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Old December 23rd, 2009, 07:12 PM   #1
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Am I a "Freelancer?"

I imagine this will be a very short, simple thread.

I have been in business for about 3 years now, and though I do not make a living off of my productions, I do see that happening very soon. I am beginning to seek out events as 'media' and certain events do not allow freelancers. Being that I started an LLC, even though I am 'self-employed' or whatever [ugh...hate that term]...doesn't that make me a "business?" If I wanted to hire an employee, or contract someone, I just have to do the paperwork. To my knowledge a "Freelancer" can not legally do that.

from Dictionary.com:
1. a person who works as a writer, designer, performer, or the like, selling work or services by the hour, day, job, etc., rather than working on a regular salary basis for one employer.
2. a person who contends in a cause or in a succession of various causes, as he or she chooses, without personal attachment or allegiance.

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Old December 23rd, 2009, 07:26 PM   #2
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Freelancer is a title, not a business model per se. I have "hired" other freelancers hundreds of times both as a "freelancer" and through my business (a sole proprietorship) and at all times the freelancers that I hired were tax deductible as business expenses. Remember, you are not HIRING them, you are CONTRACTING them.
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Old December 23rd, 2009, 08:20 PM   #3
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Are you saying that sometimes you are a Freelancer, sometimes not? Was it your decision whether you took the position of "freelancer" or "sole proprietor? To me if taxes are handled the same there would be no difference.
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Old December 23rd, 2009, 08:53 PM   #4
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I use the term "freelancer" when working for other producers out of convention and "sole proprietor" when referring to my own business. Technically they are all one and the same - all my income comes in through whatever stream and is classed as income and all my expenses are tabulated and written off against income. When I bill my "freelance" clients, I still invoice using my business name - my business chequing is Shaun Roemich DBA (Doing Business As) Gearhead Visual productions.
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Old December 23rd, 2009, 11:22 PM   #5
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Excellent, makes sense. One more question, did you create an LLC (or other entity) or do you only operate under the DBA?

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Old December 23rd, 2009, 11:34 PM   #6
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Sole Proprietorship, Doing Business As...
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Old December 24th, 2009, 05:57 AM   #7
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In this case I thought the term freelancer had more to do with your relationship to the use of the final project. If you would be publishing the video then you aren't a freelancer. On the other hand if your shooting the video and then finding and selling it to another company to do the publishing/exploitation of the video, you would be considered a media freelancer.

If a company that will publish the work hires you in advance to do the work, you aren't a freelancer, you're working for them and they are using the video. But if you don't have a deal in place and you aren't going to publish the work yourself, you are a freelancer (with respect to this event). It doesn't matter what kind of legal structure you or your company is using. It more about who's using the work.
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Old December 24th, 2009, 06:20 AM   #8
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From Wikipedia: A freelancer, freelance worker, or freelance is a self-employed person who pursues a profession without a long-term commitment to any particular employer

I have been a freelancer for 37 years but have contracted to a single client for as long as 2 years, and did one particular clients work for 16 without a contract, and none of that prevented me from doing work for other clients, ergo, I am a freelancer. My business model be it sole prop, DBA, S corp, LLC, dosen't matter.

As a freelance person, I am not obligated to work for any one particular client, employer, company. I can and do work for many including if I chosse other people in my same industry. I have over the years done work for about 8 to 10 other video companies but I have also done work for AV companies, TV production companies, private companies, private individuals.
At the end of the year I do not receive a single W4 from anyone, but I do get a bunch of 1099s. No one withholds anything for taxes, SS (which I receive), health insurance or 401K.
I get to choose who I do work for and am not obligated to work for anyone I do not wish to, if that doesn't make me a freelance, than I think I need to re-read the definition.
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Old December 24th, 2009, 07:07 AM   #9
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Companies hire freelance people all the time to shoot, work on productions. The film & TV industry works all the time using freelance people who are employed on short term contracts to work on a particular production. A production company may only employ a small number of full time staff for example the producer and his/her secretary or even just the producer, or it may employ a larger number of full time staff depending on the size of the operation. The producer may or not be the director on a production and a production company may employ a number of producers (full time staff or freelance).

Broadcasters also employ freelance people on a short contract basis, although some have a rather quirky world view on them (BBC for example).

I believe the inland revenue considers a freelance (self employed) person to be a person who works for a number of employers rather than just one. You do find short term contract people being called freelance, but in tax terms they only ever work for the same employer on short term contracts.
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Old December 24th, 2009, 09:22 AM   #10
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Being a freelancer doesn't preclude you from having employees. I have four employees and we work completely on freelance projects.

I sell the services of myself and my employees. We don't produce our own products, but rather sell our services to others to build or create their products.
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Old December 24th, 2009, 10:26 AM   #11
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I suspect if these people only work for you full time, technically speaking they're not freelance, they're people who work for say a facilities company or perhaps even a sole proprietor which/who provides services to a production company or other clients. I suspect the freelance element depends on how the business operates and they tend to be individuals (although for tax reasons they may be operating as a limited liability company) who work for a number of clients.

I'm freelance and I engage other freelance technicians to work on a production with me for a production company or broadcaster for a short period - it tends to be at the most three or four people. However, they're not my full time employees and they work for many other people and companies.

The BBC operates a weird half way house system with it's short term contract staff, most of whom only work for the BBC. These people often get rolling contracts which get renewed.
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Old December 24th, 2009, 11:01 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Drysdale View Post
I suspect if these people only work for you full time, technically speaking they're not freelance
They are not freelance, they are employees. I own a company that provides freelance services.
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Old December 24th, 2009, 11:06 AM   #13
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I assume your company is hired to provide say a camera crew.
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Old December 24th, 2009, 11:12 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Stakes View Post
I am beginning to seek out events as 'media' and certain events do not allow freelancers.
Definitions aside, I'm curious what these events are and why they would exclude a freelancer. Are they using it as a synonym for stringer?
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Old December 24th, 2009, 12:39 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Stakes View Post
Being that I started an LLC, even though I am 'self-employed' or whatever [ugh...hate that term]...doesn't that make me a "business?" If I wanted to hire an employee, or contract someone, I just have to do the paperwork. To my knowledge a "Freelancer" can not legally do that.
You do not have to form an LLC to hire employees. An LLC is a type of business entity. In general, there are three main types of business entities (in the USA):

1. Sole Proprietor
2. Partnership
3. Corporation (LLC, S-Corp, C-Corp)

"Freelancer" is not a business entity - it is a loose term to describe your relationship to a client or project. you are not bound by any particular laws because you choose to call yourself a freelancer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Stakes View Post
I am beginning to seek out events as 'media' and certain events do not allow freelancers.
Then don't call yourself a freelancer in these situations. When they ask who you work for, just say something like "I'm under contract with CurrentTV" or whoever is hiring you to do the shoot. If you truly are just showing up as a stringer hoping to capture footage to shop around later - then they are turning you away because they're not interested in that sort of media coverage.
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