Right now, times are tough. The film and video industry has pretty much ground to a halt and the film industry has been impacted hard.

As dispiriting as this is for young filmmakers looking to break in to the industry and gain that first opportunity, there is still hope. Things will pick up.

Once the coronavirus pandemic has passed (which it will) there will be huge demand for video. As the economy begins to kickstart and rebuild, businesses and clients will all need video more than ever. Production companies will find their schedules filled and with that, comes opportunity for you. A chance to get your foot in the door and gain some vital work experience.

Naturally, there are hundreds of others looking to do the same so, how can you ensure you get ahead of the crowd during Covid-19? What steps can you take to improve your chances of gaining work experience in the filmmaking industry? Here’s our top tips.

Show me, don’t tell me

Suddenly, the majority of us all have a little extra time on our hands. Use this time wisely and build yourself a portfolio of work.

The filmmaking industry is a visual one. Naturally, when applying for work experience and roles in other sectors such as finance, education or engineering, you would expect that the CV is the most important thing. But production companies won’t care half as much. They want to see your work. They want to see what you can do and what you can offer them as a filmmaker.

Take the time to put together a selection of your best films on YouTube, Vimeo or your website. By sharing your best work, you’re showing that you have real passion for the craft and you’ve had the initiative to get out there and already create a body of work.

Are you the best camera op in your area? Are you confident you can achieve the best lighting? That’s great. Show them, don’t tell them. This will do far more for you than anything else.

The CV still matters

Somewhat contradicting ourselves here, the CV does still matter. It’s always going to matter. It’s the one-stop shop for your potential employer to see what you have and can do.

You’ll want to include a few staple pieces of information here. Remember to keep it as brief and concise as possible!

  • Include your name, contact details and job title at the top.
  • Add a personal brief. This is a summary of who you are and what you do.
  • Add your film credits and experience. Include details – name of the project, your job role, the name of the director, producer or name of your departments HOD, and the year you worked on it.
  • At the bottom, list your education and skills.
  • Add in some personal hobbies, passions and any volunteering you may have done.

If you want to learn more about building a CV, we’ve written an in depth article all about how to build your filmmaking CV.

Research, research, research

Start to think about where you would want to do your work experience. If you’re based in London for example, you probably don’t fancy travelling all the way up to Manchester every day, do you?

Have a look at the production companies in and around your area. Take the time to check out their websites and social feeds. What do they specialise in? Is it a good fit for you? For example, if you’re looking for experience in drone work and sports, a production company that specialises in marketing for online fashion brands may not be the best fit.

Get to know the companies you want to gain experience from. It will help you with writing a cover letter and in any possible interviews.

Network, network, network

Make no mistake. Networking is perhaps the number one most important thing in the industry. It goes back to that old saying ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’.

Although we can’t socialise in person and meet up physically, networking online has never been easier and there’s never been a better time to do so.

Take the time now to find your peers online. Who are the people you look up too? Follow them and get in touch. Not everyone will have time to answer your questions but some will get back to you with priceless knowledge.

Find out who works for which production companies – see if you can reach out and glean more information about what it takes to work there and if there are any potential opportunities available.

Furthermore, utilising social media platforms to show off your best work is always useful. You can gain some great feedback and constructive criticism from your peers and you just never know who’s going to see it.

You want people to know your face and remember your name so that when the time comes to offer work experience, you’re the first person they think of.

Have a look at different Facebook groups too. There are tonnes of networks where like minded people like yourself are all sharing advice and tips about how to break in to the industry, as well as sharing links to potential opportunities. Here’s a few of the main Film & TV groups.

For more tips and tricks, check out article on Networking: Do’s and don’ts.

Level up

Again, with so much time on our hands, now might be a good idea to brush up on some areas of your skillset that you’re not so confident in. Perhaps you want to get quicker at editing? Do you need to improve your knowledge of motion graphics?

Take the time to read articles (you’re already here so, great job!) and watch tutorials on platforms such as Skillshare and YouTube. Putting in the hard work will always pay off and learning new skills could just get you ahead of the competition.

Remember, filmmaking is a constant learning process. You never really stop progressing and improving.

If you’re busy practicing and editing, we have a selection of discount codes that may come in very useful for you too!

These range from discounts on online film courses such as 2 months free on Skillshare and an all-access pass at MasterClass to stock footage sites such as ArtGrid, Adobe Stock, Storyblocks, Shutterstock and more!

Remember, the more you practice with editing real footage, the more you’ll learn and improve.

Wrapping Up

So, even though you can’t actually secure that work experience right now, don’t be dispirited. There is plenty that you can be doing to keep yourself busy and help get yourself ahead of the competition.

The number one thing people in the industry are looking for is someone who shows passion and initiative. By being proactive and really showing how much you love your craft, you’ll stand out amongst the crowd.

When the time comes, you’ll be well prepared and ready to roll. Good luck!

Author Bio

Video Collective is a FREE UK Film & TV Job board. Whether you need professional freelance crew for a shoot or are looking for Video Collective then check out our website. Made by freelancers, for freelancers.