5 ways to make money in film before you make it
Did you know that only 7% of British films make a profit. I read an article with that fact on a few months ago and it sticks in my mind Just how unpredictable and unreliable filmmaking truely is. If you want to make a lot of money in life don’t be a filmmaker.
As creatives we should be making money from a mix of job roles. That is to say it is best to not have all of our eggs in one basket and have money coming in from many different places.
The smartest thing any aspiring filmmaker could do might just be to get a normal job that pays well. This gives you the security and benefits of a normal job, and the money leftover to make films. However as creative sorts we tend to reject normal lifestyles. We need our work to be creative, meaningful and we still need to make money to pay the bills just like everyone else.
1. Film crew work
A lot of people start out by finding work within a film crew. There is money to be made and jobs out there. Working in film gives you the chance to see how things are run professionally. Even if the sets you find yourself on are not so well run you can learn others mistakes. I found my film crew experience invaluable however the hours of film set work are too long and this gave me no time or money leftover to make my own films.
- Pros – gets you into the film industry, creates contacts and gives you valuable on set experience
- Cons – free work seems inevitable before getting paid, very long work hours, unstable pay
2. Film office work
For film office work I count all work within film and TV that does not require you to work within production. Jobs working for TV companies such as the BBC have a lot of office based work. Working for local film council’s, working in post production jobs such as editing for small tv companies . These jobs tend to not be very creative but they work on 9-5 hours that often pay well.
- Pro – predictable hours, regular contracted pay and benefits,
- Cons – Not always creative work, stuck to a 9-5 routine and in an office
3. Skilled freelancer
A skilled self employed worker who works independently. Examples would be a freelance camera operator, a freelance editor, a freelance motion graphics designer, freelance music composure. Often as a freelancer they specialise in one skill and then make money selling their services doing a whole variety of jobs. For example a camera operator could work for for indie films, music videos, film at corporate events, commercials and create online content all in one months work. The trick would be to get good at one skill and then use that skill to make money doing many different freelance jobs.
- Pros – often your own boss, can work your own hours, on your own terms and rates
- Cons –takes a while to get those initial contacts and start making money with film, no say where the next job is coming from, having to chase up money as a freelancer
4. Online content creator
I’m going to give this one its own category with the internet as it is right now and I can see more work coming from online. There are many ways to make money through the internet right now for creatives. Web designer, graphic designers, video makers, freelance writers, can make money by selling their skills online. You can carry out meetings on skype. There are people out there making a living from Youtube, creating graphics, shooting videos for company websites, writing articles on every topic imaginable, selling e-books and from teaching skills that they have to others.
- Pros – be your own boss, creative work
- Cons – Unstable unpredictable pay, can take a long time to started, a lot of competition
5. Production company start up
I know a lot of people who have formed teams with liked minded people and started their own business. If done well starting your own production company can be very profitable but you need to think of it as a business first and an art form later. Some production companies focus on being the best at one type of service, others will film anything that comes along, successful people I know have started companies that deliver music videos, wedding videos and commercials. It can take a while to get the company started, and build a good representation. Make sure you get along well with whoever you start a business with.
- Pros – owning your own business, be your own boss,
- Cons – might cost money to start up, will take time to build representation and find clients
For everyone I know who makes money as a filmmaker they can fit into one of these categories. There is no saying how much money filmmakers make, some do very well others just scrape by. Even this year now that I have started to take this blog seriously I have already made money by writing articles for others online. All of these routes take time to establish yourself within but it is possible to make a living as a filmmaker.
How do you intend to make as a living a filmmaker?