How and where to find work in the film and TV industry
Jobs in the film and TV industry can be pretty elusive, especially if you’re trying to find your first job and not sure where to look. There are two key ways of getting work; repeat employment from people you’ve worked with before and online job ads.
Repeat employment is the most successful way of getting work, but that doesn’t help people who are trying to get their foot in the door. I’ll get to that in a moment, but let’s say for now you’ve had your first job in the industry. My advice is to keep hold of the contact details of the person and production company who hired you, then after the shoot send them a polite email saying you enjoyed working with them and would they please bear you in mind for future work. If there is a crew member on set that you get on well with, perhaps another member of the AD or production departments, swap contact details and tell them it’d be great to work with them again if they need a Runner on another shoot. You could follow up these communications in the future, but be careful not to contact to often or in too short a space of time so you become a pest. I’d recommend one email immediately after the shoot so you’re fresh in their mind and if necessary a second email around 4 weeks later. If you haven’t had any luck by then, move on and perhaps email them again in a couple of months time.
The ideal situation is you make a lasting impression and connect with people in the industry, who in turn will notice your hard work and enthusiasm, making you the person they think to call next time. This may take some time but stick with it and before you know it the calls and recommendations will come. If you change your mobile number or email address, make sure you update your contacts in the industry so they can still get hold of you.
Finding jobs online.
Whether or not you’ve worked in the industry before, searching for jobs online can be a great way of getting work – if you know where to look. Although it may not seem like the most professional environment, Facebook is an invaluable tool for finding work in film and TV. There are many fantastic groups out there where multiple jobs are shared on a daily basis. I strongly recommend joining these groups and checking them daily. You can search for groups by name or key words and there are plenty of national and regional groups.
My personal favourites are:
People looking for TV work: Runners
People who work in TV who know people who work in TV
Loving your work – UK TV and Film jobs network
UK Film Jobs
Last Minute & Short Notice Film/TV Urgent Needs & Job & Casting Vacancies
Crew me now
There are also regional groups (such as Bristol TV Film Crew) and groups for specific roles (Production Managers and Coordinators available UK), so have a search and find some more groups that suit you personally.
A side note on rules for these groups… Although Facebook is not a professional platform, you should act like it is. Most of the time the job ads do not require comments, but if you have a question you should ask it politely and professionally. Don't direct message the person posting the job ad (unless they specifically ask you to) and always follow the instructions in the post. And finally, always be mindful that anything posted or commented in these groups can be seen by thousands of people, all of whom are part of an intricate web of the UK film/TV industry, and any of whom could become your colleague or boss at a moments notice… so be nice!
The Talent Manager is another useful online resource for finding work. You can create a free profile where you list your employment history, skills, training and availability; like an online CV. You can create a profile, search and apply for jobs and appear in searches all for free. You can upgrade to premium for a fee, which places your profile to the top of searches (a bit like paid Google ads), gives you insight into who has viewed your profile and allows you to create a network of contacts (a bit like LinkedIn). It’s a great, simple and cost-effective resource for getting your name out there and applying for jobs.
Another great resource is The Unit List, a website with free access to current job opportunities in the UK, event listings and industry advice/information. You can narrow your search by location or job role and each job ad includes the full details so you can go ahead and apply for the job directly. They’re not an agency, instead describing themselves as a website that offers “recruitment, career development and lifestyle management”. In addition to the very useful and thorough job listings, the Resources page has lots of helpful information about CVs, employment status and business tips.
You could also consider joining a crew agency. There’s no guarantee of work and of course they take commission but its an easy way of finding work without having to search for it yourself. There are several agencies and diary services out there, many of which cater to specific departments. For example, Calltime Company is a booking agency specialising in supplying Floor Runners, Production Runners and Location Marshalls for film, TV drama and commercials. I've used them a few times when I've needed Runners on dramas and commercials, which from an employers point of view was a great experience. There's also Suze Crews, Gravy Crew, Arri Crew, Callbox and Sara Putt Associates to name a few. I recommend thoroughly researching any agency or diary service and checking their requirements, rules and commission fees before applying to join their books.
Finally, you can find job vacancies on individual production company websites. Yes, trolling through various websites is time consuming, but its one of those things you might just have to do. Thankfully, the awesome team at TV Water Cooler (another fantastic resource for people in our industry) have done the hard work for you and created a job sites database with links to production company recruitment and/or contact pages. All you have to do is click through the links, find the right contact details and send your CV. If you’re unsure of the best practises when sending your CV, check out this blog on their website Cold emailing for work: The do’s and donts’. You might recognise the writer…
There’s no doubt that the competition in the industry is fierce, but there is plenty of work out there. You have to keep looking, keep applying, and keep your head up. Don’t let the lack of responses or rejections get to you; everyone has to deal with that no matter how experienced or successful they may be. The important thing is to stay focused and continue to dedicate time and effort to your job search.
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