Breaking into the film industry can be an extremely competitive process and requires perserverence and determination. An important consideration is where to aim for in the industry. This is a wide ranging area that covers both creative and technical job roles from writing and acting to work within production and post-production.
Once you know the area you wish to target then gaining experience, increasing your portfolio of work and effective networking will all play key roles in helping you to break into the industry.
Where do I start?
Within the film sector you could be looking at a wide range of occupations. Prospects has a useful list of job profiles each containing relevant information about key responsibilities, skill requirements, starting salaries, entry requirements and career prospects with links to major employers and current graduate vacancies.
Job roles in this sector include (but are not restricted to):
- Broadcast engineer
- Film/video editor
- Lighting technician, broadcasting/film/video
- Location manager
- Programme researcher, broadcasting/film/video
- Runner, broadcasting/film/video
- Sound technician, broadcasting/film/video
- Television camera operator
- Television/film/video producer
- Television production coordinator
As part of your job-hunting strategy you will need to keep up to date on developments in this sector and keep track of any vacancies that are coming up. Below are some key resources to help you research opportunities available. The knowledge gained through your research may help you to target your applications and will help when preparing for interviews.
- Creative Toolkit - Provides inspiration, support and practical advice for starting a career within the entertainment sector.
- Screen Daily - Film industry news, articles, festival coverage, production news, careers advice and jobs.
Competition for jobs in this sector is high and work experience could be the deciding factor in getting a foot in the door. Undertaking work experience is invaluable in developing expertise and practical experience, which will help you demonstrate your motivation and commitment to this area of work. Gaining experience will also help you to build your contact network which is crucial in this industry and will provide you with credits that you can use when applying for paid work.
However, finding experience will take time and effort; employers receive many CVs every week so you will have to work hard to stand out from the crowd. You can find out more about how to create a targeted CV through the Careers and Employability Service website. In addition to this the University of Portsmouth Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries, in conjunction with the Careers and Employability, have developed a Creative Careers guide, an online resource with CV and application information focused on the creative industries.
It is also worth considering the voluntary sector for work experience; Careers and Employability offers current students and graduates access to a Virtual Volunteering Bank which provides local opportunities to undertake alongside your studies. Similarly you can access these opportunities through the paper-based bank located in the Careers and Employability centre.
If you wish to instigate voluntary work experince during the vacation periods please refer the 'External sites' on the voluntary work experience section of our website.
Tips to build experience:
- Explore the various types of jobs within the film industry before you apply for work experience; knowing what you want to specialise in will help you focus your research and ensure you gain relevant experience.
- Get involved in relevant University or external groups, this is a good way of demonstrating your motivation and interest in this area of work.
- Attend events such as screenings and launches where you can network and make contacts.
- Be proactive and make direct contact with organisations or individuals who interest you and apply speculatively; send a targeted CV and a covering letter focused on why you are interested in them.
- Try to build up a blog or portfolio of work that you can present to potential employers. This will show that you are proactive and evidence practically what you can do.
Finding a job
There are many different job roles within the film industry and work can be extremely varied. You could work within writing, production or post-production but it is important to remember that work is often last-minute and requires a great deal of flexibility, particularly in production. Although some fixed employment opportunities exist, a great deal of the work is freelance and so new entrants should be aware that they may need additional part-time work to support themselves at first.
Many people within the industry start as runners or in other lower-level jobs. These roles can vary and will provide experience of the industry and access to invaluable networking opportunities. The British film industry has recently received a boost through the announcement of tax breaks. This means that, although competitive, this is potentially a good time to break into the industry.
- There are literally thousands of film and television production companies and services in the UK that will employ individuals either on a fixed-term or freelance basis. KFTV (www.kftv.com) lists information for production companies worldwide with over 4,000 UK companies featured with profiles, links to their websites and contact details.
- There are many entertainment-related recruitment agencies, the majority of them based in London. Recruitment can be an effective way to gain employment within this industry due to the often short-term nature of work.
- Production companies will employ people on a permanent basis and these can range from the large companies such as Aardman Animations, Working Title and Ealing Studios to tiny production companies that specialise in a particular area.
- The majority of production and post-production work is based in London and the South East.
- Related work will also be advertised by corporate business, charities, universities and marketing and advertising companies.
Below is a list of useful websites to help you start your job search
- Media Volt - Jobs board for roles within production, acting, presenting and performing as well as entry-level roles.
- Grapevine jobs - Extensive jobs board for film and broadcast sectors.
- 4RFV - Online production directory where you can track down key contacts in the industry. Site contains an extensive jobs board covering a wide range of opportunities within the industry.
- The Guardian - Jobs board includes film industry roles.
Tips for finding a job
- Target entry-level roles within the industry as well as more skilled positions that you can technically do. A job as a runner for example will provide you with an excellent oppotunity to network, make contacts, learn about all kinds of different roles within production and get your foot in the door.
- Make sure your portfolio of work is strong and visible, whether your desire is to be a writer, director or actor. When talking to people in the industry you have something tangible to show rather than just claiming what you can do.
- Use social media effecitvely to present your work, network and approach prospective employers. In the film industry, last minute jobs (particularly entry level roles) are often posted on Twitter.
- Creative Skillset offer a trainee course for graduates that matches individuals to excellent opportunities within the industry where you'll be trained-up and paid.
Need more help and information?
How can the Careers and Employability Service help you?
The Careers and Employability Service offers support to students throughout their studies and provision for graduates up to five years after graduation, with advice and guidance on:
- Career options
- Further study
- CV and Covering Letters
- Application forms
- Job search
- And more......
Please visit services for you for more details about our support and services.
Careers and Employability has an online Jobsboard advertising a variety of graduate jobs across different sectors and locations. We also have a dedicated in-house Graduate Recruitment Consultancy team that delivers a personalised matching job service.
Remember if you are not on campus you can still access our services via telephone or Google Hangouts booked appointments, please contact us to discuss your needs.
If you need more information why not check out some of the resources below to help you to research this sector in more depth.
Working in Film
- BAFTA Guru - Site aims to inspire those looking to work in the film or TV industries. Offers careers advice, talks and lectures from industry professionals.
- BFI - The BFI exists to promote greater understanding and appreciation of film and moving image culture in the UK.
- Ideas Tap - Supports people seeking careers in the creative industry through opportunities, funding and career development resources.
- Screen South - Information about the film industry including jobs bursaries and events for the southern region.
- Production Base - Network for people working in film, radio, television, theatre and commercial production including an online jobs board.
- Eyefish - The professional's guides to film and TV production, eyefish helps you find production teams or advertise your services yourself.
- Filmandtvpro - A networking and jobs resource.
- Mandy - Production resource and jobs.
- The Knowledge - Contains contacts and opportunities to find work in the UK film and media industry.
- Searchlight - One of the Leading recruitment agencies for the media and entertainment sectors, based in Camden but with work across the UK and abroad.
- Yellow Cat Recruitment - Specialise in entertainment recruitment, particularly working with smaller companies and start-ups.
- Soho Runners - Recruitment Agency that specialises in placing into industry entry-level jobs.