All work and no pay: creative industries freelancers are exploited

Freelancers working in the creative industries lose an estimated £5,394 each a year through working for free.
A freelance filmmaker says it’s time to stop businesses exploiting contractors

When I was starting out as a freelance filmmaker and photographer I committed one of the biggest crimes in the freelance world: I offered to work for commercial companies for free in exchange for exposure and experience.

There was some logic to it. I had no skills or experience and so I didn’t feel that I could ask for a fat fee. But what I didn’t realise was that I was undermining seasoned professionals and possibly causing them to lose out on paid work. I also didn’t foresee that, even after gaining professional experience and expertise, I’d still get asked to work for no pay.

A survey last year showed freelancers working in the creative industries lose £5,394 each a year through working for free. The freelancers that took part in the survey, conducted by the Association for Independent Professionals (IPSE) and The Freelancer Club, a network for creative industries freelancers, had an average of seven years’ experience in their field.


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