Life as a Freelancer: Lachlan Baynes (OX 2012)
Friday, 1 September 2023
The Old Xavs Association punch well above its own weight when it comes to talented performers who fill in their Tax return as 'Freelance Media Artist'. In past issues of this newsletter, we have profiled freelance Logie winners, Hollywood film Directors, world famous opera singers, gag writers, magicians and the list goes on.
The good news is that the OX freelance talent bank continues to blossom, particularly in in the creative production side of commercial TV.
An example is Lachlan Baynes (OX 2012 ), so Jock O'Keefe (OX 1959) asks Lachie about life as a Freelancer.
Where and when was the light bulb moment you decided TV was the way to go ?
At school or Uni ?
It was during school that I developed a love of film and TV and a curiosity about the craft behind them, aided by some wonderful media teachers at the college. While I was definitely encouraged to look at more practical career paths, the idea of actually working in film and TV was a bug I couldn't shake, even heading into Uni. I hedged my bets and did an degree in Arts but very quickly realised I had made a mistake - the field of study was too broad and anything not related to media felt like a waste of time and quickly lost my interest. In hindsight I should have picked a craft like editing or audio and found a more practical based course. But you live and learn and I ended up missing my last week of study so I could work on a short film in the Snowy Mountains, well and truly on the right track by then.
You did the hard yards as a production Lachie (pun intended), you gradually moved up rungs on the Freelance barometer. In the early days, name some of the video productions you worked upon?
In the early days I worked on a range of productions to get as much experience on set as I could. These ranged from volunteer positions on short films to being a Runner on shows like My Kitchen Rules and TVC campaigns for brands like Carpet Court and Coles. Jobs were often few and far between before I had some luck and snagged a role with Tennis Australia as a Production Assistant. This started a long relationship with the sport across the next few years, working on multiple Australian Opens and other broadcast events. Suddenly being in this world full time, face to face with crew who had decades of experience under their belts, gave me the education I think I missed at Uni. They were not all great jobs at the start but I feel I have hit a rhythm in recent years and have worked on some really exciting projects across a range of formats, including the Logies for Ch 9, Hunted for Ch 10 and Show Me The Money for Stan.
Along came a Penny Dreadful Flick called 'COVID' and Freelances ran for cover.
How did you survive? Was it time for some lateral thinking, such as becoming a movie reviewer?
Covid was a terrible time for the Film and TV industry, like it was for many industries, shutting down productions, delaying others, and robbing a lot of people of work. I was incredibly lucky all through COVID though and managed to work consistently through all the many lockdowns in Melbourne. I was still at Tennis Australia at the time and they worked hard to look after their employees and keep as many people in jobs as they could. We then managed to put on an international sports event in the middle of the pandemic which was an incredibly difficult thing to achieve, never knowing if the plug was going to be pulled at any stage, protesters at our gates.
It was actually during this time that I made the difficult decision to leave my full time role at the Tennis (a rarity in TV), and pursue what I hoped would be a more creatively fulfilling role as a freelance Producer, which has proven to be one of the better decisions I have made, both personally and professionally. But ironically COVID was a funny beast and in some instances actually created some jobs for me. It is thanks to COVID that I was able to work on the Tokyo Olympic Games. Putting on an Australian Open during the pandemic had made me a temporary biosecurity expert and I was able to put those skills to work as the COVID Coordinator for the Melbourne and Sydney studios broadcasting the games. It was a terrible job but an amazing and historic event to be a part of. I essentially ran around and told everyone to keep their mask on while I watched a lot of sport.
Back in the business, you increased your production knowledge and currently working as Freelance Casting Producer for next season of MasterChef on TEN.
Do you get to eat/sample the tucker that contestants prepare?
Unfortunately in my role we do not get to sample the food that our applicants cook during their auditions. I leave that to members of our very experienced Food team who actually know a lot more about cooking than I do. What I do get to do though is look at a lot of photos of food on Instagram and spend a lot of time on the road across Victoria and other states, visiting big events like the Good Food and Wine Show as well as smaller culinary events and farmers markets, tasting some of the beautiful local produce we have in our regions.
You experienced working with the Great Man of TV - Eddie Everywhere?
My memory is that Eddie started @ TEN in the News Room as a FREELANCER.
What is your ambition?
At this stage, my ambition is to not stop. I love what I do, I love the variety and I love the people that I work with. I still feel like I am in the early stages of my career and I just have this appetite to learn, learn new skills, learn about new formats and new ways to tell stories. If a job comes up and it is something that I haven't done before then I am immediately interested. Right now I spend my days helping other very talented people achieve their visions and I love that because I love watching those people in action.
Long term, the ultimate goal is to be an Executive Producer, the one whose vision is being executed. Whereas most people have only a particular interest in one aspect of production, I have a fascination with the overall process, from pre to post. From conception to execution and beyond. My ambition is to take everything I've learned from telling other people's stories and use it to tell my own.