What you don’t know about small video production companies and freelancers

If you are someone finding it difficult to choose whether to hire a video production company or freelancer (independent media professional) to create a video for you, I would like to help you with your decision.

I’ve spent the last two years looking for work opportunities at local production companies in Leeds as well as doing freelance projects in the meantime, and I’ve observed some interesting things.

The first thing I noticed about small video production businesses is that they exaggerate their size and abilities. They have a nice-looking website and showreel but I saw some inconsistencies in their “About” page. Small media businesses often present themselves as full production companies owning all the latest high-quality recording equipment and having a team of talented specialists. In reality, however, these businesses are often run by one or two clever people and all the top-notch equipment gets hired per project and so does the talent. Depending on the size, location and particularities of the job required, additional freelance specialists may be called in or have work (such as voice-over, motion graphics and 3D animation) outsourced to them in post production.

The second thing I realized is that there is a halo of superiority and aptitude falsely associated with a company, and that a single professional freelancer is viewed as limited in a way because they are in on their own. A company name implies teamwork and knowledge whereas a name of an individual freelancer contains a degree of risk and fragility. Still, wouldn’t it be riskier for your project to be in the hands of the small production company’s people who may have never met each other before and must work together for the first time? Would that create an atmosphere of teamwork at all?

Thirdly, you are much more likely to come across the services of a company than those of an freelancer. I think it is because companies have more money to put into marketing and Google ranking strategies than self-employed individuals. Nevertheless, the greater visibility of companies shouldn’t blind you from recognizing the talent of independent freelance artists; after all they are the ones that often complete a company’s project which the company stamps its name onto!

I must clarify again that the above points does not apply to truly full production companies such as the BBC who can actually afford to own their equipment and to employ all sorts of talented people who get paid a generous salary. If you have the budget, go with the best! Just remember to spot a dishonest sales talk from a small entrepreneur.

There are certainly advantages of working with freelancers. The cost of production may be more affordable. You will get to meet and brief the very creator of your video and provide him with first-hand information which won’t be lost in translation as it may happen when work gets outsourced within a small company. Most independent media artists have their own gear that they’re deeply connected to, and a creative style which is continuously refined. They’ve got passion and fresh ideas too! From a client’s perspective, you may feel like you are having a bespoke job hand-crafted for you.

There are things about the qualities of self-employed creatives I’d like to bring your attention to as well. Sole media professionals are usually multi-skilled; they built their own websites, run their social media apps, carry out small promotional campaigns and acquire social and marketing skills all on their own. Self-employed professional may also be selective in the jobs they agree to do, which is a good thing as due to their time constraints they frequently have to postpone or even reject opportunities. I’d say consider it a privilege when a creative individual agrees to work with you!

If you’re a media professional that have had a similar or completely different experience, please share your story below.

Vlad Dimov
Videographer // Editor // Motion Designer

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