Thanks to technology and the pandemic, we live in a world where you don't have to work in LA; LA can come to you and cut out the middle people. You can be freelancing directly for Hollywood from the comfort of your home, wearing your PJs or favourite gimp outfit.
I recently found myself in this unusual situation (not in gimp gear, though) and had to learn a few things fast. I thought I'd share what hoops I've jumped through so far in case you end up in a similar situation. Now, this is specific to someone in the UK freelancing for a production company in the US, but hopefully, it can point you in the right direction if you are based elsewhere.
The first thing is to tear a page out of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and DON'T PANIC! Although these would be advantageous, you don't have to have a limited company, an accountant, or an agent.
Be cool, like Fonzie, and just give them your name and address if they ask for your company details. If this is a one-off, ad-hoc thing, then that is fine. If you think this may become a more regular source of income, consider registering yourself as self-employed – it's not as convoluted as it seems.https://www.simplybusiness.co.uk/knowledge/articles/2022/01/register-as-self-employed
Most people are aware of NDA's, but, just in case, the first thing I had to sign before they would discuss anything about the project was a Non-Disclosure Agreement or NDA. An NDA is like the first rule of Fight Club - you don't talk about what's listed on the NDA, not even to your best friend/enemy/Tyler Durden. If you do, you could get prosecuted and blocked from the industry.
It may be a LONG time until you can openly discuss it, if ever, as you have no idea what will happen to the project or your involvement in it. I hope one day I can share with everyone what I'm working on as it's incredible, and the circumstances it came about are bizarre, but I'll just have to wait and see.
It also goes without saying that all terms & conditions for the work you are undertaking are agreed upon in writing. No agent to check the details? #MeNeither. In the UK, you can register as a member of the WGGB (Writers Guild of Great Britain), which includes contract reviews and advice. Haven't earned enough dosh or professional credits to qualify for full WGGB membership? #MeNeither. It's a lot easier and cheaper to qualify for Candidate Membership:https://writersguild.org.uk/join-renew/candidate-membership/
This includes contract vetting and a range of other perks, such as discounts for Black List evaluations. So, if you submit several of these yearly, the membership could pay for itself.
You'll need to fill out the appropriate IRS forms to avoid deducting 30% of all payments for US tax. You may have filled out something similar (and simpler) if you've published a book or movie on Amazon in the US or via your bank/financial advisor if you dabble in stocks and shares.
I was sent three forms and told to fill in the one appropriate. W-8-BEN, W-8-BEN-E and W9. If like me, you don't have an accountant at hand or a Scooby-Doo what these forms are, I found these links helpful.https://tipalti.com/en-uk/what-is-w-8ben/https://caseron.co.uk/how-to-complete-a-w-8ben-e-form/https://www.dnsassociates.co.uk/form-w9
In my case, I fell under the more straightforward W-8-Ben category, which was a relief as the W-8-Ben-E form looks like it's written in Klingon. The good news is this form is valid for the current calendar year and then three years after, so I don't have to worry about it again for a while.
Once you've completed the work you were hired for, you must submit an invoice. There are plenty of invoice samples you can download online; just Google' Free Invoice Templates' and click on the Images tab, then tailor one to you. Alternatively, several templates come included as standard with Microsoft office.
Just be aware that in addition to your bank name, account number and sort code, you'll need your IBAN Number and Swift/BIC code to process international payments. Both of these I found on the top right-hand side of my bank statement.
Once you get paid (WOO-HOO!), you should receive an international payment notification from your bank. This can be a bit of a shock when you see how much you actually pocket due to exchange rates, plus your bank may charge a fee. Keep records of these case the Inland Revenue come sniffing, and you'll need to declare them on your self-assessment form.
That’s all I’ve gleaned so far. Just keep your head down, do your best, be friendly, professional, and helpful and hope it all turns out for the best.
I hope the information is useful. If you have freelanced and anything I've suggested is incorrect, please share or add anything you think may be relevant.