As spring term approaches, you are probably getting ready to kick-start your career. Here’s some advice that might help you make your way out there in the “real world”.
As people more experienced than you have already told you, getting your first job can be very hard, and starting to progress further in the industry can be even harder. Film and television are networking-based industries and as, presumably, you don’t have many connections yet, prepare for a slow and often tedious start.
Most industry professionals will advise you to find some work experience as quickly as possible, in order to start creating your network and putting some credits on your CV. Many say that it should not matter if your first experience is an entry level role at minimum wage. However, having your mind set on what you aspire to and what specific path you want to follow should help you select only the opportunities that are right for you.
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.
Always carefully select the festivals
Applying to festivals is time-consuming and expensive. They all have different requirements in terms of paperwork, cover letters, synopses… but most of all, every festival programmer has different tastes and ideas about which films to screen.
It is therefore in your own interests to do some research and make sure you’re picking the right ones for your film. When you contact the festival to send them your work, always try to include the particular reason why you want it screen at that particular event. At the end of the day, programmers are trying to give your film good exposure through their own audience, so obviously the two have to match.
Complete all the details
Application forms are often long and detailed, but it is massively important to fill them in properly. Even if they ask about some technical details you’re not entirely sure of, it’s worth it to check online what they are asking for. You don’t want to be remembered as the filmmaker that wasted their staff’s time as they had to email you back asking for missing details.
With distribution in film theatres often infeasible for independent features and DVD sales plummeting, all in combination with a general oversupply of content, the thought of a deal with Netflix seems like the Holy Grail of distribution.
Aside from the money (although in fact, the streaming service does not usually pay more than four figure sums in licensing fees) the really alluring prospect is getting your film delivered to more than 100 million potential viewers worldwide. Obviously, though, it is not easy to obtain such a deal. Netflix usually request films they’re interested in, but if your film has not been screened at major festivals or if it didn’t go viral, you will be better off going through a distributor or aggregator.
The first step is getting your film into the Netflix Database, which is basically a list of potential additions to the Netflix library. In order to do that, you have to either get a distributor on board with your project who can leverage connections within the company, or go through an aggregator.
A good option for independent filmmakers with few connections or who don’t want to share their revenue with third parties, is indie distribution company Distribber. It is owned by IndieGoGo and deals with distribution on Netflix and other major streaming platforms in exchange for a single fee (up to $1600), and you get to keep all of the revenues.
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.
A lot of us have found ourselves dreaming about producing their own movie, short, documentary or any other video project. However, making a movie from scratch is a very expensive process which usually requires professional equipment, talented staff and promotional efforts.
Because of this, independent film makers usually cannot afford to finance the production out of their own pocket. However, there are a few ways to obtain enough funds to realize your project.
Before even starting to look for investors, there are two inescapable requirements that every aspiring film producer has to fulfil:
Having a good script, which may sound obvious and is often taken for granted, but a good screenplay is actually very hard to find/write. It is essential to seek feedback on the film’s script, both from industry professionals who can provide an experienced and valuable judgement on the screenwriter’s work, and from friends and family who can represent a rough sample of the public’s reception of the movie.
Developing an effective business plan, including a realistic budget and a marketing strategy. A detailed business plan ensures the profitability of the project, guaranteeing that investors will be paid back of their economic effort.
Your cover letter is your first chance to shine – so make sure it’s done right to give you the best chance of landing that role.
I see hundreds of CVs that are very well put together – hours have been spent on layout and design…only for the cover letter to be a huge let down. And that’s a shame, as I’ve been told on numerous occasions that employers will not even look at a CV if the cover letter is rubbish!
Many potential candidates are falling at the first hurdle by using bland, generic letters for every application. It’s essential that each cover letter is tailored to the role you’re applying for.
Shutterstock blogger, Jordan Roland, takes a look at how their extensive library of stock footage was used as part of a re-branding project for location-based social network, Foursquare:
A lot goes into making compelling commercials. There’s pitching the idea, storyboarding the actual video, location scouting, actor auditions, clearing locations, getting permits — and that’s before you even turn a camera on. So what if you don’t have the time to do all of that?
With less than a month to go before changes to National Insurance (NI) come into force, it seems that many people working in the entertainment industry have been asking the same two questions: am I affected and, if so, is there anything that I can or should do?
Before we address these questions, let’s get an overview of the legislation.
Under the current system, those working in film, TV, theatre, radio and commercial production are treated as employed for NI purposes and self-employed for income tax purposes. This enables low-income earners to qualify for state benefits such as Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), which can offer vital income when between roles.
Blogging has endured a somewhat torrid time within the online community recently with the use of social media seemingly making it redundant. Yet, from a marketing perspective, there are a number of reasons to use a blog to further promote your work. It would be naive to assume that being active on social media platforms signifies the demise of blogging for self-promotion, as an established social media presence could be used to direct potential employers to a more personalised exhibition of your work, interests and skillset.