Recent Film Grads, Welcome to the Gig Economy
After four years of learning about video production, it’s time to put your skills to good use. But, where do you start if you haven’t landed a full-time job? Freelancing can help you develop your skills as a filmmaker while also giving you experience on many different types of productions. Here are a few simple steps to kick start your freelance career:
1. Invest in solid equipment.
For most freelance work, you are expected to bring your own camera gear. And you will do best if you invest in great equipment, that’s versatile for many jobs, and that will best fit the services you offer. While the upfront cost can be steep, it will be cheaper in the long run to own your own equipment, rather than renting it for each gig. The gear will pay itself off with enough freelance jobs. Plus, you can rent your gear out to others when you’re not using it.
2. Create a professional reel and portfolio.
Using footage from projects you’ve shot, put together a reel that showcases your skill level and style. If you don’t have enough footage from undergrad, film new work on your own. Find a subject or a landscape, and showcase your camera work and editing skills this way. Try to shoot in the genre you’d like to work in most, whether that’s narrative, documentary, commercial, music videos, journalism, or something else.
3. Cultivate your connections.
This film business is all about who you know. Producers often feel more comfortable hiring someone they’ve worked with before, so it’s best to get as much facetime with them as possible. If you have a friend who has been working in the industry, offer a helping hand on their next shoot. Learn what you can from working in the field, and leave a great impression. People are more likely to hire someone they know or a referral, so if you prove your value, you could be the next hire.
4. Apply, apply, apply.
Get your resume and cover letter up to date and start pitching. Look out for gigs on freelance platforms like Storyhunter and pitch as many projects or stories as possible. The more applications you send out, the more likely you are to hear back from someone. Make it a part of your daily routine, especially since many producers hire within a few days of posting an assignment.
5. Know your worth.
Just because you don’t have as much experience as other freelance filmmakers in your field, does not mean you should work for free. Know your worth and set your rates accordingly. Check marketplace rates for a starting point and take your equipment and skill level into consideration when deciding your numbers. Be willing to negotiate, but don’t let someone take advantage of you because you are new to the industry. Your work has value and you should charge for it.
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By Lena Drake, Storyhunter Writer