Tips for Freelance Filmmakers. Networking, Day Rate, Savings...

Vamify Felix

Posted on November 22 2018

Tips for Freelance Filmmakers. Networking, Day Rate, Savings


Tips that help you become a freelance Filmmaker:

After training to become a camera assistant and working at one of Frankfurt's main film-agencies for a couple of years, I felt that a change needed to happen. I grew unhappy about daily changing working hours, not having much say in how and when a job needed to be done, etc. So I decided to become self-employed and to work as a freelancing camera assistant. At the same time my friend David began freelancing as a cameraman for Sky Sport.

If you are thinking about freelancing as well, read the following text to get a glimpse of the pros and cons and what you need to consider to become successful.

1. Networking is Key!
To get job's you'll need to be known in the biz. Freelancing without having any network is close to impossible. At the beginning almost all the job offers I received came via my network and not through advertising my services! Remember working on a set is always teamwork. People like to know who they are working with and if they are any good at their job. But most of all, they prefer to work with people they get along with. Nothing is worse than having to work alongside a pain in the neck, who doesn't talk, talks to much or who has bad body odour. This is why you should always stay in contact and most important, in good graces with your colleagues. They may recommended you to agencies and sometimes pass on jobs, they can not do because they are already overbooked and so on. Never underestimate having a good reputation and a tight-knit network.
This leads to my second tip:

2. Work Performance
You should always give 110%. Handle every new project as if you are applying for a job. A content client or agency will remember the afford you put in the project and will more likely hire you again. And always remember, even though you are freelancer you are still dependent on a regular income. So do not complain (too much) about long hours, the payment or the circumstances. Nobody wants to work with a grumbler!

3. Savings
Before you even thing about handing in your notice, make sure you have enough savings! Beginning to freelance is hard work. Sometimes, and especially at the beginning, you will not land enough job's for the monthly expenses. So you need to have some funds to keep your expenses covered. I recommend you to save at least the money you will need for 3-6 months. This way you don't have to quit before you have made yourself a name and got the ball rolling.

4. Day Rate
Do the math! Calculate to find out how much money you will need at a minimum to get through a month. This helps you to set your budget and your day rate. As a pointer, ask your colleagues, what their rates are.

5. Low-to-no payed Jobs
People will try to push your rate or offer you jobs with no payment at all. Never sell yourself below value. People will expect you to stay at the lower rate and it will be very hart for you to get back to an acceptable rate.
But if there is a project, you are really interested in, because it gives you the opportunity to learn something new or to grow or if you simply like the team, than of course go ahead and do it. Just make sure you do not get exploited! Reaching your monthly goal should always be your main focus.

6. State of the Art
The world is ever-changing and so should you. Get used to work with new equipment. This way you will not be outsmarted by a youngster one day or passed over, because you can not operate a new camera. Same goes if you have mastered a technique, which can become useless, when a new device gets invented. Do not limit your expertise in one field only. It's better to invest time and money on training several skills and to stay on the state of the art!

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