Let’s assume you’ve either graduated with a film degree and have experienced making a film in some capacity (doesn’t everyone). If your reading this before entering film school, good, don’t! You’ll save more money and time whilst learning more, quicker by getting on the job training.
It is surprising how many people in this position don’t understand about how the industry operates in the real world. The first step in starting a career in the film industry is to know how the industry itself operates, from conception to exhibition. Even though you might be certain you want to work on camera a broad understanding of the industry and how it is changing will make you more employable throughout your career.The film industry is generally recognized in 5 different sectors.
There is an abundance of literature online that will go into depth about jobs and career paths in each sector. Whilst no one expected to know the ins and outs of every sector before starting out its worth considering what about the industry you like most. Is it coming up with the initial idea? The buzz of the shoot? The endless possibilities that can come out of the editing suite? Or is it simply that you enjoy watching films? If you approach the industry from the right angle you’ll get further, quicker and probably enjoy it in the mean time.
Look up relevant film companies in your region, aim for the larger ones first as they are likely to have more projects on the go. Watch the films they’ve made or projects they’ve been involved in and approach ones that you think you’d enjoy working for. Find out the right person to speak to before contacting the company. It is competitive but you never know your timing might be perfect and you could have a job in no time.
Expect to work hard for longs hours and usually, at least initially, for free. Try to learn as much of about the process as you can. It will help you discover what it is you actually want to do and at the same time develop other skills. Multi-skilled people will always have a more fruitful career in the film industry.In the meantime continue to practice your craft. You first job as a runner is unlikely to start developing your skills as a camera operator so get involved with the independent film making community. Films are being made every day, some good, mostly bad. People are always looking to gather a crew to help them make their 3 hour opus.
The rate and which technology is changing, making film equipment cheaper and more accessible, means the film industry will be more and more competitive as the years go by. Emerging talent has more potential than ever of realistically making their first film.