the 3 P’s of Freelance: Pay, People, Project


I’ve now been doing this for awhile and out of all the things i hear, read, experience and learn – these concepts strike me as the best. The fact that they are also multi layered into various job skills and creative backgrounds is also a plus.
Take a listen/view and let’s discuss:


THE P’s

PAY

This one, of course, is the hardest one as you “need” money to survive and pay your bills (unless you were granted so crazy inheritance from your family, in which case- piss off, why are you even reading this?). The fact of the matter is simply- you have to make money somehow to live, maybe its doing what you love – maybe its doing what you need to do in order to survive, but money needs to be coming in at some point.

Now if your making enough that your able to accept all the fun projects that rando dude from Tokyo emails you= great, awesome, buy a pony. But if not, then you need to book your calendar first with paid work and second with free/low pay work.

PEOPLE

Nothing happens without people involved unless your doing everything yourself, which is another section/thing all together and not really “Freelance”, so being hired on a project will normally involve working with others. As you start it won’t matter so much as you’ll just be happy to have work and poss be paid to do said work, but after being in the game for awhile things change. Now you’ll be on the level of “You know what, client A does the same as client B for the most part= BUT client B is a dick to me.”

In my opinion, there’s no reason to work with people that don’t respect you or your time and for that- its not worth the stress of that job to accept at a later point in your career.
Now dont get me wrong, I appreciate hard work ethic and people having strong opinions and even getting into heated debates on set about them- but, you dont need to tell me in a disrespectful way that doesn’t help anyone except your own ego.

PROJECT

You have the money, you have the people, now what?
Project is the area where its a question of “What is this job all about, and do i really want to do it?” This has the most sub questions involved in all of the 3 P’s as its the one you have to deal with through the entire process- the money is said and then its done, the people are either there that day or not, the project though is with you throughout the entire process. Sometimes that can mean weeks or months worth of time, and its that “time” that you’ll be thinking “Why am i doing something i hate?” if you say yes to the wrong project.

It’s hard, trust me, to get to the point of turning down work when your freelance but once you get to the point where your more focused on your “career” instead of your “bills” – this is a big one. You could make 10k on a commercial and as a result get tons of new clients that hire you for that same “style” and “type” of project and be loaded with money…but….is that the thing you want? Are you happy “just being rich” or “shooting whatever”? There is a point where having a ton of money won’t make you happy, trust me.


THE RULES

All 3 P’s met – Awesome sauce

Congrats, you have been offered a project that meets all 3 P’s! Your making a great paycheck for your time and skills. Your working with some inspiring and creative people. Your doing the “thing” you want to be doing in general.
Go buy a boat, go shout on a rooftop, go tell a bunch of people who aren’t in the freelance world all the details about why freelance is so great (most of these people will roll eyes and say how they hate their job, btw). Do it now, cause….it doesnt happen all the time.

Most jobs never meet all 3 P’s so don’t get your hopes up that this will happen often, but when it does- it’s a great thing and something that you should at least try for all the time. This is normally the step that comes after working in the business for a long time and feeling like you have enough experience and knowledge to judge for yourself, rather then people “telling” you what to take, what to do, what to charge.

2 P’s met – am i ok with this?

This is the one you’ll get the most in freelance and the one that will take over your life. Most of the time you have to be ok with only 2 P’s and hope for a world where 3 P’s run free in a field of daisies or something. And thats ok, thats life.
Being ok with just 2 P’s means planning and figuring out some rules- What is my dayrate, what is my position on this project, what’s it even about? You’ll throw out these 3 questions to a client and get back answers that satisfy most of your concerns and questions with only one of the P’s being shitty.

The best advice i can give for this situation is once your more experienced in general- you’ll know more about the details and be understanding about the faults. When your starting- you dont care much cause you dont know much. When your at the top- you has a vast list of requirements that need to be met because your so in demand that you really can only do so many things and choose wisely on the ones you take. When your in that middle ground though is where you find you know enough to judge a thing worth taking vs a thing worth skipping.

1 P met – this better be worth it

This is the level where your starting to get know, starting to get hired, starting to get some money- but it’s with the smaller people/clients of the world that cant meet anything but 1 P. It’s going to happen, a lot. Dealing with this is a personal issue that can’t really be justified to anyone that’s not you. You have to make the best choice you can and be ok with it at the end of the day.

Best advice i can give is ask all the questions you can before giving a answer and accepting the job or project. Find out all the little things that your going to find out anyway but just try to do it before your knee deep in a 3 week long project shooting interviews that was billed as “Seeking Cinematographer for creative project!”

You have to really ask yourself if the 1 P is worth it, will you be ok with it, is it something that is so good that the other 2 don’t even need to be met? Alot of times the answer is yes actually. One thing i was told that i use everytime i get a 1 P job offer in is PAY. I put a number down that even if i don’t care for the project or the people involved- at least i know that when I’m sitting on set hating everything about these 12 hours= I will be going home with enough money that i don’t feel so so bad about the entire day. If the P is people- are they really awesome creative people that you want to work with regardless of anything else. If it’s the Project P, does this do something for you creatively or could you spend your time better doing nothing that day?

Lots of questions and lots of soul searching on this one.

No P’s met – skip it and move on (if you can)

This is the one that takes alot of time and experience as its going to involve turning down work of any kind. It’s hard, nobody “wants” to do it, but sometimes there comes a point where it needs to be done.

That’s my 2 cents on the subject, how do you feel?

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