I'm just in the middle of revising my business plan and one thing I've started to consider when planning ahead is just how many projects you tend to have in the pipeline at once.
Do you normally have a number of projects lined up at once, or do you have "dry spells" in between extremely busy periods? Do you pace yourselves and turn down projects if time constraints are too tough, or is it common to bite off more than you can chew as a contingency plan?
I'd be really interested to know. Thanks in advance for your advice!
Besides the day job at the studio, I generally have between 2 and 5 projects going on simultaneously. But they're not all big projects. Right now I have three stage shows going on, with staggered openings between October and April. Those are the big projects. Besides that I have to prep an M&E mix for an indie feature, put together a couple of sound effects packages, mix a couple of songs and plan for a location recording expedition in late April. Any "Down time" is usually the day after a show opens or a movie ships, when I try to take an evening off before jumping into the next thing on the list. Unlike Arnoud Traa, I do have to turn down stuff because I'm too busy. That's less of a boast than it sounds; I've just discovered I can't do as many projects simultaneously as I used to think I could. Part of this process is learning your own limits.
Seems like a simple question, but is tough to answer.
My first response would be, it depends. Meaning that dry spells can last 1 week or 6 weeks.
Pipe lines may be cut off or lengthened, anything is possible and you adapt as you go.
But i can tell you this, I never say no to a client just because i'm to busy. If i do it is
mostly because the project is not interesting, underpaid pr the client is not my type.
Or i'm having vacation :)
These things are not easily planned if you're working solo. Have you considered working
with other sound designers?
I have turned down projects in the past but I now very rarely do that (unless it's a project not worth doing, that is). I've found that it's much better to have a couple of sound editors that you can trust to ship on extra workloads too, if necessary. Plus, it's often great experience for younger sound guys. They do the groundwork and I can qc and final mix it. Has worked for me so far...
(p.s I'd be more than happy for you to ship extra work to me!)