thanks, I have again emailed everyone I can think of and (not any companies near where I live at all), so hopefully someone will reply. I have currently offered myself for work experience or probono work and i would be willing to do this for a few months til I can prove to them I know what i am doing. Sigh, I dunno if anyone can give me more ideas or lemme know of any company who could be willing to give me work. Thanks!

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Cristiana Coblis  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 06:10
Member (2004)
English to Romanian
+ ...
try networking Nov 22, 2005

I think networking with colleagues that work in subtitling helps a lot. I do get a lot of work through networking.

I have been in subtitling since about 2001 and I cannot say it would keep me busy 100%, it's fairly concentrated in the spring-summer season when they kill you with work and then it's pretty quite

I think subtitling really picked up with the DVD industry, especially for my language, Romanian, because there is a lot more work since the DVD era.

So, I suggest networking and patience, I am sure that you will find your efforts to pay off in a few months Be sure to excercise a lot and develop your skills and techniques


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