What I've Learned From Professionals In The Entertainment Industry
Over the summer, I have spent my time virtually meeting with those working in various areas of the film, television and video games industry, and gaining insight and advice as a soon-to-be graduate. After the idea was brought up to me by one of the professionals I met with, today I'm going to share some of the advice I’ve gotten so far, and what I’ve learned about gaining a start in the industry.
This seems obvious, but you should try out as many roles in the industry as you can! If you get the opportunity to be a runner on an independent film, or the chance to run social media for an event, you should try it -even if it’s not exactly what you’d like to do in the future. The more knowledge you have of different areas of the industry, the better decisions you can make about your future. Getting work experience is also great for networking and learning from others in the industry that you’re interested in. So whilst you’re taking these opportunities, talk to the people around you and learn about them. You may even get the chance to share your goals with them. The people you work with may also have connections with people who could help you with your career goals.
Where to Find Opportunities
First of all, it’s always worth going online and searching for internship and work experience roles. A lot of people have to work for free at first, which is a great way for you to meet people and start making connections. It’s especially worth doing this if you’re still a student, so that when you graduate you’ll already have experience and connections under your belt. LinkedIn also advertises these roles, as well as popular companies’ websites and social media pages. These kinds of opportunities are usually on their jobs pages and jobs section of their websites.
For roles in film and television, there are groups on Facebook advertising entry-level roles like runners, where you can connect with others in the industry and learn tips and tricks for writing your CV and entering the industry. There are also organisations made to support minorities in the industry, like Women In Games and POC in Play, which also hold conferences and conventions where you can meet and talk to others working in the industry. Festivals, conventions and networking events are all great places to meet people similar to you who are working in the industry who can give you tips and advice.
If you get to meet any industry professionals either online or in person, make sure to introduce yourself and let them know that you’d be happy to do some work experience shadowing professionals or any runner work. I’ve even been told that some current industry professionals got their first work experiences by emailing radio and TV stations and introducing themselves and sending their CVs. Even if they don’t offer you a role right away, they may keep your CV for the future.
Websites like Limit Break also offer mentorship programmes for novices in the industry to learn from industry professionals. SAE Institute holds free talks online with industry professionals that students can sign up to for free, to ask any questions and gain insight into the industry. Don’t forget to introduce yourself to people on LinkedIn and Twitter who are working in your field of interest and local area, so you can learn about their personal experiences and find out about local opportunities. You can also connect with recruiters on LinkedIn who can find you entry-level roles in entertainment companies, like QA testers.
It’s also worth using forums for companies that you’re interested in and talking to current members of staff working there, so that people can start learning more about you. They will remember you if you end up applying to them later on! To find a list of your local VFX, animation and video game companies, use CG Studio Map to help you start doing research on the companies you’d like to work at!
How To Sell Yourself
On top of meeting with industry professionals, I have become more familiar with using LinkedIn. Especially during the pandemic, this social media tool has become a hub for connecting with individuals all throughout the industry, as well as for finding jobs and sharing your professional journey. I’ve picked up a lot of advice on how to use LinkedIn more efficiently, which I’m going to share with you now.
LinkedIn is essentially an online portfolio where you can interact with people in your chosen field. Make sure your profile is up to date. Share your career aspirations, experience and skills so it’s the first thing people see when they click on your profile. All it takes is a request to connect or a comment you left on someone’s post to lead them there. I was even advised to put my aspired job title as my tagline so that I’d show up in searches by companies and recruiters.
Detail any experience and education you’ve had, and regularly post about what you’re learning and how you’re improving. You want potential co-workers and employers to see how you’re working on yourself on a regular basis. If you’re an artist or writer, post updates on any projects you’re working on and share your work so people can see what you’re capable of and how you’re striving to get better. Don’t forget to mention any companies or staff members you’ve been involved with to help you keep connecting. Relevant hashtags are also important for putting yourself out there!
Once you’ve got a working profile, search up the companies you’re interested in and see if there are any alumni from your school working there. Now you can send them a message and ask them if they’re free to answer any questions about how they got to where they are and maybe even set up a meeting to learn more about their career. Once you’ve started building a network, you can reach out to more people in the industry that you’re interested in.
Keep talking to and learning from the people who are where you want to be! I know it’s a scary prospect, but more people in the industry are willing to guide newbies than you’d imagine. I found it intimidating at first, but a lot of people appreciate the effort you put into reaching out to them in order to learn more about the industry. Make sure you appreciate any time and effort people are willing to return in order to meet with you, the industry is very demanding and professionals are extremely busy!
What to do when you’ve found an opportunity
Make sure you research the company or production that you’re applying for, so that you’re prepared to discuss what you’d bring to the team, including skills that they’ve asked for and any relevant experience you’ve had. Make yourself aware of any current and future projects that the company is working on so that they can see that you’ve done your research and are invested in the company’s future. You should also ask about what training and career opportunities the company offers, so you know that you’ve got room to grow when you work there.
When you’re finally on your work placement shadowing industry professionals or on your internship, make sure to ask questions and take initiative, show that you’re ready to learn and that you have ideas of your own. If there’s something that you’re struggling with, make sure to try and figure it out yourself before you ask your colleagues. It sounds obvious, but you have to be able to work independently for the team to function efficiently. Try and problem solve, and then ask your colleagues if you’re really struggling. Don’t be shy to offer anyone else help if they’re stuck with something either.
I found these talks and discussions extremely enlightening and have made a lot of new connections in doing so. I love logging into LinkedIn and Twitter and seeing the professionals I have worked and talked with sharing insight into their work and career progress they are making. It’s even more exciting sharing my own progress and interacting with people in the industry who I look up to.
Since I started networking and searching for opportunities, I have had multiple work experience opportunities including a paid internship and the chance to shadow a producer on an independent film set, so putting the time in and following these tips clearly pays off. Of course I’m condensing months worth of talks and meetings into a single article, so I highly recommend reaching out to and meeting with people yourself to learn more. You’ll be surprised how many people are willing to help!