The UK is often referred to as a world class production hub, with crew and production teams
underpinning its reputation. With around 50% of the workforce operating as self-employed,
becoming a freelancer is a decision that needs to be carefully considered if looking to build a career
in film or TV production.

For those looking at becoming a freelancer, we have pulled together some of the key points to help
you understand what is required and help you build a successful business.

Make a plan

We are not saying you need to write a business plan with the finest detail, however ensuring you are
clear on your goals and ideas, supported with a clear plan of action will help you stay focused. Points
to think about include:

  • The current position of the TV and Film production market and what freelance production /
    crew opportunities exist.
  • Define how will you brand and differentiate yourself from the competition
  • Determine your target clients and how you advertise your availability.
  • Understand running costs and costs associated with growth
  • Research charging model to ensure in alignment with the rest of the industry and
    competition
  • Give yourself some targets and measure yourself against them, however ensure they are
    realistic and achievable.

Brand development and advertising yourself

Spending time on branding yourself is essential in helping communicate to customers who you are
and what you’re about. There is significant competition in the film production freelance industry and
making yourself standout will be important for future success.

Production Crowd and advertising platforms provide different levels of predefined templated
profiles, but ensure you think about how you want to position yourself and do not see it as a tick box
exercise. It is important to take the time to inform clients of your skills, qualifications, education and
experience whilst ensuring your overall web presence is polished and has continuity.

Company or self-employed? choosing the right legal structure

When setting up as a freelancer, you will need to decide on your legal structure before registering
with HMRC. The two options are to set yourself up as a sole trader or limited company. There are
numerous differences between the two, and both come with distinct advantages and disadvantages.
It is worth seeking advice from those already working in your specific industry, as research online
doesn’t provide the entire picture and each industry will operate in a different way. For most film
production freelancers setting up as a sole trader is often the simplest and fastest route, and if the
requirements change, a limited company can be formed at a later date.

Sole trader – A sole trader is a self employed individual person who is the only owner of the
business. The main point to highlight is that there is no legal separation between the business owner
and the business itself.

https://www.gov.uk/set-up-sole-trader

Limited company – A limited company is a completely separate legal entity from the business owner.
This type of business can be formed whether you operate as an individual or a business with
employees. If you go down this route, you will serve the business as its director. This means you will
be responsible for all the legal and financial decisions the business makes, but any assets and or
liabilities are separate from your individual finances.

https://www.gov.uk/limited-company-formation

Register with HMRC to ensure tax compliance

It is imperative, whether you set up as a sole trader or limited company that you register with the
HRMC. Dependent on how you set up your freelance business, it is prudent to learn and understand
your responsibilities as quickly as possible.

Insurance

Being a freelancer and working for yourself, it is essential to have insurance in place as protection.
There a number of different types of insurance, and within each type there are many levels of cover.
The cover you require will be dependent on the specific work you do. With insurance cover from
public liability to professional indemnity, it is important to take the time to ensure you are covered
correctly and meet the requirements of any potential client.

Becoming a freelancer and making the step to running your own business can be daunting and
exciting at the same time, but by following these tips, perseverance and utilising connections you
will be giving yourself the best chance of success.