Freelance Video Production Guide | Sean Tracy | Skillshare

Freelance Video Production Guide

Sean Tracy, Filmmaker

Freelance Video Production Guide

Sean Tracy, Filmmaker

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13 Lessons (1h 2m)
    • 1. Introduction

      1:30
    • 2. Disclaimer

      0:26
    • 3. FAQ

      7:45
    • 4. Freelance Lifesyle

      5:55
    • 5. Tools

      4:31
    • 6. Renting vs Buying

      6:23
    • 7. What to Charge

      4:52
    • 8. How to Find Jobs

      7:44
    • 9. Five Questions

      5:06
    • 10. Proposals

      4:47
    • 11. Workflow

      7:50
    • 12. Learning

      4:22
    • 13. Conclusion

      0:50
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About This Class

If you are contemplating starting your own video production company, or if you plan on becoming a freelance videographer/cinematographer, a full-time youtuber, or maybe you already are one of these things, but you need some help on the business side, this is the course for you.

Access to filmmaking gear, resources, and like-minded crew members has never been more accessible than they are today. If video is in your future, than join the class and learn how to run your production company the right way.

I've been working in the Film and TV industry for over 20 years. As of this writing in November of 2018, I have directed and produced over 300 commercials and I currently have five different spots airing in 16 national broadcast markets at this time. 

Join the class and I'll show you how I run my production company day to day and I'll help you avoid some of the failures I've encountered.

Meet Your Teacher

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Sean Tracy

Filmmaker

Teacher

Sean Tracy is a DP and editor from Queens, New York. In 2013, he started MONSTRINTHEDARK, a small production company in upstate NY that specializes in creating immersive video content for new media channels

Sean's third feature film, Black Hat, was purchased by Amazon Studios in 2011 and his NBC pilot, The Lottery, was an official submission at the 2013 NYTVF. Since then, Sean has written and directed commercials with sales to several major brands including Slimfast, Novartis, Choice Hotels, Shark Cleaning, and The Ad Council.

