Production & Filmmaking
September 09, 2021

4 Ways How to Make Money as a Filmmaker in 2021

By Jonathan Mateer 6 min read

Highlights

  • There areplenty of opportunities to make money as a filmmaker today.
  • Making sure you have a portfolio, wide network of other creatives, and drive to take the next job available will ensure you continue to get work.
  • Whether you’re shooting a commercial, music video, wedding, or branded content, each job will sharpen you as a filmmaker as you carve out your expertise in your craft.

If you’re a creative starting out in the industry, you’re probably scratching your head, wondering how to make money as a filmmaker. You’re not alone! Every successful filmmaker has started in the same place, and lucky for you, there are tried and true ways to get freelance video production jobs. Whether you want to direct, are a photographer, producer or content creator, these strategies will prove invaluable in your pursuit of how to make money as a filmmaker.

Getting started with how to make money as a filmmaker

Before you get out and take as many freelance video production jobs as possible, you’ll want to keep certain things in mind as you build up your resume. First, you’ll want to make sure you have a portfolio to showcase your work. This will typically come in the form of previous jobs you have already done, paid or unpaid. Presenting this in a professional manner means you’ll need a website. You can do it with a standalone domain or through a professional page on social media. Lay out your work in different categories to show your versatility and add an “About” page to talk about your bio and style and a separate “Contact” page. If you’re operating on social media, you can do it through messaging.

Furthermore, you’ll want to collaborate and network with as many people as possible. Get as good as you can be at one job, but if you can do multiple things, this will make you more attractive to potential clients. Shopping for someone who can shoot, edit and produce will always win out if your work is above board. So make sure you keep your contacts and spend social time with them outside the workday. Grabbing coffee or lunch will be time to talk about projects or how much filmmakers make on a given job. It will deepen your relationships and be key to getting your next job.

The best advice would be to take as many jobs as possible through proactive means. Sitting around and waiting for work will result in nothing. Reaching out to brands, clients or other creatives can be ways that will help you not only pay the bills but also gain experience. By doing many kinds of jobs, you’ll see what kinds of work you enjoy. It’s to these ways how to make money with a video camera that we now turn.

Commercials

making a commercial

Commercials come in many forms. If you’re working on a multi-million-dollar production for Nike, that is a clear indication of how much filmmakers make. But if you’re starting out, you can look for ways to reach out to brands and pitch yourself as a content creator. Making direct contacts with brands is not the only way to do commercial work. If you see branded content you like online, reach out to the director or producer directly to work on their next project. Pitching yourself may yield jobs if you can redirect them to your portfolio. At the minimum, it will make you a contact if someone pulls out of a production at the last minute or even for future projects. If you’re interested, commercials are also a great way how to make money as a producer. Ultimately, shooting a commercial is a great, lucrative way how to make money as a filmmaker, so don’t take the opportunity to work on one for granted.

Music videos

Music videos are a great way to cut your teeth as a filmmaker and expand your network with musical artists who can refer you to other jobs. New musical artists crop up every day, and the steady stream of talent is a great pipeline to establish yourself as someone who can deliver a product for them quickly. Also, collaborating with musical artists can inspire you as you are exposed to a different creative process. This can, in turn, inform how you shoot other types of projects in the future. Then, hopefully, you shoot the next major act, and the partnership can bring you to even greater jobs down the road.

Weddings

Shooting a wedding is a great way how to make money in video production. While shooting a wedding requires less pre-production for the videographer than shooting other types of videos, you need to get to know the bride and groom and come prepared. Check out these pro tips for shooting weddings from pro wedding filmmaker Matt Johnson. One of the challenging aspects of how to make money with a video camera this way is that you are dealing with people who may be stressed out on this special occasion. Eventually, if you get enough jobs, you’ll learn the ropes of navigating the emotions of the day. This will allow you to feel great about the work, and be a satisfying way how to make money in video production.

Social media content

Social media content has exploded in recent years, with numerous content creators hitting the market. Whether you want to monetize Facebook videos, monetize YouTube or are interested in making money on Instagram, there is ample opportunity for you to get freelance video production jobs. Reaching out directly to brands to be able to get sponsored content is a tried-and-true method. Also worth considering is reaching out to influencers to collaborate with other types of monetized content. You can discuss ways to collaborate with tutorials, sponsored content or live events. Being on the production side will also give you a window on how to make money as a producer. To give you insight into the question of how much do filmmakers make, consider that between 2019 and 2020 alone, the number of creators that make more than $10,000/month increased by 88%. This means that so many people are taking advantage of how to make money in video production. There’s no reason you can’t as well. 

Conclusion

The different ways how to make money in video production show that there are core principles to securing work. Build a portfolio and have a reliable way to showcase it online. Collaborate with other creatives, and nurture your relationships to ensure you can work together in the future. And take as many jobs as possible, even trying on your producer’s cap to see how to make money as a producer. Whether you’re working a commercial, music video, wedding or social media content, the variety of ways how to make money with a video camera is increasing and becoming more profitable. All that is needed is drive and creativity. Until next time, stay creative!

 

About Jonathan

Jonathan Mateer is a writer based in California. Currently attending UC Berkeley, he covers topics such as filmmaking, storytelling, politics and culture.
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