Independents vs companies when making films

Ok so you’ve been tasked with hiring a filmmaker/company for your business and/or brand, how do you decide whether to use a company or an independent? Cost? Reputation? Quality? Prestige? All of the above?

In this blog I’m going to go through the pros and cons of both. It’s by no means conclusive, it’s my opinion having both run a company and been an independent filmmaker.

Let’s start with quality. There is sometimes a misconception that big companies have the best kit, the best resources and the best people. This certainly used to be true in the bygone days of film when kit cost you and arm and sometimes a leg. Today however with innovations in camera technology those costs have come down exponentially. Don’t get me wrong its still not cheap to get a good camera and the peripheral kit but its not going to cost you an organ. And there are the hours and hours and hours it takes to be great at using it we will definitely get on that later. In my experience you can’t differentiate the quality as much these days. Basically independents and companies are mostly using the same kits or have access to the same rental houses.

What kit should you look for? I get asked this question quite a bit and its a weird one to be honest. You can make a great film on your smart phone look at the film Tangerine. Shot on 2 iPhone 5s’ with a full crew. It did have a proper sound set up mind. To be honest I don’t really know and its not that important as long as the quality of the visuals and the audio looks and sound great winner winner chicken dinner.

So if you’re worried about the prestige of the company/individual making the film it’s maybe worth looking at the motivation for the film. It should be about your brand/product/company so who’s really that bothered as long as they are great at what they do, you build a good bond with them, they can take changes/feedback/amendments etc and they deliver an amazing film that telly your story.

When it comes to reputation (as you already know) you need to do a bit of research, look at their website, any reviews, look at previous films, speak to people who they have worked with before, There’ son point having an amazing filmmaker if they don’t turn up, are difficult to work with and make the whole process unenjoyable. Meet them before for a coffee and chat. I often find if you can socialise with someone you’ll get a good gauge of their personality and values and you’ll know if you can work together. I get most of my work from face to face coffee meetings, to be fair I love coffee so its win win.

Ok the biggy cost! Obviously everyone has a different pricing structure but independents generally tend to better value for money as they don’t have large overheads, expensive office rents, pension contributions etc. In my experience you usually get more for your money too as they tend to be more flexible. They tend to be able to film, sort audio and lighting etc. This of course isn’t the case every time. And it’s equally if not more important to have a good relationship between yourself and the filmmaker/company. Usually if your budget is significant and is more than a one person job i.e you need multiple cameras and sound, lighting etc an independent will have a network of fellow filmmakers/cinematographers that they can call upon. To be honest smaller film companies regularly bring in freelancers to boost their team on larger jobs.

As I mentioned previously i’ve run a company and I spend a lot of time balancing the books, squeezing every penny, maximising time which in turn meant that on occasions we’ve under delivered on creativity. I went back to being freelance a good many years ago and I love it. The flexibility and freedom is fantastic. In fact ive worked on more exciting projects than I would have done previously.

So pulling all this together if you have a great relationship with your current film company and its working really well why change it. But if you are looking for a filmmaker don’t discount the freelancer/independent because they are small in comparison the quality will almost certainly be the same.

If this has helped/inspired you please do let me know. I can be found on all the social medias @waynesables or via email at and my website

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