It's no secret, London is the centre of pretty much everything in this country. It's not just the film, television and video production industries, but many other lines of work too. It is almost expected that one's capital city would be the forefront of the creative industries, with some of the most sought after talent in the country, and in some cases, the world. However, there is another thing that also happens to be a pretty badly kept secret: London is incredibly expensive. In fact, it's one of the dearest cities in the world according to this article I stumbled upon and with a housing crisis looming in the UK, it's not going to get cheaper any time soon.
Some of us freelancers either consciously made the choice not to move to London to start our careers or just simply couldn't. Building up a portfolio of work and contacts takes a lot of hard work and investment, both monetarily and in time, but an unjustified move to an expensive location is a sure way of making a huge dent in one's finances that can slow the progress. Some might say that this would be a justified risk just to be in the right place at the right time, but then is being a small fish in a big pond always the best way to start a career?
As someone who at one point considered a move to London because 'that's where the work is', as so many people have said to me, I've come to the realisation that actually, you don't need to live in London to get video work there. There's a little thing you may have heard of called talent and I believe that in more cases than not, this is more important than your location.
Why should you hire freelancers outside of London?
There are a number of very good reasons why your organization or production should consider hiring freelancers outside of the London bubble:
- Rates are often cheaper: The most obvious reason; production companies and freelancers based outside of the capital have much lower overheads than those within the M25. This saving can be passed onto you, the client, and even with extra travel taken into account can often result in quotes being much more affordable and realistic.
- We're more likely to have our own transport: It's essential for the majority of us working in production to have a car. Public transport doesn't allow us to carry much equipment and for those early call times at remote locations, having transport is a no-brainer and in a way, a bit of a luxury. For many in London due to the increased insurance premiums, parking issues and general cost of living, owning a car is not an option. This means that some of us outside the M25 might just be a little bit more flexible.
- Travel time can often be the same and sometimes quicker: As I found out trying to get from Brixton to Barking on public transport one day: it actually took longer for me to get from near central to the outskirts of London (about 13 miles) than it would have done to come up from Sussex (60 miles)! What's more, as anyone who has ever had to drive in central London will know, regardless of where you live it's best to leave at the crack of dawn anyway and get to your destination early. Due to the nature of the work, video production specialists expect to have early starts and work long hours no matter where they live.
- There is a wealth of talent available: Just because talent isn't central, it doesn't mean they aren't taking their career seriously. There are actually many hot spots of talent in other towns and cities, some of them becoming rising stars. Brighton for example, is home to a number of innovative production companies and creative freelancers who regularly pop up to London for jobs.
- Online video content can be made almost anywhere. Unless there is a specific requirement for your production to utilize specialist equipment or facilities there is usually no real need for the most up to date equipment when it comes to online video. As long as the freelancer has kit that can do the job well then that's what matters. Many leading production companies still hire some kit anyway and adding to this, most kit hire companies are able to offer delivery so when your production does need something specialist the chances are you'll be able to get it easily.
- Communications are better than they've ever been. Skype is the new face to face meeting and it's a perfect way to get to know us freelancers (although many of us will still push to meet you in person if time allows!). Admittedly it is a second best to meeting in person, but you could be saving time and money through communicating with us in this way. There's always the trusty phone too! What's more, data can be transferred quickly through sites such as Dropbox and Wetransfer so in many instances your final video will arrive over the internet anyway.
- We're just as friendly and easy to work with. It's true!
I believe as more and more businesses adopt video as an integral part of their overall marketing strategy, the less central this industry will become. Perhaps more companies will find moving their headquarters outside of central crucial to their long term development into becoming more competitive, efficient and greener organizations. Only time will tell.
So next time when you're considering freelancers to hire, and this applies to any creative industry, don't discount us folk outside of London or you could risk missing out on exceptional service and value for money.
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