If you want to get into the media, knowing Talent Executives is a great starting point. HOME Digital Reporter Patrick Foley shares some top tips from our Meet the Talent Executives event as part of Push Festival…
Breaking into media can feel like banging your head against a brick wall, whilst simultaneously bouncing it off a glass ceiling. Unless you know someone, or know some who knows someone, it’s easy to get discouraged and be left feeling hopeless as chances pass by and applications are rejected. But luckily there are ways to burrow your way into the business. You’re going to need determination, perseverance, and yes, a little luck. But if you dream of working in TV or digital media, here are some tips to help you start.
Become a runner
Chances are your first role in media will be as a runner. Runners are the all-purpose assistants on a production set. You’ll be helping with admin, finding props, determining travel times, and yes, making the tea for everyone else (and that’s just day one). What, you didn’t think it was ALL going to bit glitz and glamour did you? You can usually apply for runner positions with any degree background. But whilst it may be an entry-level role, you will still need excellent organisational and people skills to succeed.
Ahh Networking. Listen to some people and you’d swear that becoming a big-time executive was all down to how well you do at parties. But it is undeniable that meeting contacts, sharing your work, and learning about opportunities are essential factors in succeeding in a cutthroat industry like media and production. Problem is, unless you already have contacts, where do you start to find people to share with and learn from?
Keep an eye out for networking events nearby. There are plenty that are open to anyone who wants to attend, and meeting like-minded people already in the industry can be the first few steps on the ladder. Practice your elevator pitch, master your handshake, and be sure to leave a genuine, memorable connection with other attendees at these events. There’s no bigger waste than meeting as many people as possible without leaving a single impression.
Whilst the right contacts will help you find a role, it’s all for nothing if you can’t get down to the job you’re hired for. So ensure you have the technical skills to thrive, and get them any way you can. You may already have a relevant degree to demonstrate your ability – in film production, photography, radio broadcasting or another media-discipline. If not, look out for classes, courses or online learning that can help you gain the skills you need. No matter what qualifications you have, putting your skills and passion into practice will always stand out more than words on a CV with nothing to back them up. So make yourself a portfolio before you start applying.
There really is no other way around it. If you want to get anywhere in a production role, you have to be prepared to work very, very hard. Long hours, low pay, and little recognition are standard for when you are starting out. But to really shine you have to go above and beyond. This may mean working roles without pay at times. Unpaid internships are common, and if it’s a couple of weeks’ worth of work then the experience and credits may be worth your time. But be sure you don’t get exploited in these roles. If your work stretches longer than a month, you should be getting paid.
No matter how much hard work you have to put in, if you have the drive and passion for filmmaking, it will be worth it.
Push Festival continues here at HOME until Sat 26 Jan. Find our more and book tickets to other events here.
With thanks to Melissa Clay-Peters (Head of Creative Talent at Endemol Shine UK) , Monica Tailor (Head of Digital at McCann Manchester),Victoria Roye (Talent Executive; BBC Studios), Tracy Walker (Talent Executive; ITV) and Beth Hewitt (Director of Broadcast Media at University of Salford) for sharing their insights.