Freelancers succeeding in 2013

Did freelancers succeed this year? It's a personal thing but there are many indications.

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Did freelancers succeed this year? It's a personal thing but there are many indications. Ande Schurr's articles in 2013 help draw out the winning lessons and attitudes that today's tough and overpopulated market demands of freelancers/contractors in the screen and arts industries.

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Mediocrity - A Secret of Success

A must read for anyone who struggles to realise their lofty dreams.

This article was the culmination of a lot of thinking. For more than 4 months it sat unfinished on my computer - I just couldn't tie it all together, about how the emphasis on having massive goals is actually a bad thing! Then I went to India for two months in January and February 2013 and it all came together. I saw that there are billions of people out there, and only one or a few can be the top of that pyramid. They are the Indian conglomerate Tata group, or in the UK, Richard Branson, or any other outstanding business success in the world. The rest are like most of us, they are somewhere in the food chain with no chance of being a multi-billionaire. That is not to say however that we can’t be rich and have a few million, quite enough for a happy life!

The biggest tip: Dream big but make them feasible. Don’t listen to those who say ‘have big hairy audacious goals’ unless that means in the sense of a very grounded, well-thought of plan of action. The best attitude is to assume you are a recovering ‘mediocre-aholic’. Then you are not swayed by the exciting talk of being a ‘world class leader’ in your field when in truth you are good at what you do in your small part of the industry; a small fish in a large fish bowl of the world. Better to be grounded and small than big but full of hot air!

The indispensables

A must read for anyone scared by the influx of film school graduates into our screen sector.

I wrote this article in response to the dire situation of no feature films occurring in NZ, an overpopulated film industry with more crew, talent and production vying for the same small amount of work.

The biggest tip? Ask yourself the question: how much can I give for a dollar. Embrace your competition. Further to this, there are three steps you can take to become indispensable to the productions you work on:

1. Increase pressure on yourself to succeed and find the necessary business by undertaking a large financial investment be it in a house, some new gear or another wise and carefully considered investment.

2. Try to solve a problem that has never quite been sorted in your field.

3. Share your knowledge with anyone who asks, be helpful and generous with sharing what you know as long as the recipient is sincere of course.

Filming in Vanuatu

A must read for anyone bored within their crew role without giving up what they specialise in.

I’d just arrived back from Vanuatu, filming a US teaser trailer with a very small crew. I was asked by the US DoP to production manage and be 1st AD as well when he realised how much we needed someone to take the pressure off our director/producer, and he saw how respectfully I helped defuse a situation that could have prevented us from filming on the active volcano on Mt Tanna, when the legal owner started getting demanding in Port Vila. My analyses?

The biggest tip is, when the chance arises to try different roles within the industry, take them. Expand your capacity to be helpful to those around you. If you’re a technician with spare time during your shoot abroad, then become a continuity person too or help production manage if you’re a small crew filming abroad. We need to remain flexible in our jobs so we don’t become stale and besides it’s just a nice feeling knowing you’re being useful in more ways than one.

The Decision to Leave NZ

A must read for anyone considering leaving NZ to work overseas in the screen sector.

I have been following New Zealand TV Commercials producer Johhny Blick long before he started Waitemata Films. He was always an approachable guy, and used me regularly on his jobs. This interview explains his feelings as he was about to leave for good to London with his family. His situation helps bring in perspective the compromises you make to build a career here in NZ. It’s a great lifestyle country but in terms of opportunities there is nothing quite like living and working in one of the world’s great cities connected to an even greater market.

The biggest tip from this article is to not forget our life in its entirety. Not to keep our heads down at the decisions in front of us, but to gaze into the future and make sure those plans dear to us, such as relocating to another country in this example, have been thought about and scheduled in (realising of course that life itself is so uncertain on the whole and really bows to no-ones scheduling!)

Big Screen Buzz

A must read for any new film director or producer.

The Big Screen Symposium is so important to our screen industry. It’s the only time in the year when we have outside influences formally welcomed en mass into our ‘Marae’ so to speak. We all know that the internet has opened up boundaries and caused us to no longer feel so isolated but nothing, nothing in all technology can beat the presence of a group of people who visit us in person to exchange ideas. So this article was written to explain how vital it was for the lifting of our moral, for those who hadn’t seen much work and felt disconnected.

The biggest tip: if you’re in the middle of pre or post production for your film there is no better time to attend - send your producer to the workshops showcasing studies on other films from a producer point of view, send your director to the workshop on sound recording or composing and cinematography, especially if they are fresh to directing features so then they can converse with their DoP and other technicians very knowledgeably. .

Composing Music Magic

A must read for anyone wanting to become a film composer, or any director who wants to learn how to approach that aspect of their film in post-production.

This tall quirky Polish man, Cezary Skubiszewski, who immigrated to Australia has become a proven ‘go-to’ composer for creating emotive and appropriate scores on films and even commercials for Victoria Bitter and Carlton Draught.

The biggest tip: Someone of Cezary's calibre is a workaholic who will not stop till every idea has been explored and all but the best discarded. This is theoretically the way that we can rise to the top levels of our profession.

Written by

Ande Schurr

18 Dec 2013

Ande Schurr is a professional and experienced sound recordist with a passion for the film and TV industry. His columns on The Big Idea focus on 'How Freelancers Succeed'.

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