Finding Work in the Film & Video Industry

The recession has hit the film and video industry hard. More than ever before, aspiring filmmakers must know how to effectively network, search for jobs and freelance opportunities, and have their resume stand out in a sea of applications.

I recently attended a panel event sponsored by the Television, Internet, and Video Association of D.C. (TIVA) to garner useful career tips and advice from professionals in the industry. Read on to learn how you can gain a competitive edge in your job search.

Resume Tips

  • Work experience often carries more weight than education.  Consider listing your experience first
  • Know the job you are applying for, and make sure the skills and experiences listed on your resume are relevant for the position
  • Don’t just list responsibilities on your resume; proclaim your accomplishments
  • Recruiters spend approximately 10 seconds reviewing a resume; get to the point right away!
  • A resume should be limited to one page if you have 10 years or less of experience
  • Only include relevant activities/hobbies/interests on your resume

Successful Reels

  • Include a link to your reel on your resume. (All film students and recent graduates should have one)
  • Reels showcase your creative talents; include only your best work and what shows your personality and interests
  • When sharing collaborative projects, clarify your specific roles (Ex: PA, director, editor, etc.)
  • Tailor your reel to demonstrate proficiency and familiarity with the kind of work the employer wants you to do
  • When applying for a producer position, include 10 separate videos.  For an editorial position, you can provide fewer and shorter work examples

Cover Letter Tips

  • Cover letters provide a first of impression of you to a potential employer, so use it to show your passion and winning personality (in a professional manner, of course)
  • Research the organization in advance, and include a few keys details  in your cover letter to demonstrate your knowledge

Job Search Strategies

  • Join LinkedIn for professional exposure and to show up on employers’ Google searches
  • Search for jobs on websites such as craigslist and indeed as well as through pertinent professional organizations, Women In Film and TIVA
  • Nothing will replace face-to-face networking.  Practice the ability to make small talk
  • Get experience by volunteering
  • Follow the application directions carefully
  • Follow-ups are crucial!   Keep in contact with the recruiter

Maximize Your Website

  • For those with more experience, having your own website provides added credibility
  • Your website is your own personal gallery. Use it to showcase your artistic vision, personality, and favorite creations, but keep it organized and navigable.

Consider Freelance Work

  • Impress your client and build strong relationships on set. You’re more  likely to be asked back for the next project
  • Freelancers often earn 20-25% more than permanent staff, but don’t get benefits and job security

Ace the Interview

  • Never walk into an interview unprepared. Know the position requirements, and the hiring organization, and your resume
  • Dress for success — wear a suit, or other appropriate attire
  • Ask well-researched questions in the interview
  • Follow-up with a hand-written thank you shortly after an interview
  • Try not to be visibly nervous; project confidence when dealing with clients and employers

Best of luck in your search and make an appointment if you need clarification on any of these tips.