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Transcripts

1. Introduction: If you're contemplating starting your own Video Production Company, maybe you plan on becoming a freelance videographer or a cinematographer, a full-time YouTuber. Or maybe you already are one of these things, but you need a little help with the business side. Maybe this course is the right one for you to take. My name's Shawn Tracy, and for the past 20 years, I've been working in film, and television. But over the past six years I've really seen my video production company grow. I no longer have to grind out multiple small jobs per week to make the mortgage. Instead, I'm working on bigger shoots with bigger budgets, and, higher gear. I've made plenty of mistakes small, and big over the past few years, and I'd like to help you avoid those mistakes, and answer some of those burning questions you have. Like, how much should I charge my client, or what gear should I buy? I divided this class into 10 modules, and I invite you to watch them in any order you like. Some of the topics I'm going to cover include renting versus buying equipment, how to find jobs, and get hired, the freelance lifestyle, and how to create a bid for a video project. At the end of each module is a short assignment that will help you decide if being your own boss, going freelance or running your own company is the right decision for you. There are lots of videos on YouTube where you can learn how to do creative things, and there are even some YouTubers who try to address some of these business topics, but honestly, they all distill down to generalities, and vagaries. I'm going to show you exactly how I started my business from scratch with no filler. Join the class, and let's get started. 2. Disclaimer: Before we get started, just a quick disclaimer. I'm not a business expert. This is not a Business 101 class. I'm not going to tell you how to prepare your taxes or set up your bank accounts or any of that other stuff. I'm going to explain to you how I started my video production company and how I run it day-to- day, and some other specific things that you need to know if you want to start your own company. So, if you need to learn some of those other things, there are plenty of resources online and books at the library that you can get. 3. FAQ: What are the big questions we need to address? What are the things that are on your mind right now. You're probably wondering If I go freelance, how much will I make? Will I make the same as I did at my salaried job? Will I have enough to pay my mortgage and my rent? How many shoots will I go on? How many hours a week will I work? Well, let me provide some framework for you based on how I started my freelance career. I graduated college in 1999, and I started freelancing as a DP right away. I went out and I hit the streets with this camera, Canon XL1. But this was a pre-YouTube, pre-social media time we're talking about. There wasn't nearly as much video content being made back then as there is now. There weren't enough jobs and I needed to get a regular full-time job in addition to freelancing. In the year 2000, I became an elementary school teacher. But what was great about that job was, I was out of work by 3.00- 3.30 every day. I had weekends, various vacations, and two and a half months off in the summer to work as a DP and to hone my craft. Then flash forward 11 years later, 2011, I sell a feature film to Amazon Studios for a lot of money. It's at that point where I make the decision to stop teaching and become a full-time freelance DP. Actually, I made a decision not to just become a full-time freelance DP, but to create my own video production company. I'm going to be in charge of all aspects of production; I'm producing, I'm shooting, I'm doing audio, and I'm doing all the post-production. I am a one man band. That's very common term that you hear from filmmakers. As a one man band, I needed to decide what type of videos I was going to make. Was I going to do wedding videos, music videos, commercials, documentaries, corporates, industrials. I had just sold two spec commercials; one to Novartis and one to Choice Hotels. The path seemed clear to me. I wanted to get into making commercials, but I knew that I was also going to have to do a lot of corporate work as I worked my way up the commercial ladder. Now, I did not make a lot of money as a school teacher. In 2011, my salary as a school teacher was $37,000 a year. I decided that for my first full-time year as a freelancer, I wanted to try to make at least that much so that I knew I could still pay my bills and make my rent and my car payment and things like that. I did end up making a little bit more than that. So that affirmed for me that I had made the right decision to go freelance. What you do need to realize though, is that once you go freelance and you start making money, that money is different from the money you make when you just have a regular job, that's now business money and that has to be treated differently than just your pocket money. If you're not familiar with how to deal with that. Here are some books that I read that helped me learn about how to deal with business finances. How many shoots will I go on? That's the next question you want to know? Well, when I started freelancing in 2012, I immediately got hired as a freelancer by two companies, one called SmartShoot and one called Demand Media. For SmartShoot, I would go out around New York and Connecticut and New Jersey, and I would shoot yelp videos for local businesses, and I also did some real estate videos. Then for Demand Media, I would shoot video series that would be part of the live strong and eHow brand. Those basically were how-to videos, how to sport videos, and how to food videos. That's what I was doing when I first started, I was going out on a lot of those shoots and I was trying to book as many as I could. I was trying to book three or four of those a week and those were low paying jobs that also required some editing. The good thing about these shoots were that they would give me the chance to go out and meet local business owners and small business owners that we're in my area and if I did a good job in those videos, then sometimes I would get asked by that business owner to come back and do more videos for them. Sometimes they would recommend me to their friends. So through word of mouth, I started to build up some of my own clients, my own client roster, so that instead of always having to rely on finding a job through these companies SmartShoot and Demand, I had some of my own clients that I could go to. I still have some of these clients today. They do typically somewhere between $7 to $10,000 of business with me. The negative thing about doing these small video shoots, was that they did not provide me an opportunity to be very creative, the companies want you to go on the shoot and only be there for 90 minutes. Get in, get out, bang, bang shoot with natural light do what you need to do. These are basically amateur video shoots. Because I wanted to have really nice footage for the portfolio that I was building, footage that looked a lot better than just rushing into these places and getting these shoots. I decided that I was going to create spec commercials. The spec commercials also gave me an opportunity to try to make some extra money. In fact, I sold a spec commercial to SlimFast, that was 15 seconds long. It was one take and I got paid $7,500 for it. So spec commercials were a chance for me to practice my lighting and do more of a full production and get better at the craft of cinematography and just add video. You know, get better at video in general. How many hours a week will I work? Will I be working more than I did at my nine to five job? Well, you're your own boss now, so you can make that decision and you could also decide where you want to work. You could work at home. You could go sit in Starbucks and work from there. You could rent a weworkspace and you can make your own hours, which you do have to realize though, is that when you're starting your business and you're trying to get your name out there that you're going to need to put in the hours. Finally, let's talk about how you're going to define success for yourself. You might define success as the number of clients that you have, or the amount of money you make, or the number of videos you make a year or some other benchmark. For me, defining success was not about those things. It was about steadily increasing my price and the quality of the videos that I was making so that I could work less, charge more, and have a little bit more free time in my life. Here's your assignment and I promise that some of the assignments in these modules are going to be easy and they're going to be fun. But some of them are going to be work. If you're already in business and you're just trying to get a leg up on your competition by watching this course, then you've probably done some of this already. But if you're on the fence about becoming a freelancer and you really contemplating it and you're using this course as a guidebook to help you make those decisions, then you're going to want to do this assignment. You're not going to like it, but you're going to have to do it eventually anyway, if you're creating your own business. So the assignment is, I'd like you to create your own business plan. Everyone who goes into business needs to write a business plan. They need to outline the plan for their company and their goals. I want you to research how to write a business plan and then write a business plan. It could just be something for yourself, but if you'd like, you can also share it with the class. 