Taking the next step

LIGHTS, CAMERAS…ACTION! Taking your first steps into making a business out of your EPIC passion? GO YOU!

Stepping away from working for free and into the world where you start charging for your work can be quite a daunting process but at the same time very exciting. Why wouldn’t it be exciting? your hard work has started to pay off, enjoy it.

Most of the times when we start off filming we have to build up a portfolio which is usually “free work”, I know it takes a lot of your time and effort but I think this is an essential part of becoming a diligent film maker.

Building a portfolio can be a essential process which helps to increase your knowledge and fine tune your techniques if used right. I remember when I first picked up a camera, at that time I only used to do photography, playing around with viewpoints and taking random macro shot of plants in my garden. Little did I know I was already moving towards making a portfolio as soon as I picked up the camera without thinking about it. It’s natural to display your best work but always think of this process as a step and not the final destination. You have to climb many more steps to reach your goal.

So when should you start charging for your work? it’s a very common question which has to be addressed according to your progress. I personally didn’t charge for quite a few years ( 4 years to be exact) whilst building up my portfolio, working with charities, friends, small projects which I think helped me become better at my trade. This however can only get you to a certain point. Charging for your work is essential as it can be empowering and give you sense of achievement considering you spent multiple years learning and evaluating different techniques and improving your skills to become the best you can be (disclaimer: your learning never stops, I still work for free on multiple projects).

A good gauge to check if you are ready to charge is having a checkpoint and comparing your work with what’s currently out there in the market. If you think your work is worth a lot more than just getting a credit then you sir / madam have started moving towards the next step.

Knowing how much to charge is always a tricky part, this is effected by multiple things such as your confidence, your ability to know if you have the right skills, having enough experience and additionally knowing the clients budget. I like to be flexible with my charges depending on clients budget, if I like the client and the budget is small I would still take on the project and vice versa.

As part of working on your first few paid projects you will start learning new skills, mainly how to interact with clients, how to share your ideas, how to make sure all client needs are met. I started off charging very low in the beginning which kept the risk to the minimum and also kept the client calm as they know that you are still starting up. BUT always remember to transition to the next stage as most of the times some people get stuck charging low even though costs in the background are building up higher and higher.

I like to think to begin a successful filming business you should follow the standard transition phase technique.

Start filming for family and friends -> Start filming for free for projects -> start charging low rates on small projects -> Start throwing yourself into bigger projects -> Increase your charge matching the market value, or even more depending on your skill sets.

Each transition phase should be time bound, you should keep in mind getting too comfortable in one stage could hinder your progress from reaching that goal. Keep yourself checkpoints to evaluate yourself and your techniques against the filming industry out there.

Always remember only you know how much you should charge, it’s you who has invested the time in learning and fine tuning the techniques to get to this point.

Hope the above was helpful, now go out there and enjoy the next phase of your journey!

Good luck!


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