Filmmaking is one of the few industries that decided, it’s ok not to pay people for their work. This is because there are those who are passionate enough about what they do that they will work for free. This leads to a problem for new filmmakers, because they are constantly stuck in a loop of doing free work and never getting paid for their time.
On the other hand, paid work is tough to come by when you’re starting your career. So, there has to be a balance between how much free work and paid work you do. This is the balance I have found to be useful, but in no way is this the only way to start a career. Do what you feel is right, but know the value of your time and work.
Free Film Work
Free work can be great in the beginning, when you’re new to the industry and you just want to get on set for the sake of film. I remember nights when I couldn’t sleep before set because I was so excited. It’s a great way to make connections and it can, of course, lead to paid work if the producers like your work ethic.
However, the excitement of being on set only lasts so long. Soon, you’ll begin to think about the money you could be making, or the money you’re missing out on by not going to work for a shoot. This will be a constant struggle for the first few years of your career. The only advice I have for this part is just keep at it. Keep working hard, keep a positive attitude, and keep making connections. Everyone has had to go through this part in their career.
Paid Film Work
Paid work is where it gets exciting. I remember my first paid gig. I was making $250 dollars a day. It used to take me a week to make that and now I was getting that in one day? It blew my mind. Funny enough, that’s the highest day rate I’ve ever had.
When I first moved to Atlanta and started making money here the average day rate I had was $100 dollars a day.
I would say that’s the usual amount for people just starting out, and I wouldn’t take anything less than that if I were you. Paid shoots also run, for the most part, a lot smoother than unpaid sets. Everything is more organized and people know their places. This is where you have to be on top of your game. Show everyone that it was worth paying you.
Decide On Film Jobs
The tricky part in all of this is deciding which jobs to take. Paid work in the beginning is a no brainer. Do it, you’re getting paid, but for free work, it’s something you should always consider for a few reasons.
One of them being great opportunities. If a huge company or a celebrity were to approach you about filming something, but they don’t have the money to pay you, consider doing it anyways. It could lead to more important connections or it could be a great way to get your name out there. Now if a small business approaches you about doing a free commercial, that might be one you can pass up. It’s all judgment based of course, and take the jobs you want to do but be smart. Don’t let people think they can get great free content from you, because then you’ll never get paid.
Take Any Jobs At The Start
Filmmaking is a tricky industry, and I can’t quite say I’ve figured it out completely. The best thing to do if you’re starting out is to take any jobs you can get and once you’ve been doing that for a while, start to take on less free work.
Build your network and focus your energy on those who value your time and energy. Once you’ve got a solid network, and you’re consistently making money, it’s not as much of an uphill battle. Choose your jobs wisely and work hard, that’s all there is to it.