4. Freelance Lifesyle: Let's talk about something you don't hear about often, the freelance lifestyle. If you are going freelance, you're going to be spending a lot of time by yourself. Now I remember reading this article when I was trying to make a decision I tried to mention all the appeal of being a freelancer. Working from home, waking up late, working in your pajamas. Great. It's true you can do all of those things, but you will be spending a lot of time by yourself. The article did nothing to mention some of the negative things about being a freelancer. So let's talk about some of those negatives. There's no boss to look over your shoulder and make sure you're staying on track. There are no co-workers for you to collaborate with. It's very easy to get distracted, especially if you work from home. It's easy to find yourself spending way too much time watching cat videos on YouTube or plopping down on the couch for some midday Netflix binge-watching or playing video games. You've got to be someone who's self-motivated and can stay on track. Are you a people person? Do you get along with people? You're building a business based on you, you are selling you. If you don't like people, if you're standoffish, if you're confrontational, freelance may not be for you. If you meet an asshole in the morning, you met an asshole. If you meet assholes all day, you're the asshole railing givens justify, you should watch that show. You're going to have clients. Most of them are going to be great, easier to work with. But occasionally, you are going to have an asshole client. If you don't deal well with people like that, then freelancing may not be for you. You're going to need to find a way to get along with all of your clients, whether they're assholes or not, because you need them for their word of mouth and you need them for their positive reviews. There's also the stress of not knowing where your next paycheck is coming from. You may have some slow times. Video production can really be like a feast or famine type of thing. There are some months where I'm so busy, I feel like I need to hire two or three employees to help me with the workload. There are some months where I'm just sitting around watching the paint dry. It's what you do with that time, that downtime when business is not going well, that can really help make or break your business. So let's take a look at some of the things you'll be doing when you are busy, and some of the things you'll be doing when you're not busy. Obviously, you're hoping that you're spending a lot of time on shoots, being creative, doing what you love. When I started full-time freelancing in 2012, I went on about 200 shoots and in addition to that I made about 60 spec commercials. Now in 2018, I'm working, considerably less. I do about one shoot a week, about 50 shoots a year. But what I'm charging is considerably more. The shoots that I am going on, I find them more rewarding because there are different types of shoots from those original ones I was doing they are more well-thought out their plan beforehand and I'm getting to collaborate and work with different people, and now I have more time to spend with my family if I'm not out on a shoot that I'm editing. So about 95 percent of the videos that I get hired to make, I'm also the editor. So I'll be right here sitting in this chair at this desk editing. I also do edit-only projects. I get hired by companies across the country. It's more affordable for them to hire a local video production company instead of flying me out there. But then, they send me the rough as they do on hard drive for me to do the edit for them. If I'm not shooting or editing then, I'm probably doing my least favorite thing, which is writing pitches for different projects. Even though it's not something I enjoy, it really is important and it's a skill you need to develop if you're going to be serious about being a freelancer because it's one of the ways that you're going to get jobs. I probably write between five to seven pitches per week. Basically, a pitch is my creative idea in response to a brief that I get from a client. So what do I do when I'm not busy? What do I do in the downtime comes? Well, bidding is something I'm still doing. That doesn't change. I'm bidding no matter what, whether I'm in the middle of five different productions, I have nothing going on. I'm still bidding to get those next jobs lined up. I've got a bunch of smaller menial business tasks that I like to do when I have downtime and I schedule these tasks, I make a to-do list of these tasks so that when downtime does hit, I make sure that they get done, rather than finding myself on the couch playing video games. So what are some of these tasks? Updating my website, updating my business listings on Google, and Yelp, and Bing making sure that they're up to date. Taking some new footage that I recently shot, turning it into a real, creating social media content that I can use throughout the month, inventorying my gear, making sure everything is clean and working. Those are some of those small business tasks I do when downtime hits. Whether you're busy or not, there's one thing that you should always be focused on and that's learning. In the future module, I'm going to talk about some online resources I use to learn. The assignment for this module is very easy. I want you to sit down and I want you to have an honest conversation with a significant other. It could be your wife or your husband or a family member. Talk about if the freelance lifestyle and freelance business is right for you. Because sometimes the decision to become a freelancer doesn't just affect you, it affects other people. When I was deciding, should I go freelance, or should I continue teaching? I sat down with my wife and we talked about it because I realized the decision to become a freelancer also affected her. I said I might not be making as much money now, when I start this business as things get off the ground, are you all right with putting in, contributing more money from what you earn? So have that honest conversation, someone to see if the freelance lifestyle is going to be right for you. 5. Tools: What are the tools I use on a daily and weekly basis as a freelancer? I need to have some presence on the web, so I have a website. I own the domain monsters in the dark.com. There are plenty of places you can get your domain name, and I use Squarespace to host my website. It costs me just under $200 a year, and there are alternatives like WIX and WordPress, but I really like Squarespace. It's very easy to use, easy to update my website and they have very good search engine optimization. I also recommend if you have a website that you connect it to Google Analytics. I use Google Analytics to dive deeper into what's going on on my website in terms of how many people are visiting and the bounce rate and things like that. On my website, I also have a widget installed from a company called drift. Now, this allows any visitor on my site to start a chat with me in real time, and with the hopes is that they inquire about my services, and I can close a deal with them all through this widget. Now, as people message me through drift, I can respond from my desktop but if I'm not at home, and I'm not on the desktop or on a laptop, then I can also respond to them from my phone, which I find very useful so that I don't miss out on important business