4 benefits of co-working spaces for filmmakers.

Ok, so you’re really doing this. You’re taking the big leap and starting your own business. Or you’re already in the thick of it, operating your own freelance filmmaking company. And while we’re in the middle of giving you high-fives for the courageous move, you’ve probably been thinking long and hard about where you’re going to work.

In fact, I bet you’ve probably been chewing on a few of these timely questions about finding the right work environment: Should I make space in my home for an office—maybe a nook in the corner? Should I work out of a nearby coffee shop, downing far too many caffeinated drinks so I don’t feel guilty using the WiFi? Should I meet my clients at their offices so I don’t have to admit I don’t have one?  

While you’re mulling over these and the million other questions you ask yourself when you decide to go out on your own, it might help to hear the perspective from someone who has been in your shoes. Let me tell you what’s currently working for me. I might be able to help you out. 

I consider myself pretty lucky. I’ve had two decades of experience in the film industry and have a great gig as director and cinematographer for a large nonprofit. But I also run my own film company called Cinema Mercantile, and I found myself asking a lot of those questions I listed above. What was the solution for me? A co-working space. 

WeWork  London

WeWork London

I’ve found that co-working spaces are better than working from home or a coffee shop because it gives me the structured workplace environment I need to focus on what I do best: making films and telling great stories. 

In my particular case, I’ve chosen a company called WeWork because they have over a dozen co-working spaces in major cities spaces around the world. That flexibility is a big selling point for me, but I also love the screening and conference rooms I can get access too—great features for filmmakers.

It’s good to note that there are many homegrown co-working spaces in almost every city, so you should do a bit of searching and compare the features and costs of each space. Better yet, do a tour, spend a day working in one and see what jives with your work style.

While there is no right place to work, I’ve found that co-working spaces offer all of the structure and flexibility I need as an independent filmmaker. Below, I share four key reasons why a co-working space might be perfect for you and your storytelling business.  

4 Reasons Co-working Spaces Could Improve the Way You Work

1. They give you an office set-up and creative space to focus.

WeWork  L.A.

WeWork L.A.

If you’re going to run a business, it helps to have a professional space to work. One of the main selling points for co-working spaces is that it’s not your house, apartment or a local coffee shop. 

Co-working spaces are often wonderfully designed and decorated; but, most importantly, they are built for business. For example, you will have a receptionist who can bring clients to meet you. You can have your business mail delivered to the address. And it’s also a much more affordable option than renting commercial office space. Plus, in a co-working space, everything is furnished and ready to go, helping you get right to work on your awesome story. 

To be a successful independent filmmaker, you’re not only telling great stories—you are running a business.

Co-working spaces help you get to work and stay focused.

WeWork  Seattle

WeWork Seattle

2. They give you a sense of community and help you network.

In most co-working spaces, there is a community aspect I find really inspiring, and that makes working alone feel a lot less lonely.

Being cooped up in your apartment all day can leave you feeling isolated. I’ve found that it helps me to engage with other people, even if it’s only small talk over coffee or between tasks. Plus, many co-working spaces organize group outings, regular events and film screenings. Many others even have social coffee shops attached. It’s an inspiring feeling when you belong to a community.

Another thing I love is the instant networking co-working spaces provide. I could attend awkward networking events, but I don’t find the need since interesting people surround me at my co-working space. On any given day, I can have stimulating conversations about product design, branding, editing, finance and almost anything else you could imagine. It’s incredibly stimulating.

Co-working spaces give you the much-needed sense of belonging in your work life so you can stay sane and inspired.

WeWork  Boston

WeWork Boston

3. They provide access to high speed internet (and it’s not a coffee shop). 

Trying to upload footage on slow connections in a coffee shop just doesn’t work. It’s not a good solution and certainly not something I can rely on. As a professional filmmaker, I don’t ever want to tell a client that I can’t get their footage to them because a coffee shop’s internet wasn’t fast enough. 

This is what I love about co-working spaces. With WeWork, for example, they have locations in major cities where I find myself frequently filming—New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago, to name a few. What’s great is that, with my membership, I can easily pop into a space in any of these cities and use super-fast internet. Plus, a co-working space is not a coffee shop, so I don’t feel guilty when I don’t overspend on coffee and muffins—and I get no distracting stares from baristas. 

To be a successful independent filmmaker, you need to be reliable.

Co-working spaces give you the technology and business services you need to run a filmmaking business.

WeWork  D.C.

WeWork D.C.

4. They provide serendipitous opportunities for collaboration.

Aside from being part of a cool community that does fun and interesting things, co-working spaces also present many opportunities for collaboration with other talented creative professionals.

For example, when working in co-working spaces, I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with a variety of interesting people I otherwise might not have met. For example, I ran into one filmmaker who creates films for whiskey brands. Another collaborator writes for an online travel magazine. If I were pent up in my home all day, I wouldn’t get these awesome opportunities for collaboration.

Some of the best stories arise from some pretty unexpected circumstances.

Co-working spaces provide many serendipitous opportunities for collaboration. 

WeWork  NYC

WeWork NYC

The Bottom Line: Find a workplace that inspires you to tell great stories. 

In my work with Cinema Mercantile, I’ve found that a co-working space provides the flexibility, structure and creative community I need to produce excellent work and stay focused on my mission: to tell incredible stories the world needs to experience. 

There is no correct way to work, and each workspace you might consider—an office, a coffee shop, your home or a co-working space—offers its own advantages. I’ve found co-working spaces answer all of my needs, and I’ve given you four reasons that they might be right for you, too.

The big take away is that you need to find a space where you can tell your best stories. So think carefully about your work style and find a workspace that keeps you connected to a creative community and helps you stay focused on telling better stories.

Have you tried a co-working space, or have you found a better solution for your work style? Tell us in the comments below what works for you.

By Mike Collins

Mike Collins is director and cinematographer at Cinema Mercantile. You can follow Mike on Twitter here @Mikespins and Cinema Mercantile here: @CineMercantile.