How to: break into film

By the British Independent Film Awards (BIFA).

The film industry is a notoriously hard place to break into. Horror stories of crushed dreams, wasted fortunes and dispirited creatives abound, and it can be daunting for any graduate, no matter their age or experience, to try to get their foot in the door. The unrelenting pace at which film technology advances and evolves only makes it harder for newcomers to join an already nebulous industry.

Luckily, most of the people who work in the British film industry know of these issues and do their best to address them, helping the next generation of filmmakers to get confident, get started and get hired in film. One organization making waves in this field is the British Independent Film Awards (BIFA), through their new BIFA Insider scheme. Read and watch their interviews with 3 award-winning film professionals below: they’re full of advice, insight and guidance for young filmmakers!

If you’re interested in finding out more about BIFA Insider, click here.

Chris Wyatt, Editor (This Is England, ’71, The Ones Below)

“I would say don’t be in a rush, if there’s something in film that you’d be happy at doing, stick with that and become good at that”

“I started off negative cutting (which is now gone), sound editing, assistant editing and then editing. I didn’t realize the bridges were burning behind me, as my route into the industry no longer exists, but that’s how. I didn’t actually make an edit for 15 years or so. I would say don’t be in a rush, if there’s something in film that you’d be happy at doing, stick with that and become good at that. I think it’s incredibly valuable that one comes to editing a little later. I’m not saying you can’t do it if you’re 19 or 25 but actually you’re probably going to be a better editor at 35. It doesn’t have to happen tomorrow, and nobody is going to turn up and say, “Please edit my film.” There’s a sense that you have to make it happen yourself and you have to try to get those opportunities.”

Stephen Rennicks, Composer (What Richard Did, Frank, Room)

 “Go and work in other areas of film production, because then you understand how the whole thing is collaborative”.

“All the time, you have to understand that what you’re writing is to serve the overall audience. It’s just taken for granted you have to write music, but you have to be incredibly lucky like I’ve been (being nailed to Lenny’s five films). Go and work in other areas of film production (as an editor, as an assistant, etc.) because then you understand how the whole thing is collaborative.”

Amy Hubbard, Casting Director (Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Selfish Giant)

Listen when you’re in the office…You get trusted and you suddenly become indispensable.”

Get in the door of agencies, as there are many more agents than there are casting directors, so to be a casting director it’s good to have experience in agencies as well. Your ultimate goal is to not get one week of work experience or internship at a casting director’s office, but 4 weeks minimum as it’s only around week 3 where you’re trusted to talk on the phone to the scary agents, some of which are quite intimidating. We’ve got a lot to do in a short space of time and agents expect you to be on the ball so it would be around week 3 (unless you’re incredibly intelligent) so that you’ll be trusted to be put on the phones. You might be allowed to read in with an actor at an audition so hang around. You should get paid. There are guidelines for that from the casting director’s guild. Try and stick it out for as long as you can and listen when you’re in the office, if you can get in for longer than 1 or 2 weeks then the gates open. You get trusted and you suddenly become indispensable.”

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to hear from another film company, 20th Century Fox on Tuesday the 12th of April. Book your place now!

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