There has to be a reason I m sure. People rarely fall into working in TV or film. After all, let s be honest, there are lots of jobs out there which pay more, don t involve such crazy hours or levels of stress. Nor do they have the same levels of competition just to get your first job. Plus, that first job might actually pay you something! Based on all of this, there seems to be one thing that binds everyone together в they know that all their hard work brings enjoyment to a lot of people. And this tends to make them passionate about what they do. Everyone has a slightly different answer as to why they wanted to work in the industry if you ask them, but it certainly isn t that they saw an ad in the local job centre and thought I ll have a go at that. I ve just been at giving a talk on the Cloud and Aframe to 30 first year students. They are all absolutely committed to getting a career in the industry. They know the competition is fierce, the odds are stacked against them, and yet they are investing everything they have, both personally and financially that they will do it. Judging from what I briefly saw, they have a great chance. Perhaps for these guys, but certainly for a lot of people, it s a light bulb moment. A documentary they saw and it really got to them, or a religious, fanatical cinema-going habit where they devoured the images presented to them. Or maybe they already knew someone who worked in the industry who came back with stories of times on set with the stars, or productions where everything went wrong but the end result was a hit, and it inspired them. And all of this could have happened while they were just a kid, and that inspiration just wouldn t go away.
After all this, it seems only fair to share my light bulb moment, as there really was one. I grew up in the Scottish Borders, where rugby is king, and if you didn t know how to shear a sheep you were at a bit of a loss. As a rather small, not particularly sporty (read в rubbish) kid this wasn t the easiest of places to grow up in. I bumbled along not really having much notice taken of me. When I was seven, the time came for us to do our first school play, the Wizard of Oz, which would be performed in front of the whole school, teachers and parents included. I ended up landing the part of the Wizard, and set to rehearsing (as much as you do as a 7 year old) with the rest of the class. I can still remember, completely clearly, the moment I walked out on stage and performed. Suddenly people paid attention and even came up and said how good I was. I d found something I was good at. From that moment on, throughout my school career all I wanted to be was an actor. I got parts in any play I could, taught myself to shoot and edit (as no-one else would) so I could present or act in things, and put on plays. A long time later, I went to drama school, got an agent and even got paid to do it for a while. Now, you re probably thinking that what I do now isn t much to do with this anymore. Acting didn t work out for me, as it doesn t for almost everyone. But the love affair with TV, movies and adverts, in fact anything with a moving image, continued. And if what I do each day, can help someone else realise their dream, or vision then I know, that the frankly dull conversation with another lawyer or accountant running through a tax issue is worth it. It might not be me anymore appearing in, or making video (and I do miss it), but what Aframe does is about helping those that want to, to have the power and support to do it.
The picture in this post is of me, at about that age, jumping off a bank in the lawn of my Great Aunt s house. It think it s a suitable metaphor for what those who make video each day do в take a leap and hope it s ok. If Aframe gives you a safe landing, then that s great.
Working in television still holds huge appeal as a glamorous career, in spite of long hours, hard work and tough competition for jobs. Television post-production polishes programmes before they are broadcast and requires creative people with a good grasp of how the technology works. To succeed you need bags of energy, drive, perseverance, as well as the ability to get on with anyone and turn your hand to every aspect of television production. Don\’t expect to have a permanent job in television but a challenging career that will constantly change. TV production companies are inundated with people looking for work experience and work. How can you make yourself stand out? Becci Morgan, facilities manager, Flix Facilities ( ) We look for people who are prepared to start by making tea before they move up. A lot of graduates expect to come in as junior editors but it doesn\’t work like that – you need to learn from other people and work your way up. The managing director of Flix started as a runner at 16. I started my TV career in the machine room as a graduate and didn\’t know anything about it when I started, but you learn from people as you go along. Graduates learn a lot, but not the technical side of things. It would be good to have graduates who are prepared for post-production but universities tend not to allow students to get on the equipment because it\’s expensive.
If you have digitising skills then you would get on quicker as it\’s a key skill that people want to see. It\’s a good idea to get as much work experience as you possibly can. It\’s still worth going to university though as it gives you a better cultural background and helps you to grow as a person. It\’s not just about your career. It\’s also worth sending companies speculative CVs. Persevere. Spelling and grammar are very important. We get so many CVs sent in and you wouldn\’t believe how many had misspelled words in them. That\’s one thing that really puts me off. It shows that you haven\’t double-checked everything, which we like our technical operators to do. Sam Green, head of film and TV production, Futureworks ( ) To do well in this profession you have to have a huge passion for it because it\’s quite a difficult job. Don\’t expect it to be easy, fun and full of parties. The way people get hired has changed over the last 10 years. No one has a steady job any more. It\’s pretty much all freelance. You have to be pretty fantastic at what you do, have the personal skills to match and be multiskilled these days. Employers don\’t just want someone who can edit but write the script, do camera work or special effects as well. You often hear that people coming through university can\’t keep up with the fast-paced changes happening in TV, such as the BBC going \”tapeless\” by 2010 and the change from digital to high definition, which will impact on the technologies we use. We offer industry-spec training in film and TV, music, digital arts and games and try to give students ideas and technical skills for a career that\’s ever-changing and that will need constantly updating.
We also try to teach them to do less-desirable corporate work until they bring to fruition their difficult dream of working in the film industry. There aren\’t people there to pass on their skills and mentor people any more – what makes you special is knowing a little bit more information than the next person, which can make it quite a selfish profession. Tom Bohan, post-production assistant, Sumners ( ) I\’m working in post-production at Sumners, which is the biggest post-production facility outside London with clients including Mastermind, Dragon\’s Den and Songs of Praise. My role is varied and involves a mixture of client hospitality and helping the day-to-day running of the facility, as well as more technical post-production work such as digitising tapes and transferring DVD. I graduated with a degree in film and cultural studies from Lancaster University and then secured a month\’s work experience at the BBC before getting my job at Sumners six months ago. You definitely need an understanding of TV production to be any good at the job and I would highly recommend doing work experience. I also did a two-year Avid industry-standard editing programme at Futureworks, which was a lot more relevant than my degree. Post-production involves mixing and dubbing and voice-over work. It\’s very hard work without a doubt. I do very long hours, including night shifts. Programmes have an allotted time when they need to go out so if something needs to be done you have just got to do it. You have to be dedicated, organised, outgoing and friendly as it\’s quite client-facing.