Taking the Leap: From a Freelance to Your Own Production Company

Life might well be a highway, as the famous Tom Cochrane song goes, but the road from being a freelancer to having your own studio is rarely straight or smooth. The challenge, though, makes it all the more satisfying when you finally succeed, just like professional filmmaker Lindsey Veasey.

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“A lot of my success came in the last two years,” says Lindsey, who now runs his own video production agency, Aeon Films.

Having built up his reputation and portfolio over the past 10 years, he’s learned the value of dealing with the uncertainty of freelance work and putting in the hard yards that land big clients.

Here, Lindsey shares some valuable lessons he’s learned along the way that helped him to reach his goal of starting his own production company.

Take the leap

Once you’ve landed some solid clients in your portfolio and the work starts finding you more often than the other way around, you’re better placed to build it into a studio business.

“After 7 to 8 years of peaks and dips, I had four months of consistent work,” says Lindsey “I gave it a few more months and it was pretty sustainable, so I thought I could pull the trigger now. I was at the point where I had a sustainable income and I could delegate work.”

“I moved to Crows Nest in Sydney’s North Shore and now I have an office, two employees and around 8 contractors I work with on a consistent basis. I have an animator, motion designer, sound engineer and photographers – people I can bring to all jobs no matter how big or small.”

“Towards the end of last year I hired my first editor, which freed me up to work on the business. I still edit and shoot but now I can work on expanding my business and allocate time with my marketing team to bring in new clients.”

And Lindsey’s first piece of advice? Don’t forget the little guys.

“Till this day I still have clients that I’ve had with me for years on this journey. I still treat the small business owners the same way I treat my big corporate clients.”

Look for the obvious

Sometimes, we can overthink things when it comes to trying to source work. Create a fancy website, develop a marketing strategy, network till the cows come home, etc.

However, it’s the simple things that can often work the best.

“When I had nothing going on, I’d try to figure out how I can build a bigger stream of income,” says Lindsey.

His first bit of success came from the free buying and selling site, Gumtree that helped him grow his business.

“I tried to find what was available for me at the time and I got some big jobs off Gumtree, including my first big client ASUS.”

And when you have a decent portfolio to showcase, good old fashioned reaching out to potential clients doesn’t hurt, either, providing you do your homework and target the right places.

“I would spend a day in a month with my team to brainstorm who we can send our reels to,” he says.

“We sent our reel to a marketing agency in North Sydney and they came back to us. It was the right timing and they wanted to experiment with one job with us for NBN Australia. They loved the video and gave us another job for AMEX.”

Stand and overdeliver

Creatives know all too well the sting of having their work and skills undervalued, or given a way-too-small budget for a given project where they’d be lucky to break even.

Lindsey recommends taking these jobs if you’re bringing your film services to a completely new industry or if you’re only just starting out in film, providing you’re very selective and tactical about which ones you choose. More importantly, he says you should overdeliver on these projects and not just work to the budget.

“A client might give me a 2K budget. In my mind I think ‘this is not a lot. I’m going to have a lot of sleepless nights, it’s not worth the money,’ but then I think ‘they might pass this onto other people and other eyes might see this product.’ ”

“So I adapted the mentality of overdelivering, even if the budget is minimal as someone else might see that. Lo and behold it happened.”

“In the fitness industry, I did a couple of workout videos for a guy with 1 million followers. He couldn’t pay me much, but I killed the video. He posted it on his Instagram and there’s three or four people hitting me up now saying ‘cool video, how much do you charge?’ ”

“Now I can say actually I charge this price. Now you’re getting what you’re worth.”

“For the past two years, I can confidently charge what I’m worth and what I think I can bring to the table.”

“I saw a video from a wedding videographer who’s been doing it for a couple of years. He did one killer video and he still to this day is having his video being shared and he’s still getting jobs from that. He got that from over delivering and now he can charge what he wants from others.”

“Sometimes you’ll have a client with a smaller budget, but their name would look so good on your portfolio. Another client is not going to ask how much they paid you, it’s a confidential question. That’s the biggest contributing factor to my success. I spend $0 on paid marketing. Even to this day I’ve spent no money.”

Invest in yourself, and your gear

Lindsey is a big fan of using YouTube to continually improve his skills.

“To this day I’m watching YouTube videos on a daily basis, learning about cameras, lighting, colour grading and all things film related,” he says.

“I’m kind of obsessed with it, so watching content is fun for me and it doesn’t feel like a chore.”

While Lindsey ended up completing a Masters in filmmaking, it’s not necessarily what he recommends for everyone.

“Had I known I could watch free tutorials from other creatives on YouTube, I may have gone down that route to speed up the process.”

And despite starting out with very little, Lindsey always made sure he invested in proper gear so that he can keep creating high-quality work.

“When you’re starting out as a freelancer, it’s tumultuous. For the longest time I always had either a casual or part time job,” he says.

“Whenever I was out of part time or casual work, I was on government support, but I’d put money back into video and buying new cameras and lenses.”

Case Study: Hennessey V.S.O.P TVC

Lindsey wanted to share with us the TV commercial he produced with client Hennessy.

The brief: Few people know just how well Hennessy V.S.O.P matches with food. Our aim was to show the heightened experience Hennessy V.S.O.P brings to your meal.

The Approach

We partnered with Hennessy V.S.O.P and renowned chef, Reynold Poernomo, to bring two delicious pairings to life.

Pre-Production: We worked with Reynold to bring to life his recipes that authentically link and enhance the Hennessy flavour. We produced a storyboard that detailed every frame to deliver the most cinematic experience. The commercial was scripted to appeal to the Asian market whilst being culturally sensitive.

Filming: With a remote location, we facilitated a livestream for the client to have direct access to the cameras and shoot.

Postproduction: Video Editing, Colour Grading, Sound Design, Music & Mix.

The Setup

  • 8 Person Crew
  • Director
  • 2 x Cinematographers
  • Gaffer
  • Assistant Director
  • BTS Photographer
  • Editor/Colorist
  • Sound Mixer

The Result

Lindsey Veasey

Videographer

Lindsey Veasey is a passionate Filmmaker & Video Producer who has contributed to a variety of media platforms including television, film, social media and online production. Operating under his video production company, Aeon Films - Lindsey develops creative on-brand outcomes for all types of projects, no matter the size.

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