If you’ve ever dreamed of working in TV or Film, then here’s a dose of reality for you: it’s difficult, and few actually make it. Growing up, I used to love watching the director’s commentaries on my favourite movies, to see how a crew came together to make a script come alive. I used to imagine myself as part of that production: as a renowned camerawoman who captured the perfect shot, as the editor who pieced it all together in post, or the supervisor who organised everyone on set. Then I got a bit older, went to university to study film and found the experience hard. I did a lot of work experience, networked with many people and improved my filmmaking skills, but I knew early on I was never going to be the superstar who landed the chance to work on a movie.
Skip forwards a couple of years and I turned my attention to looking for video production jobs. This is still a hard market to crack, but I found a way in to corporate video production. Lucky me… I sound ungrateful, but it’s a long way from my original dream and I faced a lot of hard truths along the way.
It’s tough out there in the real world, but to help those who are starting out looking for post-production jobs, here are my top 5 tips:
- Go to a dedicated film school / production college. Be friendly to everyone and network with lecturers and teachers – if it’s a good institution then those teaching the course will also be actively working in it, so it pays to take the time to chat with them and learn some valuable advice. You also never know where your peers will end up, so keep in touch with them. Much of this industry is about who you know, not what you know, at least when it comes to getting your foot in the door.
- Do lots of work experience, even if you’re being a runner for the umpteenth time! You’re not in a position to be picky about work, so take it whether it’s paid or not. I was once asked to stay on for an extra week as a runner in a post house, but I turned it down because I had a social engagement to attend – they looked at me like I was stupid, and I felt like an idiot.
- Remember that people skills are just as important as technical skills. Of course it’s great if you know how to colour grade, but what good is it if you can’t communicate with other people and get along with them professionally? Most video production jobs require working in a team, even if it’s for a short stint of time if you’re freelancing, so get used to working well with many different people.
- Take risks, especially if the challenge scares you, as you never know where you can end up if you don’t try. And you might regret it if you don’t. One of the biggest risks I took was deciding not to take the practical modules in my final year at university, instead focusing on the theory of Film – it paid off for me, but could have easily been my demise if I didn’t do well.
- Learn as many video production skills as you can, as you never know when they will come in handy. There are always new technological developments in video, so knowing a range of programs will give you an advantage. Takes classes, workshops, or even use online forums like videocopilot for After Effects tutorials, or creativecow for any question relating to the industry. LinkedIn also has a vast amount of groups dedicated to different programs, and there are always people willing to share their advice (and this can also lead to making new connections, which means you’re networking!).
So there you have it, some friendly advice on how to approach a post-production career. But don’t despair just yet: I now have a pretty cool job working for a leading video technology company who makes amazing products like Forscene, so be patient – you’ll make it one day!
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Jon Hanford - Group CTO, Deltatre