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ctboita

Freelance Newbie with a Ton of Experience. Seeks Advice!

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Greetings! I have been a lurker of this sound board for a few years now and truly appreciate the quality of information and advice given throughout the years. I have finally decided to sign up for an account and start contributing to the group. I plan to make a few posts with individual topics so they can be discussed individually and people can read/respond to what interests them.

 

The reason for this particular post is, for the past 12 years I have worked as a government contractor and  produced video for the Federal Government in a classified setting. I stepped away from that endeavor a little while back and am now looking to freelance when possible. That said, even though I have been a part of well over 100 productions, I don’t have a demo reel or show list that I can share because of, well… I’d get thrown in jail.

 

I am seeking advice on the best way to move forward into the freelance world without having to start from scratch (if it’s even possible). I live outside of the Washington DC metro area (Front Royal, VA) and figure most of the better paying jobs are in and around the city. This post isn’t meant to be a resume or a search for work but rather background information on my experience and what I am looking for to hopefully help you point me in the right direction.

 

I am mostly interested in shorter gigs in the 1-7 day range, but would be willing to take a slightly longer term gig for the right project. As a side note, I own and operate a coffee roastery, three cafés, and a restaurant. I have a great team that takes care of the day-to-day operations and allows me the flexibility to step away for chunks of time but can’t leave them for too long. Funny enough, amongst all the chaos of running that business, I miss the creativity and problem solving that goes into creating great videos and would like to supplement my income by mixing audio. I am also willing to travel so long as it isn’t a long term project. I should also mention, I am not looking for anything incredibly complicated to mix, at least while I get my feet wet out in “the real world”. The bulk of my experience has been in studio work, on location interviews, docu style productions, and panel discussions with multiple presenters.

 

I have experience in the entire video production process starting with writing a script, working with talent (including a little hair and makeup), producing and directing, running a camera, lighting a scene, location sound mixing, boom op-ing (I’m pretty sure that’s a word), editing, still/motion graphics, and authoring video. I mention this because I have a great working knowledge of what goes into creating a wide variety of shows and have seen the process from a myriad of different angles. Of all the positions I’ve held, I enjoy the role of location sound mixer the most and is the direction I want to head in. I am punctual, easy to get along with, knowledgeable of my craft, and for what it’s worth, I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Digital Cinematography.

 

Is there a good freelance website or two that you have had success in landing jobs or has it all been networking/word of mouth? As I mentioned earlier, with the coffee businesses, I don’t have a lot of extra time to hobnob around in hopes of finding work. Does anyone know of any good networking events coming up in the Washington DC area?

 

I have a decent kit put together, but still need to purchase a few items (such as better wireless). I created a post titled “Help Me Round Out My Kit!” If you are interested in seeing what gear I currently own.

 

Bless you if you made it this far and thank you for taking the time to read through my post! I truly appreciate any advice you can give.
 

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Welcome to the rat race! My advice: don't bother with job sites, they're mostly there to just take your money. Get to know the other mixers in your area, befriend them, be a part of their community, and don't underbid them. Your network with them will be far more important than any other network realistically. If they can count on you to sub for them without underbidding, giving away additional gear or providing extra services to win over a clients favor, then you will be passed gigs and referrals from those people. But if you do any of those things then you will likely be blacklisted and it will prove difficult to get any work as word goes around that you underbid and can't be trusted. It is a business, so charge accordingly, be polite, do a good job, have good settiquette, and use common sense. 

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10 hours ago, JonG said:

Welcome to the rat race! My advice: don't bother with job sites, they're mostly there to just take your money. Get to know the other mixers in your area, befriend them, be a part of their community, and don't underbid them. Your network with them will be far more important than any other network realistically. If they can count on you to sub for them without underbidding, giving away additional gear or providing extra services to win over a clients favor, then you will be passed gigs and referrals from those people. But if you do any of those things then you will likely be blacklisted and it will prove difficult to get any work as word goes around that you underbid and can't be trusted. It is a business, so charge accordingly, be polite, do a good job, have good settiquette, and use common sense. 

 

Jon,

 

Thank you for your advice. I most certainly don't want to undercut anyone. My time is quite valuable to me so I will only take jobs that pay professional industry rates. That said, It seems a bit hard to find information on what others charge for a day rate in my specific area. I figured I would start at $600/10hr day plus $350 basic Kit. Does that seem reasonable?

 

Are there any mixers in the Washington DC area that would be willing to have a conversation (perhaps over a pint) about their day rates and any advice about finding work in the area? 

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There may be a DC/Maryland sound mixers group on Facebook but you could start by reaching out here. I charge $650/10 + $350 basic kit here in Los Angeles, I would say those are reasonable numbers anywhere. 

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