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Freelancer in the Spotlight - Meet Stu Rolls

Freelancer in the Spotlight - Meet Stu Rolls
Kat Shepherd
Kat Shepherd
December 11, 2020
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We recently interviewed Stu Rolls, Freelance Film & Sound Producer to find out why he chose freelancing and more about being a Film and Sound Producer.

What is a Sound Producer and what do you do?

As a sound producer, my role is to focus on capturing, editing and mixing sound and music in the most engaging way possible to bring a piece of content to life. One day I'll be creating the final soundscape for a TV commercial, the next I'll be recording remote discussions with participants all over the world to build into podcasts for my clients.  It can sometimes feel like the quality of the sound on a piece of digital content is an afterthought in the overall creative process, but I think creators and clients are becoming more focussed on adding the extra layer of quality to their content in recent times, particularly since the beginning of the pandemic and people consuming content at home in more isolated listening environments, rather than reviewing in the office.

How did you become a Sound Producer?

I gained my degree in Pop Music Production, which led me straight into starting up a small home recording studio and working with local music artists as a producer. This not only honed my ears and problem-solving skills working at entry-level with lesser quality equipment, but really helped me to understand the importance of working with creatives and managing the different personalities that come with it. From there, I began working on music and sound within film, before production management agency-side for a few years. Since I've come back into it full-time, my offering has become a lot more wide ranging than before - from podcast production, to sound design for films, to general audio restoration and even still mixing some music tracks.

Stu is a great all-rounder with a very personable approach to getting the job done. Well-versed in leading productions from start to finish and highly capable. I’d work with Stu again without hesitation.
Liam Brown, Agency Producer
How long have you been freelancing?

I started freelancing back in Summer 2018.

Why did you decide to go freelance?

It actually wasn't through choice. My wife and I had moved back to her hometown in southern Spain, but my previous employer wanted to continue working with me, so I was on a fixed-term contract with them for six months. Since then, I've continued working with them, as well as growing my client pool over in the UK through offering different services in film and sound.

What's the best thing about choosing to be an independent professional in your field?

I really enjoy working with new people as it brings new ways of thinking every time. You can get very stuck in your processes and methods as a freelancer to make things easier for yourself, so I think it's important to work with new people on projects with different angles to keep you fresh and expand your skills and pool of contacts.

What's the hardest thing about freelancing?

The constant worry of where the next gig is coming from is something I don't think I'll ever get passed. In the digital industry, as much as any, I think you need to make the most of the busy times and just take on as much work as you can without compromising the service you provide. So when the quiet times come, you're not living from pay cheque to pay cheque, something that the pandemic this year has really hammered home more than ever.

Stu is super reliable, and makes the end-to-end recording and production process as easy as possible. His attention to detail when it comes to sound quality is excellent. He is also great in front of our clients and his flexible approach is always welcome.
John Phillips, Agency Head of Operations
What's one thing no one ever told you about freelancing you wished you'd known at the beginning?

Always keep hold of contacts and think of everyone as a potential future client. It's amazing how people from your past suddenly get in touch when they realise you do what you do, so make sure to keep those contacts 'hot' and having a profile on places like LinkedIn with the odd update here and there keeps you in their sights.

How has YunoJuno helped you as a freelancer?

A lot of clients can have substantial payment terms, some even over 60 days. So the 14-day from invoice payment terms with YJ has been a blessing.

Can you talk about a project you're proud to have worked on?

I produced the sound on 'RAF Sport':

Sometimes as a sound designer, you're brought in at the end, which is frustrating as there can be many parts which your skills can come in really useful to enhance a final creative piece of work. I was involved in the whole process from directing the VO session, placing the music and designing the full soundscape for the film, which is really high-action and very dynamic visually. It gave me a lot of freedom and opportunities to try out a lot of cool and fun FX and mix tricks that a less dynamic piece wouldn't allow for.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to become a Sound Producer?

At first, when your ears are new and still learning the basics of compression, frequencies, levels etc - work with everyone you can. Even for free. Make those mistakes that you NEED to make to get better and you'll find that if you're hardworking and passionate about their project, being as good as possible, people will naturally warm to you as a professional and recommend you to their friends and so on and so on.

If a client was reading this, why should they hire you?

I think sound quality is something that shouldn't be noticed and just naturally enhances the content.  I want to be the reason that when people share that content, they never feel the need to say - "Don't worry about the sound for now…"

I have worked with Stu as a FTE and a freelancer, and has always been an excellent partner, and brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to all projects, as well as insightful consultancy to ensure the programmes are set up for success from the outset. He is accountable and responsible, always solutions focused, and flexible to programme needs and client demands. He is a great partner in working through all stages of the programmes, and able to perform magic with budgets and always producing high quality and impactful content. He is a great project manager, and has honed his client management skills over the time I have worked with him, being able to take complex and intricate programmes and making sure they are understandable and clear to clients.
Adam Naylor, Digital Director @ MHP Communications

Meet Stu

Stu is a freelance Film & sound Producer with 10 years of experience both agency and production side. His previous clients include Maserati, Barclaycard, Kia, Pfizer, Lego, TUI and Ferrero, amongst many other consumer and healthcare sector clients.

AspectEmployeeIndependent Contractor
Control and supervisionDirect control over how, when, and where to workFreedom to set their own schedules and methods
PaymentRegular wages; taxes withheld by employerPaid per project; responsible for their own taxes
BenefitsHealth insurance, retirment plans, paid leaveMust arrange their own benefits
TerminationOften requires notice and may include severanceCan usually be terminated at any time without benefits
Tools and equipmentProvided by the employerTypically use their own tools
I really enjoy working with new people as it brings new ways of thinking every time. You can get very stuck in your processes and methods as a freelancer to make things easier for yourself, so I think it's important to work with new people on projects with different angles to keep you fresh and expand your skills and pool of contacts.
Stu Rolls, Freelance Film & Sound Producer
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