How to become a filmmaker: Taylor's story

Meet Taylor, 18, from Leeds, and find out more about her life as a freelance filmmaker. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

Taylor with her camera.
"There is a path for you and you don’t have to take the traditional route to get there – I didn’t."

How would you describe your job?

I work as a freelancer which means I work for myself and choose the work I do. I am commissioned (or booked) by different clients to film events, music videos, and fundraising videos for them.

I also make documentaries about social and cultural issues in Leeds.

Can you explain the process of filmmaking?

When I'm filming, the first thing I do is prepare my camera bag. Depending on what I'm doing that day, I need different equipment.

After I get to the filming location, I meet the team I'll be working with that day. There's a big team meeting called a team brief. This is where we discuss what's going to happen and what we need to do before the end of the day. Then the filming starts!

Once we have all the footage we need, I edit the video at home. I have to pay close attention to what the client has asked for so we're both happy with the finished result.

A technical skill that Taylor uses every day is using her camera.

Did you always know you wanted to be a filmmaker?

I wasn't always interested in filmmaking – at first I wanted to be a drummer, then a music producer! It was when I wanted to make my own music video that I realised how much I enjoyed filmmaking. It was more of a hobby until I realised I could do it as a real job.

I went to two different secondary schools and nine different behavioural schools. The last school was the MAP (Music & Arts Production) Charity in Leeds who help young people get qualifications in creative media. I did my Creative Media BTEC at Level 1, 2 and 3. I didn't pass any of my GCSEs but I now have a place at university to study Visual Communications.

It was very difficult getting started as a freelancer, but I’ve come out of the other end of it and I’m still going!

Top tips

  • If you haven't found your passion yet, it only takes one small step to find it
  • You don't have to take the traditional route to get to where you want to be
  • Achieve things for yourself, not to please anyone else
  • Set yourself little goals and you'll achieve them.

What to expect if you want to be self-employed

Working for yourself looks different for each person and each business, but in general it means you:

  • run your own business and are responsible for its success
  • can decide how, when and where you do your work
  • charge an agreed, fixed price for your work
  • sell goods or services to make a profit
  • can hire people at your own expense to help you or to do the work for you.

The salary and working hours when you own a business can vary enormously but what's most important is that you work hard and love what you do.

You can be both employed and self-employed at the same time. You can work for your employer during the day, for example, and run your own business in the evenings and at weekends. It’s important to contact HMRC for advice if you’re not sure if you’re self-employed.

You can get help with setting up or developing your business, through the government’s business support services, for example, for advice about tax or how to find funding to start your business.

This information is a guide (sources: LMI for All, National Careers Service, GOV.UK)

For careers advice in all parts of the UK visit: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

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