“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

(greyscalegorilla.com) 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

(kevinrose.com) 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.

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