How to Freelance & Get Commissioned | TV & Film | BAFTA Guru Live Workshop

by Jenna
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This really insightful workshop from Bafta and Guru Live was hosted by Sara Putt of Sara Putt Associates and was sponsored by Searchlight. Here are a few helpful tips on how to go freelance and get your TV/Film/Idea commissioned.

Building your brand
  1. Build up a body of work
  2. Find your voice
  3. Think about how you come across both online and offline
  1. Build relationships with people in all levels
  2. Reciprocate – how can I help you as well
  3. If someone gives you their card, find a way to email them after to build that relationship
  4. Keep in contact, email with updates maybe once every three months and not just when you want work
  5. Reach out on Twitter and Linked In too

  1. Keep your website updated
  2. Create a unique website
  3. Present your ideas and influences
  4. Blog about things that inspire you or work you’ve done recently
Social Media
  1. Linked In – professional photo, link to website, use keywords and list experience, think about your job title for the strap line
  2. Twitter – don’t say anything that you wouldn’t say in person, tweet about industry things and build relationships with other users
  3. Google yourself – How are you presented? What’s your online presence like? How are the people you like presented online?
  1. Identify, verify and contact – the three things your CV needs to do
  2. Tweak your CV for every job
  3. Most relevant information at the top
  4. If you don’t have any relevant experience put transferable skills
  5. Put people you’ve worked with – people might know them and be more inclined to interview you or call that person up for a reference
  6. Put your job title, email, mobile and website at the top
  7. Don’t put your address unless it is useful
  8. Be honest, don’t egg it up
  9. Avoid generic mission statements – make it unique, show not tell, say what you’re going to give not what you’re going to get, make it like a film trailer for your CV
Interview & the deal
  1. Make it a two way street
  2. Think of three things you want to get across
  3. Give positive reactions and don’t be scared of silence
  4. Ask questions
  5. Breathe
  6. Send a thank you email after even if you didn’t get the job
  7. Get them to name the price/pay – you’ll lose out if you name a price that was lower than what they were thinking
  8. Be assertive and have a look at what other similar jobs are paid like e.g. rate cards
  9. Again, the power of silence “I was thinking of £600 a week rather than £500.” Give them a chance to think about it for a few seconds rather than saying “but if you can’t it’s ok.”
  10. Get feedback from jobs to further your development
  11. Don’t get trapped in an area you don’t want to be in

Getting Commissioned

The Getting Commissioned workshop was hosted by Donna Taberer and featured Emma Westcott from Channel 5, Claudia Lewis from BBC Science, Shaun Parry from Electric Ray and Dom Bird from Channel 4. This was an interesting and insight workshop that focused on how to get factual shows commissioned rather than anything fictional. Here are a few tips from the workshop:

  • When thinking of ideas – work and scale them up, don’t just settle on the first idea and make sure it isn’t just general or vague
  • Use idea development games e.g. brainstorming
  • Ideas that are relevant are more likely to get commissioned e.g. an idea about fake news is relevant and now is the perfect time for a programme about it
  • Comes up with unique and interesting take on ideas
  • Create a taster tape: A short video that can either be shot by you or a collection of YouTube clips but make sure it presents and sells your idea.
  • Treatment: Don’t complicate it and don’t go over two pages
  • Going through an independent production company can help your idea get commissioned
  • You can email development executives directly – just google their name and email address
  • For both factual and fiction: Look for a company that has made/makes similar shows that you have and target your pitch for them. E.g. if you’ve written a comedy sketch series then look for production companies who have made them in the past

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