It’s not an uncommon dream or a common success. Making it as a freelancer in Hollywood is tough. Here are a few secrets to navigating the tricky world of La-La Land as an aspiring video producer.
1. Always have a nest egg.
We’re all about rolling the dice sometimes, but it’s hard to be creative when you’re stressed about money. Before you quit that 9 to 5 to pursue your dream, make it a point to save up. That doesn’t mean you should shy away from accepting jobs in the meantime. It’s important to consider the size of your savings when a bulk of your income as a freelancer is delivered in lump sums. You’ll be glad you did.
In order to make it in Hollywood, you’re going to have to come to terms with sacrificing some things for your work. Take SpaceX and Tesla founder/probable extraterrestrial Elon Musk’s advice (kinda):
“Work like hell. I mean you just have to put in 80 to 100 hour weeks every week. [This] improves the odds of success. If other people are putting in 40 hour work weeks and you’re putting in 100 hour work weeks, then even if you’re doing the same thing you know that you will achieve in 4 months what it takes them a year to achieve.”
We know that Elon Musk is trying to get back to his highly evolved people in space and us mere mortals can’t really work 100 hour weeks without losing our minds. But the principle remains; work like hell and eventually, you won’t have to.
2. You’re not too good for that job.
There is enough ego to go around in Los Angeles, so leave yours at the door. Especially when you’re just starting out, know that you aren’t too talented or too smart to accept any job. If someone is willing to pay you a fair amount of money for your work, go for it.
Don’t cut corners. Just because a job may seem like small fries, the internet is an amazing place. Any job you do now has a potential audience of billions. One of those viewers may offer you your next job. Big bucks aren’t necessary to create viral sensations. You never know the success a simple marketing video can bring to both you and your client.
3. Networking is everything.
Similar to many other industries, who you know is a major factor in building your client list. We suggest breaking Musk’s suggested 80 hour work week into ¾ actual work and ¼ networking. Meetup.com is an awesome place to connect with other video producers and industry experts. Check out DoLA for arts and film festivals and other events where you may meet your new team of creatives or land yourself a press pass.
4. Find your niche.
When work is slim, it helps to be a well-rounded freelancer. In the long term, however, it’s in your best interest to find your favorite role in the crew and become well known for it. Whether it’s camera operator, producer, sound engineer or editor, dedicate extra time to becoming an expert and sell yourself accordingly to prospective clients and teams.
5. Never stop creating content.
Even if you’re just goofing off with your friends on camera or giving your favorite song some visuals, maintain a steady flow of content. It may not always be portfolio-worthy, but it may be the deciding piece for a future client. With each new project, you’ll also grow as a producer, improve your ability to lead people, acquire new skills, and narrow in on your style. Creating more never hurts.