How to Get Started in the Filmmaking Industry
Working in the film industry is an exciting career. It’s filled with fun, hard work, creativity and endless opportunities. Unlike all of my friends, when I started, I decided to skip university and get a job in the industry. I enrolled for a 12-month media course and, after 3 months, got my first job as a freelance animator.
Fast forward 30 years and I have worked in most TV areas and directed on film sets. I now run a global video marketing business called Girl Director alongside my partner Michael, where we teach the secrets of video marketing to business owners and entrepreneurs.
If you have a burning desire to work in the film industry, there are many doors in front of you to open that will get you there. The first step is to never believe someone when they say it is too hard to get into the industry. When you want something, go after what you want and never let anyone stop your dream.
Below are a few ideas on getting into the filmmaking industry; my advice is to pick one that resonates with you and go for it!
Film school is the path most people think of when getting your foot in the door in the industry. It’s fun and creative. And it allows you to find what lights you up.
Pros – You will build friendships and find fellow crew members that can last a lifetime. You will learn history, new techniques and throw yourself into experimenting and immersing yourself in all things film and video. You will meet people that will help you on your path, and you can try a bunch of different roles to see where you fit in.
Cons- It can be expensive, competitive, and sometimes limited in what you learn. The gear may be older and doesn’t represent an actual film set. Of course, this is varied depending on where you go and what is available in your areas.
Start Making Films Now
You have one of the best little film making devices in your pocket right now—your phone! If you want to work in the industry. Find a subject, make a film, and enter film festivals. Learn what it takes, how to plan, and how to shoot and edit. Being a good filmmaker takes practice, the sooner you can start making films, the better.
Pros – You can create anything from a music video to an advert to a short film. More and more projects are completed on the phone. You can use your talent and movies to market yourself, find work, show people how passionate you are. We always look for people with a great attitude and initiative when hiring staff and crew. You will learn more and more with every film you make.
Cons – It can be time-consuming if you don’t know what you are doing; find people to help you on your path.
Join A Networking Group
Being a filmmaker is one thing, but being able to market yourself and network is another—the best in the business know-how to build relationships. Join a meetup group or film club to find like minds. I remember joining one, and it was so valuable in finding work and connections.
Pros – Learn how to network even if you are scared. Communicating and sharing with people what you are passionate about is a skill many people don’t want to focus on. If you’re going to do what most people don’t do to get ahead. Go out and find like minds.
Cons – It can be awkward at first, which means stepping outside the comfort zone. All of your growth will come from stepping outside your comfort zone. All you need is 20 seconds of courage.
Get On A Set As Soon As You Can
When I wanted to get into the industry, my goal was to get a job asap so I could learn on the job and get paid. I wanted to skip the traditional ways, and I did. The great thing about getting a job on set is you learn fast.
Pros – You get paid to learn; you start with real-life experience that can be hard to do in a school environment.
Cons – You can miss some of the history and foundational basics. You can also be pigeonholed into one career if you don’t have a vision or desire to move on from where you start.
Work In TV
Getting a job in television is also a great way to earn an income while you make short films on the side. It can fund your projects and give you a foundation in learning. It doesn’t matter what camera you pick up, what gear you edit with, the principles are the same.
Pros – You can learn many roles that can cross over to film. It can be easier to get a foot in the door and move across.
Cons – It can be hard to move out of the TV and into a film. Create your path. There is no right or wrong.
Be An Extra On A Set
Since often there are hours of waiting around for your scene to be filmed, it is the perfect opportunity to watch and learn from the crew. You get to watch a live version of behind the scenes! Behind every video and movie, there is always a great story.
Pros – You get paid to learn; you get to meet like minds and be around the industry. You get to go on big sets and experience what it is like. Watch and think about how you would do things differently.
Cons – There can be loads of hours waiting around on set. If you aren’t interested in the subject or connect with people. Use the time to study and read. Use your time wisely.
It is time to get out there and go for it. Believe in yourself. Ask loads of questions, surround yourself with people who know more, and before you know it, you will be well on your way. The best thing you can do is start, it is exciting to be in the industry!
This guest post was authored by Rachel Dunn
Rachel is the Co-Founder of Girl Director and has spent the last 30 years behind TV screens mastering all the facets of production as a producer and director. She has developed various projects, has been nominated for 2 music video awards, and is finishing her documentary “Through Elephant Eyes”. As a highly talented director and designer, she brings a unique style to all the videos she has created, attracting millions of viewers online.