Freelance Filmmaker: Know Your Limits


I have been taking on more freelance video jobs recently and one thing I was thinking about today was the fact that if you're starting out as a freelancer, it's very important to know what you can do in a given timeframe.

When you get your first job, your client is going to ask you how long it will take to complete a certain project.

1) How long will it take to film?

2) How long will it take to edit?

Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto: Iris Ng with Red Epic

Now, if you haven't already been working with film and editing for years, this might prove a difficult question.

What you really DON'T want to do is just throw some hours and days up in the air to them, start the job and then realise you've massively under calculated your time. If you tell your customer you can edit their video in 2 hours and then realise it's going to take you 6, not only will you feel annoyed that you've just ripped yourself off, your customer might not be too happy about you being late.

So what to do if you're not sure?

If you are making promo videos with lots of head talking and cutaways, you need to figure out how long it take you to setup and film one interview. Roughly how many hours? Then figure out how many interviews your customers are going to want in one video. If one interview takes you an hour and they want 3 people, you can probably get all your footage in 4 hours - allow time for getting lost between locations or other setbacks.

Editing. This depends purely on how accomplished and fast you are at editing. I usually say between 4-8 hours for a 3-5 minute promotional video, essentially a days edit. Obviously things are edited much faster for the news and live TV but promo videos are something you are taking your time over, being creative with and making sure they are flawless.

Potholes to be aware of


1. Make sure you sort out how many re-edits you will do for one project. These are the minor (and major) tweaks that a company want you to do once you've finished the cut. If you don't give a cutoff point this could go on and on for week and months! Some production companies start charging after the 3rd re-edit to control this situation.

2. Make sure your accommodation and travel are covered separately to your earnings for the filming and editing work. You don't want to be losing all you earned because you have to cover the travel and your location was 6 hours away.

What are your tips and tricks? Comment below please!