18 Feb 2018

Five top tips for colorists

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Be a good business person

“You could be the world’s best colorist in your bedroom, but if no one knows you’re there you wont get any work. You’ve got to be proactive; Pay It Forward; update your show reel, share it and make it visible, be active in the forums offering advice and network constantly.

“You’ve got to be seen and that doesn’t necessarily suit some people. You really can’t afford to sit on your laurels. You have to be a good marketer and you have to be easily contactable. Even whilst you’re working on your current job you need to be thinking of the next project. That’s not impossible if you understand that every completed job with your name on it acts as your ambassador to potential clients.

“Thanks to YouTube, Vimeo and social media our calling card is out in the world, working hard to generate new business 24/7. But don’t just expect plum jobs to present themselves on a plate; create your own opportunities. You need a rate card and a set minimum of hours that you can send out to people. Some clients will want to negotiate and will haggle but if you don’t set your rate and a minimum hours contract there’s nowhere to start.

“Don’t set your rates too low thinking you’ll undercut everyone and get the business. People understand the principle of paying for quality so don’t be too eager to come in at a low price. It’s a race to the bottom and no one wins in the end. You can always lower your price to suit, but it never works the opposite way around.

“Once you’ve completed a job you need paying, and that’s down to you too. You have to be on the ball with your invoicing, keeping good accounts etc.”

It’s all about the clients

“More and more colorists are working freelance. As we move further into this freelance world we become more reliant on repeat business and it’s a harsh fact that you are only ever as good as your last job: Drop off the radar for any length of time and the phone will soon stop ringing.

“We have to be constantly offering things. You may even be working for free (we all do that in this industry) just to start a relationship with a new director. It doesn’t matter if it’s a low/no budget short or feature, if you take on a job you have to treat it as though it’s exactly the same as a top-paying client. You never know when these people will be back, hopefully with a budget.

“It’s a gamble of course, so choose wisely; they could get on a roll, start to work on larger projects and out of the blue you get the call. It happens. You are constantly building relationships with your clients, inspiring confidence and if you are talented and lucky you’ll get the call for the next job.”


Matt Aindow

Matt Aindow is a freelance artist and M&E workflow consultant, in an ever-deepening love affair with story telling via the dark art of colour grading. He believes these are jolly exciting times to be involved in the business, but is saddened that we can't deliver on gender equality. Come on! Member of SMPTE, CSI and DCS. The eternal student.

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