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. 

You can find me via Twitter here - @amyclarkefilms