Careers in television and film the work routes you can take for popular job roles with a downloadable glossary of film crew department jobs.
When I first started my career in film, I did not have a plan.
Even after graduating, I was clueless to the reality. I didn’t know what work would be like. My strategy was non existent. I thought things would simple workout for themselves.
I have never thought about planning an outline for my career. I have always assumed there is no such thing as a career plan. That the route in, happens with time and writes itself.
Now I have realised that this is a naive way to think. That perhaps saying things simple didn’t go my way is only an excuse. Things never work themselves out, if you rely on fate you might not end up where you want to be
I believe in making a plan of action, a genuine strategy.
This is how I have been thinking these past few months, if I want to be a film director just how will I get there. Start thinking about your route into film, one way to do this is to work backwards. Think of what your ultimate goal is and work backwards on how you will get there.
The Ladder route
Traditionally the film industry has a ladder to climb for all job roles. For most crew jobs this ladder still exists. If you want to be an Art Director you can start out as an assistant and work you way up the ladder to Set Designer. But this ladder route is not clear when it comes to the most popular careers in television and film.
Popular Careers in Television and Film
Everyone wants to be a Film Director. This is the most wanted job in the film industry. For this it is highly competitive, there is no obvious route in. If you look at the backgrounds of several film directors you will see how varied their history is, there are many ways to get into film direction.
You can choose the climb the ladder route.
Working in the AD department then progressing to director is common with TV directors. You can work in any department in film to make contacts and learn how a film set is run.
Another step is to make indie films, that hopefully win awards and gain you acknowledgment. You can make money as as film director by freelancing your skills, making cooperate, wedding videos, music videos, commercials. Attending a prestigious top Film School can also gain you skills and contacts.
Ways into Film Direction
- Work up the crew ladder
- Work within any crew department job
- Make indie films to build up a portfolio
- Freelance your skills to make money
- Attending top end film schools
More traditionally a producer starts out in the production office and works up the chains of command. However they can also work independently, looking for screenplays, applying for grants and funding themselves. A Master's degree in film producing at an option.
Once again there are many ways to be a film producer
- Climb up the production ladder
- Attend film school to learn skills / make contacts
- Produce your own indie films
- Start their own production company
Screenwriters either pitch ideas to producers, or are hired by a producer to adapt a screenplay (from a concept, true story, existing screen work or a novel, poem, play, comic book or short story.)
Screenwriters work as freelancers. A good route in is to write spec scripts of short and features films as examples. You could turn a short film script of yours into a film as a portfolio piece. Either self funding this or getting it made by film students. Screenwriters will have to get used to networking, attending festivals, getting known within the film industry. They may work other jobs in film to meet crew.
- Create spec scripts
- Attend a film school
- Enter screenwriting competitions
- Work any job in film to make contacts
- Turn your short script into a film for a portfolio piece
- Network like crazy
Actors have no easy route in, with all the competition you must have strong talent and ability. Attending specialist drama schools and courses can be good start as these often have connections with agents. You may work on student and independent productions at first to build up a show reel and make connections in film. Likely you will have to try out for many auditions before you start to get noticed persistence is most important.
- Attend specialist drama schools
- Working on indie / student films to build a showreel
- Working on indie films to get known
- Working in a mix of industries theatre / radio / commercial / Voice Over artist
What route you choose will depend on your experience, location and personality. There is no right or wrong way with how to start a film career. For myself working on film sets was not for me, I dislike working away from home for long periods of time, as an introvert I dislike working with people all day. I am more suited to freelancing and independent work.
I believe that as long as you are doing something, you are doing something right. As long as you are taking a step, it is step forwards, even if the first few steps you take are in the wrong direction for you, you are not making a mistake so long as you are doing something. You can always change route.
Be brave and do something no route is wrong.
Do you have a plan of attack for your career in television and film? What is your work route going to be? Let me know in the comments below: