How to work Internationally as a filmmaker

Working Internationally As A Filmmaker.

In this century a lot of us dream of working whilst travelling. We don’t wish to be restricted to working in one country, we never signed up to have a typical career and surely by now there is a way to work and travel across countries legally.  I have tried my best to do the research into how to freelance creatively abroad. This post will be looking at how this applies to filmmakers.

A small disclaimer – boarder / passport rules change every year. What you need to travel from one country to another varies so always ask your passport office what paper work you need before you travel abroad.

Internet based freelancing

The majority of people who travel and work make their money online. Bloggers, writers, photographers, online business owners. The work can be carried out in different countries. When you are paid through PayPal or via an invoice tax may be taken out either from the online transaction or from the client you worked for. You also pay tax to your home country as you would from being self employed.

To travel freely all you need is a passport and health insurance. You can get travel Visas for most countries that last anywhere from 3-9 months per country.

How can this apply to filmmakers: You can not work for a company whilst travelling on a basic travel Visa. The only way you could work on film sets is for free, or on Indie productions. If you set up your own company online you could travel and freelance - this of course is easier for a graphic designer than for a filmmaker. You could freelance travel as a filmmaker if you are clever and work remotely. 

A Freelance Visa

If you wish to freelance abroad - working for a company that is based in that country you will need a Visa and likely a sponsor. This means that a company based in the country you wish to work within sponsors you. 

This is difficult, countries are becoming more strict with there freelancing rules. You can apply for jobs online and conduct interviews via Skype. It is likely a company would only go through the efforts of sponsoring you if are applying for a full time position or if your skills are in high demand. 

For example it would be pointless for a company to hire a freelance camera operator from abroad as many local people could do that job. However if that camera operator had special skills (underwater photography for example) a company might go to the efforts to hire them.

How can this apply to filmmakers: If you wish to work for a company abroad, or several companies as a freelancer - it is likely these days you will need a sponsor. This makes the dream of working as a freelancer for multiple production companies very difficult. If you are an actor, model or crew member who is being brought in to work on a project the company hiring you will become your sponsor. 

Example - To work in the UK you will need a Tier 5 creative Visa. You will be required to have a sponsor before applying.

Example - To work in the USA you will need a Temporary Work Visa and you will need a sponsor before applying.

Other countries are less strict. For instance it will be easier a UK citizen to get a visa in Germany as opposed to the USA. How strict a Visa you need will vary greatly country to country.


Work for an international company. A huge company like Netflix for example has offices all over the world. Gain employment with them at your home country and in time ask for a transfer. 

Hope you get hired abroad. I have worked in the UAE before on a film set. A Dubai company sorted out the Visas and brought the British crew over. It is likely as a filmmaker you will be hired to work abroad for some projects.

Become a student. Students are able to study abroad and there may be chance to sort out work Visas whilst studying. You can find out a little more info on this here. Unfortunately this does not apply to the USA.

Have exceptional skill. Famous people, PHD holders, Licensed medical professionals and those with a lot of money in their bank accounts will find obtaining Visas easier. ;)

Resources. Transferwise . CreativeBoom | Freelancing . USembassy . 10 jobs to work remotely

Remember the rules per country change regularly. If you wish to work abroad talk to your passport office and ask what requirements you need to gain for a Visa.  If you have family living in that country it will be easier for you to work there, you may also need to bring health records from your doctor with you as you travel. Unfortunately work and travel for a filmmaker is not very flexible - alternatively consider how you can turn your job role into an online remote business. 

If you have any questions on working internationally as a filmmaker let me know in the comment section below -

Filmmaking for beginners. How to start out in the film industry

Filmmaking for beginners

Filmmaking for beginners just how do you start out in the film industry. When I first started out in film it was all about the filmmaking. There was no thought about making money or forging a career. It was like many of us start out - innocent and in it just for the fun. It would be good to get that fun back again, have little care what camera I am using or if the story even makes sense, just head out make a short film and edit it together within a week.

If you are just starting out you may be overwhelmed by the amount of choices and advice out there  on how to begin as a filmmaker. Here is some basic advice for those starting out, if you have any advice to share feel free leave some in the comment box below.

New to filmmaking? Look at these following statements on filmmaking for beginners and see if one of them matches your situation -

I have no experience at all

If you have zero filmmaking experience pick up a camera, any camera and make a film. What camera you use to shoot on doesn’t matter, likely you first few films will not be very good and that is OK. You will learn the basics of filmmaking simply from practice. When you feel confident shoot a short film, music video, documentary – anything that tells a story. Make a script, create a plan, shoot and edit it – now you’re a filmmaker. From making your own no budget films you learn the very basics of filmmaking.  

I have never worked on a film set before

If you want to work in film, despite the job role you want it would be useful to get some first hand on set experience. Every city in the world will have a film production happening right now and your best bet is to search online job sites and see if any productions are advertising for help. If you have zero experience you can fix that by being a helping hand on a low budget film set.

It is unlikely you will get paid for your first few gigs but this experience will allow you to find out if you like film work, lets you see how a film set operates as well as making you a handful of contacts in the industry. If you get along with anyone on set be sure to swap numbers or follow each other on social media – you never know who you will met in film and how they will help you within your future career.

I have no idea what job I want to do in film

That’s fine, there are a lot of choose from – and notjust the obvious jobs of Producer, Director, and Cinematographer. First find work experience on a film set (or even an office job in film any job will do) and try out a mix of job roles. I wrote a post with a checklist download on how to find your job niche here. Likely if you keep working in film you will find that you gravitate towards one department.  I never did want to be a Script supervisor it was just the job I found myself being hired to do indie films sets. Often the job chooses you.

