The 6 Best Ways To Make Money as an Emerging Filmmaker

As an emerging filmmaker, you might find yourself in a tough spot. You know you have the creative drive, talent, and passion to morph your filmmaking hobby into a full-time career. You may have already put out a couple of short films and been pleasantly surprised by your audience’s reaction!

But, for all your efforts, you’re still not seeing any kind of financial return on the time and energy you’ve invested. You’re probably overwhelmed with the combined responsibility of working your regular 9-5 and networking on social media while creating short after short, hoping to rightfully get recognized by those working in the industry.

What else can you do when you’re doing everything right? All hope isn’t lost. There are many different ways to get paid for the skills you’ve been developing as a filmmaker, although you might have to think outside the box.

The 6 Best Ways To Make Money as an Emerging Filmmaker

Become an industry “predator”.

This isn’t what it sounds like. Becoming an industry “predator” is simply another term for being a jack of all trades.

Building your knowledge and developing your skill set in each category of filmmaking can put you miles ahead of your competition. Simply put, producers who can direct and edit short films are in high demand.

Producer-director-editors are known as “predators” in the filmmaking industry. They are aptly called “predators” because they prey on job openings. Simply put, if you’re strictly a film producer, bolstering your skill set to include film editing and film directing can pay dividends in the not-so-distant future.

If you get good at each facet of filmmaking, you’ll have LinkedIn recruiters emailing you instead of the other way around.

The 6 Best Ways To Make Money as an Emerging Filmmaker

Get corporate and local experience to make money.

This suggestion might not sound very appealing to young filmmakers, but it’s important for you to gain experience in any way possible. Two of the most accessible methods that can net you valuable experience (and points on your resume) are local and corporate-based gigs.

Getting your feet wet by undercutting the normal price a filmmaker would charge to shoot a wedding is a good place to start. Or, do a short film for a small business looking to gain traction.

Both options will allow you to develop relationships with people who might be interested in your services, and rubbing elbows with the right person (or people) in your line of work can get your foot in the door.

If you’re tired of traditional networking, try this approach for a while instead.

As they say, it’s not what you know, but who you know.

Sign up for vocational training.

Getting an education within the different branches of filmmaking can serve you (and your future career) well.

If you haven’t gotten a degree in filmmaking or aren’t in the financial position to dedicate years of your life to school, there’s another educational option available that’s not often talked about.

A shorter and more practical alternative to university education is vocational training. Going through a vocational filmmaking program has the added benefit of allowing you to get firsthand, job-applicable training in your desired field.

Having existing, on-the-job experience is a necessary requirement for almost every career position offered by a film production company. Your level of experience and education are equally important to a hiring manager.

Undergoing vocational training allows you to gain education and applicable experience at the same time, which puts you ahead of job applicants sporting a film production degree with no hands-on experience to speak of.

Moreover, as you go through a vocational training program, you’ll have the chance to strike up conversations with conventional filmmakers. Establishing these kinds of connections early on can have enormous positive implications for you and your future career in the industry.

Vocational training allows you to gain valuable filmmaking experience and network with  in-person colleagues. Both of these opportunities can be crucial in solidifying your success as a filmmaker.

The 6 Best Ways To Make Money as an Emerging Filmmaker

Develop (or continue to develop) your digital brand.

Building your brand as a filmmaker is arguably the most important action you can take to increase your chance of establishing a lasting career in the film industry.

Building your brand will entail a lot of grunt work – you’ll need to establish and grow a personalized online platform that showcases your ability to create and produce short films.

In addition to creating and paying for a legitimate website domain, utilizing social media channels like FilmFreeway, YouTube, Vimeo, and Instagram can effectively gain you some valuable outside recognition.

The goal of using “creative portfolio” websites like these is to create a centralized, digital content “hub” that solely belongs to you. By hosting all of your content under one brand name, you’re both visually connecting with your audience and attaching your name to your growing portfolio of short films.

Building and growing your own brand also gives you an ample opportunity to gain some extra pocket money if you choose to create a Patreon for fan donations.

Developing a brand of your own might not appear to produce any appreciable return on your time and energy in the short-term, but over time, you’ll find your brand to be instrumental in getting you noticed online.

Attracting as much attention as humanly possible will only increase your likelihood of getting noticed by someone who can appreciate your talent enough to pay you handsomely for it.

For a more detailed look at what it takes to successfully establish your personal brand, please read our article (link here) dedicated to the subject.

The 6 Best Ways To Make Money as an Emerging Filmmaker

Network with people in your shoes.

There’s an old saying that goes, “two heads are better than one.”

This saying directly applies to you as an emerging filmmaker. In other words, if your skill set primarily lies within film production, you should actively reach out to budding screenwriters, directors, and editors in hopes of achieving a mutually beneficial creative arrangement.

Combining your individual talents with someone else’s abilities will enable both of you to benefit from each other’s skills. Showing initiative and being the first to reach out to other filmmakers with differing skills can be the beginning of a lifelong friendship or temporary connection.

Either way, brainstorming creative ideas with someone else can result in the production of a better short film than either of you could bring to fruition alone. You could also find yourself in a position to angle your talents in a financially beneficial manner – an example that comes to mind is getting paid to act as a producer, editor, or scriptwriter for someone else’s short film.

You can find other creatives on LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, or TikTok – and if you make the effort to send a positive initial message in hopes of collaboration, you’ll more than most likely receive a positive reply.

Search for filmmaker opportunities outside of the mainstream.

When most people think about getting paid to be a filmmaker, they think about someone who gets paid to produce, direct, or edit shorts that you might see featured at a film festival.

What doesn’t immediately come to mind for most people are lesser known opportunities that still get you paid for your creative skill and talent.

However, the opportunities available to you outside of the mainstream will ultimately depend on your abilities and strengths as a filmmaker.

If you’re naturally inclined towards screenwriting.. You can try your hand at selling script writing services through job forums on Reddit.

Creating video resumes, remembrance videos for funeral homes, commercials for local businesses, and even product demonstration videos are all short-term gigs that allow you to get your feet wet as an emerging film producer.

If you’re interested in sports, compiling and editing sports highlight reels for larger companies could be your golden ticket. You might also find local job openings on LinkedIn or Craigslist. These might require you to shoot virtual house tours for small real estate companies.

Additionally, becoming a court/deposition videographer or drone camera operator can net you some extra cash. If you want to make money right now, you could even rent out your camera gear on Craigslist for a fixed rate.

There’s no shortage of opportunities to make money as a filmmaker, but you shouldn’t expect to get your directorial debut handed to you on a silver platter. The good news is that any experience you gain, no matter where it comes from, can demonstrate your diverse and unique filmmaking strengths to your future employers.

In Conclusion… The 6 Best Ways To Make Money as an Emerging Filmmaker

Making money as a filmmaker can be difficult.

However, there’s no shortage of ways to increase your chance of success within the filmmaking industry. Whether you decide to pursue vocational training, focus your energy on building your digital brand, or take on local gigs in order to rub elbows with potential employers… It will take time for you to establish the right connections.

However, once you’ve established those connections.. You’ve given yourself an adequate chance to stand out from the crowd. And demonstrate the scope of your abilities in a professional context.

Although you might need to think outside the box in order to get paid for your skill and talent.. We hope our list of suggestions gives you some ideas to work with.