Working in the film industry is a dream for many. Whether you want to be a screenwriter, an actor, or a director, you have the opportunity to see your name in lights, make a comfortable living, and rub elbows with celebrities. Even those working behind-the-scenes often get to work with famous people and go to high-profile events. Going to film school may help you increase your chances of breaking into this competitive industry. However, you have to keep working after you get your degree by continuing to learn your craft, getting whatever work experience you can and networking with your connections.
Apply for entry-level positions. Some common positions for recent film school graduates include production assistant, runner or personal assistant. Most entry-level jobs entail administrative tasks, such as setting appointments, ordering supplies or even getting coffee. Film company First Light tells The Guardian that these jobs can give newcomers a foot in the door so they can see how all the roles on a film come together and make important contacts for networking. These jobs can be important stepping stones in any career path in the film industry.
Work freelance. As competitive as the film industry is, you may find it difficult to be hired for even an entry-level position. However, you may find more opportunities to work as a freelancer. Paul Kyriazi, who wrote and directed such movies as "The Weapons of Death" and "Omega Cop," recommends showing up to every shoot for which you can work in order to expand your network of contacts and to build your portfolio, both of which can help you get more jobs. You may be able to find freelance job opportunities as a camera man, lighting assistant, script doctor or even an assistant director. Most freelance opportunities will be available on small, independent film sets.
Develop your own projects. The film industry is an entrepreneurial business. Those who take initiative will make their own opportunities. Write a script. Create a short film. Shoot your own documentary. Not only will you gain valuable experience, but you will have a project that you can show prospective employers or investors to get your next gig. If your project is still in development, you may even be able to convince someone to fund it, taking it to the professional level and giving your career a jump start.
Network. Getting work in the film industry relies a great deal on who you know. Nobody posts a "Help Wanted" ad for a director. They put out feelers to agents and producers. They talk to the people they know. Keep in touch with your classmates and professors from film school. The person you sat next to in class might be able to introduce you to his agent or to get you an audition with a casting director he knows. Your professor might be friends with someone who's producing a movie and needs a scriptwriter. Network with the people you work with on freelance jobs, as well. That friendly cameraman might have a tip about a new production that is casting but isn't going to put out an ad. The grip you worked with might be able to get you a job working beside him on his next set. Attend film festivals and meet as many people as you can. Any of these connections could lead to the next important introduction, the next meeting for a project, and maybe even the next job.
Keep reading and studying. Technology is always changing. Trends are always evolving. It is important that you stay up-to-date on what's popular, what methods are being used to create films, and who the important people are in the industry. Read books written by other filmmakers, writers and producers. Read industry magazines, such as Variety and Filmmaker. Log onto industry websites such as Indie Wire or Screen Daily.
- No Film School: Should You Go to Film School? A Conversation with Ryan E. Walters
- Biznik: What Do I Do After Film School?
- The New York Times: For Film Graduates, An Altered Job Picture
- Ryan E. Walters, Cinematographer
- Internet Movie Database: Paul Kyriazi
- The Guardian: How to Get Your First Job in Film
- IndieWire: The Six Things You Must Know to Make It in the Film Industry