How to find jobs in the film industry
There are 3 important factors to finding any type of job.
- You must know what specific job you want
- You must have experience/express passion for that role
- You must apply correctly and in the right places
Below are the basics to finding work in film. More detailed notes for subscribers can be found via the resource library. Finding unpaid work experience in the film industry is not too difficult especially if you are willing to travel. Finding paid work and enough of that to earn a living from takes time. Low paid work may take a year to come by and consistent full paid work may take about 5 years to reach. Finding jobs in the film industry comes down to persistence, it is not an impossible goal it just takes time.
When I first started out working in film I worked for free as a Runner. When I wanted to get paid I decided upon a specific job role and it was only then that fully paid work started to come my way. This isn’t the same for everyone, paid runner/PA jobs in the film industry do exist they are just hard to come by. If you are unsure on what job role to do working at the bottom as PA/Runner allows you to see it all, talk to everyone and get an understanding of which direction is right for you.
You won’t want to be working as a runner forever so deciding upon a department to work within will help. There are lots of departments to work within the film industry– art, camera, costume, makeup, continuity, grip, electrical/ lighting, post production, assistant directing, accounting, sound – there are so many sub categories that go into these. I decided upon continuity myself because I wanted to get close to the director but honestly I don’t think it matters which department you go into. If you want to work in film go into the department that plays upon your strengths/the one you most enjoy.
It is likely before you get paid you will need to fill your CV up with experience. My popular post on CV Writing tips for filmmakers can be read here.
If you have zero experience of working on sets then working on a few student or low budget films for free will give you the credits and experience to move on to paid work. It is OK to put student films down on your CV as experience. Just don’t put yourself down as director of your short films if you are applying for runner jobs in the film industry.
Try to keep all credits relevant to the job you are applying for. Find low budget films to get experience on by looking online. You will find once you get 5-10 credits in one specific job role work will start to find you. I see by looking back at my CV I only started to get paid job roles as a Script Supervisor when I had worked on 5 short films sets and one feature film for free within this role.
Blogger Stephen Follows has written an article on finding work in the film industry here. He found that having a driving license was more important to put on your CV than a university degree.
Apply to jobs in the bulk at first expect to get 1 out of every 10 jobs you apply for. As you get more skilled and gain more credits you will find work easier. Keep CVs 1-2 pages long and cover letters very short. At first find jobs online, talk to people on set and find out if they know of any other production jobs in the film industry you can work on. Begging for work doesn’t work, keep everything professional at all times.
Working in the film industry is possible, the work is there you just need to make people to trust you with the job – and this takes time. I have written a 9 page detailed guide on finding work in film industry which includes case studies on how other filmmakers have found work. I have also included a list of places with film industry jobs boards.