I have just finished education

Perhaps you have just finished college, university or film school and you are wondering just what to do with your life. If it is definitely a career in film you are looking for and you know what job you want then you need to figure out a plan of attack on how you will get that job. 

Yes, it wont be easy or obvious for some roles on how to get the job you want. You best move Is to find work in any job role to begin with be that entry level Production Assistant or something else. There is no right or wrong way to begin. Make sure you get lots of work experience and explore all job opportunities in film. It is going to take a few years to feel secure with this type of work. 

I hope these answers above help with some of the most asked questions for filmmaking for beginners. If you have any questions, or you are stuck on what to do in your situation, leave a comment below and I will help all I can.

 My New Filmmaker Services where launched this week Find out more on the Service page here

What to do if no one supports your dream?

what if no one supports your dream

OK so you have a great idea, a dream, something that you really want to do ...

You decide to tell someone about that dream - be that a parent, a friend, a stranger ...

And this what is likely to happen

They passively put you down, they let you know that the dream you have is going to be too difficult to achieve. They let you know that dreams cost money and that competition is too high. That you are not rich enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough to make that dream happen.

Why do people quickly choose not to support your dream?

I feel that the most common reason is not out of spite , but that people just don’t understand what it is you are trying to do. They don’t understand how a dream can be placed into reality. If you tell people that you want to be a film director at some point someone will tell you that you can’t.  

They can only see the struggle

Why can't you do it = You don’t have money, It will be hard, you are not talented enough

Why you can do it = You can make money, you have time, you can learn and you will get better

It is the fear of the unknown, people try to project their own life onto you – they could not do it so how could you. My life would have gone a lot smoother had I chosen a more routine job a 9-5. Yet still I am glad I choose to pursue my dream because if I had not , then I would deeply regret not trying.

Hey, if in 10 years time I decide that filmmaking is not for me , then so be it, I can change course in my life and I would have no regrets and that is fine – it's fine to change your mind, I give you permission to do that.

But regret could eat away at you for ever.

People simple do not understand how you can make your dream happen. How your dream can make money, likely they are not trying to put you down but trying to help. Because they want you to have a good life, and to them a good life means stability within a traditionally respectful job.

Most people do not have wild dreams or passions, it is a shame but count yourself lucky if you do, it givespurpose to your life, it gives you a drive. If it wasn’t for my dream I would not have met so many different people or travelled as much as I have. As difficult as it can be - high ambition can give back too.

Every now and then I get an email from a student asking me for the permission to go follow theirdreams. I feel that if you really want to do something, nothing can stop you anyway, do what makes you happy, don’t regret and if you change you mind along the way you can change course.

Then there are those few who put you down through jealousy. People get jealous when they hear you are doing something that they believe they can't do (yet secretly wish they could).

You tell anyone in the world you plan on becoming a rock star you will be told it’s too hard or impossible - but still there are rock stars out there and they all began with a dream.

In all do what makes you happy, surround yourself with positive people and don’t regret.  

Are you having difficulty with people not supporting your dreams? Have you ever been told that you can't be a filmmaker - Let me know in the comment section below -

Resources -

Video –  Derek Halpern  Social Triggers Video – Casey Neistat Videos - Do what you can't and Follow your dreams

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Tips for Staying Motivated as a Filmmaker

staying motivated as a filmmaker

As a filmmaker you have already made the decision to swim against society’s tide. You might just be that lucky person who quickly rises above the ranks, and gets placements on major film sets, securing themselves financially from the start. For most of us the journey will be a challenge, especially bridging the film employment gap from education or another job. 

For a dream job like this it will be more difficult for you to navigate there is no clear ladder route or direction on how to get the job you want. It will be more difficult for you to garner support from friends and family. Unlike other workers you might not get the safety net of regular pay, luxury’s such as medical care, pensions and holiday pay.

Yes our journey will be harder than most, still we must keep going keep your eye on the prize, and remember all that stands between our goal and us is time and hard work. If you have been caught by the creative bug, you might never be able to shake it off – staying positive and motivated throughout our journey is necessary, there is no doubt this will be harder at times but we must keep going against the current.  

Keep your eye on the prize

At points in your career you will start to doubt yourself, wondering if you ever should have chosen this path in the first place. keep your eye on the prize and where you want to be, a creative job will come with its roller-coaster of highs and lows. That end goal can also change, evolve and so can your journey to get there. Guess what - I may never be a film director, I might change my mind along the way and find happiness in something else, happiness should be how you weigh up success.

Setting your own deadlines

It was easier during education when your where given a deadline for a task and if you had an ordinary job with a boss standing over you you would find it easier to get work done too. I have found working from home hard for motivation, getting up in the mornings without a place to be is sometimes impossible. But I have found that setting your own deadlines, in terms of myself creating content and for a filmmaker setting your self a goal or knowing you need the film complete by a certain time for a competition , a film festival can help. Letting other people know about you targets can trick guilt you into taking action as you don’t want to let other people down. It helps to create your own deadlines for creative tasks.

rewarding yourself

For example If you finish writing a script or making a film - reward yourself with a trip or buy yourself something nice. Yes it works, we are simple human beings, in the past we where awarded in education and in the workplace we might get praise or a promotion. When you have completed a difficult task reward yourself, especially if you are self employed, in the workplace you might go out with a group of people for drinks to celebrate the completion of a task be sure to celebrate your achievements even when you work alone.

Surround yourself with positive people

It can be hard to find people who believe in you when your dream is so far away. As an adult we don’t need to stay around people who bring us down. Surround yourself with positive happy and hard working people likely this will rub off on you. Especially if there is someone who is toxic or putting you down, this can avoided. Having happy healthy mental health is important. It is going to be hard to live the creative life so make it as easy for yourself as possible.