Telly Managing Director Sabrina Dridje moderated a panel on how documentary filmmakers can strike a balance between freelance opportunities and personal projects, with Lauren Brady (Vox Creative, Independent Producer), director and cinematographer Nick Bentgen (Northern Lightand #LoveYourz), and producer Farihah Zaman (Field of Vision, Independent Producer).
Here are a few highlights that surfaced during our conversation:
When is the right stage in your career to freelance or take a full-time position?
It’s difficult to know when to take a full-time position or continue freelancing. Having worked both independently and within companies throughout their careers, our panelists unilaterally agreed: your gut instinct should as your guiding light when deciding between freelance and full-time. However, impressive freelance opportunities and personal projects can put up-and-coming filmmakers on the radar of companies looking to hire.
How can you bring your personal brand or aesthetic to your commissioned work?
For some creators, it is more beneficial to combine producing work within a company with their personal projects. Panelist Zaman’s latest piece, American Carnage, was commissioned by her team at Field of Vision after pitching the idea to document Steve Bannon’s years as a filmmaker.
Bentgen shot the viral New York Times Magazine interview with Jay-Z by incorporating his personal aesthetic and vision to this commissioned piece, which elevated it a new level.
Contrary to popular belief, commissioned work can often incorporate both your personal aesthetic and topics of internet.
How can your experience as a Documentary filmmaker benefit the creation of Branded Content?
With the rise of branded content, in which beautifully crafted films–rather than brand placement–take center stage, the need for a specific filmmaker is also on the rise. According to panelist Lauren Brady, who produces branded content for Vox, documentary filmmakers carry the ideal skills to fill this need. With experience sourcing compelling subjects, creating a comfortable interview setting for subjects, and the ability to shoot, produce and edit projects, nonfiction filmmakers are often a natural fit for branded content work.