How to Start a Career in Film or Video Production

Five Methods:Learning About the IndustryDoing Freelance or Individual WorkShaping Your ResumeNetworking Within the IndustryApplying to Jobs

Getting a job in film or video production is not impossible, but it can be very difficult. Depending on where you live and how many opportunities there are around you, it can be a struggle to find a job. If you don't have any luck applying to existing jobs, you also have the option of working freelance by shooting local videos, or even starting your own production company. No matter which path you may choose, crafting your demo reel, meeting the right people and putting in the hard work are key to starting your career in film production.

Method 1
Learning About the Industry

  1. Image titled Write, Direct and Edit Your Own Movie Step 23
    Learn the lingo. Before you apply for jobs or start working on local projects, you want to make sure that you are able to keep up with conversations about film and production. Take some time to do research on the Internet and build up your knowledge about the language of the film industry.[1]
  2. Image titled Write, Direct and Edit Your Own Movie Step 6
    Learn about film and video production. If you are pursuing a career in production, you already probably know a good deal about it. However, before you start networking or doing freelance work, it pays to brush up on any technical skills, softwares, or general knowledge that you need a review on.[2]
    • If you plan on applying to production jobs, research how production varies across different projects and studios according to scale and budget.
    • Also learn about different kinds of production roles. Some roles in production center around creative issues, while others involve managing the team or keeping the project on budget.
    • It also will be worth your while to learn about the overall process of how films get made and how production fits into the overall picture.
  3. Image titled Be a Film Director Step 5
    Consider going to film or producing school. If you can imagine going to school, or would like to get as qualified as possible before applying to jobs or offering out your production services, enroll at a film school. Film school can teach you everything relating to production and the film industry in general. After your education you will be armed not only with knowledge, but with projects that demonstrate your well-honed skills.[3]
  4. Image titled 200852 21
    Learn about the industry in your area. If you are planning on applying to production positions, research and find any companies, studios, or projects in your town or city. Hollywood isn’t the only major center for film; there are plenty of other places both nationally and internationally that do amazing film work.
    • If you plan on doing freelance work, try to gauge the demand in your area for production work. Try to see what sectors have the highest demand.

Method 2
Doing Freelance or Individual Work

  1. Image titled Become an Animator Step 12
    Create a demo reel. A demo reel is a brief video summary of your past projects, and is an essential means of showing your skills to anyone considering hiring you for a project. An ideal demo reel should run from one to two minutes. While this may seem like a short amount of time, it's important to show that you are capable of producing a video that is succinct and representative of your work. [4].
    • Demo reels generally come in two format: a collage format which is essentially a mash-up of previous projects, and a sample format, which shows several scenes running about 20 seconds long from previous projects. In general, collage formats are best if you are interested in commercial or other short-form work, while sample formats are better if you're interested in longer, narrative-based projects.[5]
    • You may choose to create a portfolio online that has full-length videos of your work. If you do create a portfolio, make sure that they demo reel is the first thing in it.
    • Your demo reel and portfolio should absolutely be online. Do not pass out DVD's of your portfolio; these are obsolete. Instead, create and post the demo reel online.
  2. Image titled Get Into Film School Step 13
    Look for gigs. Search Craigslist or industry-specific sites or newsletters for any projects that need video production help. These may be projects like producing music videos for local bands, or producing wedding videos.[6]
    • Keep in mind that these kinds of projects may range in terms of compensation that they offer, but they can be great for building your resume or even getting your name recognized.
    • In general, try to go for projects that have some artistic value and give you some license. This way your individual voice and skills will be able to shine through your work.
  3. Image titled Get Into Film School Step 8
    Apply for gigs. When you have found a project that interests you, contact the person running the project through phone, email or whatever contact method they have provided. Briefly state your interest in the project, as well as your past experience. Also state how your involvement would help the project. If you are emailing, include the demo reel that you created. If you are calling, suggest that you email them the reel.
  4. Image titled Get Into Film School Step 2
    Produce your own videos. If you have free time, you can also make your own videos. Produce them for friends, or even make short films to enter into film competitions. Although you may not make money doing this, it can be a great way to develop your portfolio or get recognition.
  5. Image titled Make a Short Movie Step 16
    Start your own production company. If you are ambitious and confident in your abilities, you decide to start a film production company. This will take a lot of work and determination, as well as some money to begin with. However, you will be able to have full control of your work, and you can more easily make a name for yourself.[7] Method3