inquiries. On a daily basis, I'm also using like the Google suite of tools, my Gmail, Google Docs to write up different things. For example, this whole skill share class I planned at all and some Google documents including the scripts. I use Google Keep to make to do this so that I'm staying on task and checking off things as I go and Google calendar. Basically since it's all integrated, it makes it very easy for me to just kind of stick with that [inaudible] and just use the Google suite of tools. I have a subscription to a marketplace called envato elements, you can pay either annually or monthly and with this subscription, you can do those unlimited downloads of fonts of graphics, stock footage whether it's images or video. They've got after effects, project files and a bunch of other different things, including 3D images, and I find all of those really handy especially when I'm either content creating for business or even when I'm creating pitches for different companies, I can go and if I need some stock footage to create a mood board, I use an elements to grab stuff from there and use and those pitches. At the moment, I'm working on a Macintosh computer. As you can see behind me, it's actually really old 2011 iMac, and by the time you're watching this video, I may have upgraded to a PC, but obviously it's very important if you're in business to have a good computer. If you're creating content like I am, whether it's images in Photos-hop , Lightroom , if you're doing heavy video editing and Premier, or after Effects, or Final Cut Pro or de Vinci resolve. You're going to want to have a well spec computer that's going to be able to keep up with the workload that you're doing.To keep organized, worth my workflow and my projects, I use a management tool called Trello. Trello allows me to create these boards where I can keep track of all the different tasks that I'm doing, so while create boards for all the different projects that I have lined up as well as some other things. It's actually pretty easy to use, it works good if you're a freelancer, it actually works even better if you're working with a group of people because then you can easily share through this management tool. I recommend that you use some kind of accounting software. I personally use fresh-books but I have looked into some of the other ones. I use fresh-books to invoice my clients, to keep a track of all my expenses that I have for the business, so definitely get yourself some accounting software, even if you have an account and it's still good to have accounting software because then you can export those reports at the end of the financial year and hand them off to your accountant, so they could prepare your taxes for you. The assignment for this module is pretty easy. Research the tools, maybe some of the tools that I use, research their counterparts, and make some decisions about what tools you plan on using on a daily and weekly basis for yourself. If you come across some tools that are great that I didn't list here please share it with me and the rest of your classmates. 6. Renting vs Buying: There are always going to be costs associated with doing business, and if you run a video production company, then most of those costs will probably have to do with equipment. For me, my biggest costs, by far, is equipment and my second biggest cost is paying independent contractors that I hire for the largest shoots that I go out on. I grew up in New York City. New York City is a big market for video and film. When you live in New York City, there are a lot of places where you can both buy and rent equipment from. But at the time that I decided to become a full-time freelancer, I had just bought a house in Upstate New York. I went from a big market for film and video to being in a small video market. What makes sense for me is to be an owner of equipment. I own everything from cameras to lenses to all the production equipment, I need lights, grip gear, support gear and more. I always feel like I have too much stuff but the same time, when I go out on some of the biggest shoots, I don't have enough stuff. I think in this day and age you need to, at least, own a couple of essential pieces of gear. You need to own a computer. It's probably a good idea to have a camera, a lens, and a tripod. If you live in a big market like New York or L.A, you might decide that renting is the way to go for you. Of course, that does mean that you're going to have to build the costs of those rentals into your quote for your clients. If you're working on big budget projects, that's just standard. Standard is everything gets rented. A grip truck gets rented, car packages, they all get rented. But if you're working on smaller budget projects with smaller clients, which you probably are, factoring in that cost of rentals might be a deal killer for some of those clients who can easily find a filmmaker who owns their own gear. You have to factor that in when you make your decision of whether you want to own or you want to rent. What is good now is that no matter what market you're in, renting is more possible than it was before because you've got companies who will ship gear directly to your house like BorrowLenses and LensRentals, and you've got sharing sites like ShareGrid and KitSplit where you can get film-making gear from other filmmakers who are in your area. At the very least, you should always now be renting some gear and trying it before you buy it. Although I prefer to own my own gear, there are some specialty items that of course, I don't own. The two cameras that I own, sometimes are not the right cameras for the job. If I need another camera for the job then I will rent that from a rental house or use one of those other sites to rent a camera. Anytime there's a new piece of gear that I think might complement some of the jobs that I have or that I'd like to add to the gear that I own. I always like to rent it first and I like to rent it for a period of either three to seven days, and that gives me time to spend with it, get to know it, get to know its quirks and its ins and outs and make an informed decision of whether I want to buy that piece of gear or not and I recommend you do the same so that you don't get buyer's remorse. Back to the list of things that I think you should own. If you're going to be doing a lot of shooting and editing, then having a good computer is really a no-brainer. Having something that can handle higher resolution footage like 4K or 6K or raw footage or GPU intensive tasks for After Effects, you're going to want to get yourself a good computer. Is that a MAC? Is that a PC? I don't know. I'm struggling to answer that question myself, but you're definitely going to want to have a computer. Now, if you want to practice and train your eye, then you're going to want to own a camera. I think it's essential. Cameras are so inexpensive now and so are lenses that there's no reason that you wouldn't have a camera and a lens. I've owned cameras since I graduated from college in 1999. At that point we were shooting film in college and then the digital revolution was starting. I bought my first digital camera as I was graduating. When the Canon 7D came out, I bought that camera, my first DSLR, and I wanted to be able to cover a focal range from 24 millimeters to 200 millimeters. I went out and I bought two expensive Canon lenses. The thing about lenses are, they are always a good investment as opposed to cameras. Lenses hold their value. If I had bought the original Red camera, the Red One, back when I sold my film to Amazon Studios. I'd have nothing today other than a huge paperweight. Buy a camera, definitely invest in lenses. Those are good things to invest in and those are good things to have. Another thing you should have is a tripod. Get a good tripod too. I've gone through, oh God, probably I don't know over the last 20 years, way too many tripods because I didn't buy good, expensive ones. The legs always break first and then the heads follow. I bought a nice expensive carbon-fiber Manfrotto tripod a couple of years ago, and it's been one of the best purchases that I've made. There are some great and inexpensive LED lights that you can purchase, made by brands like Aperture and Ikan and Fiilex. I own a bunch of different lights from a bunch of different brands. When you start to go on bigger sets and you start to shoot in studios and things like that, or you start to rent grip trucks, you're going to find that when it comes to lighting, airy dominates, but those expensive airy lights