This worldwide pandemic has shaken everything, turning it upside down. Our industry is not immune to that. In order to survive 2020 and beyond, it’s time to get flexible.
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt throughout 2020, it’s this: you need multiple hats.
Now, whilst they’re great for keeping the sun off you on long shoot days, I’m not talking about literal, physical hats (you’re on the wrong website if that’s what you’re looking for).
I’m talking about flexibility. As the world economy has been rocked by Covid-19, our industry has inevitably been impacted. You may have found that jobs have been put on the backburner or even cancelled (really frustrating). Leads may have fizzled out and the opportunities are a little more scarce. Work is drying up, along with increasing competition for each job. It’s a rough patch we’re going through here, sharper in other parts of the world than others, but rough all the same.
So, having had many conversations about this with peers and friends working in our industry, I wanted to share a bit more about what I’ve learnt and found to be true during these difficult times, in the hope that it can help you along the way.
When I say you need multiple hats, I’m talking about how right now may well be a good time to analyse your skills and have a look at the other ways you can earn an income to help cover any lost ground. For example, perhaps you’re good at writing? Plenty of brands and websites all over the internet are in need of new blogs, articles and content.
This is something I’ve found out myself during lockdown here in the UK. Before 2020, I hadn’t written one single blog or article for anyone. However, when I lost my job as a videographer at a marketing agency in March, I had to think quickly and pivot. It was sink or swim.
So I analysed the things I’m good at alongside filmmaking and came to the conclusion that writing might well work. Next, I started knocking on doors, sending out cold emails and a few months later, here we are. Thanks to the kind folk here at RedShark News for giving me the opportunity!
Alongside RedShark News, I write for a few other websites, utilising my knowledge in filmmaking and videography. I’ve also branched out, covering travel and food topics - both things I naturally enjoy and am interested in.
Writing is just one example here. It worked well at this moment in time because allI I needed was a laptop with an internet connection. I could work from home. Furthermore, with everyone spending more time online than ever before (insert image of brain dead zombies infinitely scrolling here), the demand for written content from websites and brands has only increased.
My foray into writing is just one example here. It’s time for you to start thinking about what other skills and areas you can lean into. The more options you have, the better. Some switches in tactics may not even require you to leave the filmmaking field at all.
For example, before the pandemic kicked in, I was focusing a lot on travel and destination content. We all know how well that’s going right now. I had to shift my focus from this and find new industries that have continued to thrive during lockdown. What industries like this can you identify and work your way into?
Here in the UK, the property market and construction sector has done particularly well, so there is a continuing demand for marketing and video content here. I quickly found that one of the many great things about being a drone pilot is that, by nature, it is a socially distanced job. I leaned into it and carried out more flights than during any previous year, covering all sorts of construction sites and property portfolios.
Education has been another winner for filmmaking. With universities and colleges taking everything online, there’s been a lot of demand for online content and one of the best ways to teach all of this is through video. I recently undertook a big project with the Geology Department at the University of Oxford.
Usually, their students would attend a field course on the Jurassic Coast to learn more about the epic rocks and fossils that can be found there. Unfortunately, this year that wasn’t possible so instead, my colleague Ben Harris and I shot and filmed a ‘virtual field trip’, with the professors at these various locations delivering their information and knowledge to camera. The students are now watching these videos safely from the comforts of their own homes (or prison-like accommodation, depending on how local lockdown is going for them).
Whilst it’s never going to be as good as the real thing, it’s the next best thing. We’ve all had to adapt and make do with what we’ve got. That’s really what this year is all about. Those who can adapt and manoeuvre the quickest will win.
I hope this article has helped some of you in some way - just as a way to get you thinking and prepared. Perhaps you’re also a great photographer - can you identify a brand who could send some of their products to your house for a shoot? Maybe you have a knack for teaching? We all have a lot of valuable, unique knowledge and experience that people want to hear.
There are still plenty of opportunities out there, we just have to wear different hats and lean into different skillsets that we had perhaps previously ignored or neglected whilst things were going well. I can see the jobs climate being pretty rough throughout the 20s so being flexible and ready to react will be more important than ever.
If you’ve had any great ideas whilst reading this, or some interesting things you’ve learnt this year, we’d love to hear and discuss in the comments below!