Working freelance for a living... it's actually a thing! I can't tell you how many times someone has remarked on that with some sort of disbelief. Yup, it's what I do now and it is absolutely my primary source of income. I don't wait tables or bartend to supplement my budget and I certainly do not sit at a desk or in a cubicle. My daily grind involves things like writing this and staying relevant in a constantly changing environment. In a good week I could work every day on set and in a not-so-good week, I'll be working from home on my website or emailing.
So what does my work look like then? Let me describe the process:
1. Confirm and negotiate:
First I have to confirm the bookings and potentially negotiate price. I will receive the email or call and talk shop aka what's the need of the production, when is it, and then pitch my day rate. If the answer is yes, then I put it in the ol' google calendar and make sure I have everything I need. Usually the project is booked at least a week in advance.
2. Wait for the callsheet:
If you don't know what a callsheet is, it's a little document that gives you all the necessary information to do your job, know the schedule and know the location the day before the shoot. This little document is the thing many filmmakers stay up biting their fingernails waiting to get. Sometimes it arrives really late and you end up not getting enough sleep, but it always gives you better peace of mind when it shows up.
3. Work work work:
Prep gear, load gear, drive to location, unload gear, find site, find out details, prep gear, record the thing, lunch, record more things, wrap, offload files, breakdown gear, say goodbye, load gear, drive home, offload copy of files, invoice the client, drink, sleep, repeat. Yep, that about covers it and usually a full day is up to 10 hours.
4. Wait for payment:
This is by far the most painful part of freelancing. You know how most people get paid every two weeks? Yeah, not the case over here. Usually the turnover for most payments is net30 aka 30 days. If the payment is not made within 30 days then comes the fun part, gently demanding payment. After a while you get pretty good at following up respectfully, but sometimes you just don't get paid for awhile.
After all the work work is done, you get to work on the backend of your business. This involves all the emailing, updating your website, finding new work, balancing your budget, and buying new gear. All of this is a must and can take up the rest of the "dead time" during a given week.
So there it is folks, the rundown of my personal experience working freelance in the world of filmmaking. It's fast-paced, it changes from day to day and I wouldn't change a thing.