Graduation is both exciting and daunting. Unlike more traditional occupations, few filmschool graduates leave university with a place at a company waiting for them. You can ask 100 film professionals how they broke into the film industry and they will all give a different answer, that's because everyone has different goals and also a different route to getting their career started.

The journey ahead of you might be challenging at times, but it can also be hugely rewarding and fun. In this video, I talk about how to lay the foundations for your career and how to prepare yourself to take on opportunities.


[00:00:03] Nobody's path is the same, and this is something that you come to understand, everybody has a different way of getting into the film industry and getting their career started. I got my first job in television, for instance, working nights at Scottish television, and my job was to go through all the edit suites and load footage into the server and log it all. And after that initial three month contract, they gave me a proper daytime job as an assistant film editor.

[00:00:34] But that was my route and somebody would have a very different route in to the film and TV industry and nothing is the same. So don't be worried about stepping out and forging your own path and making your own way in the industry, because there isn't one correct route and it's very dependent on where you live, but also what you are passionate about and what role you want to have in the film industry.

[00:01:02] When you are at film school, just about every single course will ask you to make a couple of films, every semester, I'm guessing, I know for myself we had to make one every three or four weeks, some really intense film courses ask you to make one a week. It just depends on the syllabus and the type of courses. But it's really important that you keep hold of these and you make really, really good while you're a student, because what you're going to have is essentially a portfolio career.

[00:01:35] You will very likely be self-employed, at least initially, and you hop from one job to another, and that's not a bad thing. You meet lots of different people and some you really click with and some less so. So you'll find your crowd within the film industry and you'll know who can help you move forward and who will inspire you to keep pushing forward because it isn't an easy thing to do.

[00:01:58] I recommend that you have a job that is shiftwork. For example, I worked at McDonald's. It was really flexible shifts and it meant that if something came up that I really wanted to do in film and I needed a week or two weeks, I could structure my shift in such a way that I didn't lose the job that was paying my rent. I could still be available to do things in film and TV.

[00:02:24] But going back to the idea of having a portfolio career, so. If you have a website in your own name, and think about the name carefully, you know, use your name, that it's perfectly fine, you don't have to have 360 films or anything like that. This is who you are. Be professional, be presentable and have pages for the things that you've done in film school. These are not little things. They show that you were engaged in the course, that you were able to finish projects, that you worked with people, that you had different roles.

[00:03:00] These are all things that people who don't know you and know that you don't have a professional track record, they still want to see that you can be professional, that you can be reliable. If you can get references from your tutors and teachers, post them, if you can get references from jobs that you've done, if you've volunteered, if you've got involved in certain charity projects or side projects and even film societies and film clubs, post them, paints a picture of who you are and it shows that you really want to be in the film industry, you're very enthusiastic about it.

[00:03:35] So when people are looking to hire a graduate, they can see all of your work and all of you presented very well and very succinctly on a Web page. And they can get a really strong sense of who you are as a person because that is what matters initially, you haven't become a filmmaker yet. You don't you don't have a rounded vision of who you are. And that is fine. OK, nobody's expecting that from you. I certainly don't expect it from the graduates I hire. I look for somebody who's just engaged and somebody who's going to show up and somebody is going to work really hard. And that's the most important thing when you are starting out.

[00:04:12] The film industry is very much about networks, and that's why it's so good that if you can try and get involved in little short films or days as a runner on  TV production, what you're doing is building a network and you're building references and you're building a portfolio and all of that will take you forward to your next job.

[00:04:32] I just want to end with reiterating that there really isn't one path to breaking into the film industry. If you are a writer, keep writing, keep meeting directors and producers. If you want to be a director keep working on your craft. Keep studying it. Just because you lose the structure of a film school doesn't mean your education is over. In fact, everybody is learning all the time and there's always new things to get to grips with in the film and TV industry.

[00:05:03] So don't think that you suddenly have to abandon any form of education; keep engaging with people, go to film festivals, we'll be doing some videos about how to navigate that. If you've made a really strong graduation film, enter it into student film festivals. You'll go there, you'll get a festival screening but more importantly, you meet other people who just graduated from film school who are trying to make things happen, who want to go to the next step of their career. You weren't going to walk onto a set and be told congratulations, you're now directing. It just doesn't happen. But you are going to form networks with people who are actual level who will push you onwards.

[00:05:42] I feel very, very lucky to have a supportive crowd around me and work with filmmakers who keep challenging me and pushing me. And this is something that I've had for the last 10, 15 years of my career. And it's really, really vital because it's very easy to get demoralized. Remember, there's a lot of rejection in the film industry. There aren't a lot of jobs if you live outside of Manchester, Leeds and London, this is a reality. But you can still make a name for yourself. You can still find work. You can still get those opportunities. And that's what you have to do.

[00:06:20] And you'll also start to engage with the film industry. You'll be eligible for certain funding. And that's another thing that we can talk about in other videos. So don't be discouraged  if you've just graduated. Congratulations. That's a huge thing and that's a wonderful achievement. Take a rest, take a month off to just decompress and then get really stuck in and understand that you're not a student anymore, that you're a professional in the film industry. You want to make films, you want to make great films. And there is a way for you to forge forward and to be part of this industry.

[00:06:54] So never give up and don't lose hope and reach out to people around you and build something together, because that is the way that you will succeed.