Graduate story: My work experience in Film

RosemaryRosemary Koper, MA Film Studies graduate

I’m currently in the final week of a two month placement with British Film Institute Education team. Having completed an MA in Film Studies and being a regular visitor to the BFI Southbank cinemas, this placement struck me as the perfect opportunity to gain some valuable work experience with an organisation whose work has interested me for years.

BFI Education run events and courses and aim to encourage new audiences to engage with film. Every February they run the Future Film Festival, which showcases the work of filmmakers aged 16-25 and gives young people interested in getting into the industry the opportunity to get advice from professionals and to network. A large part of my role has been promoting the festival, both via email and social media, and by visiting colleges and universities to screen some short films and talk about the festival. I travelled to film and media classes across London to get the word out about what the festival had on offer; as effective as a popular Facebook post can be at promoting an event, it can’t match the personal touch of a face-to-face conversation.

During the festival, I was responsible for helping to organise the crew of volunteers who’d been assembled to ensure the smooth-running of all the screenings and talks. Luckily, I had a few opportunities to attend some of the events and was able to see the impressive short films screened, chosen from over 3000 entries.

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Guest blog: Four Unusual Finance Roles You Should Consider…

Susanna Quirke, Inspiring Interns 

Like any career path, finance has its stereotypes – not all of them fair. This is a growing industry, and not just in the ways you might expect; it’s not all accounting, insurance and banking out there. So step away from the hedge fund, and check out our favourite unusual finance roles.

  1. … in not-for-profit

That’s right. Even charities need someone to handle the dosh. The financial world is often billed as a cut-throat place – a butcher’s floor with zero empathy. Show you’re different; work for a not-for-profit, for profit.

How to find the jobs? Check out specialist charity job-hunting websites. Look for accountancy firms which specialise in charity work, like Jackson & Jackson or Bourner Bullock. Passionate about environmental issues? Join one of the many large corporations hiring environment accountants – professionals tasked with managing pollution, reducing energy costs and obeying regulations.

Charities and NGOs are constantly struggling with financial challenges – your efforts will not go to waste, should you choose to apply yourself here. And let’s face it: you’ll feel like a superhero, too. Everybody wins!

  1. … in fashion

Love fashion? Style in the financial sector goes deeper than ice packs and brown shoe controversies. There are loads of jobs in this industry that call on financial skills and qualifications.

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Finding work in Film


Interested in a career in the film industry? But have no work experience? According to a recent government study, 66% of employers say work experience is a critical or significant factor in their recruitment, so we’ve pulled together some resources that might help you get your big break…

You’ll find a mixture of opportunities on the sites below, including formal internship schemes which typically last 2-6 months (but sometimes longer), work experience placements, work shadowing or volunteering. This can be a good starting point for seeing the range of opportunities available and getting your name out there.

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Film work experience Part 2

A recent blog post outlined how a current film student used a pro-active job hunting approach and networking to gain his work experience. This post features Mitch Harris, another current student and a theme emerges …. Networking and flexibility really is the name of the game!

‘My film experience officially started when I was recommended by my secondary school to do some work experience for Pix and Mix, a company in St Neots, part of Gareth Holsgrove Associates. I was 16. We filmed for the Royal College of Pathology in London and for the NEBDN in London, Manchester and Birmingham and I got experience editing. This is where I developed my passion for editing, rivalling my passion for coffee developed when I was a runner for Prime Focus on Soho!  Once I had realised this is what I wanted to do getting experience was a matter of combining this passion with persisting for a long time until I got the experience/job. Once I was inside the film company, I then took up every opportunity they offered me, even if it wasn’t something I was particularly interested in.  So I worked on Sound for one film, despite wanting to be an Editor, because doing this showed a willing attitude and increased the chances I would get offered other things I was more interested in.  I even said that I would do things that I didn’t yet know how to do, and spend a few days teaching myself before starting on the job!

In my experience, getting work experience and paid work is also heavily to do with lots of networking, and being as sociable as possible. Passion + Persistence = Possibility. This is the advice I would give to other students – find exactly what it is that you love doing, persist with lots of applications networking events, make use of social media, blogs and perhaps your own portfolio website and eventually something will come up.’

Careers top tip –  check out these websites: networking events

Mitchell Harris

Film Studies student

Getting work experience in the film industry

Looking to have a career in film?  Here is how one current film student used a pro-active job hunting approach and networking to gain his work experience:

“My very first work experience on a film set was in 2010 on a feature film in France. I applied to the production company making the film, saying that I was available any day, any time and ready to work for free. I was supposed to stay 2 weeks on the film and it turned out that they accepted for me to stay another 2 weeks and paid me for it.

In the UK, my very first experience was on a Marvel film, Thor 2, in 2012. I contacted a friend of mine who knew someone in the art department of the film, knowing that they were looking for art department assistants. I sent my CV and a cover letter, once again stressing the fact that I was ready to work any days, any time and for whatever money. I went for an interview at the studios in Pinewood and got  a 2 months internship, based in the art department, attached to art directors working on the film.  I had to run for them, taking drawings and information to other departments, assist with making models of the set and also paint and decorate various pieces of the set.

From that experience I started to build a network and got another job on a Marvel film, Guardians of the Galaxy, in 2013. Here I was attached to the stand-by Art Director, whom I helped repair and arrange elements of the set.  I got this job thanks to my successful experience on Thor. It was mainly due to the fact that I kept contact with the team I worked with and they tend to like working with the same people.

Advice for other students

Build your network and keep them updated on what you are up to at university and in film related activities.  Don’t be afraid to exploit it and ask for favours. Put yourself out there and pro-actively seek opportunities: be ready to take anything, at any time.

A great example of how this works is shown through someone I met at Shepperton Studios.  He finished his Film degree and had never worked on any film before. He accepted a job in an air conditioning maintenance company operating at the studios. After a few months, he was hired on a film as production assistant, and then got jobs as personal assistant to directors and now, less than 5 years later he is working as an Assistant Director. So as long as a job has some kind of contact with the area of work that interests you, accept anything and be ready to work hard, as it will always pay off.”

Louis Lagayette 

Film Studies student

Find out more about the Creative industry – TV, Film and Theatre

The information in this post comes from Kings Careers Service.
What are some of the roles?

Editorial – this would be suited to someone who is creative, likes ideas, writing, is happy to change things at the last minute and be spontaneous with their work, answering to demands that may change in a small space of time.

The roles include – runner, researcher, assistant producer, producer, director, writer.

Production – this is suited to someone who is organised, who likes to sort out logistical requirements, is happy to handle budgets and the practicalities of a shoot and is more concerned with the final details of a project and enjoys project management work.

The roles include – runner, production secretary, production co-ordinator, production manager.

There are also the positions within post production and also studio and gallery positions (camera operator, floor manager, auto cue operator, gallery PA).

What is the first step I should take to get a job in a creative industry?

A good place to start is to update your CV and add all the internships/work experience you have undertaken which highlights your creative skills and experience. Visit the Careers & Enterprise Centre in the Queens’ Building Room WG3 and browse our information resources for more information.

Can you recommend some links about careers in the creative industries?
Can you recommend some resources to find out more about production?
Can you recommend some links to find out more about casting?

Can you recommend some information about directing?