How to get started in film - Realistic ways to transition over to a film career

Whether you are straight out of film school or making a career change later on in life the transition over to full-time film work is hard.

There is no easy solution on how to get started in film. The film industry is complicated and it going to take many years to make a career change over to something creative. Below I have broken down 5 realistic ways to make this transition happen.

 
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5 ways to Transition over to the Film Industry

1. A full time film job

There are full time jobs in film. If you currently have a full time job then swapping to a full time film job is the easiest solution.

These jobs will be at studios, production companies and creative agencies. You may be able to use your current job skills to move over to the industry – For example if you work in marketing you could apply for marketing jobs within the film industry.

These jobs will more than likely not be on set production crew jobs instead they will be office and admin based.

Working for a production company within any role and showing commitment to that company can open up more job opportunities with them in the future. I know people who started out as Production Assistants in the BBC offices and are now directing short promotional videos for them

A large company such as the BBC will be easier to move from job roles within that company.  Large production companies will also have full time contracted jobs within entry level positions.

2. A Part time flexible job

Get a part time job that works around your freelance film work. I know many people in film that have taken on part time work such as bar work or temp work to help pay the bills whilst they get their experience and skills in order to go full time within a film crew job role.

Currently I have a part time job which helps as I transition over from full time work to more internet based work. No matter what your age (even if you are starting a film industry career at 30 or 40 years old) any flexible job could help with the added security during that transition stage.

If you are happy with your current job you could try reducing work hours within it so that you can spend more time working on your film career.

You might like - How to write a film production resume

3. The Frugal filmmaker

Reduce all bills, debt and outgoings. Run through your monthly outgoings with a fine comb, are there subscriptions you can opt out of? have you paid back any necessary debt?

The first few years of freelancing are tough, work can be scattered and payments can come in late. If possible save up for when you take the leap over to film. Depending on your situation you may be able to move back home with your parents during your first year of freelancing.

4. The weekend filmmaker

You don’t have to be a full time filmmaker. Although many people reading this will be wanting a career out of film, film making is a spontaneous job with a lack of security. Plenty of creatives keep their full time jobs and pursue their creative careers in their spare time.

If you wish to make your own films this may be the sanest option, after all you will need money to make your own films and its is unlikely that you will ever make enough money to live off the sales of an indie film. You could have a dedicated day a week to film making or evenings after work. A lot of independent filmmakers choose to keep there jobs and shoot films over the weekends.

You might like - A list of film production job sites

5. Take the Risk

If you have little commitment, small outgoings and you are feeling confident then taking the risk might just be a good fit. I would recommend applying to jobs in bulk, taking on all of the work you can, helping out as much as possible on productions to meet as many people as possible.

Throwing yourself fully into film can be tiring (take care not to get burnt out). At some point you will need to take the risk and pursue film full time if this is your goal. How and when you go about it will be different for everyone.

I also created an E-book which comes with filmmaker CV templates and Cover letter copy - Find out more here

How To Get Started In Film Tips

  • Know your job role - Ideally have a focused job role especially if your looking for professional film crew work

  • Gain Experience - Before committing to film gain some work experience. Make sure film work is a good fit for you

  • Gather Credits - Build up a list of credits and experience (or show reel material if needed) to stand out from others

  • Network In Person - Work on film sets, attend networking meetings. Interact with other filmmakers

Resources - Filmmaker Magazine - Filmmakers on Their Second jobs | Beyond Film School - How I Broke into the Film Industry | Noam Kroll - How to Make a Living as Freelance Filmmaker

Are you struggling to make that career change over to film? Which one of the 5 steps above will you be taking?