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With the growing anxieties around the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent social distancing measures being put in place around the world, the freelance economy has taken a significant hit.  Traditional work has become harder to find and even the most talented creatives find themselves with more time on their hands – but that doesn’t have to become a personal disaster.

We at Assemble wanted to let you know that our remote team is still open for business and vigilantly looking for safe and responsible opportunities for our community to keep working.  In the meantime, we’d like to offer a shortlist of things freelancers can do during this period of rest to advance their career and prepare themselves for the next stage of growth.

Update your website

It’s the perennial thorn in our sides, an old or expired website we keep telling our friends, peers and family that we’re working on, but never seem to find the time to actually work on.  What better time than now?

Our talent team at Assemble spends hours digging through creator portfolios (it’s how many of you were found!) and we can offer a few tips from our travels on what portfolio sites work best.

  • Keep it Simple – A clean, simple design can avoid unnecessary hurdles between a visitor and your work.  Axe landing pages, put all your work on the front page, and make your contact information clearly available.
  • Quality over Quantity – Your work is the star and it should speak for itself.  That said, any good speech is not long-winded. Put your best work first and focus on the kind of work you’re interested in and remove older pieces that no longer represent your current skill level and interests.
  • Share Personal Work – Don’t be afraid to mix in the passion projects and pro-bono music videos you’re proud of with the branded work that pays your bills.  Your passion can sell you better than your best executed commissioned work in many cases.
  • Credit Yourself – Be open and transparent about your role on every project and don’t be afraid to share a bit of your process.

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If website development isn’t in your DNA, you can always use your Assemble profile’s custom URL to share your work in a clean and stream-lined profile page.  You can find and update your URL in your Assemble Account Settings. While you’re there, be sure to update your profile with any notes from our talent team and upload any new work you want clients to see.

Assemble Profile URL Field

If you aren’t yet an Assemble creative, now is a great time to put your application together and apply.  Networks like Assemble can further your visibility to clients and collaborators and now more than ever they are looking to online resources to find new and talented individuals.

Recut Old Work

We all have it, b-roll that never made the final cut, vacation footage meant to kickstart your travel vlogging career, short films that didn’t make it in a traditional festival run, or specs and lifestyle content that could easily be repurposed in your portfolio.  Now’s the time to dust it off and put it to work. Millions of people around the world are stuck at home with a dwindling amount of new entertainment to pass the time. Here’s a few ways to get started.

  • Update Your Reel – The OTHER thorn in many a creator’s side is the never-quite-finished reel.  Almost none of you have an excuse not to put one together now (if you’re like me, you might have had a few DP’s already hitting you up during this quarantine for footage).  While anyone can benefit from a reel, this is doubly so for skill specific creatives like Cinematographers, Editors, Animators, etc. While director’s reels are a fun way to showcase all your work at once, there are more productive ways to repurpose your old work.  The story arc of an entire piece and the way it flows from begining, middle, to end is much more important to a viewer than catching incomplete bits and pieces of a director’s breadth of work.
  • Recut Old Projects – A little (or a lot) of time spent away from a project, honing your skills and tastes, can provide that missing perspective you once needed to push an old edit over the top.  Cut-downs on commissioned work can also fill the needs more and more brands are looking for as web ads get shorter and shorter – maybe an old piece of yours could be made into a short and snappy, Instagram friendly ad.  And remember, brands will be repurposing old footage too as shoots around the world shutdown. A remote editor with experience at delivering cut downs could find themselves in high demand.
  • Premier Your Work Online – With festivals the world over being postponed or canceled and audiences moving to smaller and smaller screens for entertainment while quarantined, now is the perfect time to give that passion project waiting in the wings it’s chance to shine.  Maybe a new film in the middle of a festival run would be better migrated to an online premiere or perhaps that old project you buried on your website could finally find some traction being shared across social media. Start rethinking where eyes are now and how you could get your work in front of them.

We hope you’re starting to see the potential of your own past work, and if you get any more ideas and decide to share your work on social media, be sure to tag us and fill everyone in on your process!  We’d love to see it and share it as well. Find us @assembletv across Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Learn a New Skill

Downtime is where auteurs become triple-threats.  Are you an Animator? What about becoming an Animator / Designer?  Or what about adding VFX Artist to your Writer / Director / Editor / Producer business cards?  No better time than the present with a multitude of free and inexpensive online classes ready for you to take advantage of.

Here’s a list of some of our favorite resources:

  • Video Copilot – Tons of free assets and tutorials among paid asset packs for VFX and more.
  • Skill Share – Everything from Animation and Design to Photography and Web Development.
  • Lynda (Now Linkedin Learning) – One of the first online class hubs for learning new skills, Lynda has hundreds of classes available – with the first month free.

Catch Up on Your Watchlist

We all have one, written in a digital note or the back of your mind, a list of TV shows and movies you passively promised to watch but never actually intended to have the time for.  Guess who’s got time now?

Now I know what you’re thinking, one episode of Better Call Saul and 12 hours later you’re in season four and wondering what happened to the sun – but it doesn’t have to be that way!  We’re all creatives and entertainment doesn’t just have to pass the time. Active viewing, with an eye for what the artist behind the scenes are doing, is a great way to hone your own craft.  Keep a notepad nearby when digging through Denis Villeneuve’s backlog, outline the story structure of a Sorkin penned episode of The West Wing, or consider how you can incorporate color the way Kurosawa did in your own visual medium of choice.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, no matter how you spend it, it’s important not to beat yourself up about how you spent it.  COVID-19 is changing the lives of everyone on the planet in one way or another and we’re learning how to deal with it together, one day at a time.  

Remember you still have your creativity and your career is not on hold, only at rest, dreaming of what’s next and inspiring what’s to come.  When this is all over, brands and clients will have a ton of pent up demand for you and the skills you honed in quarantine and the new ones you learned.  Take advantage of this time.


For creatives the world over, resources on how to get by while we all fight COVID-19 can be found here and is updated daily.

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