Biggest Mistakes I Made as a Freelance FilmMaker

Biggest Mistakes I Made as a Freelance FilmMaker

October 12, 2019 100 By Ewald Bahringer


– Oh hell yeah, look at that. This label maker might
be my favorite thing that I’ve gotten in a while. And it was like nine bucks. And I hate label makers, I think it looks so ugly. These are like the
old-school, embossed ones. I don’t know why I find this so amusing. So the biggest mistake I’ve ever made in my freelance filmmaker career is probably not buying
this label maker sooner. This is so dope. Take that, stick that on there. Oh yeah. And Fiverr’s in the house
sponsoring today’s video, so we will be doing a giveaway
with this DJI Osmo Action. With a custom-made label. Look how sexy that looks. All you gotta do is be part
of the notification squad, leave a comment down below and we will pick out a random winner within the first 12 hours
of this video going live. Good luck. Now one of the first
mistakes that I had to learn was probably to not
make negotiating weird. I think at first charging any money at all was just really weird to me,
’cause in my head I was like, “Well, I already own a camera, “I could just go out “and get this shot that
you’re asking for.” “How about you just give
me five bucks for gas “and we’ll call it a day?” The day you decide to call yourself a professional filmmaker,
photographer, writer, anything freelance, you’re
assigning a value to your time. And once you generally figure
out your value and your rates, then it’s just a matter of trying to find the right clients for you. The way I used to see it was like, oh I’m gonna go to these people and ask them a certain amount
of money for this process and hopefully they say yes. But now that I’ve been on
the other side of the table, ’cause we hire a lot of freelancers
and outside contractors. That really demystify the process for me, ’cause now when I go into a
negotiation I kinda know like, okay, this is what our budget looks like and this is how much
we can reasonably spend on this service. And it’s really just trying
to find that perfect match. I mean, when you’re
hiring or getting hired it should really be beneficial
for both parties equally. And if you feel like
you’re bidding on a project that’s way over your head or you feel like you’re totally
slashing all your rates down to just nab a project, it
might not be the best fit. We’ve built our company
up over the last 10 years, so naturally, as we get more
experience, our rates go up. And we know that even though
we’re not necessarily cheap, we can provide value to the right client to where makes sense for both of us. So with all that being said now the whole negotiation process is much less intimidating to us because instead of us going like, “Hey, “how much money can you give me?” It’s more about, like, here’s
the services we provide, here’s how much we cost. Are we a good fit? Yeah, No? Another big mistake that
I used to make a lot, and I still kinda do, is just tryna do too much all by yourself. From the very start I’ve always been a do everything myself type of person, and sometimes it’s kinda hard to let go of a little bit of that creative control. But to scale a company
you just have to do it. So definitely not being afraid
to reach out for extra help. Especially if it’s in a field that you’re not fully comfortable with, like let’s say like a logo design. There’s gonna be someone out there that can deliver a better product than me and do it much much faster, as well. So times like that is when
Fiverr comes into play, and I just spent a little
bit of time on their website and oh my god, there are
so many great resources to help you get your projects
done and building your brand. For example a lot of our clients
ask for a voiceover track and that was always kind of a headache, ’cause we have to go
out and look for them. The process was just
never very streamlined. But I went on Fiverr and literally within five to 10 minutes,
I had an order placed for a voiceover read. You guys want to hear it? Here it is. (dramatic music) – [Narrator] A wild
Potato Jet can be found. He films himself with the camera because he thinks he actually matters. Nobody quite knows how
he managed to trick Kari into falling in love with him. She’s way too smart to
be dating a YouTuber. In eighth grade Potato Jet tried to fart, but accidentally pooped his pants. – Whoa, whoa, whoa, okay! Stop, that’s enough, that’s enough. It’s not true. Okay, maybe a little bit true. How freakin’ sweet was that voice over. And sounded so pro and legit too, right? And you can find so much more on Fiverr to help you build your freelance business or support your projects like logo design, web design, video intro animations and even Photoshop or
special effects editing. And the prices were
really really good too, so as I was browsing
