Trying to get a job in the film industry but don't know where to begin?
Look no further!
Today CB Smith-Dahl – Camerawoman, Director and friend of – discusses different ways to break into the film industry. While there are many different paths to getting where you want to be in film and television, starting with these resources can be a great way to be less overwhelmed and start on your goals.
Family & Friends
If you have family, friends, someone you went to school with, or someone you used to work with that has connections to the industry, don’t hesitate to approach them! Take time to talk to them about how they got into the business and the path they took to get to where they are today. Also talk about what you would like to do and see if they can make an introduction for you. Word of mouth is always the best resume and one of the integral structures of the industry and business in general.
Film School
There are several famous schools for Cinematic Arts such as USC, NYU, Howard, UCLA, and Columbia. All will provide you with great connections, facilities to learn, and a network to build among your classmates. However, it is important to be mindful that while going to film school is a great place to build your foundation, it comes at a hefty price.
We encourage you to check out “smaller” schools as well where the financial burden could be easier and you also are more likely to get one-on-one interactions with your professors. There could also be local programs designed to increase diversity in the film business like Ghetto Film School located in New York.
For film school in general, there are also online resources to scholarships specially for future filmmakers that could also help alleviate the amount of debt you could take on. The business of entertainment can be unpredictable so it is important for you to understand what exactly you are taking on and make sure you can live a sustainable lifestyle with possible student loans.
Local Groups
Another way into filmmaking is, looking for a local group. You might find them on a social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. You could also find them on a bulletin board at your community center.
Many people all over the world come together to make films for fun and the love of filmmaking and there is always crew needed for these projects. Sometimes these projects eventually get acquired and turn into deals, but even if they don’t, it gives you an opportunity to meet more people and network with them. Most importantly, you can also gain the skills of the trade.
For example, if you’re interested in the wardrobe department, maybe you even have some seamstress experience. You can work with a local film group taking secondhand clothes and adapting them and making something incredible and futuristic with a $500 budget that you and the group crowdfund together. This becomes part of your portfolio and sample work that you can present to future people to move your way up in the business. Also, working with local groups gets you known among that group of people as somebody who can make things happen and as they progress in their careers, they’ll recommend you to others.
Equipment Rental House
Working in a equipment rental house can give you the understanding and foundation to understand what equipment is needed for projects and the proper way for cleaning equipment, prepping it, sending it out to film productions. These skills are great to have for not only camera and grip work but also possibly working in a production office setting where you could be handling documents, customer service, and more. This pathway could also give you good references.
Find Productions Shooting in Your Town
Approaching productions when they come to your town is another great way to get started on your filmmaking career. Maybe you’re eating at a restaurant with some friends and you notice that the restaurant has a mobile vehicle and they’re prepping meals to go to a movie set that that happens to be in town.
You approach the kitchen and say, “I would love to work with you guys and I’m really interested in catering and I will volunteer for you on a movie set, serving the food so that you can see what my work ethic.” Of course this way is very bold and not everyone is going to take you up on that opportunity, but do know that when starting from the very bottom, it is not uncommon to volunteer to work for free.
As mentioned before, volunteering to work for free on a set is not uncommon when first starting out your career. Volunteering can be internships for production companies or physically being on set. However, volunteering is not always financially feasible for a lot of people. It is important to think about what makes sense for you and your family. Does it make sense to go volunteer for a weekend? Does it make sense to go volunteer on a whole show for four weeks?
Volunteering can be an entry into the film business, but you have to figure out what makes sense for you and make only that commitment and stick to it.
Job Postings
Job posting sites are a great place to get an idea of the types of film industry jobs you are interested in and the types of skill requirements are needed for each position.
While there are many job boards out in the internet, is specifically tailored to connect film industry professionals to local productions, thus the perfect place to get your start. Sign up for an account to look for opportunities that fit your skills and interests.
Just know that your work ethic and your ability to bring value to the team will carry you far, no matter what way you choose to find an entry into the film business, you have a bright future ahead of you!