What to do when you finish your film degree

 
when you finish your film degree
 

Its June and perhaps you have just finished you film degree. Whether this be at a top LA film school or a local course its time to start your film career. These tips can apply to anyone, anywhere here are some basic steps to get you started.

1. Take a Break

If you have just finished your degree, you have just had a busy few months getting the last pieces of coursework together. Make sure you take a break and a few weeks off to rest and have some fun.

I don’t want to be  a kill joy here and say apply straight after graduation. Yes during the months Aug-Oct a lot of people will be applying to entry level film jobs but – thinking about it film jobs are never easy, never not competitive, never not over loaded with applications. Have a good summer, have fun and tie up all the loose ends from university and getting your degree.

2. Entry Level Roles

There are several routes into film you could take. For a full-time contracted job look up careers pages on company sites such as Lucas films. You could freelance a skill that you have such as Videographer, Editor, Writer. Or apply for film production crew jobs which will take a little longer to break into.

A lot filmmakers have their hearts first set on feature film work. These entry level jobs get the most applications. Basic entry level jobs are Runner or Production Assistant (PA) however any assistant / trainee job is just as good (e.g. if you know you want to work in the camera dept look for assistant camera, camera runner jobs – specific entry level jobs in your chosen department). Creative Skillset has a detailed list of film job roles with detailed descriptions. 

3. Create a Film CV

Unless you have contacts already in film you will need a CV to send off to jobs. List on this your work experience (this post here comes with a CV template for filmmakers).You can apply to jobs online or send over a CV when asked. Paper work is carried out online now which can make it easy to apply to jobs in bulk.

The biggest mistake you can make is to list a whole range of job roles to confuse the producer when hiring you. When it comes to feature film work only one person is hired per job role. So applying for a Runner job with Director on your CV is not a good idea. 

If you need the extra help when designing your Filmmaker CV I have a 1-1 CV design service. You can check out the details on this service and book your place here.

4. Find Job Sites

Applying to jobs online is the easiest way to get started in film. There are job sites out there like Mandy which list freelance jobs. Production companies will also have full-time jobs that may be listed on Indeed.com or on their own careers pages.

Social Media can also be a good place to start, Facebook groups sometimes advertise job roles as does twitter. Find filmmaker Facebook groups by searching for your department or local cities group via the Facebook search bar. Use Social media search bars like you would Google to find jobs.

You might like this post - A list of film production job sites

5. Apply in Bulk

Expect to get 1 out of every 10 jobs you apply to (you will need to apply to more jobs if you are applying to major companies like the BBC or are based in a busy area like LA or London). Don’t get dishearten if you don’t hear back from every job you apply to often these jobs get too many applications and don't have the time to reply back to everyone. 

Once you get your first job in film you will begin to find it easier to find more work. Work will snowball together, the first few years will be slow but in time you will find enough contacts and work to be fully booked for months at a time. I found applying to jobs online like this was only necessary during the first year of work, after of which I was being called up with job offers.

6. Adapt and Experiment

It is possible that your first route into film won’t work out. I found that feature film work was too harsh for myself (not everyone is suited to the long work hours, travel or unreliable pay). There are many different types of filmmaking jobs in TV, Commercials, New Media, Games and Online. See the first few years of working in film as an experiment to find the perfect job for you. It’s OK to change direction in film and work on a mix of projects. You might like this post – Six work routes into film


I hope this post explains the steps of finding your first job in film in a clear order. A film career is not like any ordinary job, you will likely be working as self employed and work for a whole range of companies in your lifetime. Have you just finished your film degree ,what job role will you be looking for?

This week I also made a Video on my YouTube channel called how to get your first job in film - Watch the video here