FREELANCE SURVIVAL WORKSHOP – MELBOURNE (Write-up)

Presented by ASE and  POWER of POST  

Our first event for this year in Victoria was held at RMIT University Melbourne on Saturday 15 May 2021. Belinda Fithie, ASE Member and committee member from Power of Post, hosted the event that was held in partnership with the ASE. Margarita Ivanovsky from Power of Post and Grace Eyre, ASE Chair Victoria, organised the workshop. This was a great opportunity for any one starting out or working in post to get invaluable information to continuing their career in the film & TV industry.

(Belinda Fithie, ASE Member, Committee Member Power of Post and host at RMIT University Theatre. Photo by Margarita Ivanovsky, POP.)

An eager-to-get-out-and-about audience of around 35 assorted post practitioners ranging from Assistant Editors to Editors, directors and writers filled the RMIT lecture theatre to listen to Belinda Fithie give advice and recommendations gained by her 25 plus years of working freelance in the post field as an Editor and post-production supervisor.

Cindy Clarkson, Committee chairperson of Power of Post, started up the lecture with a rousing warm up and introductions. Mark Atkin ASE then briefly spoke about the Australian Screen Editors Guild and all the advantages of joining. We were all keen for tips and tricks on how to survive in the industry when you are supporting yourself, and especially with COVID-19 restrictions in Victoria.

First up there was good advice regarding people who are starting out by themselves to get organised with the basics, such as ABN and finding an industry specific accountant who knows what can be correctly deducted from work expenses at tax time.

Also noted was that you do not need to charge GST if your business doesn’t have a certain level of income. Quoting was covered, namely know how much time and overheads you will have to spend doing the work. This also meant you can charge if your gear was being hired out or used for work. This also includes charging for internet upload and download time that you stipulate on your terms and conditions.

Quoting discussions also covered asking if there’s any additional budget room for equipment support, travel, meal allowances or anything that might be in there that isn’t immediately apparent. Finding a way to probe how much companies have in their budgets (if at all) is a fine art and usually is up for negotiations.

There has been a parliamentary enquiry into the sustainability of the industry and its wages, and the ASE has released its new and improved rate sheet. One big shift in the industry is a readjustment to how much we are getting paid. The ASE has now published pay rates on our website and it’s recommended that this be taken into consideration when negotiating.

Additional advice was adding into your quotes a way to support things such as super and holiday pay as you would usually get these if you were hired by a company under the PAYG system. Getting paid was brought up and so were tips on how to get paid on time. Everyone agreed that a 14 day minimum grace was the recommended amount of time before you started to chase up your pay. When you make that call, some tact was recommended beyond “Where’s my money?” and a good tip was to start off a call as a conversation of something other than work. Granted, this can go both ways as alerting someone you owe money to that they have been paid is a nice habit to get into. Keep an eye on things such as checking pay slips and bank transfers.

Getting started and taking the step to cold call post houses does apparently work, There’s a fair bit of work out there for Editors at the moment, and getting your name out there is one way to get picked up. Working for free or less money was suggested as one way to get a foot in the door but must be used very wisely to have a benefit.

(A mix of new and familiar ASE and POP Members. Photo - Barrie Munro  ASE.)

Showreels (keep them short) were brought up, with the  suggestion of creating a portfolio of key moments for people to peruse. This is best kept under password lock and key. If you are using broadcast material, rights issues may come into play. CVs appear to be slowly replaced by LinkedIn, and often can provide more details. IMDB are mostly for American-based companies.

You can keep up with software by learning new programs. However nothing can beat getting hands-on experience from working on a project. For freelancers who are looking to skill up, applying for Assistant Editor roles or a transcoding job was a good way to gain this. Other general tips included was on troubleshooting. When working by yourself, especially from home, and you have a problem, Google it to death before calling up someone as 99% of problems are usually very common. For Assistants, never be afraid to ask a question, and while your Editor may be busy or look busy, they often are eager for a small break so open the opportunity for one. Offer them a coffee and ask at the kitchen as opposed to in the middle of something important.  Timing is a crucial thing, so ask if you can be seen in a few minutes instead of “right now". Finally, one great bit of advice was to get out there and attend trade shows when they visit locally if you can. It will put you in direct touch with the people who create the software, and they are more than happy to show off or help you on particular problems.

(Front Row - Margarita Ivanovsky, Power of Post; Cindy Clarkson, Chair Power of Post; Patrick McCabe, ASE, Belinda Fithie, Committee Member Power of Post ;and Dee McClelland. Photo By Barrie Munro ASE)

Also using the ASE’s mentor scheme to get a foot in the door is a great start for people transitioning from post-grad. All the details are on the ASE’s website.
Overall, the afternoon was a great success and proved to be very informative for all.

Thanks to Grace and Margarita for organising this event and to Belinda who again gave her time and professional skills, for which we are all in her debt.

Finally, our next event is an Adobe Premier workshop planned in July. We have a great line-up of events this year even if Covid 19 has forced us into a stage 4 lock down for a few weeks.  Watch this space.

Barrie Munro ASE
Victoria Committee Member 

(eNews 104 - June 2021)


Saturday 15 May 1:30-4 PM
RMIT University
Building 80 level 2 Cinema
Melbourne

$5 donation for ASE Members and PoP Subscribers.
$15 for everyone else.

Register here. https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/freelance-survival-workshop-with-belinda-fithie-tickets-152685509469

About the facilitator: Belinda Fithie began her career in post production in 1993
and has worked in the film and television industry ever since.
With close to 30 years’ experience, she is respected and highly regarded as an Editor and VFX Editor. Belinda is the founder of Visual Jigsaw, a VFX Post Production company.

Credits include: 'Frontline', 'Halifax | Retribution', 'Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears',
'The Doctor Blake Mysteries'.

 

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