When you watch a film, do you find yourself looking beyond the performances and instead marvelling at the cinematography, sets or screenplay? If that’s the case, then a career in the film industry could be for you. Because behind every leading actor is an army of production people filling every role from cinematography and producing to editing, music and special effects.
Here we give the lowdown on pursuing a career in the film industry.
With cinemas among one of the most affected industries in the coronavirus pandemic, streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon and Disney Plus have emerged as the new face of film. Many movies that were slated for a cinema release this year went straight to a streaming service instead. And as the streaming platforms’ powers have grown, so has their original content. The Irishman, Uncut Gems and Roma are among Netflix’s original films, while Amazon Prime released Late Night and The Report.
As more and more of us watch movies at home instead of the cinema, these growth platforms are likely to create a plethora of positions for film graduates in the coming years.
There are so many different paths to go down when considering a career in film production. Let’s start with the director. A director doesn’t just direct – they’re responsible for how the film looks, who’s in it, budgets, location scouting, costume, camera tests, special effects and post-production among many other aspects.
On to the technical department, where there is a variety of roles. The director of photography (DoP) works alongside the director to decide the look or feel of a film. The key grip will then work out what is needed for each scene. Other roles include the gaffer, who creates and controls light, and the video assist operator VAO, who takes the film images and displays them on video monitors so the director and crew members can see what’s been shot.
Computer whizzes may enjoy working in editing, roles for which include post-production visual effects or sound and music editing.
If you’re a visual person, you might think about going into production design as an art director, set dresser or props master. Or if you have great stories to tell or are passionate about bringing someone else’s to an audience, you could think about screenwriting.
Like in so many industries, technology is leading the way in film and opening up many new ways for us to enjoy it. And if you’re techy-minded there will be lots of opportunities where you could utilise your skills.
VR and 360° video are creating amazing experiences for audiences, whereas drones are increasingly being used to create the dizzying shots that directors once relied on cranes and helicopters for. Precise sensors can determine the position and altitude of the drone, allowing for precise and flexible filming and incredible aerial shots.
Things to consider
If you’re interested in any of these careers, the most common route to take is to apply to film school. Here you’ll learn the essential skills and resources to prepare yourself for a job in the industry and you’ll gain some on-the-job experience too.
Competition for positions in the film industry is fierce, so be prepared to apply for lots of things, and get ignored or rejected a lot of times too. The pay for entry-level jobs is fairly low, so you’ll need to factor this into your decision making. Working in such a creative and dynamic industry can be incredibly rewarding, but you’ll also have to work long and unsociable hours. If you’re looking for a 9-5, this isn’t it!
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