Career Development: Task 4


A Practical Guide to Finding Employment in the Moving Image Industry

Career Development – Task 4 (Criteria 2.1 & 3.1)

This guide will take a look into the moving image industry and see how difficult it is to find employment. It will also look into ways you can improve your chances of finding employment.

Roles: There are many, many jobs in the film and TV industry, from pre-production, to post and beyond. A film or TV series requires an immense amount of work from all areas, from initial script-writing, to camera operators or to editors for post production. The point being there are plenty of roles to go for. Lighting and sound design are both huge employment areas in their own respect but also sought after in the film industry, all professional film or TV requires a sound department and a lighting department. Higher up roles are usually much harder to come across in terms of looking for employment. Directors and producers for example are often personally tracked down based on the merit of previous work, especially in high profile productions. Having said that, it’s not unusual for companies to put out job adverts for directors or producers.

Working Patterns: Working patterns vary depending on the job. Directors will be expected to be present on the set every day during the filming process, whereas an editor for example might not be present until the filming process has finished and simply work from home, because an editor is not usually required on set. Working hours also vary immensely depending on the production, the hours may be unsociable because of filming times. If a film is being shot in the middle of the night then the crew will be required to be present whatever time it is, it’s just part of the job. However this might be completely opposite to other crew members roles. In some cases, such as editing, there might be no set hours of work and just a turnaround date that the edit needs to be completed by. It all depends on the type of company or production you are working for and what you are contracted to do. Freelance workers contracts may differ from those if you are working for a production company.

Financial: The financial side of matters also depends on the type of employment and the type of production. Your working position will dictate how much you get paid. If you’re working for a production company for example then you will be paid a salary based on your position, whereas the self employed will be hired for a pre-agreed price.

Training: Training for a job in the film and television industry is quite a well populated area, there are colleges and universities nationwide that offer film and television courses. Apprenticeships are also available when you look in the right places, after a quick search on the Skillset website I found a page of apprenticeships in the media industry (pictured below). Some of the training courses can be quite expensive, for example college courses can be up to £9000 per year but the experience and knowledge you gain by completing a course is almost essential for finding work in the industry.

The digital media and film making industry is a very difficult industry to find work in, especially in small towns and cities. The vast majority of major companies involved with film making are based in London and other major cities across the world, most notably Hollywood, Los Angeles. LA is well known for its film making culture, with renowned places like The Los Angeles Film School, Universal Studios, Sony Pictures Studios and many many more. However, finding work in film making in the UK is a little different. If you want to work for a film making company, you’re probably going to have to move to where the action is, most likely London. London has many film companies and studios that will obviously lead to a higher demand for people involved with film making then anywhere else in the UK, whether it be for camera operators, runners or even general admin. Pictured below is a list taken from Wikipedia showing the most notable Film Studios in the UK and the majority are located in London and the surrounding areas. Having any position with a film company can be a very useful tool for climbing the employment ladder however, with many companies recruiting internally for new positions. The BBC for example often recruits for new positions internally rather than externally, which means you could have any position at the BBC and be considered above many others purely because you already work there.

There are a number of websites that can help people find employment in this industry, The Guardian newspaper has a section online that is dedicated to job hunting, although the jobs may not be exactly what you’re after it is worth looking through to see what’s available. There are also specialist websites that are solely for people looking for jobs in the film industry such as starnow.co.uk and filmandtvpro.com to name just a couple.

Although finding employment is difficult in this industry, there are plenty of roles to choose from, camera technicians, sound and lighting technicians, editors and many other roles will always be needed by somebody, somewhere. With this in mind, it is very useful to have a show reel or website that demonstrates your best work, if you produce good stuff and have something to show for it then somebody will notice your talent eventually and with a strong online presence you can build a good reputation for yourself through YouTube, Vimeo, Twitter, Facebook etc. Websites can be a great way of attracting interest from everywhere, nationwide or even worldwide.

I think by picking a specific subject you want to work in and producing high quality productions is a great way for potential employers to notice you. For example if you wanted to be a director, film as much as possible and show your finished pieces on websites as much as you can. Employers will want to see what you can do. The same applies for people who want to work in post production, lighting or sound design.

With jobs few and far between in this industry it is becoming more and more common for people to set up businesses on there own. Starting your own business by yourself does have significant advantages, freedom to control your own workflow and having total control is an appealing thought to many, along with keeping the majority of the money you make. However, there is also a considerable risk with being self employed, for many business owners there is not the security of working for a company. Although having total control of your business can be a big plus, it also carries big responsibility with it, you are responsile for any failures, debts and legal issues should they arise. Despite all this, I do believe setting up your own business is a very good way to go in this industry because it gives you a chance to prove what you can do. If done well it can also get your name out there, if you do your job well then it significantly improves your chances of being noticed by employers elsewhere.