WORK IN FILM

Here are some tips to get you started in a career in film

Make films!

It seems an obvious thing to say, but making the films is the best way to learn the process and industry first hand. You do not need expensive cameras, just a good idea for a story and a desire to tell that story. Paranormal Activity (2007) cost $11,000 to make, yet made $193 million at the box office worldwide. The lack of a camera crew (as it uses static camera shots) reduced costs immensely, the film ran on its suspenseful story. 

Tangerine (2015) is an example of a film shot entirely on mobile phones, used for their cost and availability

To learn the art of filmmaking you need no more than a sound and capture device. YouTube hosts many videos of DIY kit you can make, which further helps your understanding of how the equipment works.

 

For example Peter McKinnon shows you how to get great lighting for $50:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHi35Q__WeY

If you can shoot with a limited kit then you can work with anything. Be mindful that technology moves so quickly, film was still the main way to capture footage up until the early 2000s, so learn techniques over certain equipment and you will be covered for all eventualities (and manuals can be found online and downloaded to your phone for reference on kit you come across). 

How?

Film School is a great place to go if you can, to build great networking, find work experience and get your hands on high end kit. 

Not everyone can get to or afford Film School though, so don't let that put you off.
 

Youtuber D4Darious creates broken down and easy to follow videos all about the basics of filmmaking. His video on learning filmmaking in 50 days is a great starting point:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYaIdC5pbkpECxXLjf0Lzaw

His approach is simple… get hold of a camera kit, break filmmaking into sections and research online, then go and practice those sections! In under 2 months you will have built up a great understanding of the basics of filmmaking.

Film Festivals ask for volunteers like the Sheffield Documentary festival, where you can watch talks and films in exchange for a few hours work 

https://sheffdocfest.com/

By creating a showreel (1-3 minutes is enough) of various content you are preparing yourself to apply for courses, jobs and freelance work in film and TV. For cast members The Stage.co.uk have a great section on what makes a good showreel:

https://www.thestage.co.uk/opinion/2014/8-ways-to-make-a-better-showreel/

For filmmaker showreels there are many approaches, depending on the style you want. To view a wider range for more ideas this Pinterest board links to a variety of ways:

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/568227677963390020/

Driving licence

According to Stephen Follows' data, the main skill you need to start in the film industry is... a driving licence.

https://stephenfollows.com/how-to-find-a-job-in-film-and-tv/

Film education is all well and good to back it up, but to really help out on set the ability to drive cast, equipment and anything about is the best way to get your foot in the door.

The link also discusses CVs... make a tailored one for your film work, no more than a single page. Also do your research on a company as it shows. 

Runners

Most people start their career in film and TV as runners. The job varies on set and can be anything and more, for example:

 

  • office admin

  • crowd control

  • transporting the cast

  • collecting catering supplies

  • cleaning up locations

  • fixing furniture

  • coordinating extras  

Working under pressure, to your own initiative and being reliable are all skills of a great runner, and will no doubt get you noticed. The work you put in will show and help you on the ladder to filmmaking roles. Plus the variety of the role allows you to see which parts you would like to focus on. Putting in the hard work does pay off.

Prospects.co.uk explain a little more about the runner position here:

https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles/runner-broadcasting-film-video

Networking

 

Meeting people in film and tv is the best way to build your network up. Most creative people are freelance, with only a handful working full time for a company. If you have a grounded knowledge of filmmaking already you can set up your own company, as PremiumBeat suggest here:

 

https://www.premiumbeat.com/blog/start-your-own-video-production-company/ 

 

and look to put out your own films and start from the ground up. 


Film and TV job fairs are a great way to mingle and meet fellow filmmakers. Check places like Eventbrite regularly for events:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/d/united-kingdom--london/film-networking/

 

Equipment hire places have annual equipment showcases. CVP.com have events:

https://cvp.com/events

Backstage.com offer some tips on how to network from an LA acting coach here:

https://www.backstage.com/magazine/article/tips-networking-film-industry-8843/

Their advice to engage with professionals online makes a lot of sense, as Facebook is the most useful place for freelancers to find work. 

Here are a few in the UK, (just type into the facebook search bar as you would into a search engine to find them in your locality).

TV Work Runners

Art Department UK

Leeds Indie Filmmakers Enterprise and Leeds Actors Group

Manchester Film Makers Meet Up Group

The Cardiff Filmmaking Group

Scottish Filmmaking, Acting & Locations

For websites check out Mandy.com, for filmmakers and casting

https://www.mandy.com/

The Talent Manager also have a jobs board for jobs in TV:

https://www.thetalentmanager.com/

For more specialised searches you can try examples like The Black List network, for screenwriters and filmmakers:

https://blcklst.com/

Overall, research skills are good for a filmmaker to have, as are strong communication skills. Build up your skill set, create a great impression without being overpowering and prove yourself to be hardworking and you will excel at filmmaking. 

© Danielle Millea 2019