Case study

Freelance sound designer and composer for film and visual media — Harry Filby

After gaining a first class honours degree at Solent University, Harry decided to enter the competitive world of freelancing as a sound designer and composer

How did you find work as a sound designer?

After an initial stint working at a music studio, I began freelancing, which led onto a six-month entrepreneur internship at Solent. After completing the internship, I returned to freelancing again.

What are your main work activities?

The typical day depends on my current workload, with projects taking priority.

Outside of projects, the biggest priority when freelancing is keeping a steady stream of work. So, the majority of my time, when not directly working on projects, or completing necessary admin tasks, is spent looking for the next project - in forums, job sites, social media groups and networking sites.

What do you enjoy about your job?

The autonomy and convenience of working from home and in my own time is the best benefit, but the work itself is fulfilling and exciting too.

What are the most challenging parts?

The biggest challenge is keeping a consistent stream of work coming in, while also managing multiple projects at once, each with different deadlines and requirements.

Working with clients can sometimes be difficult, if you have creative differences or problems communicating your ideas. There is also a constant need and demand for you to learn new ideas and techniques, in order to improve and stay up to standard.

How relevant is your degree?

I studied popular music production at Solent University. The degree gave me the skills necessary to write, record, mix and produce audio productions to a professional standard using equipment including microphones, DAWs, plug-ins, VSTs and hardware equipment.

Core degree units included sound design, audio-post and film music. I'd often opt to do cinematic productions when given the opportunity.

My course also covered the music business and networking, which enhanced the knowledge I'd already gained from studying a music business diploma at BIMM.

What do you think is important when choosing a Masters?

I haven't started my Masters yet, but I'm in the process of applying. I feel it's important to choose a course that develops the skills I already have, as well as giving me new ones.

What advice can you give to others wanting to get into this job?

Networking is vital in freelancing, as it's the most fruitful source of work. Also, make use of forums, social media groups, networking events and conferences.

Learn to communicate well and make sure you understand the needs and expectations of your clients - for each project. It's important to be clear about the budget, theme and tone of the project, and number of work hours involved.

In the early days you may need to take on any jobs offered, but be wary about being seen as a jack of all trades. It's good to become the go-to-person for a specific skill or type of work. Similarly, don't be tempted to undercut prices and sell yourself short to secure projects. You don't want to have a reputation for being the cheap option.

Find out more

Learn more about the role of a sound designer.