Method 3
Shaping Your Resume

  1. Image titled Become a Home Health Aide Step 7
    List your education. If you are applying to production job rather than doing freelance work, you'll need a well-organized resume. Put down all your education, including if you have had education past high school. If you have been to film school, list your coursework and any projects that you worked on.[8]
    • If you went to a liberal arts college and majored in something related to the industry like Film or Cinema Studies, list any concentration or area of interest within the major.
  2. Image titled Make a Portfolio Step 12
    List any industry experience. Create a category in your resume for “Industry Experience”. List all the jobs that relate to the film industry. You want these positions to jump out at the potential employer who is reading your resume, and the best way to do that is to put them in a separate category at the top. [9]
    • It’s ok if you don’t have any experience yet in the film industry. If you don’t have any jobs that would fall into this category, don’t force it. Just leave off this section.
  3. Image titled Make a Skit Step 4
    List the rest of your job history. Put the rest of your job history in a section called Professional Experience or Job History. Make sure to put your most recent jobs. Try to emphasize the jobs in which you have been able to exercise the most responsibility and creativity.[10]
    • Depending on how old you are and how many jobs you have had, you don’t need to list every single job. For instance, if you babysat in high school, you can probably leave that off your resume.
  4. Image titled Make a Portfolio Step 24
    Emphasize any projects or events you’ve had a major hand in. Film production involves conducting the entire process of the film, from pre to post production. Any experience you’ve had in organizing a major project will help to show that you have the vision required to work in film production.[11]
  5. Image titled Make a Portfolio Step 7
    Include things that make you stand out. This could include volunteer experience, community service, or any clubs or organizations you belong to or run. The people reading your resume look at hundreds every day. You want to be sure that yours stands out by showing your personality and what you have to offer. [12]
  6. Image titled Make a Portfolio Step 8
    Don’t be afraid to brag. Don’t be modest when writing your resume. For every job that you list, you want to state how your involvement was invaluable to the company you worked for. Instead of listing the tasks you performed, illustrate how these tasks helped the company or business reach a goal.[13]
    • For example, instead of saying “Managed several employees and directed them to do various projects”, say: “Acted as a manager for several employees and increased general productivity of the company to save $1500 monthly.”
  7. Image titled Become a Publicist Step 12
    Get at least one other person’s advice on your resume. It’s vital to get another person's feedback on your resume before you send it out. A second pair of eyes not only can pick up on spelling and grammatical errors, it can give you an outsider’s opinion of how you present yourself in your resume.[14]
  8. Image titled Be an Air Traffic Controller Step 12
    Make business cards. Business cards are a great thing to have when you are meeting people on the go. They can act as a stand-in for your resume when you meet people in the industry because they have all of your vital contact information.[15]
    • Make sure that your business card has your name, phone number, email address, and a brief statement or title, such as “Film student” or “Marketing Executive.”

Method 4
Networking Within the Industry

  1. Image titled Be Social with People You Don't Know Step 2
    Improve your social skills. Networking is an invaluable part of getting any kind of job, but it is especially important in the film industry. Before you start networking with people in the industry, first practice getting out there and socializing with strangers.
    • Go to dinner parties, social events, gallery openings, or any other kind of event that involves mingling with people you don’t know.[16]
    • Keep going to these events until you feel comfortable and used to talking with people you don’t know.
  2. Image titled Answer the Phone Step 1
    Reach out to any contacts you have. If you know anyone within the film industry, reach out and tell them that you are interested in starting in the business. Ask them if you could meet with them or call them to have an informational interview. Even if they don’t live in the same city as you, they can still be a great resource.[17]
    • An informational interview is an informal interview in which you can ask a professional in a field that interests you about their job and their experience in the industry.
    • Ask your contact about their path through the industry, and what advice they have for someone just starting out.
    • Informational interviews are a great way of both learning more about the industry, and making a connection that could come in useful later.
    • Ask your contact at the end of the interview if there are any openings at their company. They will be impressed by your interest and your initiative, and may tell you about any opportunities at their company.
  3. Image titled Get a Job After College Step 7
    Ask contacts if they can put you in touch with anyone else. A vital part of networking is branching out from your initial contact to others in the industry who could help you get a job. Ask your contact if they can put you in touch with others in the industry who can give you advice or tell you about upcoming opportunities.
  4. Image titled Get Your Texas Real Estate License Step 6
    Stay in touch with your contacts. Even if your contacts don’t know of any openings now, it doesn’t mean that they won’t in the future. Stay in touch with them so that they remember you and will have you in mind if a colleague tells them about an opening they are trying to fill.[18]
  5. Image titled Sneak Into a Concert Step 8
    Go to industry events. Go to any industry conferences, openings or festivals in your area. You will meet a wide variety of people in the industry, and some of them may be looking for employees for their projects or their companies.[19].
    • Bring a stack of your business cards to these events. If you are in conversation with someone who seems interested in you and your skills, give them a card.

