Five Steps to Your First Gig in Video Production

first-freelance-gigWorking in film and video production is a fantastic career, but a lot of the available “jobs” aren’t really jobs at all. They’re freelance gigs. Getting hired as a video production contractor takes some effort, but follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to filling your calendar and starting a successful career in freelance video production.

1. Get a respectable picture of yourself. This means you’re dressed like a professional and not holding a drink. Ask a friend to take one for you, because selfies are not how you want to introduce yourself to future clients.

2. List yourself in directories. You’ll want to find the websites where people go to find video production freelancers. Some of them are national, some are based around states or cities. A lot of these sites will let you post a profile for free, and some sites that charge may be worth the cost if they get you new contacts. The best way to find these sites is to pretend you’re a producer looking for your next hire. You might search for “Production Assistant Milwaukee” or “Film Grips in Chicago.” The directory sites that turn up in a search like that are probably the ones you want to be listed in. Complete your profile and use that snappy new picture of yourself.

3. Start a page (or an entire web site) that’s about you as a professional. When you’re just starting out, it’s okay to have something small. A listing on, for example, is free and easy to update. Post production freelancers might use a site like Behance. You can mention your work or your volunteer activities, collegiate accomplishments, and anything else that might make a producer remember you and want to hire you. A page that’s all about you as a professional sends the message that you’re passionate about video production. If you want producers to find it, you might add a link to it at the bottom of your email signature. As you start to post more about yourself online, you can add links to your YouTube channel, Vimeo page, or your own dot com page, too.

4. Meet some people that do what you want to do. Remember those directories that you listed yourself in? Who else is listed in them? Send a nice email offering free coffee, and 50% of strangers will be more than willing to meet another freelance video production professional. You might find out where they get their gigs, what mistakes they’ve made, and what they’ve learned. All for under five bucks. Since freelancers are sometimes too busy to accept new gigs, they may even send a producer your way from time to time.

5. Meet people that hire and recommend crews for film and video production. This means getting to know the local stages and rental houses (even a small city like Milwaukee has about a dozen different companies that support film crews), and also video producers at production companies and ad agencies.  You might find these people on LinkedIn, Twitter, or through your own network. An email introduction can sometimes work, but the best way to get hired is to get yourself in front of these decision-makers.

Be professional, be nice, and follow these tips and you’ll be filling your calendar up in no time!

posted by Jon Kline