Why can't I get a job in film? 6 struggles Filmmakers Face and how to solve them

How to get into the Film Industry. 6 struggles filmmakers face at the start of their careers and how to solve them.

I have been listening to filmmakers struggles over the past few years through readers emails and from those taking part in my online course. Film making is not like any ordinary career and in short you need to give it more time to develop. I have listed below some of the most common hang-ups filmmakers are facing right now, if you are struggling to get a job in film this may apply to you…

1. You need to give it more time

Film careers are more complicated than traditional jobs. Although you might find a full-time 9-5 in film, its likely you are reading this looking for a creative freelance production role.

It takes years to get a film career off the ground. In the first few years of working in film, you might find work come in drips and drabs or have to take up a part time job to keep your income stable. This struggle is one that all filmmakers under go and expecting things to be easier as a freelance filmmaker is unrealistic,  the first five years of your film career will be precarious.

2. Your job role is not clear enough

This is an issue I see frequently with film graduates. Film schools tend to teach a whole range of job roles and students leave wishing to pursue all aspects of film or thinking they are an expert at every discipline. 

It is unlikely you will pursue more than one job role in film unless you are a YouTuber or Videographer. Make sure you don’t list a mix of job titles on your CV (such as ‘Director, Screenwriter, Producer and Editor' all on one page). If you are applying to a film crew role as an all round Videographer this is a mistake. Try to focus your CV to say the job role you are applying for.

e.g If you applying for a Runner job role your CV should say ‘Runner’ as your job title.

3. Your in a bad location

Any major city will have a film industry but not all cities will. I live in a fairly small city in the North West of England (Liverpool) there are some media and TV jobs here but not enough to freelance full-time in film. As such filmmakers here also work in Manchester, London and spread their work out across the UK. Being willing the travel for work is in your favour. If you wish to only work within your home town a full-time media job might be best suited to you than freelance film work.

If there are not enough film productions happening in travelling distance you may need to relocate.

4. Your work needs improving

The film work world is competitive and you will struggle if your work is mediocre. At the start of our careers we can become overconfident with our abilities, know that there will always be someone more talented who could get the job. As such it is important that we keep continuously learning and developing our skills.

Make sure that you are not under qualified for the job role you are applying for, take a hard look at your previous experience (or show reel) have a look at what skills and experience other people have who are getting the jobs you want. Whatever your job role in film remember to never stop learning.

5. You don’t have enough contacts

Film work does run on job recommendations and who knows who. It takes time to build up enough contacts to find consistent work. I wrote a post here on where to find local networking events for filmmakers.

When things don’t go the way we want them too it’s easy to make excuses ‘I don’t have enough money’, ‘Filmmaking is an exclusive club’. The world is not fair and sometimes it is best to just accept its faults and keep fighting on. It will take more time to get your career started if you don’t have money, contacts and raw talent (which includes 99.9% of us breaking into film). Trust me in time you will begin to expand your contacts in film and find that work will come easier.

6. You need a better plan

Most filmmakers don’t have a plan for finding film work other than apply to as many jobs as possible or move to Hollywood. These plans are not thoroughly bad but may need more detail. Create a list of job sites, join any Facebook groups for filmmakers in your base location. Do you need to do more self marketing, it is likely work will not come to you and that you will need to find it yourself. Are you missing any skills or experience that others may have when applying to your job role? Create a plan of attack – what will you do in the next 6 months to stand out in film and start finding more work.

You can find me via Twitter here - @amyclarkefilms