aren't things that you typically own, they are things that you rent. These cheaper LED lights, especially Aperture makes some nice products. I just recently bought a Fiilex light that I really like a lot that's bi-color. You can get some really good lighting and create a really good lighting kit for way less than you used to be able to. This is going to be a really fun assignment, especially if you're a gear head. For this module, I want you to tell me what type of videos you'd like to make and then send me your short gear list of items that you would like to purchase, and I'll give you some feedback on whether I think those are good ideas for you or not. 7. What to Charge: Okay, time to answer the big burning question. How much should you charge? The answer, it's simple, as much as you can. The worst thing you can do is try to get into the mind of the client and figure out what number they want to pay and make an offer based on that. That's the definition of short-changing yourself. As you gain experience, as you start to develop your own style, as you figure out what your strengths are, you're going to have a number in your mind that you want to charge. It's really important that you stick to that number. Sure, you're going to bid against people who are going to undercut that price and they're going to win those bids, and that's fine. If a client wants to be cheap, let them be cheap. Just don't let them be cheap with you. How do you come up with the price? Well, here are three options. The first is the option that I like. When you speak with the client, ask the right questions and you will know what amount they have to spend. In a later module, I'm going to talk about the five specific questions that I ask every client before I bid on a job for them. The second option is to inquire from other video professionals what they charge. Now will they give you an answer, will they give you an honest answer? Maybe, maybe not. I wouldn't go and ask video professionals in the same market or the same geographic region as you, I'd pick someone that's out of that market. They're more inclined to answer the question if you read a sincere email, "Hey, I'm just starting out. I'm not sure what to charge. Can you give me some advice?" You might get some good feedback from them. The third thing you can do is you can do some freelance work for companies, like the one I used to do work for when I started back in 2012, full-time SmartShoot. Now you do have to understand that SmartShoot pays an hourly rate that they would consider a good rate for amateur videographer. If you're past the stage, if you consider yourself to be past the stage of an amateur, then you can take that array and you could add onto it and charge more. Those are some ways you can come up with some prices that you can charge your clients. The key here is to not devalue yourself. You might be saying Shawn isn't making a little money better than making no money? The answer is no. You need to stick to your price. If you devalue yourself and you do a great job for a client, for little money, then you're going to get the reputation that no one wants to have. They're going to say to other business owners and to friends, "Hey, this guy or this girl makes great video and they're cheap." Then you're going to have a very hard time when you get a word of mouth recommendation to one of their friends and you say, " It's going to cost this much." They're going to say, "How can it cost this much when my friend got it for next to nothing?" Don't devalue yourself. It's only going to hurt you and the value of your business and to be honest, it hurts everyone in the industry when you devalue yourself. Unless you're a cinematographer, you probably don't want to have a set hourly or daily rate. A cinematographer goes out on set and they do one thing. They are the cinematographer. They charge a rate for their experience and for their equipment. They don't produce, they don't direct, they don't edit. When you're going out as a video production company, however, you're wearing all those multiple hats, so you need to figure in all of those different factors and the way I do it is, I have that phone call that I spoke about. I ask those five specific questions and I formulate a quote and a number based on the answers. How many different things am I going to need to do? I'm I going to need to hire people or actors or crew members? All of those things will factor into what I charge. I don't want to ever pigeonhole myself into having just a daily rate when I could end up having to do so much more and that rate wouldn't make sense. Now, the only time I do charge a set rate is when I do go on set strictly as a DP. In that case, I charge $1000 for eight, which means I charge $1000 for eight hours of work. For every hour over the eight, I charge a $150. I also charge for my equipment. If you're not sure how much to charge for equipment, you can go onto local rental site and you can see how much they charge for a daily rental for the specific items that you own. Now the assignment, I've already mentioned it. Now, I really want you to do it. Send a direct message on Instagram or Facebook or send an email to another filmmaker, professional try to pick someone that's not in your market, and try to pick someone who may be at a similar proficiency level to you and ask them some honest questions about maybe their workflow, or how they price, or how much they charge, or how they came to that price. Maybe some of the things you'll learn from them will be helpful. 8. How to Find Jobs: This is probably if, how much should I charge, was your first burning question. Then, how do I find jobs, is probably your second burning question. The answer is simple. The first thing you need to do is to have some portfolio or reel to show people. That's your way in. That's your beginning for a step. So you need a sample of your work. You need to go out and do some shooting. But you don't want to go out and do jobs for free. No, no, no, don't do free work. If you've got a camera, go out. Choose the right time of day, early in the morning, late at night. Film at a park, film a sporting event, go filming in the city, shoot some fake talking head interviews with family and friends, make a spec commercial. Do all of these things, and then make it real. Best shots first. Grab the viewer's attention. Keep it moving. Keep it short. Put your name and contact info on it. Upload it to YouTube or Vimeo. Make a website. Put it on there. That way, people can get in touch and they can hire you. That's the first step. Now when you have a portfolio, you can start to go out and use that portfolio to become a freelancer for different companies. Companies like the one I used to work for SmartShoot. Basically, these companies, they have a roster of filmmakers across the country. Then they dribble out these smaller, they might be small, but they're fairly easy jobs to different freelancers. Now the bad thing about these small jobs is they don't pay well. They're pretty quick. You have to probably shoot with natural light. You don't really get to plan a lot beforehand. The good thing is, it's going to give you the opportunity to meet a lot of small business owners that are local to you. So this is what I did the first year when I went out and I did 200 of these small shoots. I met lots of different business owners. Through that, I built myself a roster of somewhere between 15 and 20 regular clients. These business owners I had made this initial video for, kept hiring me to make more and more videos for them. Six years later, unfortunately, I've outgrown most of these businesses because I charge a lot more now, but I still have two restaurant group, and a car dealership that I do regular business with. When you're first starting, this is a great way to get paid, and then meet small business owners and local businesses, and build a roster of clients that you can call your own. If you do a great job, and the client loves the video that you made for them, ask them for a review. I have an email template that I send out to everyone I make a video for when the job is completed, and it directs them to two places where they can leave a review for me, my Facebook page, and my Google page. Not everyone is going to take you up on the offer and write you a review, and not everyone is going to write a review on both places. But sometimes, even just getting one great positive review from someone will go a long way into getting you hired again because people definitely look at reviews, and when they see positive