To get paid as a freelancer, you need an invoice.
An invoice is a document that lets your clients know how to pay you. It contains information on what work you have done, together with your bank details.
Understanding tax and finances as a filmmaker does not have to be complicated. Below we have broken down invoices, in the hope that you will feel more confident with getting paid as a freelancer.
At the bottom of this article, you can also find a freelancer invoice template.
What Is an Invoice?
As a filmmaker, you will likely be self-employed and not paid on a PAYE payroll. Because of this, you need to send an invoice out after every individual job you complete.
A freelancer invoice is a one-page document that outlines how your client should pay you. It contains details on the work you have done, the money owed, your bank card and payment terms. Before every job, you will need to negotiate pay rates and, if possible, complete a freelancer contract.
For film and TV workers this will mean sending out an invoice after every completed project. Film sets typically pay weekly, and as such would need to forward an invoice at the end of every week.
Many freelancers use a template document (like the free one we have below) and fill this out for every job. However, these days accounting software and apps are also available like the following.
Sending Invoices & Getting Paid
When you have finished a job, fill out your invoice template and send it via email to the person who hired you. On film sets (and for some companies), they might additionally have a dedicated accountancy department. If you are unsure where to send your freelancer invoice simply ask someone in charge.
As we’ve already mentioned, longer-term projects like feature films pay weekly. For this reason, you will need to send an invoice out after every week you work. Other projects, you might only pay when a project is complete. With this in mind, it is always wise to discuss payment-terms before a job, so you know what to expect.
To send your invoice, attach it to an email via PDF file. In the email subject line, it’s helpful to write the word invoice. For the email itself write a few sentences letting the reader know that you have attached your invoice. If your invoice is overdue, then you will need to chase up your payment.
Often sending an email reminder is all that is needed when a freelancer invoice is overdue. However, sometimes freelancers struggle to get paid. If you can not get in contact with your client (or they refuse to pay you) ask a lawyer to send them a letter.
Subsequently, if your still not paid after several months, you can take your client to a small claims court.
How To Create An Invoice
You can use the freelancer invoice template below, or pre-made templates on accountancy software.
Firstly, your invoice should be no longer than one page long and clearly say the word invoice on it. Guidance for invoices is on the gov.uk website.
Furthermore, your invoice can be in any style but must contain the following information.
- Clearly mark your Invoice – As well as displaying the word invoice, you must also have a unique identification number. This is a number for reference on each invoice so that you don’t make duplicates. For this, you can simply use a sequence of numbers that gradually increase.
- Names and dates – Your Invoice must also clearly state the date. This is the date you send off your invoice. Next, write your personal details together with the client’s details. You can get away with just writing your clients name if you don’t have all of their information.
- Work Description – This description does not need to be lengthy, one line is enough explaining the type of work done. For example – screenwriting fee for ‘project title’, edit revision one for ‘project title’.
- Work Rates – Add up what your client owes you. If you have done several jobs, you can list these in the description and add up the total rate.
- Payment Terms – Typically, pay should happen within 30 days after you send your invoice. You can also have an invoice late charge, such as raising their invoice by 10% for every month a payment is late.
- Bank Details – Last and most importantly, don’t forget your bank details. You will need to include your bank name, account number and sort code.
Freelancer Invoice Template
Also, check out our library of other free production templates
Sending invoices and chasing up payments is part of the freelancer life. It can seem complicated at first but don’t stress you will quickly pick up these skills.
Do you have any tips on getting paid as a freelancer?
Let us know in the comments section below.