Freelancer Lessons 2012
By Ande Schurr
2012 was a big year. Why? Because you were in it!
One thing I have come to experience is that there are many periods and seasons within a freelancer's life.
Some are fresh out of film school. Some have a new family so are trying hard to put bread on the table. Some have grown tired of our industry and have moved on to other work.
I think the biggest lesson is to heed your own cycles and feelings so that you're always fresh and enthused. Take the time off you need this summer and look with fresh eyes on the road ahead so that you become a smoother cog in our giant industry wheel!
Here are my stories and interviews from 2012:
Just when you thought you knew the film and TV industry, lurking below the eye of publicity is the large corporate video market. They don't advertise but they sure need videos. Here's the perspective of one internal communications manager at AMP, Ben Mabon, who is on the other end of the equation; hiring production companies or freelance camera people and editors to shoot the content large companies need in order to keep all the staff in touch with each other.
Each year is so different. It has its own feel. It's important to start the year on a sharp and energetic note. If you are thinking 'here we go, another year to struggle through', then take a long hard look at your profession. Nothing will sink you so fast as a heavy mood to start the year. This article lists four kinds of adaption required to succeed in the year ahead: knowing your market, being better at what you do, developing an active patience, resolving to achieve your goals.
This is a fascinating interview with Troy Sugrue, creative director of one of Auckland's premium corporate video and events companies, Madant. Family is everything in business. It means loyalty, love, doing your best work, feeling connected. Nothing is more important to job satisfaction and that's what Madant understand. Their 'mafia', as they call it, works as a collective with all levels of staff sharing in the creative brainstorming sessions. Madant's number one secret to getting an A-class pool of clients? Longevity.
Facebook is a meeting place. It's where you meet the personalities behind the business people or companies you work for, or would like to work for. In this minor-case study, I look at three businesses who use this form of social media to better their connection with clients. Learn how you can apply this to your business.
Flames leap from Sarah Burren, creative director and theatrical production designer. Her initiatives have a powerful impact on the betterment of our children and society. Firstly she orchestrated the return of the 100 year old Victoria Theatre to Devonport. Next she was the conceptual brains behind the 5 meter tall marionette known as 'Junior' - the giant puppet who toured alongside Rugby World Cup events. Lastly, and the focus of this interview, she talks about bringing her 'edu-tainment' project Journey to the Deep to the world, to bring great awareness to marine conservation.
We all know that pictures are given more kudos than sound. It's understandable given that no one really knows what things sound like on-set unless you're wearing headphone. I don't get caught up in that game of what's more important. It's like saying your hands are more important than your feet! I discuss my approach to recording sound. I emphasise the importance of the script. In hindsight I can say that sometimes just being present and responding to the task in front of you is even more important than knowing the script inside out.
This was a new topic for me. Filmmaker Justin Benn is the man behind this. Think corporate video mixed with documentary and a side portion of talent driven camera work. Justin is internationally focused. His clients include the Red Cross' of various countries and he is sensitive to the needs of those kind of humanitarian agencies. His is a brilliant way to see the world and work at the same time. His understanding of bringing a solution to social problems, through facilitating the meetings and interactions between the stake holder (big corporates or local/national government) and the community is vast and worthy of study for all who aspire to expand their horizons past the New Zealand market or the strictly corporate world.
Unless business is very good for us, nothing can dampen our mood more quickly than asserting that 'it's quiet out there'. This is the attitude we have to turn our back on. In this article I list five steps to increase our profitability as freelancers. We have to ignore some things yet pay careful attention to others. I also list the one small task each day that will keep your mind free of clutter.
Here's one for short filmmakers. Caught between two large stones that you can't squeeze blood or money out of? Here's a solution. Sure, it's not necessarily going to make you rich, but at least you might get some pocket money and also you get to see the whole cycle of what should happen to a short film. Germany's Stefanie Reis came to NZ on the invitation of the NZ Film Commission's Lisa Chatfield. She loved every minute of it and is coming back soon. Learn about her company, what kinds of films they buy, and how things are done in Europe.
Now we get provocative. She's one of NZ's top documentary filmmakers. She's been filming in Kabul recently and basically the world is her plaything. Pietra Brettkelly is relentless in her filmmaking, forming close bonds with her talent and encouraging them to hold true to the commitment to film both the good and the ugly. I especially appreciated this attitude; when we only see the positive fluffy stuff in someone, and not the struggle and the other side of their existence, then we can't relate and certainly we lose interest. This one is for doco filmmakers and anyone interested in delving further into the human condition.
If you are feeling lost or isolated or just need some bigger thinking in your business then read what Melanie Langlotz has to say. German-born Mel is the General Manager of Images and Sound but this interview isn't about that. It's more about the big picture of building up our film industry, each person working together. It's practical and inspiring.
I finish on a personal story about my mentor and the benefits I've gained in working with another person who has experience and wisdom. Nothing has helped me more than the feeling that I'm not alone out there. I sought a financial goal to pay off my mortgage in three years and it worked. This article basically looks at my philosophy for keeping busy in business.
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In summary, what a year it's been. I raise a toast to all of you who seek to acquire new perspectives and keep your minds open. The good life is made infinitely easier when we have a good business life behind us and that can be had through building a good character that people want to work with, and doing the simple things right in marketing and increasing our ability to do a good job.