Working in Film
About the Film Industry
Filmmaking is not all about big budget features. Filmmaking skills are deployed in the creation of documentaries – feature length and shorts – for cinema and festivals as well as TV and online broadcast. Marketing agencies frequently commission ‘promos’ for brands, which are longer in form than TV ads and are used in online marketing. Online platforms have also provided new spaces – in addition to festivals – for short films and for the continuing increase in the production of music promos, where many feature film directors cut their teeth.
Independent film and video producers have also made their home online. Zoella, SORTEDFood, TomSka and CGPGrey are among the most popular YouTube channels, and are all based in the UK. These companies and independent producers tend to work in a different way to the rest of the industry and have no set entry route. More often than not, the people running the process are the original creators. However, if you have dedication and skill, you can follow the original path and set up something similar yourself.
Many job roles in film combine creativity with high levels of technical or managerial ability.
There are dozens of pathways in film for people with a variety of skills including artistic, craft based, business and technical skills. The bigger the production the larger and more varied the crew, employing everyone from scriptwriters, producers, directors and editors, to carpenters, riggers, make-up artists and accountants.
Skill shortages are reported in script development and the business and finance areas of the industry, with production accountants in particular demand.
Develop your skills
In addition to academic qualifications, employers are looking for skills and experience you will have developed over many years. They seek energetic people and those with passionate interest in something they have pursued. They want to see what you’re capable of and how you might develop, and the best indication of that is what you have already achieved. Think about how you can display your talents and your ability to work as part of a collaborative process. As well as a physical portfolio, you can create an online portfolio, or build an interactive community as a swarm on Hiive, the professional networking site for creative people.
Think outside the box – gaining relevant experience in another sector can be a sound alternative. There is no set way to forging a stable career in film and taking a different tack may serve some people better than those looking to climb the traditional ladders available to them.
The key thing to consider is how to gain the necessary skills for the desired area of work. This may involve anything from working in PR in the corporate world, before shifting to the marketing department of a production company; tackling finances in the city before taking on producing work; or building a reputation as a photographer before being entrusted with directing a feature film.
Facts and Figures
Filmmaking is a significant force in the UK economy. The prominence of British talent such as Steve McQueen, Danny Boyle and James Marsh, and titles like Grand Budapest Hotel, Harry Potter and The Theory of Everything at international awards ceremonies is an indicator.
UK film is now a major export industry. Of the massive £1.4 billion spent in the UK in 2014, 85% (£1.2 billion) came from overseas investment on blockbusters such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass, Mission: Impossible 5 and Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Employment in the film sector has grown 10% over the last six years to 33,395 people. The industry is set to grow a further 20% by 2022 increasing the workforce to over 40,000.
The UK film industry makes a £4 billion contribution to the economy and an incalculable contribution to culture." David Cameron MP