If you are interested in film, TV (aka screen) production, but don’t know where to begin — then this is the page for you!
Generally, people are drawn to screen production for one of two reasons:
1. You like the idea of making your own productions (Content Creator or filmmaker)
2. You like the idea of working in the production industry (Crew)
If you’re able to identify which of these two things interests you most, then you are off to a good start.
These two paths are actually quite different.
Let’s look at the first goal of wanting to make your own content. In this context, content covers all types of screen production methods, genres and viewing platforms (film, television, drama, comedy, documentary, corporate, web or mobile video).
There are three principal roles in terms of content creation. These are the producer, the director, and the writer.
This particular pathway generally involves getting some basic skills in one of these three areas, making your own content and getting it seen by an audience or audiences. These days basic production technology (camera, sound recording, editing) is easy to access and you can start off by making micro-budget or no budget productions, and increasing the budget as you get better at what you do.
If you’re looking to build a career as a Content Creator with the screen industry (film, TV etc) you have to keep in mind that this industry is a business that is focused on securing income from audiences. To start off, you can begin to attract audiences for your content through You Tube, local film festivals and video sharing with people you know to receive direct feedback.
The screen industry has many talented Content Creators, and securing regular paid work as a Writer, Producer or Directors is highly competitive. As a Creator you should be looking to make content which appeals to specific audiences, which is well developed and well executed. It is also good to have a particular story to tell. Look at the types of productions that interest you, your own personal stories from life, themes and characters who interest you. Always have a range of stories available to pull out of your pocket and “pitch” (describe quickly in an engaging way) at any opportunity, and spend your time developing scripts that have the greatest potential.
Making any production takes a lot of time and energy. Look to work with a team of people who can help you to realise your vision, and who share your passion, enthusiasm, and most of all your determination to see the production through to the end. Making a production can take many, many months – so you need to make sure that you are passionate about the story you are trying to tell.
Open Channel can help you get started on your career path as a creator, with a range of short courses.
In addition to our courses, Open Channel can assist you in other ways with your projects through networking and mentoring opportunities such as the Generation Next conference and Framed industry seminars.
You should also connect with the industry guilds such as the ADG, SPA and AWG.
If you like the idea of working in screen production, but not necessarily telling your own stories, Crewing may the right pathway is for you. There are many crew roles in commercial productions – you only need to look at the credits of a feature film or television show to see just how many people work in the production industry.
Job opportunities abound across many departments: production design, camera, sound, editing, production, editing, studio, digital effects, and post-production. The UK website Skillset is a good place to scout through the many different crew roles. If you want to develop a career as a crew member or technician,you will need to develop practical skills that will make you employable; and a network of colleagues and collaborators so that people know who you are and what it is you do.
Passion is also very important. The screen industry is demanding, with irregular work patterns, long working days, and lots of competition for a limited number of paid jobs. In short, you will only be able to make it if you absolutely love what you do. Screen production is also highly collaborative, and it is important to be a team player with respect for and an understanding of your fellow crew and content creators. Even after some basic training, it is likely that you will need to continue to develop your skills and prove yourself as a good team member by working on a number of productions in a voluntary capacity before you are deemed a professional and able to start charging commercial rates for your services.
Even as a volunteer when you are starting out, you should be aware of your rights and obligations, and responsibilities in a specific crew role – work safely and efficiently, and communicate effectively. This means you will be seen as a professional at the earliest stages in your career.
You also need to develop an awareness of when your skills are at an adequate level to be deemed to professional. A large scale production will have a number of designated Departments that are responsible for a specific technical aspect. Each of these Departments has a ‘Head of Department’, such as the Director of Photography, Production Designer, or Production Sound Mixer.
In most productions a Department operates in a hierarchical manner. New crew members usually begin by working in a position in a supervised role, and may advance through that department as their skills increase.
Open Channel offers a wide range of short courses aimed at providing you with fundamental skills in a range of specialist crew areas. Take a browse through our short courses page.
If you are interested in working on a film set, Open Channel also recommends that you look at our attachments program, crewing page, and also investigate the activities of the many Screen Industry Associations and Guilds that represent various areas of production, like the ACS, ASE, ASSG, APDG.
If you found a course that interests you, but still have more questions please contact us
STILL NOT SURE?
If you’re still not quite sure where to begin, Open Channel offers two introductory workshops which are a great way to experience the entire production process in a short space of time:
In both of these courses you will learn a broad range of basic skills, and make either a short film with your fellow workshop participants. On completion of the workshop you’ll be able to start making your own productions or developing your own skills further, and may have a better idea about your next career step.
More information on getting started from Screen Australia.