A career in film is not for the weak of heart. Unlike other careers where you are guaranteed an income as long as you do A, B and C, the path to a film career has no clear guidelines or guarantees. Working in film does not depend on or even require a degree. You might feel good about graduating from a top film school, but in reality, that does not get you any closer to a job.
Getting your first job in the industry is the first major hurdle. It is very competitive and generally does not take on many new people. Executives prefer to hire people they already know within the industry or who at least are recommended by people they know. Networking is key in order to break into film.
If you don’t already have a network in place, you can start small, but you must begin to build it up any way you can. This requires courage, resourcefulness, and dedication. Only a lucky few are swept up right away. Most only hear rejections or nothing at all initially.
This is why you often hear about people in film supporting themselves as waiters or in other types of jobs during this period of networking and trying to find their way in the industry. Even then, there is no guarantee that after doing these odd-jobs for so many months or years you will finally land your dream job. Most likely you will start with small jobs. If you persevere and prove yourself to be both talented and reliable, you will be remembered and hired for more jobs.
So who would agree to give this type of career a try? It would be someone who has such a passion to express their creativity that they are willing to enter a career path with an unknown ending. It would be someone who is motivated enough to work jobs they don’t like in order to support themselves in the meantime. It would be someone who is bold enough to be their own manager or salesperson until they can find someone willing to represent them. It would be someone who has enough willpower and vision that they can keep going even when it seems like they are not making any progress.
For those who stick with it and have patience and guts, it can be the most satisfying path they will ever take.
Robert Gillings is an award winning writer, producer, actor architectural designer, philosopher and financial consultant