Case study

Self-employed freelancer — Aurora Fearnley

Find out how Aurora paved her own way to a freelance career in directing and editing

How did you get into directing?

Once I left university, I made music videos and entered lots of competitions. I found a small group of filmmakers who shared my enthusiasm, pace and commitment to the work, and we became a collective.

As a group, we made more than 20 music videos in a short time. We started a company and became represented by a London agent. While directing music videos and commercials, I kept making short films and pitching for funding.

Working as a self-employed freelancer, I have many jobs. In addition to directing, I also work as an editor for television companies and advertising agencies.

What's a typical working day like?

Preparation is a large part of my role as a director - I spend a lot of time developing work before it's financed. Once a project is commissioned, I spend all the time up to the shoot doing preparation work, which includes a lot of communication with my team and research on and around my film's topic and genre.

Shooting the project is the shortest part in the process. Post-production can take a long time and is where I need to keep up my stamina and drive, to see the project through to completion at its highest potential.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy the variety, sense of community and bringing to life stories that move people.

What are the challenges?

A big challenge of my role is the financial insecurity of being freelance, as well as the lack of a clear route through the industry. Plus, I go through a lot of rejection - letting go of projects that I've invested in can be difficult.

How relevant is your degree?

I didn't need a film-related degree or any other degree to enter the industry. However my degree in film and moving image did give me access to a close community of talented people, with whom I've worked for over 15 years now.

How has your role developed?

The biggest career developments I've made are in the length of project, i.e. moving from short stories to full-length features. I've also learnt a lot about integrating visual effects (VFX) into my work flow process.

What words of advice could you give someone wanting to work as a director?

Don't put too much pressure on yourself. I found the industry incredibly competitive when I started out making music videos. On reflection, I think it's better to make work that inspires you, and others, rather than simply to compete. Film careers are about sustainability and resilience.

Also, make friendships not contacts - a career in film is a long game.

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