From time to time, production companies will hire freelancers to fill the gaps on various video productions. Rarely are two video projects the same– and each project requires a different set of tools and personnel. So almost every production company will hire freelancers at one point or another.
The Four “A’s”
When we look to contract freelancers, we run everyone through our “4 A” filter– Attitude, Ability, Availability, Affordability, and in that order.
Many years ago, we did a large corporate conference in Dallas, and the AV company promised me the best audio engineer in town. He was good, but he brought a real bad attitude and had to be replaced. Attitude trumps ability every time.
The freelancer has to be talented. Their level of expertise can directly effect the production value of the project. And depending on the position, need to balance between being an artist and being an engineer. For animations, I’ve seen work that is done that is precise, but lacks the creative flair. Vice versa, I’ve seen work so creative, it misses the point of the client’s story, or even detracts from it.
It won’t do us any good to hire someone if they’re not available. Usually, if we call a freelancer that isn’t available, then we call another time and hit the same result, eventually, we’ll quit calling. Conversely, if a freelancer commits to a shoot, and then are offered a bigger gig, there are industry standards for handling this– the freelancer finds a suitable replacement and asks the production company if this is acceptable. This happened recently and the freelancer found a very capable replacement. Also, another producer friend of mine had a freelancer drop out a day or two before the shoot because he had a bigger gig come up. That freelancer is no longer eligible for re-hire.
Sometimes we’ll have budgets already set by the client and we’ll present the rate and the freelancer can say yes or no. Other times, we can bid a job to a specific freelancers standard day rate. A freelancer’s day rate should be reasonable. I’ve had freelancers tell me their day rate, which was way too high, and tell me that they’ll be glad to work for less. Then I feel like a jerk asking them to work for “cheap” when the rate might be the standard in the area. The freelancer should have reasonable day rates established.
We have hired camera operators, location sound people, makeup artists, gaffers, steadicam operators, jib operators, and production assistants for the shoots. For post, we do sometimes bring in an extra editor or two, hire specific animators who specialize in After Effects, or 3D.
And the great thing about Dallas Fort Worth, is the level of talent here is very high, due to the large amount of corporate video, national commercials and tv shows.