This week I attended ‘Careers in Film, TV and Broadcasting’ which was a part of the Careers department’s ‘Creative and Culture’ Week. The event was only an hour long but provided a lot of insightful and practical advice for anyone interested in a career in film. We heard the inspiring stories of three professionals in the field, all with diverse roles and backgrounds, who gave careful explanations as to how someone breaks into this competitive industry.
The film and TV industry isn’t just about the director, cameraman and actor, there are hundreds of people who go into making projects for the screen, all crucial for a film or show’s success. Another important aspect of a film product is its marketing. We heard from Kara Francis-Lyons, who is an accomplished Executive Producer and Production Manager for Silk Factory, a global creative studio that has offices in London, L.A. and New York. Silk Factory specialise in campaigns for big brands in entertainment, working closely with other companies to produce trailers and other promotional materials. They have worked with the BBC, Netflix, and HBO, just to name a few. When answering a student’s question about pursuing a Master’s degree, Francis-Lyons emphasised that in this industry, experience and enthusiasm is most desirable. When she graduated with a BA herself, she went straight into an internship that she acquired through networking and being persistent with her application. She explained that it makes an impression on employers when you keep in contact with them and show them that you are keen for the position. She even described some of her tactics as “cheeky”, such as e-mailing her potential employer with a catchy subject line that was all in caps. The point of this is to be confident to stand out, and make the most out of any opportunity that rears its head. Qualifications are great, but they do not supplement real-world experience or an open and optimistic personality in this industry. The next panelist in fact, had no university education at all!
Terry Adlam is a British writer and director who has been in the film scene for a long time. He’s worked on hundreds of projects throughout his impressive career, including big-scale productions such as Raiders of the Lost Ark and Return of the Jedi. Adlam is now a part of Resource Productions CIC, which is a social enterprise in Slough, specialising in outreach and engagement for budding creatives. The company is concerned with diversifying the film industry, which makes sense as Adlam came from a working class background. The bulk of his advice was that anyone looking to get into film needs to be determined and absolutely passionate about their craft. “Say yes to everything” Adlam said during the panel; make sure you put in the effort to network and make contact with other creatives, or that you are strengthening your (artistic) skills through openness to new things. Networking is a crucial aspect of finding more opportunities.
No one on the panel echoed that statement as much as Samuel Elcock. Elcock is a video editor and broadcaster who graduated from the University of Reading in 2015. Since then, he’s enjoyed an exciting and eclectic career, which he said all started with an appointment with a Careers consultant. Through his one-to-one appointment with Careers, he was able to secure a position as a video producer on a cruise ship, travelling the world making documentary-style videos. Although he hadn’t imagined himself in this position, it was an important step in building practical experience that helped him in the rest of his ongoing career. This experience also enabled him to make contacts in the TV and broadcasting industry, which later provided the opportunity to work for bigger companies, such as Moonbug Entertainment that produces children’s entertainment like Cocomelon and Blippi. Now Elcock works within BBC Studios, but continues to work on children’s shows, such as Bluey, which he is very fond of! Elcock’s advice amplified that of the other panelists: experience is key and one thing leads to another in the filming industry. He described his contacts as friends, not just a collection of numbers in a book, and that you can accumulate life-long and meaningful contacts through getting as much experience as you dare and putting yourself into new situations, like he himself has done through working not only as a cameraman, but also within production, animation, marketing, accounting, and even voice acting.
To summarise, the panel was inspiring and informative. It was great for Careers to arrange this brilliant group of people to talk to students, all of whom no doubt left feeling positive and determined about their futures. All three panelists shared similar advice, and that was to get experience, network, and follow your passion!
Experience, they reminded, does not just mean experience within your desired field, but it can come in the form of part-time work and volunteering. Working in a customer service environment, for example, equips you with skills of communication and time-management. These are transferable skills that employers look for all across the board. Work experience and volunteering come in many forms and are crucial in building confidence and shaping you into a well-rounded, experienced individual ready for a career in film.
Networking was also an important step promoted by all the panelists. As a student, you can network with others through student societies where you can meet others who are on similar journeys and can introduce you to more like-minded people. Making the most out of internships during the summer break (and after your degree) is also a great way to gain experience and get yourself out there within an employer’s field of vision!
Passion – don’t give up, remember why you want this, and remember why you are unique! Have the confidence to be assertive like Kara Francis-Lyons and Terry Adlam, who were determined to break into their industries!
Remember, university is a great hub of opportunity, and you should always make use of what it has to offer. As a student, you can gain valuable experience through completing a RED Award and confidence in your future through speaking to one of our Careers consultants, who were able to put Samuel Elcock on the road to success.
Jasmine McQuade, English Literature and German Student
Jasmine McQuadeJasmine McQuade
- National Careers Week: What does your Careers Department offer? - March 6, 2023
- Event Review: Explore Careers in Film, TV and Broadcasting - January 20, 2023