Ask someone about roles in the film and TV industry and they will probably come up with something like an actor, director, producer or writer. But there are literally thousands of other professionals that make what you see on the screen possible. From technical on-set support, through to VFX, publicity, make-up and costume design. You’ve seen how long the credits are for most modern movies.
If you’re looking to work in the industry, then there are a number of ways you can get your foot in the door.
University or college courses
There is a range of courses available in areas like film production, screenwriting, public relations, costume design and VFX. They can be done at the undergraduate or graduate level. As part of your course, you’ll often have the opportunity to get work experience in a hands-on role and many people build connections that help them get their first jobs in the industry.
Internships are a great way to get some industry exposure and build connections. If you have an interest in film but little or no experience then an internship is a great option. Many movie studios, production companies and marketing agencies have internship programmes. Or you explore programmes from organisations such as Beyond Academy who can arrange in-depth and structured internships within the industry.
If there is a particular company you’re interested in working for, then enquire with them directly about their internship programmes.
If you have some skills in the area you want to work in, then you can build up your experience by volunteering. For example, if you want to be a make-up artist, offer your services to a local student media group or theatre. If you’re looking to get into film publicity, give some advice to some independent filmmakers on running their social media channels.
You may not have the time or money to study at university. Luckily there are many other great opportunities to study. Free courses from platforms such as FutureLearn, Coursera and EdX let you access ‘their teaching resources for free and you can even earn accredited certificates.
Build your own portfolio
Many famous filmmakers such as Steven Speilberg, JJ Abrams and Christopher Nolan spent their childhoods and teenage years making their own movies on whatever tech they could get their hands on and having friends and family act. Today, the technology available means that you can start building your own body of work with not much more than an iPhone, free video editing software and a YouTube account. These kinds of guerilla projects will serve you well in your career, no matter how successful you become.
The same goes for areas such as writing. If you have ideas for a screenplay, then write it and build up your portfolio. Enter competitions or even submit it to production companies.
Content your regional development agency
In some parts of the UK, there are development agencies dedicated to the film and TV sector in that region. They will often run workshops, training courses and other initiatives aimed at people in the local area. If you’re in the north, then Northern Film & Media is the development agency for this region.
Even if there is nothing relevant for you right now, make sure you’re on their mailing list so that you can hear about future opportunities first.