Become seen as an expert
The best advice I can give to you is focus when it comes to your career. There are hundreds of jobs in film yet sometimes we over simplify ourselves saying that we are general ‘all round’ filmmakers or by listing more than two job roles onto our CV.
It is not impressive to do a lot of jobs. Filmmakers who list themselves as being a director/ writer/editor and every crew job in between find it the hardest to be hired. In feature filmmaking only one person is hired per job role. So consider this when you are applying for work on a film crew does your CV promote the job role you are applying for? Having focused experience will make you stand out in film.
But I want to be a general freelancer? Well you can be the all round freelance filmmaker but keep in mind that even here a focus is useful. Often freelancers will focus on a niche such as ‘fashion, events, corporate, commercials, online’ you may find as a freelancer at the start you can make a living doing anything and everything – but it is only though focus that you become seen as an expert.
Show off your versatility
Depending on your job role having experience in a variety of production types and genres could help you become more employable. Consider how a DOP could look more versatile if they have commercials, features, shorts and commercial jobs on their CV. The same applies for directors and producers.
Just make sure to follow the expert rule above and don’t have your CV experience mixed up with many different job roles (camera assistant, director and editor credits on your CV for instance could look confusing and unprofessional if applying to a Production Assistant job role). Being Focused and versatile is the sweet spot. Work within a variety of genres and production types to show how versatile you are within your job position.
Have a show reel or portfolio
It may seem obvious and not vital but consider how for some job roles a visual look at your creations could help make you stand out. An Art Director would gain greatly from an online portfolio - with photos of their work and clips from the films they have worked on. The same for a DOP, Director, Storyboard Artist – consider if you have visual job and how you could stand out with a showcase of your work. These days every CV will be viewed online as opposed to in person. You can html link your website on your CV or email footer.
A clean online profile
It is possible that every person who hires will look you up online. This might be as simple as clicking onto your show reel link or they could go as far as a full Twitter or Facebook search (stalk). Make sure that anything in view that links to you in the public is non offensive to whomever could be hiring you. Its recommended online that you have a picture of your face for your profile picture on any social media or website – when your future employee sees your face they are more likely to trust and hire you. Following people you have previously worked with via social media is also an easy and non intrusive way of keeping in touch and staying in peoples minds for future work.
Named artists and show business
I found great success in writing down the names of famous people and well known production companies I worked with on my CV. When a future employer is looking at your CV they can see that another professional was willing to hire you. It makes you easier to employ - try listing the names of any directors, producers and actors of notable credit you have worked with onto your CV. The film industry is very closely knit and in time you will start to get known within that work circle. I have been hired before when a producer recognised the name of another producer he studied with on my CV. List the names of directors, producer, actors and anyone notable you have worked with on your CV.
Collaboration and Networking
It would be great if every job you worked paid a good wage. When you first start out working in film likely you will help out on many unpaid independent productions. Likely when you no longer need to do this you will be glad to never work for free again. However film does run on a who know who basis, you consistently need to keep learning and meeting new people.
I have known people to work on lower budget productions to help out friends, practice with new equipment and work a job role a few ranks above their usually place. More than once low budget work has paid off for myself and lead directly to professional paid work. Being open to collaboration and helping out friends with projects has a way of paying back and getting yourself more known within the film industry. Perhaps saying you will work on an indie production for only a few weeks in a year would be of benefit. Make sure your getting something from every low budget job your help out on. Being open to collaboration could very well pay off later.
OK so there it is - a list of ways you can stand out in film. Focus your job role, show versatility, have a show reel, make the most of your online presence, show off on your CV and keep networking and meeting new people in film.
These techniques are nothing revolutionary but these simple ideas work. Are you having trouble standing out in film, what are your biggest struggles right now with tackling a career in film?