Careers in film, How to pick your film job niche – with a list of 10 questions to help with choosing the right film job for you. When you are unsure of what job you want in the film industry start out as a runner or production assistant, these are the most basic entry level job roles that will allow you to see all departments before deciding which road to go down.
However the runner job role is most often advertised for low or no pay, you will not want to be a runner forever and soon you will have to choose a niche job in film. It was only when I narrowed down my job position from Runner to Script Supervisor that I started to get paid well for film work.
You want to have a specific skill, a specific job in the film industry that people know you for. It is hard to gain film work as a jack of all trades, someone with more than two credits on their CV title looks unprofessional, ideally you need to focus your job role. Your dream job may be producer or director, but do you have the experience to gain paid work in that role straight away or will you work your way up to that title? Deciding on a specific niche job role is the first step to making money in film.
The checklist download below has 10 questions to go through to help you narrow down your film niche -
#1Pick a department
There are many departments in film from Makeup and camera to less known positions in location scouting and distribution (You can download a crew glossary here). Make sure to research the different departments and what skills and experience are required for each one. For example - If you are not very creative or good with your hands – the art dept would not be a good fit for you.
Alternatively choose a stage in film and start exploring. The stages of filmmaking are – script development, pre-production, production, post-production and distribution, throughout these stages there are hundreds of film jobs. Creative Skillset is a great website for doing research into careers in film.
#2 Skills, hobbies, interests
Make a list of your interests and hobbies. Do you like technology, are you good at working with other people. Are you physically fit for a job in light rigging and grip work. Personally my skills of organising, and my ability to work alone helped with my continuity job role.
Also consider what type of job would be best for you – self employment or a full time film job. The reality is most production crew jobs will be self employed. For more security and full time careers in film consider post production and distribution (Full time film jobs can be found at TV Stations, Creative agencies and within post production houses). What responsibilities you have in your own life will depend on whether self employment can be on option.
#3 Search for jobs
Have a search online to see what jobs are frequently being advertised in your area. If you are after a full time job what full time job positions keep showing up online? You will start to notice that a lot of camera and crew work will be advertised on a job by job basis. You can find a list of film jobs sites here. Search for film jobs within your nearest city to see what work keeps appearing. Perhaps look at the job descriptions to see of these are jobs that would interest you.
#4 List your Credits
When you where studying film what job role did you mostly end up doing? Are you more prone to Editing, Organizing, Camera work. You can place student credits onto your CV as experience, perhaps you already have a few credits to your name. I found that when you have 5+ credits within one job role you are much more likely to start getting paid film work.
#5 Work experience
If you are unsure if the job you have in mind is a good fit for you, try out the position for free as work experience. It will be easier to find your job role within a low paid position. Even if this is only for the weekend, you can place this work experience onto your CV as a credit. If you are unsure of what work to do - any assistant , entry level or runner role will give you insight into all departments and careers in film.
You are also allowed to change your job position throughout the years in film. It is typical for anyone starting out looking for film work to have a mixed first few years before choosing a road to go down and focus on work within. What job role will you be applying for, Have you decided yet or do you need the extra help?