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BCU Film Freelancer Fair

TCC team members Caroline “CJ” Dalton and Elle Finn were invited along to Birmingham City University’s first ever Film Freelancer Fair yesterday, and they had great fun.

The emphasis of the event was to assist new entrants and novice workers entering the flexible labour market of the UK Film and TV Industry and to give them some insight into the less discussed points of freelancing. The most widely explored topic of the day was the tax and compliance side of freelancing, discussed via a presentation given by TCC’s own CJ. She covered everything from creating your own limited company right through to insuring your kit (including your laptop and phone!). The most important message taken from this presentation was, if in doubt, ASK YOUR ACCOUNTANT for advice – she had the whole lecture theatre chanting this by the end!

Caroline Dalton gives a presentation on compliance

After this, The Crewing Company ran a specialised CV Clinic, whereby the students booked sessions to speak with CJ and Elle, who gave step-by-step advice on improving their CVs.
The most frequent problem they mentioned (apart from viewing their CV on a cracked phone screen!) was their credit list. The majority of students were concerned that their lack of credits would stay the same forever, but we gently reminded them that at 18, or thereabouts, we don’t expect them to have Ridley Scott’s credit list! Ultimately, we suggested taking every free moment to contact companies and individuals for runner-type roles. Early or late, long hours or … well it’s always long hours, but never be fussy. Take the work you can get and be broad with the types of project you work on, because while you’re still young, you can afford to experiment to find your passion.

We also were invited to sit on the industry Q&A panel, where we shared our experiences and attempted to prepare the students for the uncertainties of the flexible labour market. CJ was primarily asked about her background in theatre production; she divulged that reputation is everything and you should always be a diligent, team playing worker. Elle was primarily asked about the creation of showreels; she discussed the importance of an updated and snappy showreel that reflects you as a creator and doesn’t imitate other work.


TCC’s Elle Finn and Caroline Dalton on Q&A panel

Questions asked:
How do you adapt your personality to become a good freelancer?
You mustn’t change yourself. To be a good freelancer, you need to have confidence in your work without being arrogant and you should be willing to work hard and prepared for any eventuality. You must also be flexible and succeptible to change and aware of the industry surroundings.
How can I become a good cameraman whilst still at uni?
Play with all the kit available to you as often as you can. BCU has a fantastic equipment loan service – so use it! Take advantage of the studios and the edit suites to shift your perspective of your discipline and shoot whenever and wherever you can.

The students that attended were avidly interested and asked some thoughtful questions. We believe that with the right advice from professionals and a lot of hard work, passion and development, the BCU students will make a cracking bunch of freelancers.

Photographs courtesy of Cam McCulloch-Keeble