More4 film snaps up Freelance Alliance member

Perhaps more effectively than any chef, conservationist or politician so far, a British film with only a small production team has forced the world's eaters of tuna, sushi and other types of seafood to rethink. ***image2***

Actually in lots of ways, the production team for The End of the Line can safely say that their 85-minute feature is a leading example of a brave new wave of documentary.

Firstly it's independent. It's also joined with non-government organisations; won funds from Channel4, plus a host of other not-for-profit groups, and for its UK cinema release, was financed by Waitrose.

More crucially, and no doubt at the top of director Rupert Murray's agenda, the documentary is a campaign, aimed at "changing the world" by engaging consumers in a single issue.

But potentially problematic for the marketers and designers tasked with this goal, that big issue at the film's heart is 'overfishing' -- an international problem, but a relatively uninspiring, multisyllabic term.

Upping the PR challenge, these creatives were charged to promote a film that exposes a blight which, in some instances, has its source thousands of miles away from the UK audiences they hoped to attract.

Moreover, and as the film's expert contributors make clear, overfishing is a straightforward problem that has an obvious solution, so hooking in the audience on a 'mystery' theme was never viable.

What was called for, and what the production team ended up showing, was a range of striking yet simple promotional and retail designs for the film's debut last year on More4, on DVD and on the big screen.

But the team lacked the skills to do the job in-house and, though the design work involved was substantial, taking on a designer full-time was not financially viable.

"We are a small team," explained Hannah Gallagher, the co-ordinator at the Fish Film Company. "I needed a designer for artwork and through Google I found Freelance Alliance."

A spokesman for Freelance Alliance (FA), which links freelancers with clients and visa-versa, said the production firm was by no means the only small employer 'going freelance' for big projects."

"Fish Film Company had an interesting project but it's actually typical of the sort of business put through FA," the spokesman said. "Micro-outfits want freelancers for their major deals."

Having searched FA for a designer for The End Of the Line, the freelancer whose profile "stood out" the most to Gallagher was Phil Bannister, a freelance graphic design and illustration artist.

"Most likely no... [I would not have secured the role without] FA," he said this week, responding to questions. "It gave the chance for the client to track me down and contact me rather than having to do all the sales leg work [myself]."

Pieces for the film he supplied to Gallagher included adverts, retail packaging, point-of-sale (POS) banners, and postcards and flyers, one of which was used to front The End of the Line's campaign on Facebook.

Bannister says that clearly listing multiple skills in a single career profile online, whether it be on Freelance Alliance or LinkedIn, and knowing what to omit, requires fine judgement.

"It can be tricky when it comes to an online presence [for a freelancer if] you are able to offer more than a single expertise," said the founder of Nookie Design.

"Ensuring you 'sell' all your skills and leave none out, at the same time as fitting them all in can be problematic, even more so when it comes to limiting portfolio pieces. It's a trick that I still have to balance to this day."

Careful consideration of what information, details or materials FA members should upload for prospective clients is vital, as Gallagher decided on Bannister based on him coming across as professional and knowledgeable.

Fortunately for both parties, there have been no disappointments. The Fish Film Company said: "Phil is great because he has always made time to do the [multi-format] designing we need, often at short notice".

Gallagher added that, in all of the company's dealings with him, the freelancer has shown a "knack for understanding" the brief or what's required, resulting in very pleasing results.

And positively for the prospect of repeat business, the designer hinted that the tie-up showed all the signs of being able to continue even when the project's post-production work dries up.

"Working with the client themselves" was the most enjoyable part of the project, said Bannister.

"Hannah, my contact within the company, quickly became one of my favourite clients on both a professional and personal level. It's great to work with a client that both trusts and respects your work and skills as a designer."

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