Method 5
Applying to Jobs

  1. Image titled Bond with Your Teenage Son Step 6
    Apply to jobs positions online. Apply for jobs in production online using sites like Craigslist, Indeed and Monster. Craigslist may be the best bet for finding small projects in your area that need short-term help. Job sites like Indeed and Monster usually post long-term jobs, which are harder to get but are more permanent.[20]
  2. Image titled Get Into Film School Step 12
    Customize your resume and cover letter for each job that you apply to. Don’t send the same general resume and cover letter on all your applications. You want to make sure that you express why you as a candidate admire that studio or company and how you would fit into the environment there.[21]
    • For example, you could include a sentence in your cover letter that says, “I am particularly excited to have the opportunity to apply to Red Crown Productions because I admire the work they have done to bring national attention to smaller, independent filmmakers.”
  3. Image titled Be a Film Critic Step 10
    Apply to jobs you’re qualified for. Don’t apply for an Executive Director position if you have no experience in the industry. Look for Production Assistant, also known as PA, roles. These are the entry-level positions in film and video production, and are where many start off when getting into production.[22]
  4. Image titled Figure Out Your Yearly Salary Step 1
    Don’t be above internships or unpaid positions. Unfortunately, this is an almost inevitable part of starting out in film or video production. Almost everyone in the industry has to pay their dues and do unpaid work as assistants or runners. If a studio or company is interesting, fetching coffee may be worth it for the connections that you can make.[23]
  5. Image titled Get Into Film School Step 19
    Contact studios or companies that interest you. You have already researched studios and companies in your area. Make a list of the ones that most interest you and call their production office . You will likely reach the Production Assistant on the phone. Ask them if there are any openings and if you can send a resume. [24]
    • Just because a studio doesn’t list jobs, it doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Many studios hire through word of mouth or through references, which is why pursuing them is a good tactic.
  6. Image titled Plank Step 4
    Use LinkedIn to apply for jobs. Create a LinkedIn profile and post your resume. Get in touch with any recruiters that you can find that are in the industry. LinkedIn is fast becoming one of the most vital ways to find jobs in the digital age.[25]
  7. Image titled Get Into Film School Step 10
    Research the company or studio before the interview. If you get an interview with a studio or company, do thorough research. Make sure you know things like their size, where they usually work and what projects they have been doing.
    • Their website is always a great place to start. You can also find information on them by doing a Google search.
  8. Image titled Apply for a Job in Person Step 13
    Show yourself in the best light during the interview. If you get an interview, do your best to communicate your own skills and assets. Bring each question back to your strengths and the ways that you can contribute effectively to the company or project.[26]
    • Stay positive and down to earth. The last thing any film crew needs is someone who will bring drama to the table. Present yourself as someone who is grounded and is willing to follow directions.
  9. Image titled Write an Email Asking for an Internship Step 1
    Always follow up on an interview. After the interview, send an email thanking the interviewer for their time. It is a polite gesture that is almost standard interviewing procedure now. It will also make sure that the employer will keep you in mind as he or she is interviewing other candidates.[27]


  • Consider saving up money before you start looking for a job in film, because you will likely have to do a lot of unpaid work.
  • When you are doing freelance work, always make sure to check in with the client every step of the way.
  • Try to learn a wide range of skills relating to the film industry. The industry thrives on multi-skilled workers.
  • Try to have another flexible, part-time job that can tide you over if you are in between projects.


  • Think twice about pursuing a film career if you are not stable financially. You may have to do a lot of unpaid work to get started, and this is not possible for everyone.

Sources and Citations

Show more... (24)

Article Info

Categories: Visual & Written Media