As an occupational group characterized by their responsiveness, resilience and innovation, freelancers make a vital contribution to the UK’s creative economy. However, although there has been a general acknowledgement of their importance, a number of existing studies abstract freelancers from the localities in which they work. Based on twenty in-depth interviews with freelancers working in Bristol’s film and television industries, this article contends that freelance work is strongly situated in place and locality and, as such, defining the nature of freelance work also requires understanding the local cultural, political and economic contexts in which it is situated. In making this argument, this article situates precarity as not only an occupational issue, but also a place-based, policy issue. It concludes by arguing that, rather than instrumentalist approaches, policy interventions designed to promote growth in local production centres should be informed by the place-based nature of how freelancers negotiate precarious careers.