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Film production

A male and female student editing a film on a computer

 

So, you want to work in the film industry? Do you know what this might involve?

The UK film industry is multifaceted, employing around 30,000 people in a huge range of roles. You might be interested in working at any stage of a film’s lifecycle – from acquiring the rights to a story, developing the script, casting, shooting, editing, post-production, or marketing and distributing the finished product.

Here we offer an introduction to the sector as a whole, and then focus on how to find work experience and paid roles in film production specifically, as this is the most common area of interest for Nottingham students and graduates.

 

Exploring the film industry

The UK film industry can be divided into five broad areas:

  • Acquisition and development: the period where the rights to the idea or story are bought, a script is developed, talent is brought on board and production financing is secured.
  • Pre-production and production: in pre-production, the project is 'green lit', the screenplay becomes the 'shooting script' and the filming schedule is planned out in detail to allow the production to take place. In production, the director marshals the resources of a production crew, the film is shot and then the set is dismantled. Marketing can also begin at any stage of the production.
  • Post-production: the principal photography is edited and visual effects and sound are added to produce the 'fine cut'.
  • Sales and distribution: This is the stage when the film (ideally) makes its money; marketing strategies are implemented, distribution deals are made and the film is sold to cinemas and various streaming platforms.

Explore the sector further by reading:

 

The following sections focus on how to gain work experience and look for roles specifically in film production, as the area that most Nottingham students and graduates ask about.

 

What roles are available in film production?

Working in film production might involve anything from scouting film locations, managing budgets and staffing, supervising the production process, to supporting the daily operations of a production office.

ScreenSkills provides a detailed guide to the various areas and roles available in the film industry, including in production. It outlines the skills and qualifications required, and provides a road map of progression between different types and levels of work.

Explore roles in film production on the ScreenSkills website*

*To view other roles in the film industry beyond production, including script editor, clear the 'production' search filter.

 

Finding work experience and your first job in film production

How do graduates get into the sector?

Film, and in particular film production is a popular and therefore competitive sector. There are no set entry routes, but gaining work experience and meeting people is essential to making inroads.

Graduates typically start off in assistant-level positions such as production runner, researcher or office PA.

Find out more about these roles on myfirstjobinfilm.com

Five tips on becoming a runner

In these entry-level positions, you'll be expected to do odds and ends and the hours can be long. However, if you pay attention and engage with all elements of the job, you can learn a lot about the industry, build networks, and potentially find your next role.

Anecdotally, those who stand out during their first position as reliable and hardworking are hired by the same employers or are recommended for other positions.

Qualifications

Success in getting a job in film will usually depend more on your skills, enthusiasm and commitment than the subject you have studied.

Certain roles may require specific qualifications or training, so explore the job profiles that interest you on the Screen Skills website.

Training

You may be able to get free hands-on production training through one of the film-related societies at Nottingham (see 'What can you do at Nottingham?')

The Production Guild runs a series of courses on all aspects of production including introductory courses for runners, while FutureLearn and ScreenSkills provide online courses to help familiarise you with different aspects of the film industry.

Where can I find jobs?

The following jobs boards advertise roles across the industry, including entry-level roles such as runner and assistant:

The Unit List advertises a range of production jobs including at entry level

Talent Manager rounds up jobs spanning media industries, including feature film

Mediargh lists paid jobs and internships in TV, film and video production

My First Job in Film links to opportunities across film production

Shooting People posts adverts from producers looking for staff

Production Base rounds up the latest jobs in film and commercial production

Mandy advertises a range of production jobs if you register for a free account

Creative Access promotes opportunities across creative industries for young people from BAME backgrounds

Video Collective is a service advertising positions in film, TV and video production

The BBC offers trainee schemes in areas including, production and technology

Talent Bases links to a wide variety of employers across the sector

There is no one place to look for jobs in film production, as some vacancies may be unadvertised, freelance or found through networks, so you may also wish to research or apply speculatively to one of the many:

Get our advice on CVs and covering letters before sending off a speculative application.

What about trainee schemes?

Trainee schemes do exist, but can come and go as funding fluctuates. Check Screen Skills and BBC trainee schemes for details of current schemes.

The Independent Cinema Office's Film Exhibition, Distribution and Sales Scheme is one example.

 
 

What can you do at Nottingham?

Building your skills

Brush up on essential professional skills

Entry-level roles in the film industry will often require you to support more senior crew members, and these roles rely on adaptability, professionalism, politeness and excellent organisational skills. 

Use your time at university to find work experience or volunteering which will help you demonstrate such qualities, and hone skills including time management, prioritising competing workloads and working to tight deadlines.

Brushing up on administration skills including writing professional emails using systems such as Outlook, and Microsoft applications such as Excel will also help equip you for your first role.

Read Chantelle's blog: What I learned during my placement at Fox Studios, USA

Develop a portfolio

If you've got an idea, a script, a camera phone and perhaps a few friends willing to participate as actors, then you've got the basic ingredients for creating your own amateur films with little to no budget.

Developing a portfolio of work will provide invaluable experience and help show potential collaborators or investors that you're serious about working in film.

Platforms like YouTube and Patreon enable you to broadcast your work for free and even potentially make money from them, so why not start producing right now?

Get involved with a student society

There are several student societies, which offer training and opportunities to gain hands-on production experience by working on projects with like-minded people.

Film Making Society

NSTV

URN

Networking

Joining film-related groups or projects, getting work experience and attending industry events will gradually expand your film contacts.

In Nottingham, the independent Broadway Cinema hosts events, film making training, special screenings and bi-monthly screening of indie short films with post-event networking.

The annual Nottingham International Microfilm Festival and Royal Television Society (RTS) events  provide chances to meet people interested in or already working in various areas of film production.

Another way to build your networks is by getting casual work as a crowd actor or 'extra', which will give you the chance to meet likeminded people, and get first-hand experience of a working film set.

Meeting and talking to people in the industry, being friendly and polite, and following up on these conversations is essential to breaking in. Go to live events and get used to pitching your ideas.

Online networking

If online networking is more your style, or you want to start off or doing some research on your own, Shooting People and Hiive Swarms are good places to meet people interested in collaborating or talking about film.

Networking tips

Read Laura's blog: Shy or confident? Three tried and tested networking tricks

Find out if we're running any networking workshops

 
 

Stay ahead of the curve with the latest film industry news

 

Careers and Employability Service

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email: careers-team@nottingham.ac.uk