Getting paid to do the work you want and getting paid fairly for it: sounds like a dream to most aspiring and working filmmakers, right? Scott Belsky, the co-founder and CEO of the digital portfolio platform Behance, says things are headed in that direction.
Behance is a home for online portfolios for the work of filmmakers, animators, motion graphic artists, illustrators, typographers, architects, and audio artists. Belsky devotes his time motivating creative workers to organize and work in ways that benefit them; he’s also interested in developing his site to best serve the needs of creative workers.
Belsky took to the stage at the Vimeo Festival a few weeks ago to explain the future of creative careers, and Indiewire followed up with Belsky to find out how the future he sees affects filmmakers trying to get paid to do the work they want.
You’ve been saying that creative workers have begun to get what they want out of hired jobs, that they’re not just doing what their client wants them to do. They’ve begun to more easily do the kind of projects they want to do. How has this begun to happen?
I call it a very healthy dose of selfishness. We have more expectations for our careers and for what we can get paid financially and also the kind of credit and opportunities we get. We have high expectations for ourselves; we’re no longer expected to work for the man. We think, “I should be able to do what I love. I should be able to get paid for what I’m able to do rather than who knows me or who owes me a favor.” I think that’s part of the bigger picture of creative meritocracy.
How can creative workers organize themselves to make sure they can be a part of this?
I tend not to like the term freelancer. It implies you don’t work with other people. This is not true. The people I’m talking about often work with others, whether or not they work in a large organization. There’s a community of people who are starting to figure this out. A lot of small digital agencies that are able to work in small groups on their own terms are cropping up. Very few cool, fast-emerging artists are working through massive agencies. It used to be that you would not feel like you have influence or creativity. All the work was so segmented. With these smaller companies, better work and work that people want to be doing is happening.
How do creative workers find each other?
Everyone’s looking to do their own work, and opportunity comes from being discovered. It’s about mass exposure to your work to all the right people. It’s more about the act of discovery rather than referrrals, but it’s also about a credible mass than a critical mass of people liking your work. We’re building an algorithm at Behance to distinguish how many random people like something versus how many credible people like something. The best curators of creative work are creators themselves. Great directors know best about great direction. There has never really been an efficient way to gather all this. We’re trying to correct that.
Does the money just fall into place when the right people are working together?
I think we’re headed to a world where more creative teams will be able to do the work they want and be funded by it. Kickstarter is a great solution; they’ve relaized that everyone wants to consume art and creative output in some fashion and that are people willing to pay for content. There will be new mediums through which to consume the content and new revenue models will arise. I think that companies will continue to want to be benefactors of the arts. Art exhibits are now made possible by J.P. Morgan; why isn’t that happening online and with films? Why can’t digitial artists get paid the same way museums get paid by corporate benefactors? More people are able to see work that lives online. The idea of benefactors is not a new one; it goes back to the Medici family in Italy.
Below are Belsky’s attributes of the Free Radical, a new kind of worker not willing to be a corporate pawn:
We seek work that is, first and foremost, intrinsically rewarding.
We make stuff often, and herefore, we fail often.
We have little tolerance for the friction of bureaucracy, old-boy-networks, and antiquated business practices.
We expect to be fully utilized and constantly optimized.
We consider “open source” technology ours.
We believe that “networking” is sharing.
We insist on meritocracy.
Belsky at the Vimeo Festival: