Working for free in the film industry is very controversial – be it as a director of photography or any other position in our niche. Our industry is definitely growing with the productions shifting to the Internet and pay TV productions (and I am talking about commercials, corporate films, documentaries, drama series and feature films).
However with the accessibility of high-end camera technology, the playing field is levelled. Everyone can say they are a DP, and many people do even when just starting out in their career. While technology is empowering – and Vimeo’s constant flow of new creative videos is a testament to that – it has gotten really, really hard to get your name out and actually stick out of the crowd.
Working for free for the right projects can make a difference to attain a higher level of productions in the future – but they need to be carefully chosen. I for my part have made some good and bad decisions on free projects in the past, but I agree that it’s a bit of a minefield choosing the right projects to donate your workforce for.
Watch Matt Workman raising some interesting points about working for free as a cinematographer in this video:
What is your experience? How often has working for free on a project enabled you to take the next step in your career? Does working for free make sense at all? Let us know in the comments.