reviews for you and your work, they are going to want to hire you. Not having to spend your hard-earned money on advertising is great. If you do a great job, your customers will be satisfied, and they will tell their friends, and their family, and other business associates about you and your services. That's called positive word of mouth. That's something that you want to focus on. It's absolutely all right to ask a client after you're done working for them, hey, do you mind telling friends and family, and other businesses you're associated with about what I do? Now, there could also be negative associations here if you do the wrong thing, if you devalue yourself, if you don't stick to your price. I mentioned this before. If you give a great product away to someone for next to nothing, you're going to generate the wrong word of mouth-buzz that you don't want, this guy works for cheap. This girl works for next to nothing. Then you're going to have a very hard time trying to charge your usual price to a friend of someone you've made a video for, and they're going to say to you, well, you did a video for them for this amount. I'd like the same thing. Don't devalue yourself, stick to your price. In general, a lot of people think it's fine just to have one real and they're wrong. You should have a reel for everything, every different style of thing you do. I have a cinematography reel. I have a real from my commercials. I have a reel from my drone work. I have a reel that's just interviews. I have a reel for fitness and sport-related things that I've shot. For food, things that I've shot. Why do I have so many reels? Well, you're going to get approached by companies who are looking for something very specific sometimes, and they are not going to want to sort through all the things you have to try to find out if you can do that. It's a lot easier when you can just say, oh, you want a restaurant group? Here is my restaurant reel with interviews I've shot with chefs, walkthroughs to restaurants, beautiful food shots. Have a reel for everything that you do. That's going to get you hired. Facebook advertising is something that I don't use very often. I feel pretty lucky that I've generated a lot of good word of mouth in the area that I'm in, and I've got some very positive reviews online. Those help me get jobs. But from time to time, when I cut a new reel or I've got a really great project that I just completed, I will create a very targeted Facebook ad. What's great about creating these Facebook ads is that you really can target specific geographic locations, you can target interests and behaviors, you could really fine tune your ad campaigns to really find clients that you're looking for. So if you're struggling to find business, and you're trying some of these different methods, you might also want to try creating some Facebook advertisements, and seeing if they can be successful for you to pull in some clients. Do you remember when I talked about bidding? Well, you might be skipping around a chapter so maybe you didn't hear me talking about bidding. But there are some places where you can bid for jobs online, online bidding market places. Videopixie is one of them that I like. I like it because you don't have to pay to bid on projects. You'll be invited based on your geographic location to basically bid against about 19 to 20 other different companies. You'll get a very short brief from someone who's looking for a video, and you'll get to send them some links of your work, and give them a bid, all on the Videopixie platform. If you do end up winning that bid, Videopixie, I believe, takes about 10 percent of whatever it is that you're charging. My last advice to you when it comes to finding jobs is to network. Network with small business owners in your community, but also network with other video professionals. I did a 48-hour film festival, one or two years ago, and I met another camera person who I now use as an AC and a gaffer and a second shooter sometimes when I have a bigger job. You never know when another video professional is going to need someone. They might need to hire you, and you never know when you might need to hire someone. So networking is a great idea, you should definitely be doing it. Your assignment, super-easy. If you haven't made a reel yet, you're going to make that reel. If you already have a reel, you're going to share it with the class, and you're going to receive some constructive criticism from me, maybe even from your classmates. Are you're ready for it? 9. Five Questions: Welcome to the module on the five questions that I have been talking about since the beginning of this course. Whenever I'm asked to create a bid or a proposal or a quote for a project, I always want to make sure that I have a complete understanding of what I'm bidding on. Now, sometimes I will get a brief from a client and that brief will clearly outline the goals that they have for the video or the videos that they want to make. But when I don't get a brief, I pretty much insist on having a very short phone call with the client where I can ask them these five very specific questions that will give me the knowledge that I need in order to make the best brief. If a client does not have the time or cannot make the time to hop on the phone with me for a few minutes to answer these questions, then I will absolutely not waste my time creating a quote for them. Question number 1. Here's what I say to the client, I don't say question number 1, I say, "What is the goal of your video?" In other words, why are you making this video? What is its purpose? What is its intent? Is it a training video? Is it a crowd-funding video? Is it a video that's promoting a product or a service? I let them tell me the purpose of their video, the vision that they have, the goal for their video and while they're talking, I take notes and listen very carefully. This is the question that you want to listen to very carefully. Question number 2. What is the demographic or audience for this video? I asked them to be as specific as they can. I need to know if the video that I'm making has to appeal to men or two women or two both, how old are these men or women? Are there any other special things that I need to consider like their education or their income levels? For some reason, these things are important to different brands and so you need to make them important to your idea. Number 3. What's the videos call to action? Or in other words, what do you want people to do and to feel after they've watched the video? Are they supposed to visit your website? Are they supposed to call you? Are they supposed to drop everything that they're doing and head right to the store? What do you want them to feel? Are they angry? Are they sad? Are they inspired? Are they hungry? The call to action drives the whole piece. So you definitely need to know what the call to action is. Question number 4. What is your schedule or timeline to make this video and to have it delivered? "I need it by next week." Well, that's a rush job, it's going to cost more. Seriously though, you should try to get a timeline. You know an idea of their timeline. You may be in the middle of a busy period where this video might not fit into your schedule. A lot of people are just getting into video now in 2018, they might not have a lot of experience making video. They may have unrealistic expectations of how fast you can get the video done for them. As a freelancer in video production field, you are going to be dealing with educating clients. So you want to establish a timeline and figure out what their schedule is for their video project. Last question. Possibly the most important question. This is the question that you do not take no for an answer. This is where a lot of people, for some reason, they get nervous and they want to ask this question. I asked the question very simply, very directly. What is your budget for this project? If the client can't give you an answer, hang up the phone. Walk away. They're not serious about making the video. They're not serious or they're looking for someone who's going to be free or work for next to nothing. So, if you can't get a straight answer of what the budget is, that client is not worth wasting your time with. Walk away from them. Now, from time to time, you will get some push-back on this question. You'll get people who answer your question with their own question. They'll say, "Well, how much do you charge or what do you think this project will cost?" Well, my answer is simple. "I can make you a video for $5,000 or $50,000 or $500,000, it's up to you. What is your budget?" That's when I'll get my answer. Again, if you don't get an answer to this question, walk away. They're not serious. Now, once you have the answers to all five of those questions, you can assess if the job is right for you, if it's right for your skill set, if it's something you're interested in doing. You do not have to take a job just because a job is offered to you or because someone says. You don't have to bid on a job just because someone wants you to bid on job. Make sure that it's something that's right for you. Now, your assignment is simple. Again, you're going to bother a friend or a family member and you're going to do a mock phone call. You're going to let them pretend that they are the client. You're going to ask them the five questions, you're going to write down the answers and see how you do. Don't take no for an answer about the budget. 