How to Get Into the Film Industry With No Experience
Have you ever watched a film and thought “I can do that”? Whether it be as an actor, director, or writer, many people dream of being a part of the magic of filmmaking but just don’t know where to start. This guide will give you practical tips of how to get into the film industry with no experience.
What is the Film Industry and What Do You Need to Get Into It?
Making a movie is not just simply writing a script and filming the actors as they recite their lines, it is a long complex process that takes many years to complete.
The film industry consists of production houses and distribution centers that take a film from an idea to the final product. Hollywood, Bollywood, and Cinema of China are just a few of the film industries throughout the world that make billions of dollars each year.
In order to become a part of the film industry, it is important to have a firm understanding of your desired position and ideally some training or classes. It is also an industry that is built upon relationships, so networking and connections are extremely important. Movie-making is a highly competitive field. The more you can set yourself apart from other beginners, the easier it will be to get your foot in the door.
Job Positions in the Film Industry
Usually, when we think of jobs in the film industry we initially think of actors, directors, writers, and producers. But there are many people involved in making a movie. Some positions are solely utilized during the filming, or just in pre- or post-production, while others are involved with all three. Here is a list of some of the jobs that are commonly seen on movie sets:
- Production Manager
- Camera Operator
- Location Scout
- Prop Master
- Costume Designer
- Set Designer
- Special Effects Supervisor
- Key Grip
- Best Boy
Create a Game Plan
Once you know what type of job to pursue, you will need to create a game plan for getting into the film industry with no experience. This will include figuring out what your goals are, what resources you have available, and how you can make the most of your opportunities.
Just like any new venture, if you want to learn how to get into the entertainment industry, you need to do your homework. Consider enrolling in film school or signing up for a class or a workshop in order to hone your special skill.
A great way to start is by watching films and studying the techniques used by filmmakers. Engrossing yourself in different films gives you a masterclass in genre, tone, and style. Once you find yourself leaning towards a particular type of film, study experts in the field. Do you have a favorite actor or director? Do you love comedy, or are you ready to write the next great thriller script? Take what interests you and watch as many films as you can in order to get a sense of the types of movies you want to be involved in, and what role you would like to have in the production.
Work on a Film
Get involved in film projects either as a crew member or actor. Experience like this is common in film schools or classes and it will be helpful in a job interview when you can say that you know how to work on film sets. Working on a film project, no matter how small, and could be an example of how to get a film internship with no experience, could lead to your first job.
Make a Film
If you would like to become a filmmaker, one of the best ways to get noticed is by making a film. There are several film festivals and contests designed specifically for finding new talent. Submitting a personally produced film to one of these festivals could lead to a job and could be an example of how to get into the film industry without a degree.
Create a Portfolio
Just like a resume, a portfolio is something that will be required for most interviews and is an excellent way to showcase your skills. Portfolios can differ depending on what the job requires. For instance, an actor would have video clips of performances, while a costume designer would have a book of sketches and photos of finished costumes. Having a strong and up-to-date portfolio shows you are professional and know how to work in the film industry.
Perhaps one of the best examples of how to get into the film industry with no experience is by knowing someone. Of course, that is easier said than done. That is why networking is so important. One of the tremendous advantages of attending a film school is the connections you will make. Not only are there other students to connect and collaborate with, but the teachers are a part of the film industry. Their job is not only to show you how to work in the film industry, they are there to assist you in making the right connections and to put you in front of the right people to land a job.
Of course, if film school is not for you, there are many other ways to network, like through the use of online forums, Facebook groups, and by attending film festivals.
Challenges in the Film Industry and How to Overcome Them
Though it seems magical and glamorous, the film industry can be extremely challenging. And if you are trying to figure out how to get into the film industry with no experience, it can feel impossible. Below are some of the challenges new filmmakers face and ways to overcome them.
It is no secret that the entertainment industry is competitive, but that doesn’t mean that you will never get a job. A huge part of starting out is putting yourself out there. At first, you will be one of many with the same big dreams, but soon you will develop your talents and learn how to highlight your strengths. Here are some ways you can set yourself apart from the crowd and get noticed by the right people:
- Maintain a strong portfolio
- Practice your craft
- Take chances
- Use social media and promote yourself
- Be active in the film community
- Choose the right representation
Cost of Equipment
Again, a possible example of how to get into the film industry with no experience is by making a film, but how do you do that on a budget? Here are some ways to make a film cheaply while waiting for a million-dollar studio investment:
- Shoot an original screenplay
- Raise money through family or Kickstarter
- Cast your family and friends
- Buy cheap equipment on Craigslist or eBay or rent them from rental houses
We have been talking about how to get into the film industry with no experience, and the bottom line is you need to get some kind of a job in the field in order to build your experience. Luckily, there are many ways to find out about job openings within the entertainment industry:
- Tap into your network of contacts
- Hire a manager or agent to scout work for you
- Look at job postings in trade papers like Backstage, The Hollywood Reporter, and Variety
What Are Some of the Best Ways to Learn About the Film Industry?
Starting anything new is challenging and frustrating, but the more you learn, the more mistakes you can avoid and you then have the ability to reach success much faster. Here are some ways you can learn about your filmmaking career:
This is probably not only the most fun but also the most important research you will do. Watching the work of others will give you a clear understanding of what projects you want to be a part of and what you would like your impact on the film industry to be.
Reading Books and Articles
Immersing yourself in information will give you the knowledge needed to pursue your new career. There are a number of books and websites that give valuable information on the film industry, but this is also a way to fine-tune your interests. For instance, if you want to be a special-effects make-up designer, read books that give step-by-step tutorials as well as books about breaking into the industry.
Practical application of skills while learning is going to give you both the skills and confidence to take on your new career. Film school offers mentorship, valuable practice, and networking opportunities.
If film school just isn’t for you, consider taking some sort of on-site class where you get to actually experience what it is like to be on a film set. Any hands-on experience you can gain will help immensely and could be how to get into the film industry without a degree.
Best Resources for Aspiring Filmmakers
Books on How to Get into the Film Industry With No Experience
- The Filmmaker’s Handbook by Steven Ascher and Edward Pincus
- Directing the Documentary by Michael Rabiger
- Hollywood Producers Directory by J. Douma and D. Perez
Books on How to Get a Film Internship With No Experience
- Internship and Volunteer Opportunities for TV and Movie Buffs by Adam Furgang
- Launch Your Career: How ANY Student Can Create Relationships with Professionals and Land the Jobs and Internships They Want by Sean O’Keefe
- The Business of Film: A Practical Introduction by Paula Landry and Stephen R. Greenwald
Books on How to Get a Job in TV with No Experience
- How to Get a Job in Television by Elsa Sharp
- Fundamentals of Television Production by Ralph Donald and Thomas Spann
- The Show Runner; The Insider’s Guide to Successful Television Production by Cy Chermak
Websites About the Film Industry
- Online Forums
- Facebook Groups
- Linkedin Groups
Get an Acting Agent with No Experience
The film industry is a complex and diverse field with a range of job positions available at various skill levels. You have discovered the tools that will help you pinpoint your desired career role and gain valuable experience in order to succeed. You also know how important it is to make a game plan and create a portfolio in order to seek out and make the most of the opportunities that may come your way. You also have an arsenal of resources to turn to when you have questions or get stuck.
Now that you have an understanding of how to get into the film industry with no experience, you can take action to let your dreams take you to Hollywood.
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