What I would have done differently if I was starting out looking for work in the film industry with the knowledge I have now.
When I first started out looking for work in the film industry, I had no idea what it even meant to be self employed. How frequent jobs would come by, how much I would get paid. I went straight in head first, I signed up to be self employed straight after graduation and searched for film jobs everyday.
It took me 2 months to get my first film job. After that the jobs came trickling in, slowly at first but 1 year later I was getting called up with job offers every month.
I worked full time on film sets for 18 months before deciding that it wasn’t for me. I hated set hopping, meeting new people, the lack of alone time and hardly seeing my bf, film sets was not for me, but I am happy with the experience and knowledge it gave me. If I am going to be a film director this film set experience will set me apart from most people.
5 tips for those starting out looking for work in the film industry.
1. Saved up money
I had no savings when I first became self employed. Perhaps the worry gave me a drive to look for work every day but still I wish I had a safety net of some sort. I went straight to the bottom of my overdraft during the first 2 months of searching for work. Another problem is that an ordinary day job pays you monthly – however sometimes self employment means having to chase money up which may take 2-3 months to show up in your bank account.
2. Found better Training
My pre- film set training was so basic. I worked a few films for free, mostly student films, read about the basics of script supervision and shadowed a script supervisor for 2 days. Yes I mostly learn how to the do the job from reading a book. This gets you the basics but the hard stuff (like the dreaded 180 degree rule and how to time a film script) I was clueless at first. Some film schools have training for different crew positions. I could have had a weeks training in script supervision at the NFTS film school for only £800. If script supervision was going to be my career goal then this training would have been priceless as well as looked amazing on my film cv.
3. Invested in better gear
It took me months to get up to date digital script supervision gear but when I did it made all the difference, suddenly my job was so much easy, the digital version does all the documentation for you and even sends it over to the editor via email at the end of the day, saving me an hours work every night. I wish I had bought quality waterproof shoes and a warm coat for the outdoor location shoots too.
4. Stayed in touch
When you work on film sets you meet film industry people every month. Perhaps 30-60 new filmmakers every single month who could potentially hire you one day. When you work with someone and get along with them add them to a social media platform of your choice, this is an easy non intrusive way of keeping in touch with people.
5. Raised my daily rate
I never had a daily rate. I just agreed to a rate whenever anyone asked. My rates were all over the place £50 one day, £250 the next. I had no idea what I was worth, I think this is ok for the first year of self employment but eventually you need to say no to low paying work. As a freelancer working in the film industry your rates do change depending on the budget of each project . However during the end of my career I took on some super low budget jobs that cost me higher paid work. At some point you have to be brave and say no.
I hope the list above helps in some way when you’re starting out looking for work in the film industry. I have built a course called The Film Crew Course. This is an video series explaining how to apply work within a film crew.
I am aim to keep adding to this course throughout next year – you can find out more about it here.