Ah the heady days of film school! Using really expensive high end equipment experimenting with various styles and techniques on a myriad of projects. Finding your own creative voice …they’re the great benefits of film school.
But what happens when you graduate?
The film industry can be a challenging one to break into, so here are some tips for graduates.
Make sure your showreel shows your strongest work
If you haven’t used your time at film school to experiment and create top quality pieces of work you’ll be scratching to stand out. Here at AFTT, Film students get the chance to make 4 of their own films in 2 years, with free access to equipment and facilities, they create some incredible pieces of work. Make sure you pick your best work up first and put together a really strong showreel. Don’t include less polished work to show your creative growth. Anyone taking the time to look at your reel only wants to know what you can do now.
Be open to entry level positions
Film School is the first major step in your career, not a ticket to Hollywood. Don’t think that because you’ve graduated that you’ll go straight into a high-flying job as head of department on a major production. The likelyhood is that you will start in an entry-level position as a production assistant, post production assistant, runner or personal assistant. Most of these jobs entail administrative tasks, such as setting appointments, ordering supplies or even getting coffee. These jobs are perfect for providing a foot in the door to see how all the roles on a film come together and make important contacts for networking.
The film industry is very much about who knows you as well as what you know. It is using the ‘what’ you know to make contacts and connections. Attend film festivals and meet as many people as you can, keep in contact with people you meet on shoots and use any means possible to meet new people already established or working in the industry. Any of these connections could lead to the next important introduction, the next meeting for a project, and maybe even the next job. It’s all about building a reputation as a reliable, diligent, talented and cheerful team player … these are the folks who get the call on the next project.
In such a competitive industry you need to take every chance you can get to expand your network of contacts and to build your portfolio. Don’t be afraid to freelance; it’s a great way to work on a variety of different projects in different roles.
Keep reading and studying
Embrace life-long learning. Technology is constantly changing, with new innovative ideas shifting the way we think and the way we work – and the film industry is no exception. Although this new technology gives filmmakers more freedom and flexibility to explore new creative ideas it is also easy to fall behind.
Over the last few decades, we have seen technology and techniques in the film industry become obsolete just as quickly as they are introduced, but there are plenty of ways to ensure you keep yourself ‘current’. Taking short courses and gaining hands-on experience with new, innovative gear is the best way to keep up to date with new technology, but subscribing to magazines, websites and even social media pages which focus on new and emerging technology is just as important.
Although AFTT can prepare you with the most current industry standard equipment at the time of your study, it’s important that you continue to learn and understand the technological advances in such a fast-changing industry.
Best of luck diving out into the real world of the film industry. Be strong, be persistent and be resilient.
Find out more about studying at AFTT.