I'm a planner. I like maps. I like to know where I'm going, especially if I've got people (my family in this case) with me. With that in mind, what does this hot mess of being a freelance filmmaker look like five, ten, or twenty years down the road?
Freelancing isn't necessarily the most conducive or predictable means of making a living if you're down for long term plans. Sure, you can make plans but that doesn't mean they're foolproof. I'm pretty sure no plans are absolutely foolproof.
A good deal of my conversations with peers lately have wound up around what our lives and line of work will look like down the road. In general, these conversations address cashflow and finances, long term health,
By all means if you can't make the numbers work, you can't keep doing the thing. I've talked about finances before and know that the topic absolutely occupies an unhealthy amount of time in my life. Still, I think there should be more open conversations around finances in freelancing and how to improve your financial health – notice I didn't just say "make more money."
Looking back on my first year in New York I can say that while writing this post 54% of my revenue is from new clients I've connected with here in the city, 19% is from stock footage licensing, and the remaining 27% is from existing clients (only 13% of those existing clients are based in Oklahoma). My monthly profits are up 4% from my averages and up 1% from last year. I've got a ways to go in order to make here in such an expensive market, but feel like things are moving in the right direction.
Other conversations have focused on physical health and being able to keep up with the demands of the work. Thankfully I'm still healthy and in good shape, but absolutely know others who aren't. I'm turning 38 soon and know in time my body will physically not be able to swing a camera or gear around as well as I can now. Recently both of my shoulders reminded me that I'm no longer in my twenties.
I had a shoot recently and got to meet and work with a stills photographer named Richard Drew who's been working for the Associated Press for forty years. He's the photog behind the Falling Man image from the Sept. 11th attacks and was also one of the four press photographers in the room when Robert Kennedy was shot and killed. This guy is in his early 70s, has been working professionally for more than 50 years, and seemed to have no intention of retiring anytime soon. He looked MUCH younger than he actually was and talked about how the physicality of the work has kept him young. I've met a few people like this over the years and pray I'm one of the lucky ones to make it that far.
While we're at it, I'll throw in the fact that I talked about Becoming an Old Freelancer right around this time last year. Along with Finances, I also wrote some nonsense about Mental & Emotional Health as well as Community.
One thing that doesn't come up though in these conversations about what our professional world will look like down the road is gear. Still, I nerd out at times and look forward to the new tools available to help us do the thing. I'm heading out to the NAB show here in New York later this week to check out all the stuffs. Plus there's this Arri interview with Roger Deakins and his experience with the new Alexa Mini LF. Seems like they should've shot it on LFs instead of a couple Amiras.