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  • Dan Guest

Employed or Self-Employed? Navigating the Film and Television Industry

dan on set

In the dynamic world of film and television production, the choice between being employed or self-employed carries significant weight, particularly for freelancers like sound recordists. Drawing from personal experience as a freelance sound recordist, let's delve into the nuances of these two employment models within the context of the industry.

The Landscape: Employed vs. Self-Employed

For sound recordists, the default mode of employment is often self-employment. While employed positions exist, they're typically reserved for long-term projects like TV dramas or large-scale feature films. However, for shorter productions such as commercials or documentary shoots, freelancers are preferred due to the flexibility they offer.

employed life

Pros and Cons of Being Employed

Being on a payroll offers stability with a guaranteed monthly income and potential employee benefits such as pension contributions. However, there are limitations to career growth and earning potential. Additionally, rigid work hours and limited holiday flexibility may deter some individuals.

Pros and Cons of Being Self-Employed

self employed life

Self-employment provides unparalleled freedom and limitless earning potential. Flexible work hours and the ability to dictate one's schedule are major perks. However, the lack of job security, the responsibility of handling taxes, and the unpredictability of work flow can be daunting challenges.

Personal Reflections

As a self-employed sound recordist, the decision is deeply rooted in financial considerations, lifestyle preferences, and flexibility. The highs of landing lucrative gigs and enjoying autonomy are contrasted by the lows of uncertainty during lean months. Despite the challenges, the allure of being one's own boss often outweighs the drawbacks.

dan on set 2


Navigating the film and television industry as a sound recordist presents a contrast between being employed or self-employed. While employed positions offer stability and benefits, self-employment provides freedom and potential for higher earnings. Personal circumstances and preferences heavily influence this decision, with factors like financial security and lifestyle flexibility playing pivotal roles. Ultimately, whether employed or self-employed, individuals must weigh the pros and cons to determine the best fit for their career aspirations and personal well-being.

Dan Guest

Sound Recordist

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1 Comment

Mar 10

Very good analysis, however being employed by a company isn't always that secure, take a look at the coal or steel industry, worker's there thought they had a job for life, only to be made redundant and then with little experience in what steps to take to gain their next employment, in contrast bring self employed, you are always looking for working opportunities, seeking out new clients and contracts, you are your own boss. Sure enough worker's on a long time drama series might feel secure, however who knows how long a drama series will last. My analysis is being self employed keeps you more alert and ready for the next challenge.

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