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How to become a freelance filmmaker

How to become a freelance filmmaker

Learn how to kickstart your career in freelance filmmaking with expert advice and essential tips in this comprehensive guide. 

Whether you’re working in-house and looking to make the move to freelance, or you’re hoping to turn a filmmaking passion into a career – this post has everything you need to know, including our top tips on how to become a freelance filmmaker.  

What is a freelance filmmaker?

The role of a freelance filmmaker is an exciting one, involving an independent individual who takes on a diverse range of film and video projects on a project-by-project basis, usually without committing to long-term agreements with employers

The sorts of projects they’d be involved in could range from adverts, music videos, promotional content, to longer-form content such as documentaries or films. In fact, some freelance filmmakers specialise in certain areas, with freelance documentary filmmakers being one of the most highly sought after. 

The freelance filmmaker will have full control over the filming of their projects, from cinematography to sound design. Clients may also wish for their expert input into video content, storyboarding and scriptwriting.  

How much do freelance filmmakers make? 

You may be wondering how to make money as a freelance filmmaker, and what sort of rates to charge clients. Although it does typically depend on ability, experience and advanced skillset, the average hourly rate for a freelance filmmaker in the UK as of 2023 is £47/hour. 

Steps to becoming a successful freelance filmmaker 

Becoming a freelance filmmaker involves establishing yourself as an independent professional in the film industry. It’s not easy when you first start out, but covering off our pointers below can help you get where you want to be quicker. 

Acquire skills and knowledge 

Whether through online courses, workshops or self-study, learn about scriptwriting, cinematography, sound design, editing and more, and get comfortable with every element of filmmaking. See the top skills you’ll need as a freelance filmmaker here. 

Know your niche and build a brand 

Often coming up against fierce competition, it’s important to set yourself apart from the crowd. How is your style different to the rest? What are your USPs? Make sure you’ve nailed your brand and style before anything else and shout about it in your pitches. You could consider sustainable filmmaking as one of your USPs if it applies to your preferred style; it’ll certainly set you apart. 


You’d be surprised how many freelance job opportunities arise from connections you already know. Attend film festivals and industry events to meet potential clients, as well as learning from fellow freelance filmmakers and mentors. Utilise your network to get your name out there. 

Build a portfolio 

Create a strong portfolio showcasing your work, including short films, videos or any projects you have contributed to. A varied portfolio is most valuable, so that prospective clients can get a feel for what you are capable of. 

Be aware of legalities for your freelance business 

You may wish to create a limited liability company (LLC), or another suitable business structure when freelancing, and set up a separate bank account for finances. Make sure to obtain proper financial records, invoice clients promptly and manage your finances effectively to ensure a sustainable freelance career that’s all above board. 

Know your worth and ensure contracts are watertight 

Understand how to negotiate contracts and terms of work with clients, and don’t be pushed into decreasing your rates to anything vastly less than you set out. Ensure that contracts clearly outline project scope, payment terms, deadlines and intellectual property rights – before any work commences. That way, both you and your client know exactly what’s to be expected. 

Online presence 

Whether it’s a business website or social media, showcasing your portfolio online is key for success in this modern day and age. On these channels you should include relevant information about your services, USPs, pricing and contact details on your website. You can also use these to market your services too. Improving your website's search engine optimisation is an effective method to draw in potential customers who may not have previously been familiar with you, but who are looking for your area of expertise. 

Seek freelance opportunities  

Job boards, freelance sites and LinkedIn job adverts are fantastic places to find freelance filmmaking job opportunities. You could also join talent agencies or freelancing groups to widen your net. 

Stay dedicated 

Finally, the freelance filmmaking world is highly competitive. Remember that you are unlikely to win all pitches you take part in and clients won’t always be satisfied with your first version. Stay positive, focused and dedicated to your craft, and the rest will follow!

How can an online MA in Film Practice help you establish yourself as a filmmaker? 

If you’re interested to discover more, or you require additional training to get onto the freelance filmmaker career ladder, you could consider our online MA in Film Practice. 

This two-year course is part-time and fully online, meaning you can fit your filmmaking studies around your other commitments, and have time to build up real world experience: 

Explore the course

Start your creative journey here.

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