Film Industry Career FAQ (Quick Guide)
In this article, we look at a few common film industry career related questions, including general tips on how and where to find jobs in the film industry.
There are hundreds of jobs in the film industry. Some of them you already know, such as director, producer and screenwriter. However, you can’t say for sure what job is best for you unless you try it out for size.
That is to say – you should gain some experience on set before chasing a career in the film industry. Ideally, this should be on a professional film set where you can watch others do the job, but any experience is better than none.
To begin with, you can make short films. Even if you are not a student, making a short film will teach you the basics of filmmaking. You don’t need a budget to make a short film; use your phone and edit with free editing software.
In addition, you can help out on local low-budget and independent films. These can be found on film job sites and by networking on local Facebook groups.
Below you can find answers to popular film industry career questions.
How to get into the film industry when you have no previous experience?
If you have never worked on a film set, you will need to find some initial work experience.
The film industry’s entry-level jobs are a runner (also known as production assistant) and trainee. If you have no previous on-set experience, these are likely the only positions you will be able to find paid work within.
A runner is a general assistant on set, for example, making tea and coffee, answering phone calls, driving actors to set. In comparison, a trainee is a junior role within a specific department, for example, sound trainee, camera trainee, grip trainee.
If you know exactly what department you wish to work within, it makes sense to pursue a trainee role. In contrast, apply for runner roles if you don’t know what job you want or wish to work within the production management team.
There are several ways you can find work as a beginner:
- Search on online film jobs sites
- Connect with people on Facebook groups
- Apply for apprenticeships/mentorship schemes
- Ask production companies directly
How to change from your current career?
A career in the film industry might not have been your first career choice in life. So, if you find yourself switching jobs, consider how your past work can cross over to film.
For example, if you worked previously in an admin position, your current skills can cross over to a production office. Not to mention skills such as management, organisation, teamwork, and budgeting help a film set.
Similarly, as someone with no work experience, you might need to start within an entry-level role. Unless you know how to do specific jobs in the film industry, you will need to start as a runner or assistant to learn a job role.
The advantage of having some past career experience is that you are more likely to be trusted with early responsibility. Additionally, you can use your past skills to move up the ladder faster and tailor your film resume to meet requirements for a film job role.
Here are some ways you can change your career over to film:
- Work a similar role, but within the film industry
- Reduce your hours, initially work in film part-time
- Try working on low-budget/independent film sets
- Consider attending film school or a workshop
How to get into the film industry when you need consistent income?
The majority of jobs in the film industry are freelance, which means you get paid per job and don’t have a long-term contract. In particular, for the regular income, you will need to find a full-time film job.
Overall full-time film industry careers won’t be on a film set. You will find them at production company offices, within television and commercial companies. These positions can still be creative but won’t be on feature films or TV series.
However, it is possible to switch a career in the film industry from full-time to freelance in the future. You might need a regular income, to begin with before taking the risk towards freelance work. For example, a commercial director can use their experience to direct fiction later in their career.
In reality, full-time work will be just as competitive as freelance film crew work. You will need to similarly start in entry-level positions or cross over your past career skills. Still, starting any new career, even if not creative, will take time.
There are many different ways to find full-time work:
- Search film job sites and regular job sites
- On a companies own website career page
- Intern at a company to begin with
- Start your own production company/business
How to become a film director?
Lastly, a word about dream film industry careers. Dream job roles include all of the above-the-line positions in the film industry, such as screenwriter, producer, director, actor, and DOP.
All of these popular roles don’t have a set career path. So if you look at the biographies of people within these roles, you will find varied careers. Of course, What is certain is that you need to practice your craft. Such as by making your own films, studying film or learning by watching others.
Above all, you will need to be patient and never stop learning!
Here is a list of ways you can pursue a dream film job:
- Produce your own film productions
- Work on low-budget films within your dream role
- Start in an entry-level position and work up
- Network at film festivals, events and online
Wrapping Up – Film Industry Careers
We hope this guide has helped you understand more about working in the film industry. Many people don’t know what specific job they want or start later on in life. Whatever your situation, understand that it is possible to make a living in the film industry, only it will take time to be trusted within dream job roles.
Do you have any film career questions?
Let us know in the comments below!