Entry Level Positions
in the UK Film Industry
Taking the first steps towards a career in the film industry can be a fiercely competitive process but with perseverance and an understanding of the opportunities available, finding that first job is a tangible reality. The links on this page clarify the main options for new entrants.
An important consideration for new entrants is where to aim for in the industry. While aiming for a particular step in the film-making process helps to define your goals and route, most entrants will, in reality, be faced with a choice between 2 options: working on individual productions or for a company working at 1 or more stages of the process.
While many people gain experience in both routes, they are distinct and lead to differing employment opportunities. Those with production experience are likely to find opportunities working either on ‘the floor’ or in the production office. In either case, their time will involve ensuring the smooth running of the film.
Those gaining office experience with a company, on the other hand, are likely to spend their time on administrative work while gaining an insight into the preparatory work behind film-making, including some of the creative decisions in paving the way towards and beyond shooting. There are, however, fewer jobs in these positions.
Those working in the UK film industry must be prepared for short-term employment and unpredictable job stability. Work is often last-minute and requires a great deal of flexibility, particularly in production.
Although some fixed employment opportunities exist, a great deal of the work is freelance and so new entrants should be aware that they may need additional part-time work to support themselves and some forethought for stretching their income over periods of unemployment.
Area-specific training can be invaluable for technical roles but many entrant positions don’t require any such education. As with many sectors, the film industry prizes experience and a proven track-record over grades.
That said, strong qualifications can be a significant boost in marketing yourself for that first job and help to make you stand out amongst the deluge of likely applicants.
Ultimately, people play on their strengths and ability to forge the necessary connections to get their first break. What matters most is their attitude in that first role. The probability of irregular hours and demanding work mean that dedication, enthusiasm and resourcefulness stand out as qualities that will get new entrants noticed for the right reasons.
There are often expectations that junior employees will carry out much of the menial work and support others in a variety of ways, including keeping them stocked up with teas and coffees. Moaning about this work and avoiding tackling such tasks will not be well received; everyone has gained experience in similar roles and they are both essential and appreciated by others in allowing them to continue with their work.
Those with the tenacity to approach everything they do with consistency and commitment will be rewarded with an array of future opportunities and, with time, the chance to progress.