The film industry is very competitive and as a result, it can be hard to stand out. Fortunately, there are several techniques you can try to improve your chances of finding regular freelance work.
One of the main reasons why you might be struggling is a lack of marketing and self- promotion. Self-promotion is basically about letting potential clients know who you are and that you are available to hire. And don’t worry this process is not as scary as it sounds.
Below you will find practical advice on how to market yourself effectively as a filmmaker.
Your Job Role
Firstly, if you are going to advertise your services as a freelancer you need a defined job role. The biggest mistake filmmakers make is to list too many professions on their CV.
For example, telling people they are a writer, director, editor, and producer.
The problem here is that on professional film sets only one person is hired per job role. You need to decide what specific role you are going to be known for. That is to say, when a producer reads your CV they know straight away what job you are applying for.
Although on independent sets and with some freelance roles such as videographer a mix of skills can be useful. But if you are pursuing film and television crew work, you will need to define your role and department.
Even more, as you progress in your career you will start to get hired through recommendations. And having a mix of job roles can make it difficult for people to endorse you. By defining your role and skill set you will make it easier for people to hire you.
Your Film CV
If you are applying to film jobs online you will be asked to include a CV in your application. Many people don’t have a film CV and thus reduce their chances of getting hired.
A film CV is a simple, one-page document outlining your experience. Most important your defined job role should be labelled at the top. If possible keep all credits and skills related to the one role you are applying for. However, if you are new to the industry you can include other work positions and student credits.
Here is a quick breakdown of how a film CV should look.
- A film CV should be one page long
- Your job title should be at the top
- Include contact details and your location
- List your credits neatly down the page
- Your skills should be relevant to the job role
- Include any higher education and workshops
By far the most traditional way of self-promotion is through networking. These days networking can be done both online and in person. Altogether by introducing yourself to many people working within the industry will improve your chances of getting hired.
Online networking can be done through social media (Facebook groups being the easiest way to do this). It’s also worth attempting to follow on social media anyone who you particularly got along well with at an event. This keeps you in their mind for future projects.
If you are attending an in-person networking event you might wish to make business cards. In any case, it’s important that your card clearly labels your name and job role title.
Here is a list of places with examples where filmmakers could network and find events.
- People Looking For TV Work
- Art Department UK
- Leeds Indie Filmmakers
- Manchester Filmmakers
- Scottish Filmmaking
- Cardiff Filmmaking
Film Job Sites
Meet Up Groups
Showreels & Portfolios
If you have a visual job in the film industry (e.g. Director Of Photography, Costume Designer, Production Designer) you might benefit from creating a showreel or portfolio. A showreel is a video compilation of your work. This can be done by editing together a series of clips to music, or by showing a selection of scenes. Portfolios are traditionally a collection of photographs but could also include embedded videos.
These days both showreels and portfolios are always presented online rather than in print or DVD. This could be in the form of a website or a single video uploaded on to Youtube or Vimeo. Even more nonvisual roles such as screenwriter, composer, editor, or grip could benefit from having a personal website for promotion.
Here are some sites that could help you create your portfolio and showreel.
Freelance filmmakers are increasingly finding work through social media. This makes sense as many producers are now using the internet to find crew.
On the whole Facebook groups are the easiest way to chat and promote yourself online. And some camera assistants and makeup artists have found Instagram to be useful. You could even start a YouTube channel and build up an online following whilst advertising your services. Not to mention Vimeo is almost exclusively used by filmmakers.
An additional tip is to add any film crew you work with on social media. An independent film, for example, could introduce you to many filmmakers at once. Finally, what social media platform you use doesn’t matter, pick one for starters, and go from there.
Here are some ideas on how to use social media to your advantage.
- Create a YouTube channel or Vimeo page
- Use Instagram as a portfolio for your work
- Share project links and work details on Twitter
- Join a filmmaker Facebook group e.g London Filmmakers, Leeds Indie Filmmakers, Manchester Filmmakers, Scottish Filmmaking, Cardiff Filmmaking
Self-promotion does not have to be scary or take up a lot of your time. Many filmmakers don’t put in this extra effect, so why not try some of these techniques and stand out.
Next, learn about..
- Finding Film & TV Work
- Marketing & Self Promotion
- Managing Clients
- Taxes & Finances
- Education and Skills
- Industry Sectors
- Film Crew Glossary
- Useful Links
- Free Film Production Forms