Production Crew: 5 Tips On Working With Freelancers

You're ready to get cracking on your first video project, but before you load up your equipment, you will first need to get your crew in order. Depending on the size of your production, you will probably need to hire some extra help before, during and after the shoot. You might want to work with a production coordinator to handle all paperwork and appointment-setting; you might need a technical assistant to set up your equipment; a cinematographer might be in order to assist you in lighting your set, and so on.

Unless you're a big production house that is willing to retain people on a monthly basis, oftentimes you will find yourself in need of freelancers for your projects. If you are not accustomed to their way of working, it could spell bad news for you. Here are some tips to help you out on working with freelancers.

1. Set the Scope of Work

Write down the freelancer's level of involvement in the project, and his scope of work. This has to be spelled in black and white so that expectations are clear for both of you. Know which services you will require of the person, how long you think the work will go for, and how much work you expect him to put into it. You may have the option of paying the person on an hourly basis, or as a day rate. Find out which payment scheme is workable for you both, and be honest about the rate and hours up front.

2. Make the Deadlines and Dates Clear

If you're working with someone for the first time, give him a deadline days ahead of the deadline day. Don't demand for the project earlier than the agreed upon deadline. Freelancers often juggle more than one work at the same time. Also, give the crew the shooting days well in advance to ensure they'll be available and committed to your project.

3. Don't Choose Crew Based on Price

Avoid making the mistake of hiring freelancers based on price. You will find that you will often get what you pay for. So, if you scrimp too much, you might end up with an inexperienced freelancer who can't back up his claims. Ask your network for referrals of freelancers they've worked with, and always ask to see their work portfolio if applicable. This way, you have an idea of the caliber of work your freelancer can deliver.

4. Minimize Communication Channels

The best way of dealing with a freelancer is dealing with him directly. This way, the communication channel between you two is free and clear. You'll be able to get the job done faster and more to your liking. If your freelance employee has to go through so many channels and people to reach you, chances are it might be too late before you get a chance to jump in to troubleshoot.

5. Clarify Payment Terms

Especially in production work, you will hire some freelancers only for the shoot day itself. Find out the usual protocol for working with crew members on a daily basis. Are they locked to certain hours only? Do they expect a per diem allowance? Should you prepare cash or check payment after pack-up? Clearing up these terms will ensure a good working relationship between you and your freelance employees.

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