In this blog, I’m going to talk about the pros and cons of working for “exposure” and working your way into paying gigs, specifically for filmmakers.
So if you are a filmmaker considering doing projects for “exposure” which essentially means for free, you are probably new or new-ish to the industry. For people that have no to little experience, it makes sense to start out doing stuff for free. You don’t have anything in your portfolio or reel. The client doesn’t know if you can deliver well and - what if you don’t? You are still learning - so doing things for exposure is often helping you just as much as it is helping the client at this stage.
Usually, people work for free for student projects, with their friends, or passion projects they really want to be a part of, but working for free should not be your norm because not only does that mean you are getting little to no money for your work, but you are also making it okay for people to continue to ask creative people to do work for free - which is a longstanding battle with creatives. Remember, exposure doesn't pay the bills.
For people that are getting started, doing work for free is a good way to get to 1st or 2nd gear. This is especially true for students. You are expected to still be learning and gradually getting to the point where you feel confident to charge for your work, whether it’s being a PA, camera PA, or even videography and photography, etc.
Keep in mind, for free work- you should be able to use the final video or product for your benefit in your reel, website, etc. Because the EXPOSURE part is just that. There can be potential networking benefits too, but always remember that you are providing a service and are not receiving any money, so the non-monetary benefit should be larger than the negative of not getting paid.
If you are more involved in the industry, this is where you make your living and you must value your time for others to also value your time. Once you start taking jobs that other people in the industry would be taking, you should also be charging what they would be charging. If you continue to work for free for higher-end jobs, you are making it increasingly difficult for professionals to get paid. Making a video or providing a service for a film, should be seen just like providing a product or any other service - it requires time and sometimes money, and should be compensated. It’s not a hobby, it’s a profession and should be treated as one.
If you are struggling to know what to charge for what you do, ask people that are at the same skill level as you for what they charge. You can also look at blogs and different discussion boards to see what people charge for different jobs in different states.
You can find paying jobs on a number of job boards like StaffMeUp for Mandy. Also, remember that there are Facebook groups for certain departments you can join that also post jobs.
Remember your value and the place you are in your career and make wise choices.
If you're interested in making money and getting paid for your work. Make sure you know all you need to know and check out my video on the rules to getting paid correctly on a film set.