Research; Interviews with a self-employed freelancer, a contracted worker and a guy who does both

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In order to find out the gritty details of the realities of the ways that people work within the media I conducted interviews on people from various backgrounds. Although I could not source any professionals that created media specifically for children, whether it be self employed or hired by somebody else this is a decision which I am required to think about.

With a reported ‘Self-employment boom’ and more people working for themselves than ever, is this a good or a bad thing? Not just on a personal level but also for the economy? Whilst some people argue that self-employment is responsible for a significant drop in productivity, others say that this is a new effective way to over come the lack of current employment opportunities available. But that is just what the newspapers say, what do the employers actually think?

Unfortunately, the self-employed person who was initially going to do an interview for me dropped out (most likely his schedule being one of the cons of his career life). So as a last resort I sourced an insightful interview online at with freelance graphics designer and photographer Lucas Cooper. It is worth noting that, on a international blog like this a person is more likely to speak favourably and therefore less honestly about the in’s and out of their careers. Nonetheless he has some very interesting things to say.


(Self-Employed Graphics designer and photographer)




Do you have any tips for anyone looking to start out in business or looking to grow an existing business?

As an employee the emphasis tends to be on how much work you can get done. I found that when it’s your own business this changes and the focus is on the quality of services that you provide. Never compromise the quality of your work, as it is vital to your reputation and growth.

How has it been juggling your work with your personal life?

It is very varied, sometimes work is everything and other times I let life take over – for me this is the main benefit of being self-employed.

What does your typical work day look like?

Typical? Every day is different, which is the second best benefit to being your own boss.

What are the biggest challenges you face?

My biggest challenge is probably self-discipline; it is so easy to get distracted when working from home.



(Apprenticeship with the BBC as an assistant editor) 

6641_485795491461592_1136840229_nWhat do you feel were the benefits of working for a company rather than freelancing?

Well I got paid shit cause it was an apprenticeship.
The usual i guess, guaranteed hours, contracted and learning from others.
What skills are required to work in an apprenticeship?
Good time keeping, reliable, willing to Learn new skills and basically working hard to shit money.



293086_487036417992192_1889413499_nPAUL MOXON 

(Self-employed Producer/Director for Lightweaver productions + Full time Job)

What do you feel are the benefits of running both your own production company as well as holding down a contracted job?
The big benefit is that you have a higher level of financial security, because you’re not reliant on the production company bringing in the money to pay your bills. This effectively allows you to find your creative direction without a lot of the external economic pressures of running a business. You tend to find as well that you bring a lot of the business sensibilities to running the production company (negotiating, risk assessment, planning etc), conversely it heightens your level of creative thinking within the environment of your contracted job.

What are the threats and disadvantages of running both your own production company as well as holding down a contracted job?
Time is a big issue. It can be difficult to run both, particularly when getting ready to film a production like “Deception”. Without the contracted job you’d have all the hours in the day to go through the logistics of pre-production, send emails, work on the film, shoot it, work on post-production and so on. With the job you have evenings and weekends. Having said that when you’ve got just 2 hours in an evening to redraft a script or compose a score it can certainly help you focus very quickly – trust me I speak from experience 🙂 
The other potential threat is that you don’t keep them sufficiently separate and one begins to impose on the other. This could result in you losing the contracted job or you missing deadlines for your production company. 
What skills are required to do this?
Good organisational and management skills. When you only have evenings and weekends to work, combined with 6 weeks for a project to go from concept to handing over the discs to a client you have to ensure that not only is the work done ontime but that it is done to the highest standard available. If you don’t and you either miss the deadline or the work is sloppy then it will be your reputation which suffers, along with any future commissions. Do it right and you’ll get good referrals and repeat work.
With the work that I have done for you so far in mind, do you feel that this is a career path that would suit me?
That is a tricky question because of the sheer variety of roles within film production. So I’ll answer it in two parts. 1. From a creative/technical aspect I think you are absolutely suited to a career in film. You have an obvious passion and talent for it and are very eager to gather as much knowledge/experience as you can. 2. From a Producer perspective I think your work on “Keep Calm and Carry on Dancing” showed to us that you were capable of dealing with clients, promoting the product and potentially running a production from scratch (gathering the team, planning and managing it etc) – something we’re looking forward to putting to the test.

Although this is hardly a representative survey of peoples experiences with different work lives because of the few people that I asked and the sheer variety of jobs in the media as talked about by Paul, it has been useful for me to see (as well as build contacts) and compare the pro’s and con’s of different work environments. This has encouraged me to think about where I place myself currently and where I will in the future, based on my lifestyle and my own strengths and weaknesses. As a writer, statistically amongst another 4.2 million writers in the UK quoted as of 2 days ago (The Guardian 2014) I will most likely be self employed, as a writing screenplays is an extremely competitive industry, to better ensure financial security I feel personally that combining free-lance with a part time or full time job is an option that would suit me.

Iain spoke rather (brutally) honestly about the good and bad sides of his apprenticeship. Whilst he was given a great opportunity to expand his skills, financially he was not  as stable as he would have liked to have been, or stable enough to rely on this opportunity full time. This difference between pure art, and creating work that sells seems to be a hard truth for the industry today. Whilst I would love the opportunity to expand my skills, obviously I need to be able to survive too.

Speaking to Paul about my own strengths was interesting, whilst I have reflected throughout this module where I feel I place myself and wish to, Paul is somebody of whom I have worked for for years from my earliest years of my career so he has really seen me grow. His emphasis on my passion was reassuring that I am on the right track to whichever form of career, whether that be contracted, self-employed or even both that I choose.




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