In this post I will be going through why it is important to have a focused job role in the film industry. I will be explaining when it is best to be a jack of all trades worker and when to focus on just one job role.
When I focused my job role I found getting a job in the film industry much easier, I was able able to use my experience to get work on bigger funded feature film sets.
Focusing your job role is one of the key pieces of advice I keep repeating on my blog. Yet I feel the need to be more clear on when and why this is needed. Some people believe that this advice is very elitist, that choosing only one job role is not the reality of filmmaking. This entirely depends on what type of film career you are looking for. I hope this blog post can share some more insight into jobs in the movie industry.
The Jack of all trades Filmmaker
When you start out in film you begin as a jack of all trades. That is to say as a student / beginner filmmaker you will likely do a bit of everything. If you study film at university you may practice filmmaking within a mix of job roles. You might write, direct and edit your own films.
The same occurs in general indie / low budget filmmaking. You start out by making films on your own or with a small group of people. You may have many different credits whilst working on one film project.
Things change when there is a budget
When you leave education you may wish to work on Film sets. Hundreds of people can be working on one film project and only one person is hired per job role. The bigger the budget, the more jobs, the more focused the job roles become. You will be hired with a specific job title in a specific department (e.g. Camera Trainee / Camera Department)
The same happens with indie filmmaking. At first you might be doing every job role on set but this is too tiring to do forever (unless you solely want to be the one man film crew).
Likely when you get a budget you will be doing only one job.
Don’t spread yourself too thin
This might get mixed opinions, but you cant be a master of everything. Every job in film is a specific career that takes a lifetime to perfect.
You can still be the jack of all trades filmmaker (e.g. a YouTuber). But when it comes to professional feature Film and TV work you will have to focus your job role. It is unlikely you will have more than one job role credit on a feature film.
Why a focused CV matters
You might be able to edit, shoot and direct your own films but when you apply for a film crew job you are applying for just one position. For example if you are applying for an editing job then remove Director/Writer from your CV and try to make your CV focused on editing.
You can have another CV for Writer /Director but it will help to try and focus your CV on just the job role you are applying too.
Everyone has written, directed and edited a short film. When I focused my job role to Script Supervisor I didn’t put my directing work on my CV – nor did I mention my ability to edit on Adobe Premier or what cameras I owned as it is irrelevant to the job role.
That’s how I was hired on high budget feature films. I had a focused CV that told the producer of each production that I was a professional in my job role.
How to focus a student CV
When you start out in film you begin as a jack of all trades, you do a bit of everything even when in higher education students are given practice in all job roles. This often leaves a mix of job roles on a students CV before they start applying to film jobs. I have seen plenty of students CV's with more than one job role at the top (Director, Writer, Editor etc.).
Either pick a job role or a specific department to work within.
If you are unsure what job to pursue choose a general role such as runner / PA that gives you the ability to see how all departments work.
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If you only have a student credits, you can place them on your CV but create a header above the credits to make it clear they are student films. When you are just starting out it will be clear to a producer that this is the case. The worst thing you can do is apply to a professional job with Director on your CV – if you are applying for a runner position then clearly a director has already been hired.
What about videographers?
Being a videographer is a job in itself. So at the top of your CV you will write Videographer or Self Shooter. I know people who do these sort of jobs as freelance work and this maybe for commercials or for corporate projects.
Being a videographer however will fall apart when approached with Creative work. Such as on a feature film the job role videographer does not exist and this person will have to become more focused. To do this this focus on your most talented aspects. Are you great with a camera (will you be a cameras assistant or operator), if you are good with people being an Assistant Director maybe a better fit.
But I just want to make films?
You can still make films in any way you want to. This may mean writing, directing and editing an indie feature film on your own.
Focusing your job role is how you get hired on film sets. Focusing your job role will also give you opportunity to become seen as an expert at one specific job.
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Now over to you, if you have any questions on focusing your job role let me know. I hope I have been clear in this post. Focusing your job role is not elitist or wrong advice its just how producers hire people – one person per job role.
If a Producer is hiring for an upcoming feature film and they ask you what your job role is - what job would you say you do?
You can find me via Twitter here - @amyclarkefilms