10. Proposals: I've talked a lot about creating a bid, and now I'm going to show you how I make a bid. I don't know if there's a right way or wrong way to make a bid. I'm just going to show you what I do. I like to use a general template and just change things around, its a lot easier because I do so many bids. I did try using this website once called Proposify to make proposals, it might be good, but I found that annoying and I really don't like to pay for things that I could do for free. So, what I did do is used my subscription service to elements by Envato, or I even went to their other website, graphic river, and I downloaded some of these. I use Keynote because I'm on a Mac. I downloaded some templates and I found one that had the right color scheme and layout that I liked and then I just made it my own. The cover page I update for each bid with the name of the company, that I'm creating a bid for, and if they do have a title for their video project, I put that there as well. Then I have a couple of pages that include some important information about my company Monsterinthedark. This includes a bit about the type of projects that we've made in the past and some quotes taken from the reviews written on my Facebook and Google pages. I like to include pictures from screen grabs from different videos that we've made. Depending upon the type of video that I'm being asked to make, I may even embed similar videos that I've made in the past directly into the project. The next two pages are reserved for a treatment, if one is required. A lot of times the company will not only just ask for a general price quote, but they'll ask, what your vision is? Or how you would handle the video?. In that case, you'll be writing a treatment that's basically a point-by-point vision for the video that needs to be made. So after you write out that treatment, which I do on the first page, then the second page. I'll make a mood board with images that fit the treatment and I might go out and shoot some of these images myself with my camera or I may use a stock site to acquire some of these pictures and create this board. The board is good for people who are more visual learners. They can read the treatment and they can look at the board and get an idea of what your aesthetic is and what you're thinking about in terms of the visuals of the video. Keep in mind that the visuals are not always the most important thing to some people. After that is my quote page where I break down the main cause for the video and you don't want to go into too much detail here, you just want to give the big overview costs. So at the big picture overview of what the project will cost, of course I'm going to do my research first before I make this quote, I'm going to think about the treatment that I made, I'm going to factor, and the size of the crew I would need, the number of actors, location costs, and any kind of special equipment I think I might need to rent. I always remind my clients that this is not a final cost, but it's just a quote. Clients are always happier when you can come very close to the original quote price that you gave them, but at the same time things change on a shoot and clients always ask for more things. If they ask for more things and it's going to cost more money then charge them for it of course. It doesn't matter if it was in your quote or not, a quote is just a quote. I'll take this whole slideshow that I made in Keynote and I'll export as a PDF. I'll review it. I'll make sure that there's no spelling or grammar errors because that's unprofessional and then I'll send it along in an email. Then the waiting game begins. Some clients are rude. Some clients will simply not get back to you. Most clients, however, will appreciate the effort that you took into creating a proposal for them and they'll get back to you within a few days with the yes, we'd like to move forward with you, with a no, we've found a different company or maybe at that point they want to hop back on the phone with you to discuss what you wrote for them in more detail or either way, this is how I do it. Good luck. I hope that you can also create a good template and win some bids. The assignment is just that create your own general template. You can use something like I did, find a template and customize it and make it yourself or you can use a website like Proposify or some other method, but I'd like you to come up with the template that you're going to use for bidding on projects as your assignment for this module. 11. Workflow: We're approaching the end of this course and it's time to talk about workflow. Film-making is all about workflow. How one stage of production flows to the next or how any one individual task on a film set can be broken down into a workflow. Here is a workflow chart. If you want to shoot a show for Netflix, looks complicated. Someone spent the time figuring out what the best process, production and post-production process or the most necessary workflow, what it is to have a show that's Netflix ready. What is your workflow going to look like? My workflow is pretty simple. It starts with acquiring a client and it ends with a positive review and a payment. That's my workflow. But then of course, there's many steps in between. For me, acquiring a client takes shape in a couple of different ways. I may get a phone call or a text or an email from a client, they may contact me using the widget that I have installed on my website. I may use video pixie or thumbtack to bid on a job. I also work for different agencies in New York and LA and Montreal who might contact me and offer me a job. Those are some of the ways that I acquire clients. The next step in my workflow is to make sure that I am effectively communicating with my client and doing it in a timely manner. Anytime a client sends me an email or makes a phone call or send a text, as soon as I'm available to return those messages, I do. What's even more important is that I make sure that I get everything in writing. Going out on a job without a contract is a bad habit. If it's something that you're doing, you really need to stop. You really need to start making sure that even if it's a small job, you have a contract. The contract is there to protect you. When I create a contract, the first thing that I make sure I do is I outline the scope of the project, what I'm going to be doing for the company, what video I'm going to be creating, what the schedule is for creating that video and what deliverables I'll be sending them when it's done. I will make sure that I outline my responsibilities, master the darks responsibilities for the shoot and I will also outline their responsibilities and some things that I expect from them. That will include the number of edit revisions that I'm going to do and that will also include a policy that says that they need to view and review the edits that I send them in a timely manner so that the job doesn't stretch on and on. I always make sure that the payment policy is clearly outline. There will be a quote in the project and then the payment policy. I used to do 50/50, meaning that I would get 50 percent of the money up front, then I would deliver the video and I'd get the other 50 percent. That's a bad idea. I don't do that anymore. I've got stories. I waited almost a year once to get paid. I stopped doing that and I wanted to protect myself more. Right now what I do is 40/40/20. I get 40 percent of the cost upfront. After I deliver the rough cut edit, I get the next 40 percent. Then that means when I deliver the final video, I'm only owed the last 20 percent. Now that feels