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The Three Career Stages

The MFJF community includes a wide range of individuals; career changers, students and graduates, some of whom have just finished school, college, degrees or MA's. Everyone is looking to start their career in the film industry, which in most cases it's going to be at the bottom of the ladder but don't be deterred. MFJF is here to help you through the first few years of your career, so to get the most out of MFJF, do you know where in your journey you are?

What Stage is your Career?

Our members tend to fall into one of these three career categories, so when you’re looking for resources on the website such as example CVs, career planners, or thinking about your next steps, consider what stage you fall into?

Stage 1

You have a passion for film but your CV is lacking credentials to make you an attractive candidate to employers. If you have just completed your academic education, or made the decision it’s now or never to fulfil your dreams of working on a film set, you’re going to need to do some ground work.
Your initial focus should be on increasing your knowledge and skills.

For example, if distribution has captured your interest, make a conscious effort to understand what part distribution plays in the life cycle of a film. Conduct research into marketing, sales and acquisitions; how companies have begun to diversify in recent years, read widely and eagerly. Utilise the resources and essentials sections on the website to guide you through departments and the business of filmmaking. The knowledge and understanding you build can be applied when searching for opportunities in stage two.

If a production role has been your dream since day dot, consider working on projects with others in the same boat. Use the MFJF collaborations board to post your availability. If you’re an aspiring screenwriter with a story that needs to be told, it might be time to find an aspiring producer. If you’re in an region away from the main production hubs and finding production work problematic, see if there are other MFJF members around the corner.

You might find a kindred spirit to ignite a lifelong partnership, you will begin to build focus on your CV but most of all you will be doing what you love. If you want to be a ‘creative’ then you are going to have to do just that, create!

Stage 2

A stage two candidate has a greater knowledge and understanding of the industry, so now it’s time to focus on gaining industry experience and building up your list of professional contacts.

Internships: We discuss at great length The Value of Internships in our article, so we won’t regurgitate it. What’s worth mentioning is how to attain those placements. Companies will not expect you to have experienced, the whole purpose is to provide ‘work experience’ in your chosen field. What companies will be looking for, however, are candidates that have worked their way through stage one. That’s correct, they have taken it upon themselves to conduct the research, understand the area of industry to which they are applying and can demonstrate their knowledge in the Resume and cover letter. That is what companies are looking for.

As an intern you can really get stuck in, you’re have designated work and become a member of the team for the tenure of your engagement. Good interns are often remembered for junior roles that become available, in the meantime, however, one internship if often not the fairy godmother of your career. So expect to be looking at two or three to grow your experience and network.

Collaborations: You have collaborated with others in the same situation, now it’s time to look for some shorts or spec commercials made by industry professionals. Members from across the film and TV industry use short films to demonstrate their ability to work in drama. Members of the crew use shorts to progress their career. So when a clapper/loader makes that jump to focus puller, you can be sure they have solid experience on short films to draw from.

One key task during this stage of your career is obtaining industry references; a crucial way to elevate your applications. Whether a 2nd AD looking for a reliable floor runner or a production company looking for a junior member of staff, an industry reference denotes someone is prepared to vouch for your work ethic and suitability for the role. It’s a small industry and people really do pick up the phone to asses your suitability for the role, so make sure you’ve cleared it with your referee before you add them.

Stage 3

Members who have a CV with multiple credits, internships and excellent references fall into the stage 3 category. These candidates will be applying for positions of feature films, high-end drama and permanent positions with companies. They are growing their network of industry contacts, which will begin to provide regular, sustainable, paying work. After that, it’s bye-bye MFJF, hello big world of freelance contacts and nourishing your reputation job by job.

It’s wise to bear the three stages in mind and not just when you’re confronted with entering the film industry. If you are fresh out of education, for example, consider where you fall in the stages, do you really have all the criteria for stage 3? If you have production assistant credits in broadcast entertainment, do you have the relevant skills to transfer over to drama? Starting out in the industry can be a long game for some and a hop, skip and a jump for others. So if you ever have questions come and talk to us, we’re always happy to help.