We recently held a job sector event covering careers in radio, film and TV careers and first year Film & Literature student, Rachel Elfassy Bitoun, popped along to glean the insider view…
“You will never get a job in this industry!”
We have heard this claim so many times, from so many people, and it discourages a lot of us. Yet the general message conveyed by Warwick’s Radio, TV and Film Career Event last Tuesday is far more positive. ‘Don’t despair!’, said the speakers. Perseverance, hard work and creativity seem to be the general watchwords to succeed in this sector. Here are some useful tips on how to break into this competitive field.
Use your free time
Let’s face it, contact hours for Arts and Humanities students are not that exhaustive. But instead of spending hours watching TV, why not go and make some TV? All speakers have encouraged students to develop their artistic abilities in their own time. Tom Davies, having graduated from Warwick last year and working for BBC Radio 2 as a broadcast assistant, talked about how his Photoshop competences got him employed. Make the most of your free time and use it consequently by practicing your creativity every day. Read, write articles and stories, draw, shoot your own film, create a YouTube channel… There are so many possibilities to cultivate your imagination.
Start now! If you develop your inventiveness, you will learn essential skills that will appeal to the industry and make you a valuable candidate for future jobs. Work thoroughly on your cover letters and send your CV everywhere! Don’t be afraid to phone companies and ask them if they need help. Don’t dismiss any opportunity, even if you find yourself making coffee. Many people start this way, and if you show enthusiasm and propose new ideas, you will multiply your chances to be noticed. The smallest businesses or production companies are often the best way to start, as you will gain valuable training and touch on everything. You’ll often get more to do.
Don’t neglect your degree
Practical work experience is crucial, yet all speakers highlighted the importance of having a degree. Theoretical knowledge is essential as it helps extend your analytical thinking and formulate your ideas. It’s not enough to come up with new concepts: you need to sell them and articulate them clearly. At university, you improve your writing abilities and acquire a general knowledge of history and culture. All filmmakers are inspired by works from the past, and it is from previous works that students learn the basics. And they may just help you conceive your own projects.
Learn skills; join societies!
Whatever subject you study, it is important to take the most from it. But the greatest opportunity you will get from university life is getting involved in societies and clubs. Organise events for the SU or your department, join sports and performances societies. Get involved in Warwick TV, The Boar and Raw: most of the speakers at the conference gained precious experience from them and learned valuable skills that attracted their present employers.
Social media is the place to be. Use Facebook and Twitter wisely to promote your work or get in touch with people from the industry. Start building your professional network and sell yourself – ‘The greatest selling point is you‘ said Ben, producer and comedy writer. More vacancies are being advertised online, and knowing how to use these resources is seen as an advantage by employers.
Don’t expect to be the next Scorsese or run your own show in the space of a year! Set yourself realistic goals: to get into the industry is already great, and you’ll have to work hard in order to stay there and progress.
Marie Rowe has emphasised on the need to show integrity and respect towards the people you work with. Having a positive, friendly and humble attitude is key to be part of a creative team, whatever the job is. Leave the ego behind.
Be productive and don’t be scared to share your ideas. It is by sharing that you are most likely to realise them. ‘Ideas are currency‘ stated Ben. Ideas can only take root and flourish if you give them an ‘audience’ – don’t keep your creativity locked away.
It is important to have a positive attitude, even when times are tough. It is unlikely that you will get your dream job straight after university, but show your determination and persevere! Smile, even if you are simply serving coffee, they will notice you and reward your enthusiasm. ‘Make yourself indispensable!’ said Ollie, working in publicity and DVD sales. Show you are passionate and willing to work for them.
“I hardly believe I get paid for what I do, it is so much fun!” said most of the speakers. These creative careers are truly fulfilling, and if you eventually get to work for these industries, enjoy your time there! That is the reward.