How to Get Regular Work in TV and Film Production
by Paul Banks
Working in TV or film production as a freelancer isn’t always easy, with the majority of jobs based on short-term contracts. For any role – whether you’re a runner, AD, or producer – it’s crucial you know the best ways to remain in regular employment.
To help you survive in this cut-throat industry and get that all important next job, here are our top 6 tips - so dust off that CV and take action, and if you’d like to share any of your own tips with us, get in touch via our Facebook page.
You need to have a wealth of contacts to survive in this industry. Most jobs come directly from people you know or word of mouth, rather than job sites you’d use in a 'normal' career. The more contacts you have, the more chances you'll get to land your next job. So when you’re working on a production or you’re at a party, make sure you meet as many people as possible.
Although nobody wants a world where working for nothing is the industry standard, don’t be afraid to take the occasional job which may just cover your expenses. If you’re starting out in the TV or film business, there will be plenty of people in the same boat and, if the project is particularly interesting or unusual, or has a director attached you particularly admire, it will be really good experience for you and look great on your CV.
SKILLS SKILLS SKILLS
Broaden your skillset as much as you can. The TV and film industry is very competitive, so you need to stand out from the crowd. Being multi-skilled can help you do that. Having an understanding of the latest technologies and learning how to shoot, edit, cast and write scripts are just some of the skills that will help you become more employable.
Enhance your online presence. The best thing about this is that it costs nothing. Get yourself on IMDb - even if you only have a couple of credits. Create a LinkedIn profile. Set up your own website (Wordpress is one of many free sites you can use) and upload your credits with your contact details, always making it clear what it is you do – think of yourself as a brand. The more chance people have to find you, the better chance you have of getting a job.
This is a controversial one, but try to stay with a production company for as long you can. It may sound tempting to leave at the end of your contract to join another production for the variety and the opportunity to meet new people, but remaining loyal to a company can reap rewards. Do be aware though to continue to network, market yourself and develop your skills while you’re employed. You never know when it’s going to end.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
It may sound obvious, but if you’re going for a job at a particular production company, research all their output. What kind of productions do they specialise in? Do they sell their catalogue abroad? Do they work with the same directors on different projects? You need to be well-informed, and show that you’re committed to that company and their slate. Similarly, make sure you know as much as you can about the professional background of individuals you’re working with.