the website I was like “Oh my god, I could use this service. “I could hire this person. “I could get that and that.” And on top of that, you
can use the code POTATOJET to get 15% off the already
very reasonable prices. So hit that link in the description which will take you to a custom page Fiverr whip together for me, it has a collection of
my Fiverr favorites. I bet you by the time
you’re done checking it out, you’re gonna be thinking
of all the possibilities and thing you can achieve with
access to all this talent. If you think about it, a lot of times, you having access to
talent is just as important to having talent itself. So thanks again Fiverr
for sponsoring this video and making this video possible. Next mistake I’ve made is not
enough planning for a shoot. And I’ve always been more
on the type of just like, “Hey, let’s just hit the record button “and see what we get,
and we’ll edit it later.” But sometimes I’ll get so preoccupied with making sure all
the logistics are good, everyone has the costumes they need. We have all the talent,
we have enough lights, we have enough tripods. And then when you get
to the set you’re like, “Oh wait, what shots exactly do I need?” The first time we ever used the storyboard is when our client required it. They basically said “We
won’t give you the budget “until you deliver a storyboard.” And I was like man, I
don’t need storyboards, I just wing it. But we eventually got a storyboard
artist to jot it all down and we had everything visually
laid out in front of us. And that shoot was the smoothest shoot that I have ever done in my life. And the reason is because
there’s basically no guesswork. You know exactly at what point
you need to get one shot. What I used to do was run
the whole scene through a bunch of times from every
different little angle and build it together in post-production. But when you have a storyboard you know exactly when you’re
gonna be on what shot, so you laser focus on that one segment that you really really need. And that also makes editing a breeze too. And then, in the end, you just have this very well executed scene. So the act of planning things out and creating the storyboard, not just to actually get it on paper, but as you’re creating the storyboard you really deep dive think into like, this is the shot I want here,
this is the shot I want here. So since then I’ve appreciated
storyboarding a lot more than I used to. And by the way, plenty of
storyboard artists on Fiverr. One of the really big mistakes I’ve had was doing too much on a handshake deal. Now for the first half of my career I did everything on a handshake deal, and I made it a point to work
with only people that I trust and it worked great, at least
until it didn’t. (laughs) And it was a project with
a friend that we trusted. And the thing is I’ve just never been a contract guy, you know? I’ve always been like, “I trust you, you trust
me, we’re good, yeah?” And that was a deal for this
major project that we did, and we got half up front and everything. But what happened was the
company was just kinda struggling financially
with their cash flow, and they just kinda put us at the very tail end of their priorities. Probably because we didn’t
have a legit contract. And even though the people
we were working with are people that we consider ourselves to be close and tight with,
they were in the same boat. They were knocking on
finances door every day like, “Hey, can we get these guys paid?” It took us over a year to get paid. Over a year! And it was a lot of money too. I mean, just from travel expenses, alone, that I was supposed to get reimbursed for, I just put it all my card. It was like $20,000 of
just air fares and hotels and all the, God. So lesson learned, no matter who it is, no matter how close you
are, just get a contract. Just be safe. And by the way, you
can get legal contracts written up on Fiverr. Okay, this part is not
part of the sponsorship. Technically I already finished the Fiverr sponsorship read earlier, so I don’t even need to
talk about them anymore. And the final thing, which is what I consider to
be the most important thing, is what separates you from
another guy with a camera? What separates your company
from the other company that does the same type of thing as you do but is willing to compete on price? You start competing on price it’s just kinda who can get
to the bottom the fastest, and that’s just not a
game you wanna be in. Is it about what camera
you’re shooting on? Is it if you’re shooting 4k and 6k? Is it how good your editing is? And all this. And I think from my
experiences, the hands-down, most important thing
that you offer is trust. Big companies with lots and lots of money, they always go straight for
the people that they trust and they repeat with them