a lot safer to me than being owed 50 percent of the cost. Because like I said, sometimes clients are ass holes. Waiting for 20 percent of a large job is a lot better than waiting for 50 percent of a large job. It's also a lot less stressful when you think about it. The contract is there to keep you safe, to protect you, and to protect the company that you're dealing with. Make sure that you're working with the contract. Now once a contract is complete, that's when I'll start my pre-production phase. Depending upon the project, pre-production could include casting actors, hiring crew members, location scouting and locking down locations for your shoot and then just doing all the other general unnecessary paperwork, having releases ready for actors, and then possibly story-boarding or doing another type of previous, maybe video previous or photo previous for the shoot. Production is fairly straight forward. Post-production, we'll begin by logging your footage and creating a rough cut. You will then send that rough cut off to the client for a review. They'll make some notes, they'll send it back to you and then the idea is that then you would finish. You don't want to skip the rough cut and just send off what you think is a great finished piece to the client because you're assuming that the client's going to love it, maybe you think it's a great cut. This has happened to me, of course. I said this is flawless, they're going to love it. Then I got back a page of notes because a client was in the video themselves. They didn't like the way they looked and this happens all the time. 15 seconds I make a weird thing with my lips. 25 seconds, I look fat. Anything you can do about that? Can you Photoshop me? No, I can't Photoshop you. You don't want to send off a final cut first. You really want to make sure you do the rough cut first. Sometimes it's hard to look at a rough cut, especially when clients aren't experienced doing video. There will be a temporary music track. There won't be color, there won't be transitions, it'll be rough. That's the point of having a rough cut, but you need to send that rough cut first, explain to them, possibly educate them, explain to them what a rough cut is, and talk about the points, address the points that they want to have addressed, and then make your final cut that you send along to them. When it comes to revisions in a contract, I like to stick to a maximum of two revisions. I don't want to go over that. If I have to go over that, then there's something wrong than me and the client haven't communicated something correctly because they might be looking for something. I'm thinking of a complete different thing and we're not driving some way. Two revisions really should get the job done. That's the post-production process. When you deliver the final video and it's approved, that's when you send along your invoice. That's where having something like FreshBooks comes in handy. I can send along an invoice and I could receive payments in a bunch of different ways. I can get a check. I can get money sent to PayPal or something like that. I could even have them charge their credit card. That would be the second to last step in my workflow process, with the last step being asking for that review. I've mentioned this before. I have a general email template made up that when they open it, will send them to two different places. One is to write a review on my Facebook page, and one is to write a review on my Google page and I'll ask them if they could write me a review on one or both. They can just copy and paste it into both places, so it's there. It's important that if you think you did a great job, try to get that review. Those reviews are going to help you get hired in the future. That's my workflow. That's what works for me. I don't think there's anything very abnormal or strange about it I think it's pretty standard. You might want to take it a further step and you might want to send a client a gift basket. If you do, good for you, that's great. Here's your assignment. Outline your workflow for the class and share it with us so that we could see what your workflow is in and I'll provide some feedback. 12. Learning: Learning is constant. It's unending. It's never a waste of time. When I have free time or downtime, I like to spend that time playing video games. No I was kidding, I just spend that time learning. So here are a list of some websites that I visit, some podcasts that I listened to, some YouTube channels that I enjoy watching and some subscription services that I like to learn from nofilmschool.com, you might be familiar with it. They just aggregate content from around the web, but they're usually some interesting articles on here. I like listening to a podcast called Wandering DP. He's like a professional DP who does commercials in Australia. He invites on different DPs who talk about the craft. He breaks down the lighting while it's difficult to do in a podcast, you also have to go to the website and look at some of the pictures. But he breaks down how he lights a lot of his commercials. There's some very good information and resources there if cinematography is your thing. There's also Film Riot on YouTube. You've probably heard of it. They've been around a long time. A lot of what they do is geared towards beginning filmmakers, but there's good content there for just about everybody. Shane's Inner Circle is a a website by ASC cinematographer Shane Hurlbut I don't know if I'm a fan of his work, but that has nothing to do with the fact that he puts out some good content on this page site. What I don't like is that when you subscribe, you don't have access to the older stuff that was put out before you subscribed, you have to pay to access that content and then everything that he trickles out from when you subscribe forward, you get to watch as part of your subscription process. There's some good stuff there though. If you're someone who is interested in cinematography or graphing or gripping then you're going to find a lot of those videos very insightful. RocketJump Film School is a YouTube channel. Mostly geared for beginning filmmakers, but they do a good job in breaking down a lot of the different departments and different individual tasks that take place on a set. A subscription service that I like is called MZed. I don't remember how much it costs. I think it's like $200 a year. But they have good courses on there. They don't have a lot of new content, but they've got some good courses on cinematography, on editing, on directing, on color, on storytelling, and there's definitely a lot that you can learn. There's a huge module on sound there. So if you want to sound, there's a lot of stuff on sound there. So that's a good place for learning. Of course, like I said, all of these resources none of them ever really focus on the business side of being a freelancer and in video and when they do, it's just so general and so vague and no one really wants to they feel like they're giving away their secret source to what they do. We should all be sharing from each other and learning. Even when you're in competitions, still fine. It's good, I'm telling you. Trust me. On that MZed website, Philip Bloom has a class and a lot of people love Philip Bloom. Maybe it's his witty British humor. I'm not sure, but the class is pretty good for beginners. Just in case you're a beginner. Assignment. Do you know some other good resources for filmmakers, for freelancers, creative or business? Share them what the class will take a look. We appreciate it. I appreciate. I appreciate you. I don't really know you, but you are my favorite student. Don't tell anybody else that I told you. Keep that between us. Shouldn't have favorites, it's not right. 13. Conclusion: That's the end of the course. Thanks for watching. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you'll learned something. If you like the class, I do appreciate a review and leave a comment. Let me know what you liked about the class, let me know what you didn't like about the class, and let me know what you'd like to see in the future. I have two other classes on Skillshare, both related to cinematography, you could check those out. In the near future, I'm going to be doing a Skillshare class where I break down from a business and creative perspective and entire project that I'm doing from the pre-production phase all the way through the enter deliverables and everything. Look for that in the near future. Again, thanks for watching, I'm Sean from MONSTRINTHEDARK. Have a good one.