How to transition from beginner to full-time filmmaker

This is an old blog post, you might like to read an updated one such as - Careers In Film 12 FAQ’s Answered In Detail

how to full time filmmaker

Your likely at the phase in your life right now where you are trying to transition from one road to the next.

This maybe that you are about to graduate or take a new direction in your career.

This transition phrase will be the hardest, a trip to the unknown. You may know what your dream job role is going to be but how you get there is still uncertain. 

I have talked about work routes into film and how it is OK to change direction. Below are some tips on how to go through with that transition stage from beginner to forging a filmmaking career. (Also I have just opened the PRE-SALE of my online course – which you can check out here. This course is designed to help you get through this difficult transition stage with 1-1 support.)

Stage One – Your Job Role

Some of you reading this will know what job role you want in the film industry. For others you know you want to make films but don't have a specific role in mind. It's OK to not have specific job role at the beginning. Gain any entry level job in film and learn about the different positions whilst working and gaining experience.

Being humble in this way can be to your advantage, taking on a less competitive position or simple helping out on an independent film set gains you experience, knowledge and contacts in the industry.

Stage Two – Work Experience

You will need work experience before being paid to make films. This experience will differ depending on the role. For example if you want to work within a  below-the-line position aim for at least 5 film credits on your CV within this job role. Five film credits will give you enough experience and contacts for you to begin pursuing a full-time career in this position.

If an above-the-line job role is the goal (Screenwriter. Director. Producer. DOP. Lead Actor) then there is no limit to the experience you need. For example 5 screenwriting credits – be this in independent film, short films, student films might be enough experience to get your first paid gig – but the destination that is professional screenwriter will still be a great distance ahead.

In short the more competitive the job role you want the more experience you need but for now aim for 5 credits to begin with.

Stage Three – Make a Plan

Your plans will always change but still a basic plan is better than no plan at all. A plan helps us with achieving our goals, it keeps us on track and lets us know when we are doubting ourselves that we are heading in the right direction.  Don't start with a lengthy five year plan for now try to plan out the year ahead. 

This could be - gain those first five film credits, or finish my first screenplay. It could be to start getting paid for filmmaking – perhaps just a side gig for now to work around your full time job.  It is hard to be realistic when your dreams are so big but your plans need to be achievable.

When you achieve your small goals you will feel motivated to keep going forwards. What changes will you make this year to work towards your career goals?

Stage Four – The transition stage

This transition stage to being a filmmaker - it’s the stage between being a student and having a career. It’s the stage between working a full time 9-5 to freelancing on film sets. The first few years is going to be hard and you will need to make some life changes.

Start saving up money if you can, freelance work is not the same as monthly pay, cut back on your expenses, can you afford to go part time at work? How about dedicating Saturdays to working towards your goals.

You can do it alone or do it with me and others.

If you are struggling within the transition stage of becoming a filmmaker, let me know below and I will help all I can.

You can find me via Twitter here - @amyclarkefilms