Getting Into the Film Biz…

post kindly provided by Luke Cairns, Producer, Butchers Hook Video Productions

During a normal working week here at Butchers Hook Video, I’ve come to expect at least a dozen CV’s of young people interested in breaking into the film business in the UK. But one of the most common pitfalls I see when I receive CVs of young people is a total lack of experience in the business.

The film business is based on the “who you know” principle is simple.  People senior to you (technicians/producers etc) need to be sure they know and can trust people in their employ – because mistakes can reflect badly on them.

The very first step on the journey into the industry is to decide what specialism you want to take. If you want to break into a technical specialism (i.e. camera, sound, make up etc) the first essential is to have a good deal of experience with the equipment. For the auteur and post-production people, the best method is to get creating and make a decent show reel as an absolute priority. For people interested in the production side of the business, a solid grasp of figures and the ability to network and schmooze is ideal!

The next step is to get involved with as many free projects as possible in your local area. This can help you decide what area you want to specialise in and gain vital experience.  Aside from experience, the other major benefit of freebies is networking.  The importance of networking to those in the industry (from producer down) can’t be too emphasised too much. If you happen to be working as camera assistant (for example) for a DoP on a free shoot and do a great job, the chances are you will be remembered when the DoP is working on a paid job next time.

A great resource for finding jobs on low budget films in your local area is Shooting People

After a number of freebies you’ll have a great deal more experience and your CV will look like the kind of CV that producers want to see! When you progress to paid shoots you also need to have boundless energy and enthusiasm and stay 100% positive!

One of main ways people get into production is through the time honoured route of being a runner.  Now this isn’t a pretty route. They are also the most put upon and badly paid people in the business – I found it akin to slave labour! However runners are the work horses of the industry and are vital. Pay your dues (and work bl**dy hard!) and it pays off.

To conclude – entry to the film and video industry is tough but very rewarding if you work hard and know how to play the game properly!