Want to work in Film & TV? 10 Things you Should Know!
Film & TV production is one of the most exciting and sought-after industries in the UK, but there are several things anyone considering working in the industry should know. Before starting out on any career path, it’s a good idea to do some research and find out what it’s really like doing that job, in order to make sure it’s right for you. Listed below are 10 key points that we believe anyone starting out in the Film and TV ought to know and will give you a better understanding of the industry.
1. The days are long
The average day is 11-12 hours and that’s just a starting point. You also have to allow travel time which, depending on where you’re going and at what time of day, can easily add a couple of hours to your day. There may also be pre-calls and pre-rigs, where your department is required to come in before everyone else, which is particularly common for ADs, Makeup, Costume, Grip and Camera. On top of this, there’s the possibility of running over and going into overtime.
2. Film & TV is not as glamorous as you might think
It’s not uncommon to find yourself filming in a water-logged field at 5am or to spend 2 hours photocopying scripts only to find out there’s a new amendment and you have to re-do it. You might think picking up an actor from the airport sounds cool, but in fact they’ll probably answer a few emails and doze off. Sure it has its glamorous moments, but that’s not the right reason to get into the Film & TV industry.
3. You’ll get really good at sniffing out upcoming Film & TV productions
As a freelancer you’re constantly listening out for productions and trying to secure your next job. This can seem tiresome, but you’ll get the hang of it and most of the job gossip comes from word of mouth. There are no secrets in our industry and crew are generally pretty open about sharing information to help each other out.
4. You could work anywhere in the world
Most filming in the UK goes on in London and regional hotspots like Manchester, Edinburgh, Bristol and Cardiff but some productions require international filming and your work could take you much further afield. If you’re working on a documentary that is based in Malaysia, then it’s not surprising that you’ll be shooting in Malaysia. But this is also true for other types of Film & TV productions, including dramas and commercials, where you may venture abroad to shoot in a particular location. Wherever the location is, the production and its crew will follow.
5. Film & TV Crew always think their department is the best
Crew are very passionate about their work and if you ask anyone on set which department is the best to work in, you can guarantee they’ll pick their own! They’re loyal and if you get on well with your team, it’s likely they’ll hire you again in the future. Crew like to stick together, especially when they meet people who are as hard working and dedicated to their department as they are.
6. It can be difficult to socialize and make plans with your friends outside the industry
You’ll never really know what you’re doing next month or even next week, which makes it really difficult to make plans. You should also remember film schedules are based around a number of factors including location availability and daylight hours, so you could end up filming on weekends or night shoots. Unfortunately this cannot be helped and is one of the more annoying aspects of our industry.
7. There will be plenty of opportunities to hang out with your crew family
Although you might not get to make plans with your friends and family as much as you like, there will be plenty of crew social events for you to be part of. With a work schedule as hectic as ours, the plans are often last minute and usually involve a trip to a pub. And if you’re working away and accommodation is provided by production, you can bet there will be people in the hotel bar every night.
8. You’ll need to carefully plan your finances
Work can be sporadic and you need to save to get you through the periods of little or no work. It’s a good idea to plan a personal budget so you know how much you need to get by each month and can save accordingly. You’ll spend a lot of time chasing payments and overtime fees, so it’s also important to keep track of your earnings and when the payment is due.
9. Telling people that you work in Film & TV never stops being cool
When you tell someone you work in film or TV, they’re usually quite intrigued. They might have a few questions that you’ll be happy to answer, while at the same time feeling pretty chuffed and grateful that you’re able to do what you do. You’ll probably have a stash of screenshots on your phone, where you paused a program to take a photo of your name in the credits. There’s no shame in this; we all do it!
10. Sometimes you will have bad days and wonder why you work in this industry
There are days when your waterproofs turn out to not be very waterproof, when someone snaps at you for being in the way or when things just seem to keep going wrong. We all have bad days but the good days and the pride you feel watching a great show you were part of makes up for all the early starts, wet weather and excessive mileage on your car.