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Freelance Advice with Jazeel Gayle

By Ryan Plummer

Going freelance can be a nerve-wracking decision. That's why we're asking a panel of incredibly talented freelancers for their tips on how—and when—to take the leap

Jazeel Gayle is an incredible Director and Producer. With an eye for contrast and a wry sense of humor, Jazeel has joined creative teams to bring wonderful and provocative art to life. We were lucky enough to grab a few questions before our live panel at the end of the week.
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Listen up, kiddos. Jazeel is about to drop some knowledge.

Promissory Note from Jazeel Gayle

Interview with Jazeel Gayle

Hey Jazeel! Can you introduce yourself?

My name is Jazeel Gayle and I'm a director and a producer. I studied film at the School of Visual Arts in New York.
I took an internship at Shilo as a production assistant. From there I moved up quickly and began producing. Been doing it for ten years now.
Producing has always been a day job, but one that I’m lucky enough to enjoy. And one I’m naturally good at. Directing is my passion, and I hope to be doing that full time.

Who do you think should consider going freelance?

It’s unfair of me to say. Whoever wants to freelance should freelance. I think if you’re interested in your art as its own commodity, then you should freelance—I guess. Freelancing really works when you have a unique skill or trade that can’t be found easily. For instance, if you are a star illustrator in the style of Mary GrandPré. Or maybe you’re a wiz at photo-real Octane work. You want to have something that studios and employers need regularly and will pay top dollar for. If you would rather create as a collective of artists, then a staff position is more suited for you. And then there are personality differences to take into consideration.

Who do you think shouldn’t consider being a freelancer?

People who are unwilling to hustle. People who are not good at being their own bookkeeper and secretary and hype man. People who want to do one thing and one thing only. If you only want to design photo-real sci-fi spaceships then you should get a job where that skill is needed and stay there. Otherwise if you’re a designer and that’s your only interest then you should be the best as it. Believe it or not, people who are loners. There are many freelancers out there who are very cold and want to come in, do their job, and get out. Unfortunately we can’t work in silos. Having social skills is key to a successful freelance career. Because you are constantly being plugged into new teams. You have to have the ability to fit and fit quickly. Even if you’re faking it. It needs to happen.

You've been able to work with a lot of freelancers. What are three helpful tips you could share when it comes to hiring?

  1. Remember to interview. Sometimes jobs appear suddenly and have tight turnaround times. Sometimes—out of laziness—we don’t interview and vet people to see if the position, however temporary, is the right fit for the studio and freelancer.
  2. Communication is a two-way street. Over-communicate booking, pay, and expectation agreements. Both parties should be engaged in that.
  3. Don’t settle. Don’t book someone just because they’re available. This is by far the hardest rule to follow as a producer.

So, what are three downsides you've found while working with freelancers?

I could go on for a while about these, but I'll keep it brief.
  1. Personality. Having to navigate personalities that don’t work.
  2. Work ethic. Many—but not all—freelancers have a "come in do the bare minimum and leave" attitude.
  3. Honesty. Some people lie about their capabilities to get the job.

If there was a golden freelance tip that you could pass along, what would it be?

Be honest, be humble, be respectful, and do your best. You are not god's gift to whatever you’re doing. And stand up for yourself when you feel like you’re being taken advantage of.

How would you like to see the market change?

Cost. It’s far too expensive to do what we do. It’s getting better with technology, though.
Labor laws and healthy work environments. This needs to improve. People are putting their health on the line to make commercials. Why?

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Freelance Panel

At the end of this week, on June 19 2020, we will be hosting a Freelance Panel with all of our incredible freelance guests: Jazeel Gayle, Hayley Akins, Leigh Williamson, and Jordan Bergren.
If you'd like to submit questions for our panel, take this quick survey here!