“F*ck You. Pay Me.” And other Freelance Phrases

So, as this is my inaugural blog post for Film Slate Magazine, I figure right out of the gate I should try to grab your attention. If you are an industry vet, you probably have learned these above lessons as you’ve went along. You might have had a fantastic mentor or apprenticed with a reputable company (I am lucky, in that even during this horrendous recession, I have had both), or you had started a business in the past. If so, you have had a general idea how to be professional, gain clients, and write contracts. Most of all, you knew how to get and keep respect in the marketplace.

More than likely most of you reading this are just getting into the exhilarating, exhausting and uber-competitive world of freelancing. And most of you probably, like me, never spent more than one or two collegiate class days talking about invoices, self-proprietorship, standard business practices, personal branding or W-9s. A lot of you believed that as a filmmaker that you would graduate, apply, get recruited and hired at a reputable production company or post-house and never have to worry about those things.

I’m sure the recession has changed all that for a big chunk of you. And while at first it can be depressing (maybe even causing you to consider changing fields, maybe become a daytrader). I want to be the first to tell you that you can do this. You just need to make up for lost time. This blog series will aim to start pointing you to the right paths from all that college did not teach you.

-Hat tip to the brilliant creative & entrepreneur Nick Campbell for bringing this video to my attention (@nickvegas)

The above video is a worthwhile watch. Mike Monteiro (@Mike_FTW) the Design Director and co-founder of Mule Design Studio gives a speech during the wonderful CreativeMornings talks. He basically relays all the important lessons he learned by being a “green” businessman – not the good environmental kind of green either. One of the most important points he makes is: create contracts that outline the business relationship beforehand. To get a good idea of what one should look like, or a basic template the Design group AIGA created this PDF. Just make sure to replace designer with filmmaker.

“F*ck You. Pay Me” may sound extreme, but in effect, Mike is just laying out some important aggressive language because as he says, “I love designers and I want designers to know they actually have a lot more power than they think they have.” He has known far too many artists who have been taken advantage by big companies and big clients looking to save a buck.

Some of this stuff might come off a little dry, but is a great starting point for getting point blank serious and questioning: Are you an amateur or are you a professional? As much as it helps to pay your dues and wait your turn, there does come a sense of responsibility and confidence that comes with being a respected business owner as well.

I had been curious and did some research. Luckily I came upon some really good young, creative entrepreneurs and freelancers. If you really look, there is an unheard of amount of these people outwardly blogging, tweeting, podcasting, or interviewing with the aim to educate creatives like filmmakers, videographers, video podcasters and as the eternally wise Danny Darst once called us, “hired guns.” Follow them and glean all the information you can!

Just a couple to get you going:

1. Nick Campbell – Motion GFX Guru and iPhone App Inventor

( A good friend and colleague turned me on to Nick a couple of years ago and I’ve been following his blog and career ever since. He is a true wealth of knowledge and does a great job speaking candidly and directly to artists.

2. Kevin Rose – Founder of Milk, Digg and Revision3

( Most social media heads and tech fans know all about him. His “Foundation” video podcast is essential viewing in the startup and entrepreneurship community. As filmmakers we must JOIN IN to this community, because it’s where our future work/clients will come from. And to top it off, all of it is super inspiring.

Keep posted to Film Slate Magazine because I have collected a wealth of material to share with you. As a creative community, we need to all up our game as well as support each other. I myself am always learning, so please don’t hesitate to point me in the right direction, tip me off or drop me an email. This is the web, and it’s easy for really important information to get lost in the cacophony.

John C. Jay of W+K on Creativity

“Our job is to never let anyone define who we are by their terms.” John C. Jay

His points about dealing with a client are almost essential.

  1. Listen Carefully
  2. Be Empathetic
  3. Understand their Soul
  4. Make that Soul relevant to a greater number of people

Artists as… Entrepreneurs

Check out this excellent post by Jim Hart, a theater conservatory founder in Norway that hits an important issue right on the head. Artists need to be more of the mindset that they are first and foremost, a business.

Good Morning and welcome to what will become a weblog where a casual reader can find:

1. Daily inspiration,
2. Cutting edge startup news for the Social Entrepreneurship Community
3. My takes and commentary

For the connected reader, you will be able to follow my progress to encourage philanthropy “edged” businesses all across the U.S. and really the world. I will be posting interviews and video podcasts regularly with industry and startup leaders on my quest to make open the minds of everyone to spend with intent.

To form a better society that is “Good By Association”.

This article touches on something that an artist living in the tri-state area grapples with constantly. Something that we did not have as a core foundation in our collegiate education: the Artist as Entrepreneur.

It used to be that self help, “go get ‘em” conferences and books were only aimed at MBA’s or Wall Street employees. Well, with a whole new economy in which a flood of freelance artists were created in a few years (thanks recession), a recent college grad like myself had to adapt and learn that the salaried artist positions are at a premium (and maybe even overrated).

We are a whole new breed who now follow artists already doing just such a thing: Nick Campbell for instance at is teaching a whole new generation about branding, motivation while working from home, and pointing us in the direction of gurus like Seth Godin and Kevin Rose. People who are artists but a far different animal. They also think conceptually and bring something to life in the real world. Entrepreneurs and artists, we are one and the same actually.

To survive, the artist must truly adapt first into being a business. A human business. (And worry about “selling out” last.)

How to Use Video LightBox in WordPress

First off, many thanks to Video LightBox for sharing the code of their very clean, crisp video viewer. It’s quite easy to input into an html website, but as a page in WordPress, it had it’s own challenge.

You can do it on your WordPress blog. Filmmakers/Video Bloggers/CG & MotionGraphics Artists can all make use of this. The reason I chose it over just leaving it in a blog post, is this setup allows my Reels to be watched without distraction. Essentially the code dims your background (if you so choose) and brings your video(s) front in center for that important person to view.

Here’s how:

1. First I created the gallery inside of Video LightBox’s easy to use software. Find it HERE. In this case, say my Producer Reel. I tweaked all the settings and exported the files. This video shows you how to use the program:

2. I created a folder on my website ftp called “producer_reel” to hold all of it. I uploaded everything in the same file structure (even the html file, this may be redundant, but I wanted to cover all the bases just in case).

3. In the blog post itself (which is a “Page” in my theme), I copied and pasted the code from the singular .html file I created in Video LightBox. To get the code, I opened it in Microsoft Word, but you can open it in Dreamweaver or TextEdit too (whatever you’ve had more experience with).
– There is code for a head and a body. Make sure to close them too!

4. Inside the actual html code you have to input the file structure of your ftp so it can find the relevant information. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OR IT WON’T WORK.

Here is how my code reads in the post: Everything CAPITALIZED is what I had to add to make it work! Obviously, make sure you mimic the file structure (letter case included) so it works perfectly.

<....."stylesheet" href="PRODUCER_REEL/engine/css/videolightbox.css" type="text/css" />
<....."stylesheet" type="text/css" href="PRODUCER_REEL/engine/css/overlay-minimal.css"/>

It’s alotta work, but it is totally worth it.

GOOD LUCK! Any questions or comments, you can contact me.

Steve Long
Producer | Editor | Writer
Shoot By Daylight Productions