over and over and over because they’re trustable. So if your company’s the type that’s like, “Hey, I’ll get this edit
to you by Wednesday.” And then Friday comes
around and they’re like, “So, about that edit.” And you’re like, “Oh so sorry, I got sidetracked with something.” You know, if you come up
with excuses over and over and sometimes you deliver good work, but sometimes your work
is a little bit funky and need some tweaking. It slowly damages your reputation. For example, the editor of Vogue magazine needs a cover shot. They’re gonna call one of the people that they’ve worked with before and they really trust or has
the proper amount of experience and the expertise to execute it perfectly. And then the editor doesn’t have to worry, they just like, “Ah, It’s done!” If I were to walk in there and be like, “Hey, let me take this month’s cover “and I’ll do it for a fifth of the price “that that guy’s charging. “And I know exactly what
camera he’s using, lenses. “I know where to put the lights. “I know how to do everything, “just let me do it.” Then they’re gonna be like, “Okay, well what have you done? “Have you shot cover
shots before in fashion? “Do you know what the
(beeps) you’re doing? “Get the (beeps) out of here!” Again this is not every single company, but in my experiences, the bigger the companies the
less risk they wanna take. So you have to give them that trust by first having a lot of
confidence in your work. And you also need to have
a lot of the experience and the skills to back up your confidence. So once you get to a certain level to where you’re confident with your skills don’t be afraid to talk the talk. Sometimes people have a lot of skills, but they just don’t have that presence, that confident, like,
“I can do this,” vibe. And from the clients perspective, sure you might have the skill, but it just puts them on edge a little bit and it starts making them wonder like, “Ooh, should I of hired this person? “I don’t know.” So whenever I’m working with a client, I’m always asking myself
like, do they trust me? And how can I improve on that? Because they’re hiring me so they don’t have to
worry about it anymore. I wanna make sure that I
handle what they’re expecting. But not only do I handle it, but make sure that they are at ease because that’s what they
really, ultimately, want. And I feel like that’s
where a lot of experience really comes into play, because the more you do it,
the more you can start to read what people want. And what I was starting out I would get a whole bunch of revisions, I would send in a edit, I’d be
like, “This is pretty cool.” And they would send back a bunch of notes, “Can you change this? “Can you change this? “Can you change.” You don’t want them to have
to give you those notes. But now with a lot more experience I can look back on my
old stuff and be like, “Oh man, the composition
in that shot was weird. “That shot it’s a little bit soft. “The edits not tight
there,” der, der, der. And at the time I couldn’t identify it. If you were to show me
that same video back then and tell me, “Hey, what’s wrong with it? I’d been like, “I don’t know,
it seems pretty good to me.” But now I can identify
these little issues. So now whenever I deliver a video my goal is always to get it so good, to the point that they
just take it and they go. “This is brilliant, how
soon can we upload this?” And if you can get it to the point where the client basically
never has notes for you, they’re gonna keep coming back and they’re gonna love you forever. And then you could boost your
rates and they’ll be like, “You’re worth it,” because
you always get it done right. Anyways, let’s wrap this up
by reading a few comments from my last video, which was
about a tiny little FPV drone that you can fly around. And Robert Macintosh, the legend himself, chopped up a GoPro, stuck
it on the top of the camera, flew it around tight spaces and
schooled us on drone flying. So let’s see what you guys had to say. The top comment was from Johnny. “Mr. Pilot at the beginning “looks like he is going
to be the main actor of ‘Ready Player One 2′.” (laughs) Yeah, these FPV goggles
always look so funky, like. I should start wearing this
out to bars, I’d be like, “Hey, you come here often?” And I’ll just be like staring at a wall, ’cause I can’t see anything. The footage of the drone
going through tight spaces gave me anxiety. No, seriously, watching that
monitor I was just like, (groans) the whole time. And Robert just does it too. He doesn’t just go, “All
right, I’m gonna do it.” He just like goes (buzzes), and then go straight through a whole bunch of little tight spaces. “Awesome, didn’t know ZZ Top flew drones.” What’s ZZ Top look like? Oh my goodness, that is him. That is him. – [Narrator] Thanks for
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