2020 hasn’t been your run of the mill twelve months and, in a year of bleak headlines, one in particular has stuck out to us. The freelance industry have had to deal with the double hammer-blow of diminishing work opportunities and an economic plan that had something of a blind spot where freelance work was concerned.
At Flying Object, freelancers are unquestionably essential. As well as allowing us to scale up quickly to meet larger projects, working with our ever-growing pool of freelancers allows us to make incredible work with highly talented people. Bringing in new voices adds diversity in opinions and style, and prevents us from producing the same work over and over again. Not only that, but the relationships we’ve built with our amazing freelance pals have introduced all of us to new friendships, opportunities and the odd obscure band or five.
We’ve been fortunate enough to take on some really exciting projects this year. We’ve worked with plenty of our regulars, and some new faces too. Since we couldn’t stick to the script at Christmas this year by getting people round for a drink and a mince pie, we wanted to check in with everyone to see how they were doing - and how this year has changed their working lives.
We were gratified to hear that some aspects of working life had managed to continue, and even thrive. Editor Carly Brown (@CarlyEvaBrown) reflected on the fact that “So much of what we do as editors works well when we are left with some peace and quiet to get on with it... so I am not disputing that WFH has its perks in that sense! For me, this has been an exciting year professionally, from delivering two episodes of The Crown as Assistant Editor to editing the Life In A Day launch films for Flying Object (which have got 36million views on YouTube!) - all from home and during lockdown.” Like so many of us, though, Carly has missed communal creative experience: “Nothing can beat the shared experience of watching cuts together, and the instantaneous and more impromptu discussions that follow. I hope it won't be too long before that returns.”
Carly with the bike she got during lockdown.
It seems that pretty much everyone has had to adapt their practice in light of the new living and working conditions we all face. Creative Director and friend of FLO Seb Koseda describes the challenge that creatives face when it comes to experiential advertising: “Due to Covid restrictions we can no longer bring people together to engage with these experiences in reality … During lockdown I have been focusing on creating hyper personalised intimate experiences, creating interactive digital soundscapes for the Somerset House experimental sound and music festival, Assembly. I have also been on a residency with Snapchat creating an augmented reality experience, The Zoo of Extinct animals, whereby the user can interact with extinct animals at life-size scale using AR technology. During lockdown our worlds have become smaller, spatial experiences are no longer an option right now, but with AR/VR we can create hyper localised intimate experiences that achieve maximum impact.”
The Zoo of Extinct Animals.
Taking the opportunity to experiment and try new things was a theme amongst the colleagues we chatted to. So many of them have found great success down new professional avenues. Assistant Producer Emma Fine says: “I've felt quite frustrated and this year has been a rollercoaster of emotions. Despite this, it has motivated me to think more about my career and the changes I wanted to make; I had felt myself in a rut. So I reached out to some friends I knew in the film industry and over the summer months I co-produced a short film which we will be entering into film festivals. This has given me such a boost and I've now been trying to switch into the scripted film and TV world.”
BTS of Emma’s short during filming.
Photographer Francis Augusto (@franxisaugusto) had a similar experience: “I had to rethink the year and make time to do new things. I picked up film photography, and worked on adding that to my service offer. Thinking about the year so far, it feels weird to say that the pandemic presented opportunities to me that I may not have had if this was a "normal" year. It's a mental gymnastic routine that I may never completely understand. Mentally adapting and practically tinkering has been the things that have pulled me through.”
A photo from one of Francis’ current projects.
Meanwhile, Producer/Director Jess O’Toole says: “The pandemic saw me pick up a screenplay I started writing last year ... I’ve been enjoying immersing myself in this now much more structured personal piece, set in Cornwall, exploring ancestral timelines, as I have more focused creative time around part time work.” Jess spoke eloquently about the clarity she was able to find in this year’s tough challenges: “the pandemic has caused a big global pause on the rush of daily life and this has been a respite, despite the chaos. I was lucky enough to work on one of the few features going back into production during the autumn ... After the stillness I was able to glean from stopping work completely, I was able to bring this through to set and really enjoyed pursuing the sense of live action working from that newly discovered space.”
Stills from a 48 hour film project Jess produced and starred in before lockdown.
Others had experienced something similar. Sound designer and composer Rob Taliesan-Owen (@bobbytaliesin) reflected on the ways in which an enforced slower pace of life helped him reconnect to his early practice: “I had time to daydream about the projects - to immerse myself in them and get totally lost in those creative worlds and realms - rather than factoring in a couple of rigid days in the diary. That made the world of difference. And really when I look at it - that was where it all began for me with regards to my relationship with sound. Especially back when I was an early teen - daydreaming and getting lost in imaginary sonic worlds - pure escapism, really. So it felt like everything had come full circle - back to where it began.”
A still from a 3D animation Rob created with fashion brand David Koma.
This sense of returning to the essence of the creative passions that drive us was shared by Dom Ellis (@_domellis) a Director and DOP who describes how his early love of filmmaking turned into “the best part of a decade chasing commercial job after commercial job, with all hopes and dreams of being a horror film-maker out the window … Once covid struck however, and the office blocks of the city of London emptied for the year, I discovered there was no one in the corporate world left for me to film, and no one in the marketing room writing new commercials to shoot.” With time on his hands, Dom was able to take up a number of less lucrative opportunities to work on independent feature films in the genre he loves: “At some point in the last decade I forgot why I make films. It became a business, a source of income … This year I’ve made about 30% of my usual annual income, and have suffered financially and personally accordingly. However, I’ve also shot 5 horror feature films this year, and am signed on to direct my second feature.”
Dom on set this year.
Hearing these insights has been entertaining and moving in equal measure, reminding us one again how privileged we are to have such a brilliant network of talented individuals. If you’re looking to meet some new talent to work with in the future, we can’t recommend this bunch highly enough. And if you’d like to collaborate with Flying Object as a freelancer why not drop Jade a line - we’re always keen to make new friends.
Merry Christmas to all of our freelance friends - here’s to more adventures together in 2021.