By technical editor Matt Allard:
Working as a freelancer can be very rewarding but there are often frustrating times when you’re sitting around waiting for a phone call or email to get your next job. Most freelancers operate on their own and although being your own boss is one of the main perks of the job, there are a lot of instances where you may get offered multiple gigs that overlap or even assignments and locations that may not work to your strengths. Having a trusted network can be a smart way to strengthen your own business as well as maintain a high level of quality if you have to pass on the assignment to someone else.
I recently became part of Antler Images, a cinematography alliance made up of six members that has a global reach. Specializing in boutique, creative and technical world-class cinematography, Antler Images has DPs located in Melbourne, Sydney, Doha, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City & Tokyo. We believe in an elite standard of cinematography and share a tenacious work ethic – we believe this alliance represents our values and high standards of work. Antler Images consists of Trent Butler ACS, Mark Dobbin ACS, Ben Emery, Ben Foley, Lee Ali and Matthew Allard ACS.
Collectively, we have over 120 years experience, have filmed in over 90 countries and won more than 80 cinematography awards. We have all known each other for years and we all value each others’ work highly. Aligning yourself with like-minded individuals lets your prospective clients know that they are getting the same level of quality whoever they hire. There is nothing worse than being offered an assignment that you can’t do and then passing it on to someone who may not live up to the same expectations and quality that you offer. Doing the job yourself or passing it onto someone else should be looked upon in the same way. Reputation and repeat clients are the key to survving as a freelancer. If a client is used to using you and you’re not available the last thing you want to do is pass it off to someone who you think can’t do the job to the same standard. If the person you recommend to the client doesn’t do a good job it’s your reputation at stake.
Antler Images is set up to offer a global reach, but a collective can work just as well in your own area. The key thing to remember is that you need to align yourself with colleagues who offer the same standards and work ethic and a variety of different styles and creative approaches. If it’s a collective of DPs for example, you don’t want everyone to shoot in the same way. There are always going to be assignments or locations that suit one individual more than another. This same principle can apply to any type of freelancer whether you’re an editor, producer, director or any other role. Your collective is only as strong as the weakest link. It is very important to make sure you only align yourself with individuals whose work you respect.
Creating a collective of individuals will not only expand your reach – it can also offer you a broad spectrum of information and knowledge. I know I can contact any one of the members of Antler Images and ask a question or get advice about using specific equipment or operating in a particular country or city. And if you’re all located in the same area you may well decide it is a good idea to have a pool of equipment that you all have access to.
Surviving in today’s freelance market requires you to think outside the box and come up with new, unique ways to market yourself and build a brand. Creating a collective of like-minded individuals is just one way of expanding your business and it isn’t something that will cost you a lot to do.
You can follow Antler Images on Twitter: @Antler_Images