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Old July 8th, 2015, 06:59 AM   #1
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Doing on call freelance for TV

Hello, i am contemplating doing freelance for some of the TV networks in the cities here in Aus. a couple of other people i know do the same thing and say i'm in a location (Rural) that is not covered by anyone that they know of and it may be a good idea to let the networks know my details for reference in case they need me to fly out the road or what not So, I was wondering if many people in the forum do it? I'm going to notify the Stations for a start, i probably need to make up a few "demos" for them to see first i guess. I would then notify my local emergency services in town here, i live in a town of 1000 people so we all pretty much know each other and get on well. However i want to notify other towns as well so i was wondering what the approach would be to someone that does NOT know me, I'm thinking "Hi, i'm Gary Smith from Gary Smith Media Productions, I will be doing freelance TV work when required around the area, so i am just informing you and asking for any suggestions or advice as to what i should or should not do etc". I also am thinking of making a lanyard type thing to put on when going to an incident with my name, business name, photo. What else would i need on it? Hi vis vest, i have gloves and earmuffs, heavy workboots etc if needed. 1st aide kit would be in the car, probably wouldn't hurt to do a first aide refresher course either. I also want to do a Country Fire Authority short course re personal safety, OH&S etc so i can get access not really to the fire front but at least to staging area so i can interview any liason officers etc. I have my equipment insured and 10 mil public liability as well. Just looking for other suggestions and things i have missed looking into.

Thank You

Gary
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Old July 24th, 2015, 02:38 PM   #2
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Re: Doing on call freelance for TV

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Originally Posted by Gary A. Smith View Post
Hello, i am contemplating doing freelance for some of the TV networks in the cities here in Aus. a couple of other people i know do the same thing and say i'm in a location (Rural) that is not covered by anyone that they know of and it may be a good idea to let the networks know my details for reference in case they need me to fly out the road or what not So, I was wondering if many people in the forum do it? I'm going to notify the Stations for a start, i probably need to make up a few "demos" for them to see first i guess. I would then notify my local emergency services in town here, i live in a town of 1000 people so we all pretty much know each other and get on well. However i want to notify other towns as well so i was wondering what the approach would be to someone that does NOT know me, I'm thinking "Hi, i'm Gary Smith from Gary Smith Media Productions, I will be doing freelance TV work when required around the area, so i am just informing you and asking for any suggestions or advice as to what i should or should not do etc". I also am thinking of making a lanyard type thing to put on when going to an incident with my name, business name, photo. What else would i need on it? Hi vis vest, i have gloves and earmuffs, heavy workboots etc if needed. 1st aide kit would be in the car, probably wouldn't hurt to do a first aide refresher course either. I also want to do a Country Fire Authority short course re personal safety, OH&S etc so i can get access not really to the fire front but at least to staging area so i can interview any liason officers etc. I have my equipment insured and 10 mil public liability as well. Just looking for other suggestions and things i have missed looking into.

Thank You

Gary
Edit: The website b-roll.net and the storytellers group on Facebook are dedicated to TV news story telling. You'll be able to get a lot of help and advice there from industry veterans.

Hi Gary,

I spent 10 years working in broadcast news before becoming a freelancer. As a freelancer I have picked up some network news gigs on rare occasions. However, before I attempt to answer any of your questions I want to preface with saying that I am in the United States. The TV news business may be totally different in Australia.

First, if you were trying to do this in the United States, I think you would struggle to have this work as a viable business model. What you are describing doing is what we call a stringer. Unfortunately, the way the business is going, there are not that many opportunities for stringers any longer.

There are some exceptions to this- If you capture incredible video, or if you are in a market like LA that thrives are crash and disaster video, there may be some opportunities. However, most local stations simply are not investing in buying video from stringers. Most spot news, the kind of stuff a stringer used to cover, local stations now report with a simple graphic and a statement released from law enforcement. Maybe, if they have a crew available, they will send them to the scene to see if they can grab a quick soundbite and spray some b-roll.

In the very rare circumstances stations do buy from stringers, the stringer usually goes out, gets the video and bites, and markets it to the station. The station doesn't call a freelancer asking them to go cover something. Also, with more and more people having the ability to capture videos and photos, many viewers are sharing this for free with the news stations. A producer isn't going to pay for video of a disaster when they can get cell phone video for free.

I have been hired by networks in the past to go do a shoot. However, these gigs are very far and few between. I've only ever done this a handful of times, and I got the gigs because I knew somebody who knew somebody and I had a background in broadcasting.

In regards to the other part of your question, if you can develop a relationship with your local emergency services and law enforcement, that is great! That can help you out greatly when trying to cover spot news. However, because of the way the news business is portrayed in movies, and the way cable TV news operates, many officials are extremely wary of people working in TV news.

On the scene of spot news situations I have never been granted special access to any areas. On the contrary, on several occasions I was denied access to areas that the general public was allowed.

As far as your kit goes, when I was in news I always had the camera, camera light, a wireless handheld mic, tripod, batteries, extra memory cards, first aid kit, fire extinguisher, still camera, safety vest, hard hat, traffic cones, and business cards.

Good luck!
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