by Beth Bacon, guest writer for the Watercooler.
Starting out in TV can be incredibly daunting. Finding a job within the TV world can feel completely unattainable when viewing the industry as a television fanatic. The one thing to say before anything else is, passion. You HAVE to be passionate about going into TV before you decide it is the career path for you. If you don’t love it from the outside you certainly will not like it from the inside.
I am only starting out myself, and I don’t pretend to speak as any sort of authority. But I felt writing down my thoughts about the industry as I experience each step along the way would be a good way for others following a similar path now, and in the future, to have some sort of guidance from someone who isn’t sitting in a career guidance office.
I re-wrote my CV about 15 times before posting it on the Facebook Runner’s Group (more on that later). But, all of my guidance had been given to me by the Careers team at my university.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore the people that work in that office, they really do care about the pupils seeking help from them. But, in the case of my university at least, they don’t have particular expertise when it comes to the TV industry.
I got quite a shocking response from a particular member of the Facebook Runner’s Group, which left me quite downhearted. But every cloud has a silver lining!
I then received a flurry of incredibly thoughtful messages from producers, co-ords, PMs, you name it! One lovely lady (shoutout to Producer Emily Everdee) even gave me my first Floor Running job on a short film!
One man, in particular, reached out to me via phone. He could not have been kinder and I will be forever in his debt. He probably spent at least 4 hours with me (across separate days) on the phone giving me advice about my CV. He then gave up his own valuable time to go through my CV, make corrections, and send me back new edits via email. We corresponded many times via email until my CV was ‘perfected’ and we agreed it was ready to be sent out to employers.
Since then, I have only had positive responses to my CV – and I have even bagged myself some job interviews!
2. EMAIL EMAIL EMAIL
90 per cent of the time you will not get a response, but keep at it!
Watch the credits at the end of your favourite TV programmes, note down the names of the PAs and Production companies and send them a cover letter, CV, and a note to say that you are really keen to get some credits and would love to do some work for them as a Runner if they have anything available. Most of all, BE POLITE AND GRATEFUL.
Look out for the big work experience, graduate schemes, and internships posted by the major television networks, e.g. the BBC, Channel 4, etc.
Follow your favourite production companies on LinkedIn and keep a lookout for any posts about upcoming Runner job applications or trainee opportunities.
JOIN ‘PEOPLE LOOKING FOR TV WORK: RUNNERS‘. DO THIS RIGHT NOW. RIGHT THIS SECOND.
This is where EVERYONE will tell you ALL the jobs get posted. Facebook is the place to find TV work and this is the page that will have all entry-level job traffic. Also… it has around 58,000 members (at the time of this writing) – so apply to every job that is appropriate for you. You’re up against BIG competition.
If and when you are offered a running job, NETWORK NETWORK NETWORK.
I wrote this in my previous post, choose the right moment and, when you do, be yourself.
Stay in touch with people you get along with.
I have been lucky enough to meet some people that have been true gems. They have not only messaged me back when I have sent them overly excited messages about them being right all along, after I have just been offered another running job, but they have also made me feel like I have gained some really great friends.
5. Be proactive
No one is going to get you jobs. This industry is fearless and if you’re going to be a freelancer, which you probably are, you’re going to have to WANT those jobs REALLY badly.
Do not stop when you have enough money to pay the bills – what about that dry patch when you don’t have work for a month?! We have all got to eat guys.
Let’s not forget, you have to learn how to budget and we have all got to learn how to be on the lookout for jobs ALL. THE. TIME.
6. Don’t give up at the first hurdle
If you’re thinking giving up the first time someone tells you that you’re not good enough then you need to start growing a thicker skin to survive in the TV world.
You will get rejected, you will sometimes be unemployed. DO NOT GIVE UP.
Those butterflies of being a tiny cog in that big old clock that produces a beautiful programme for all to behold. THAT buzz will keep you going.
7. Keep watching TV
Keep your passion alive. Keep watching the things you love and that will shine through to employers.
Watch the programmes of the people you will be working for. When you write a job application for a production company, watch their shows. If you get the job, then you will not be afraid of talking about what they’ve done if you get the opportunity on set. If you don’t get the job, well then you have learnt something new from watching a programme you would not have otherwise.
Stay up to date with what is popular in terms of hit series, but also in terms of new filming styles and genres, and up-and-coming producers, actors, etc.
8. PEOPLE IN TV ARE LOVELY!!!
Most importantly, don’t be afraid! Almost every person I have met in TV so far have been absolute angels.
Yes, you may encounter the odd knobhead or two. But, as my boss at my first waitressing job told me, kill them with kindness. If someone is being nasty to you for no apparent reason, there is either something going on in their life that has made them react in that way, which means their behaviour has nothing to do with you. Or, they are a general mega bitch, and they are not worth your mental energy.
Once again, GOOD LUCK and SEE YOU ON SET!
(Beth also has a blog – Bacon’s Beacon – have a look, it’s good!)