What are some intangibles that needs to be in place before you can make the jump from hobbyist to full-time? Both physical tools and individual traits. Thanks so much guys
going from hobbyist to full-time is a pretty huge turning point, one that it is often easy to find dozens of reasons why not to take the leap or why the timing isn’t quite right. while it certainly is a big decision, we’ve been witness to so many of these leaps through our different educational experiences and the overwhelming majority say that it was the best decision they ever made.
let’s look at some of the tools and skills that will really help you make that leap in a successful and efficient way.
SOME KEY TOOLS TO HAVE IN PLACE
redundancy and reliability. if you are looking to make this into a full-time venture, make sure you have the gear required to have redundancy and backups for everything critical. when it comes to audio, as an example, be prepared to use several wireless mics if a wedding, or a boom and lav for an interview. when it comes to cameras, that also means having all the camera bodies needed for how you do your work and then having at least an additional body should one go down. gear often fails but the expectation and standard is much lower as a hobbyist and a big mistake early on could really hurt your brand and lead to a pretty upset couple or client.
have the fundamentals. it is important to have a bunch of the key pieces of gear; camera, lenses, basic support, audio, and lighting. renting is a great option, our friends at LensProToGo have allowed us to take on some projects with much bigger gear needs than we could handle. however, you do want to make sure you have the fundamentals so that you keep your overhead down for each shoot and, more importantly, it is easy to pick things up and practice.
the paperwork. you’ll want to make sure you have contracts in place for your first client as you go full-time. it is so important to set the right expectations so you can really excel with the few clients you start with and ensure you don’t get stuck doing a lot of extra things because you weren’t clear enough in the beginning. when you’re starting out, you likely don’t know what to include and what exactly to protect yourself from. search online and there are many resources where you can buy templates so you have something in place. from there you can tweak and add to it as your grow.
SOME KEY SKILLS TO LOOK FOR
understanding where you’re at and what you need to learn. an understanding of the language of film is so vital, as it really the building block to creating any type of story you might like. while you may not be as comfortable in certain areas as others, such as lighting or camera, just having a solid understanding of how they relate to story lets you put the right people in place and effectively communicate what you need. if you are looking at making the leap, it is recommended that you… understand camera (setting, lenses, movement), audio, light, post and the basics of storytelling. you will be more familiar with some areas than others, but the first step is really assessing where you are at with each and putting a plan in place to work on the weakest link. once you know where you are at, you can also find other skill sets that compliment you, which leads to the next consideration; your network. ideally you have a good understanding of all of the elements of filmmaking and you know where you need to improve before make the move to full-time.
a solid network lets you be bigger than you are. if you are starting out full-time, many won’t have the luxury of turning down work. you also want to avoid putting yourself in a place where you are likely to fail. by creating a network of shooters, editors, animators, and other relevant skill sets, you give yourself the ability to be successful on many more projects the first time around. by working with a network, you also give yourself the change to learn very quickly when you bring on people who might know more in lighting than you do. at this stage, contracts are often the best bet. more than just occasional contractors, try to build strong relationships with others that share a similar style and passion. many at this stage trade their time with others so they can bring in help without an additional cost while also staying busy and learning through helping others.
be ready and able to sell yourself. if you are a hobbyist, you have the luxury of taking things as they come your way. there is no real need to actively push what you do, get it out there, and try to bring in more work. as you make that shift to full-time, all of a sudden there is heavy weight on you to keep the emails flowing in. some people think and work like this, so this will be a natural transition and one that they will embrace. for others, that might not be the most familiar or comfortable territory and so they key is to figure it out yourself or find somebody who can fill that role. either way, this is a big part of keeping things growing so you need to be prepared for it.
have a brand in place. having a brand is an integral part of going from a hobbyist to somebody looking to be taken more seriously. while everything that composes your brand is important in shaping the perception of what you do and what you’re about, the process of developing a brand also pushes you as the artist to really question your motivations and direction. you don’t want to find yourself making that leap to full-time without really knowing what your about and what kind of voice you want to have. that in itself can take a while to figure out and then you have to start the lengthy process of developing a brand. your vision, goals, and brand will evolve as you grow, so don’t feel like you have to have it all figured out right away, but it is important to have a starting point in place and a clear vision as you start.
make a plan. having a business plan, even if elementary, will go a long way in making sure what you want to do is actually sustainable as well as give you goals to work towards. when stillmotion first started, this is something we did not do well. we would often find ourselves with more weddings than we could handle and no clear vision on exactly where we wanted to be or how we would get there. as you make goals, try to look at what you can do immediately, pin the short term, and what you want to accomplish overall. this focus is a big difference from being a hobbyist but will keep you on track and minimize the time you need to invest as you build things.