Even though films such as the soon to be released Suffragette show that the UK’s still got a whopping great blockbusting film industry, young people from all walks of life are finding getting into the movie biz more challenging than ever. (This is why we have teamed with our mates at O2 and BFI to give you the superb opportunity to make your own short film.)
An industry survey, conducted by those filmy sorts over at BAFTA Guru (a website chock full of advice on how to get involved in film, TV and games) showed that one in five respondents found accessing careers advice difficult, and 47% said that they had been discouraged from pursuing these careers because their careers advisor believes they don’t have the connections required to get into the industry.
Although much of the media is tarred with the “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” brush of nepotistic doom, there are ways of getting to know the right people without being related to industry bigwigs. In a massive industry – worth £4.6billion a year – not everyone is Sofia Coppola.
We spoke to Empire’s Ian Freer, who has not only written entire books on Spielberg but has also worked in the film industry.
So how do I get into the film industry?
I’d suggest film school, which is a testbed for filmmaking – you can get a broader range of experience in camerawork, lighting, directing and editing, and later you can specialise. But if you know right now that you want to be, say, an editor, it’s best to become a runner.
How do you become a runner?
If I wanted to do, for example, editing work, I’d send my CV round to every editing house, every camera department. There are loads of websites which provide runners for post-production, too [Ed – these are listed at the bottom of this article]
What if I don’t live in London, can I still be a runner?
The BBC moved to Manchester, Dr Who is in Cardiff. You’re better off if you’re based in London, but all the major cities have hubs of TV and film production. Pretty much everywhere has film schools, there are film schools across the country.
Do I need a degree to be a runner?
Absolutely not, you can start as a runner at the bottom, you just need hard work and common sense. If you want to be a screenwriter, maybe a degree in film or English would help you. If you want to work in the film industry in a technical capacity then not at all.
And is it really more about who you know not what you know?
You have to network. Getting your foot in the door is so important and anything you can do to do that is important, that experience on your CV is so invaluable. You can’t beat that. There is nepotism, but I was working in editing and I didn’t know anyone, I just sent my CV around and knocked on many doors. If you’re smart, you’ve got ideas and you’re enthusiastic, you’ll get there.
But I really really want to just dive in and make a film RIGHT NOW. Can I?
With the internet and digital cameras, there’s never been a better time. It’s good to do something smaller off your own back. These days, it’s about having an idea that can work well as a two minute clip on YouTube. Chronicle, a big feature film by Josh Trank started off as a fun little short that got his name around. Also, if you have friends in a band, do a promo video for them! You could follow Ian’s advice right now and get the chance to make a short film with our friends at O2 and BFI, for more information just click here #TheTimeIsNow
To help people get internships and work experience in the film industry, Royal Holloway have put together a brilliant document. We’ve decided to borrow it, because we’re helpful like that. Click here for the PDF, or visit www.rhul.ac.uk/careers and search ‘film’.
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