Video production has never been more vogue as a profession. It’s always been attractive, but the accessibility and visibility of the lifestyle is at it’s peak right now. That also means it’s at its most competitive.
A few weeks back, Josh Edwards wrote a blog on how to make your application standout from the crowd. There’s some fantastic information in there about applying for jobs, but how do you get the chance to apply in the first place? A lot of jobs get offered to people before they’re even advertised, or they’re advertised in places that most people never think about. As a former Studio 24-7 employee, and someone who’s trying to break into the TV industry, I’m going to tell you what I’ve learned so far with regards to finding work in the big wide world of video production.
This is where you start. There’s not really any excuse in 2019 to not be interacting with people actively in the industry you want to go into. Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook are all platforms that offer excellent opportunities to connect and engage with people doing what you want to do.
Sure, some of these people will have huge followings and your messages may get lost in the noise. This is a bit of a poor excuse, however. There are people out there without huge followings who are doing what you want to do, and they will be much more accessible than ‘internet famous’ people. I know people who’ve tried approaching and messaging the most famous and biggest people in the game, then getting disheartened by a lack of response, and give up. This highlights either lack of insight, ambition or creativity. There are other ways.
Tact is important here. You need to offer these people value. This can be in the form of services, ideas, involvement, meetings or even friendship. But, whatever it is, it needs to be genuine. I’ve been out on jobs before and had messages from people who I’ve never had a conversation with “oh, bring me next time!”, “if you ever need a hand, let me know!”. That’s makes you feel used, and less likely to want to meet/help them. Invest in the people. Get to know the person, ask them about them. Networking is exactly the same as dating
Some people will be willing to meet you to offer advice, but the more value you can offer them, the more they will remember you and the more likely they are to think of you when they have work.
Start Making Stuff
If you want to get into video production, you’re looking for a career in making stuff. If you’re not willing to make stuff in your free time for no money, then you’re probably not going to enjoy it as a career.
Start a YouTube channel, start a podcast, keep posting to your Instagram account, start a Facebook page, get a blog going. There are pretty limitless options to how you can start putting your work out there. In the beginning you will be investing money in it. That’s ok, because it’s cheaper than ever to make a film. You can literally use your phone. Just make sure your work is out there. It won’t be good enough in the beginning, but if people see you’re passionate that’s far more valuable than spending 5-years practicing in private then coming out of nowhere. Think of the connections you could have made in 5-years.
Meeting Your Online Network
Obviously these people you’ve been chatting to in real life exist outside of your phone. Set up meetings, or, even better, collaborations.
Collaborations are pretty key to building your network for a number of reasons. Not only do you build a real connection with the people who are up and coming in your space, but you also get content, practice and shared criticism out of it. Your learning will exponentially increase when you create with someone else. As will your confidence to try new things and put more effort in. You’ll also benefit from meeting their network, and further expand your reach in that way.
Facebook is a supremely under-rated platform for jobs. At 21-years old, I moved away from Facebook more and more, and didn’t really join any groups or pages. What you have to remember is that the people doing the hiring are of a generation that understand and use Facebook. They hold the keys to your new profession, so it pays to go into the arena they’re playing in.
For TV especially, there are a whole lot of Facebook groups where last minute jobs are posted, people will give you feedback on your CV and you can learn the names of the decision makers at key production companies. Facebook is an extremely valuable place to be present and active.
Attending Courses, Classes and Film Festivals
Public courses and classes to do with filmmaking are a fantastic way to meet people. This could also fall under “networking” except this one is in person. The benefits here are pretty clear! Outside of meeting new friends, people in the field, expert instructors, producers and agents, you’ll also learn a new skill and potentially get your hands on some kit you’ve never used before.
This is probably the most expensive way of networking, as tickets to festivals and courses can put you back many hundreds of pounds.
Make a list of production companies that cater for the type of content you want to work on, then research those companies and find out whom the decision makers are. After that, you’re still not ready. Outbound marketing requires a lot of research.
You need to find the projects that these people worked on, and consume their content. Then figure out what exactly their role was.
After you have a way of proving your passion, a list of people who might be able to give you work, a good knowledge of what they’ve worked on and, of course, their email address you can start sending your CV out. But please, please don’t copy and paste. As I’ve mentioned before, video production can be a very tight-knit industry and people talk to each other. You will more than likely get found out.
As much as everyone wants to get paid, work experience is not something to frown at, especially in the TV industry. The communities are so tight-knit that just getting your face seen is an extremely valuable experience.
Think Outside the Box
This is a little bonus tip, but thinking outside the box can offer some interesting opportunities. Getting a job in a coffee shop close to the place you want to work, making super niche and targeted videos for decision-makers, getting a job in a kit hire company, delivery company or bar which is regularly used. Being in contact with people in the industry you want to go into is the most valuable thing you can do when it comes to getting work in any industry, not just video production.
Finally, the best advice we can give is to just get started, and keep going. Momentum is a powerful thing.