Network. Network. Network.
A word that has been drilled into our heads our entire careers. Here are some tips for anyone starting out in the creative industries.
When it comes to networking; actress, writer, director, and producer of the HBO hit series Insecure, Issa Rae offers a simple but effective solution for aspiring creatives.
“Who’s next to you? Who’s struggling? Who’s in the trenches with you? Who’s just as hungry as you are? Those are the people that you need to build with.”
Issa says she did not see herself being accurately portrayed in mainstream media, so she set out to fill the gap herself. She gained a massive following online through her mini-series The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl on YouTube, which garnered almost 20 million views.
It takes a lot of time and work to shoot a feature film. But even when all the filming is done, the movie is only half-way through its path to be a finished product. The other half usually happens inside a post production house, where different departments work in synergy to put video and sound together into a blockbuster.
If you think post-production is the right path for you, here are the first steps to make your way into this world.
Figure out which department you want to work in
Most post-production companies structure their organisations (hence, human resources) along three main departments: Production, Editing and Sound. The first step, which you’ve probably already taken, is deciding which one of these is the right fit for you, depending on what you want your daily job to be like. Here’s an idea:
Don’t want to go through film school? Here are three career paths that might just suit you.
We all know how hard it can be to get your dream job in the industry. Most roles require specific education or training courses and, maybe most importantly, a great professional network within the sector. As a very diversified work environment though, there are a few jobs that actually require skills and knowledge from sectors which are completely tangential to film and TV.
The three career paths we selected in this article do not require any specific knowledge of directing, acting, screenwriting or editing, but nonetheless they can be very rewarding and well paid.
Be on time
Always plan to be on set 15 minutes before you are actually supposed to be there, so that, worst case scenario, you will end up being delayed by something unexpected but still be on time to start working. Remember that by being late, you slow down the whole production process, and especially for small productions, seizing every hour of shooting is crucial.
Bring your own tools
A lot of inexperienced ACs spend their whole first job asking other assistants to borrow gear and tools. While obviously it will take you a few years of practice (and savings) to put together a complete toolset, starting with bringing the basics with you will make you look reliable and committed. These basics may include screwdrivers, pliers, scissors, wrenches, hex keys, markers, measuring tape, a flashlight, along with all the gear to keep cameras and lenses clean.
Always take care of the equipment on set
Whether it’s about lowering the camera on the tripod while it’s not being used, or covering the gear from the rain as the sky gets cloudy, doing everything in your power to make sure all of the equipment gets to the end of the day in perfect condition is your main responsibility. By doing so, not only will you help the production save money by avoiding expensive repairs, but you also show your professionalism and trustworthiness.
Being a Production Assistant is often the first step you take in the film industry. It can take you far, but it can also be hard. Here’s what you should avoid at all costs:
1. Showing up late
PAs are supposed to be the first ones on set, ready to get help (or breakfast) for whoever is in need. Moreover, this is your chance to show that you are a hard worker and slowing down the whole working day because you slept through your alarm is a really bad first impression. However, accidents can happen and if you have a good reason for being late and cannot possibly avoid it, then call and let them know.
2. Disappearing on set
Whether you need a smoke break or a quick run to the loo, the ADs and the rest of the crew is counting on your presence and help on set, so if you need to leave for a couple of minutes it is absolutely necessary to communicate it. Just make sure it’s not a time where you are needed and say you are going on a quick break on the walkie. Carry the walkie with you at all times and always let others know you got their message.
The makeup department of any production takes on an essential role in giving characters a three-dimensional identity, enriching the distinctiveness of the actor/actress’ looks. However, jobs within this sector suffer a fierce competition, often together with a frenetic environment and long working hours.
What is the Job?
Depending on the production’s needs and budget, four different positions can be found in a makeup department:
The Key Makeup Artist, who is in charge of the makeup department. Their job is to design the makeup for each actor/actress and assign individual makeup artists to apply it.
The Makeup Artist is the individual who actually takes care of applying the makeup to the actor/actress.
The Makeup Effects Artist designs and create special makeup effects using prosthetics, latex, and animatronics. They are not always needed in movies or TV production, as their presence relies on the amount of special effects and CGI in movies.
The Makeup Assistant helps with some of the minor tasks requiring less experience, like body makeup and organization. This is usually a good position to obtain some practical experience in the field.
Sharon Boyd looks at the first steps to take when graduating from a Media degree:
So you’ve spent three years studying the likes of Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno and W. J. T. Mitchell alongside writing scripts, shooting on a Sony HDW750P or a Canon 7D, colour correcting in Final Cut Pro or Avid, and learning to analyse and think critically about the media world. Now what? For some of you it might be a case of having a night on the piss and sitting on your arse for the remainder of the summer, maybe applying to the odd job. For others, perhaps you would rather not waste your £27,000 costing 2:1 degree by living off dole money and continuing the typical student life of sleeping all-day and instead actually start making yourself as employable as possible by getting a foot in the door and beginning your career in the media industry.
Sharon Boyd looks at how to use your university connections to improve your employability whilst you study:
The general impression of undergraduates isn’t always a favourable one. Frequently when thinking of student life we conjure up images of intoxicated individuals stealing traffic cones, and spending the majority of the sunlight hours sleeping off hangovers, and those regretful decisions of choosing to have garlic mayo on their kebab the night before. But alongside the parties, many of these students still manage to be academically successful by having a good balance between their social life and studies, which is key for any student wanting to do well but have fun at the same time.
Sharon Boyd asks whether you have to be an extrovert in order to have a successful career in the media sector:
The media industry is one in which working with people is inevitable, so if you’re not really a people person then you should consider this aspect of having an occupation in this particular industry. There are many different personality types, some people are extrovert, others are introvert, and still others are a blend of the two. When choosing a career path you should think about how your personality could impact you in the work that you want to do.
Sharon Boyd takes a look at whether a Media degree is really necessary in order to start a career in TV and film production:
You study a media based degree and therefore consider yourself to be a media practitioner, maybe you know how to cut a few clips together and add a couple of effects in Final Cut Pro? Maybe you can snap a few photographs on a ‘real’ camera rather than using Instagram? Or maybe you can sit down and instantly write what you believe to be an award winning script? I’m going to stop you there. This does not make you an editor, or a photographer, or a scriptwriter. Maybe you aren’t an amateur, but neither are you a professional, well not quite yet anyway.