In the coming months I will be creating more useful blog posts for filmmakers. I hope to start interviewing other filmmakers on how they have found work within the film industry and how they fund their own film projects. In this post I will be looking at how you could make a living as a creative filmmaker - no climbing the ladder, no low budget work – just pure filmmaking fun that is profitable!
I have had a few emails from filmmakers along the lines of ‘I just want to make films, I don’t want a job or to be hired, I just want to make films and make money is that possible?’. At first glance this seems too good to be true, wouldn’t it be great to be a creative filmmaker and not have to battle with the industry drama and rejection.
When I first started out as a filmmaker this was the dream, make films, have fun and if I could make enough money to just get by I would be happy. When I read Robert Rodriguez’s book Rebel Without a Crew this seemed even more possible. The book follows Rodriguez's career from making his debut feature film to Sundance stardom. The Book is outdated in its methods but I highly recommend it to new filmmakers needing an extra kick of motivation!
This post is a look at how someone could make a living from creative films in this century. Keep an open mind on how these methods could be used and feel free to add your own ideas in the comments section.
YouTube could be the future of creative filmmaking. I have only just started YouTube here and it is a working progress. Already I can see I am getting approx $1 per 1000 views. YouTube gives you a percent of its advertising revenue from your videos. It is small money to begin with but as your channel grows you can get sponsors and promote your own products.
Your channel's content can be within any genre as long as you find an audience. One of the biggest filmmaking Vloggers out there is Peter McKinnon . Another example I present is So Sonia whose channel of creative films got her hired to create content for a bigger channel Soul Pancake. You don't need to be hugely popular to benefit from YouTube.
You don’t need a YouTube channel to make money from videos. You could focus only on one social media platform (Twitter, Facebook or Instagram). To do this post clips or photographs of your work and charge for your audience to see the full video.
This has been working very well for performers and Artists who are using Patreon to support their work. You can offer special rewards depending on how much people sponsor you per month; be as creative as you can to attract new sponsors. An example I give for this is Shoshanason who users Instagram as a way to help support her creative dance videos (she makes nearly $1K a month from her supporters). Look across the Patreon platform and see what kind of work is being funded.
Build up an audience and sell your films via email marketing. You need to be clever about what you blog about and keep your content relevant to the film you are selling. For example if you are making a horror web series, build up an email audience of horror film fans. To do this you would blog about the horror genre whilst promoting the film you are making.
For another example if you are making a documentary on Egyptian history – blog about Egyptian history and build up an audience who are interested in this subject. Book authors have been doing this very well online and there no way why a filmmaker can not sell their film in this way. This only works if the topic you are blogging about is relevant to the videos you are selling, you have to be niche specific.
Start a Business
One of the most popular ways filmmakers make an income is to freelance as a general Videographer. Often starting out by taking on corporate videos and shooting weddings. However you can focus your business on more creative work such as Music Videos, Special Effects, Animations and even Experimental Videos. You would need to do a lot of self promotion to find your ideal clients.
An example I give is Manchester's Video Ink who have successfully created a Music Video business. The Film industry is also closely related to other industry’s such as fashion, games, music, art design and online business all of whom are desiring more video content for their own marketing plans. When you start your own film production company you can be more creative with the services you offer.
So get creative with your ideas! There are people out there who have set up there own cinemas, fan clubs, podcasts, online radio shows, production companies - being a creative filmmaker might even be easier in the 21st century. Selling DVDs, relying on crowd sourcing and hoping that a film festival will launch your career are not the only strategies. None of these examples above are easy to make happen, they all require a lot of hard work and you need to spend time making great content and building an audience.
Once you have built up credibility online you could use this as leverage into the traditional film industry.
I hope you have found this post insightful. If you have any questions or thoughts on this topic please leave a comment in the section below -