How To Become a Filmmaker (with no experience)
It’s easy to get sucked into the filmmaking dream. Filmmaking is a highly creative career, there is potential for fortune and even fame.
However, making the leap from dream to reality is hard. The reality is that the film industry is very tough, it will take a lot of time and hard work to make a career within it. There are no guarantees but you never know how things will work out unless you try.
This article is for those out there who want to take the first step out of their dream to reality. Learn how to become a filmmaker when you have little to no previous experience.
Do You Need Work Experience?
There is no trick here, you will need to have some experience to find consistent film work. If you want to work on film sets then experience is crucial. If you are looking for a more stable job, then apply for full-time office based film work.
However if you know someone already working in the industry, who could get you a job. Then you might be able to skip work experience altogether. The only other way you can avoid doing work experience is if your current job can be transferred over directly to film work.
For example, someone with office admin experience could transfer directly over to a production office admin job.
Some experience in film is better than none. So consider how your current work experience and skills could be placed onto a film CV.
You might like to read our article on how to design your filmmaker CV
Finally, if you dream of being an independent filmmaker or director. Consider making your own short films. A short film is a great way to learn the basics of filmmaking. Understanding how to become a filmmaker is all about trial and error.
Where To Find Work Experience
Film is a very competitive industry, it’s likely you will be competing against many people for an entry-level job. Having some experience on your CV will help you stand out.
To begin with, find local film sets to assist on. You will find these online through film job sites and Facebook groups. Examples of active UK Facebook groups are People Looking for TV Work and London Actors and Filmmakers.
The entry-level jobs in film are Runner, Production Assistant and Trainee. If you already have an idea of what department you would like to work within then try to get trainee/assistant jobs in this department.
For example, if you are looking for a job in the camera department find work experience as a camera trainee or camera assistant.
If you do currently have a full-time job try to find work experience that can be done on weekends or holidays. Alternatively, reduce your work hours so you can focus on developing your film career.
Finding Paid Entry-Level Jobs
Firstly, it will help if you have some experience on your CV before finding paid work. The majority of film crew production jobs are freelance. This means that moving from a full-time job to working full-time as a freelancer will be difficult.
You might have to get a flexible part-time job to help with bills until you can work on film sets full-time. For reference, I have found that it takes about 5 work experience credits before you can work as a full-time freelancer.
For example, if you want to PA full-time. Try to get 5 film credits within the PA job role, onto your CV, before attempting to work full-time in this role.
You can find paid entry-level jobs on job sites, film jobs sites, Facebook groups and from attending networking meetings. Examples of good film jobs sites are The Unit List and Talent Manager. You will also find new film and tv jobs on our own job listing page.
You might like to read our article – film & tv networking the do’s and don’ts
Lastly, you will need to meet many filmmakers to find paid work in film. Often one job leads to many other jobs. Working on a low budget feature film will be tough but the contacts you make could bring in more work.
Working Full-Time As A Filmmaker
You can freelance full-time within a film crew. This will take many years of experience and making contacts but it is possible.
If you simply want a job in the film industry in time you will find work. However, if you are chasing fortune and fame things are a lot tougher.
The most competitive jobs in film (director, screenwriter, producer, cinematographer) will require a mix of working in the industry, making contacts and producing your own work.
You might like to read our article – how to find work on major film sets
On the other hand there are no guarantees that you will be able to direct big-budget films, or that your screenplay will get sold. However, these are real jobs that do exist and they need people to fill them. You never know unless you try and hopefully regardless of results you will have an enjoyable career in this industry.
Wrapping Up – How to Become a Filmmaker
In short, the film industry is a dream career. A lot of people aspire to work in film but don’t take the first steps to make it happen. Even if you currently have no experience, you will be able to work in film if you are willing to put in the time and hard work. I hope this article has taught you more about the basics of how to become a filmmaker.
Interested in learning more? Check out our article on The best UK film and TV courses
Amy previously worked in the film industry and blogs about film careers over at amyclarkefilms.com