Working in the film industry: the good, the bad, the ugly.

May 22, 2018

Working in the film industry isn't all sparkles and unicorns.

If you're cast or crew, you know that well.

It's worth it because of the people you meet, the places you discover, the pride you get when you work on a project you love. There's something really special about working in this industry, being part of film or TV history, watching the result years later and remembering you were there, remembering the laugh with colleagues, the incredible castles or sets you visited. 19years after leaving my make-up school, I still have the same sparkle in my eyes when I enter set. It's still magic. BUT... there's a price for this magic.

Once upon a time, you started your training...

You wanted to be the best, you were ready to practice and learn to get the career you were dreaming of. You had the passion, you dreamt of the day your name would be part of the credits of a film that would make history or maybe the day you'd won an award.

Then, at some point, it has hit you. "How do I actually start?"

You may have been lucky getting a few tips from your school but it was not much looking at what was ahead of you.

CV making and sending, outreach to get the first few jobs, getting to know the industry, knowing what to wear on set or where to put yourself on set without annoying the DP or the AD...

It's a tough exercise and even tougher if you are a bit shy or an introvert. I know, I'm one and it took me a while to learn to get over what was holding me back. (I'll tell you my story, how this little shy French girl got to learn website creation, establish herself twice, once in Paris, once in London another time).

By the way, If I managed to do it, anyone can. You should have seen me fresh out of school. OMG. I needed serious help to get out of my shell. But I digress.

You finally got on set.

The hours are long, your schedule irregular, and there are the cold, the rain, the mud that no one talks much about at school. Not the glamour everyone outside of the industry believes it is... After a week or during your first night shoot, you get why we love coffee so much.

working in film: the (muddy) shock when your glamourous dream meets reality.

 They think working on film is glamourous, but if you do work in film, you know better. You need a bit of madness to stay in it.

After a few months/years, you had your first projects, your first reasons to celebrate or have an ugly cry. You start to understand why some people quit (apparently, waking up at 4am or working outside in the rain in January is not to many people's taste). It's not just the icy rain that can make your day miserable, people do too sometimes.

Many people get to be Head of department without having had to learn how to be a team leader. They don't know how to lead, how to have tough conversations or set a good environment for work. Bullying exists sadly. Sometimes lack of sleep gets everybody on the grumpy side of the street. It's definitely not always enjoyable to go to work...

But if you really love the industry, the magic and your craft, you do. You keep going.

Everybody had at least one horror story to tell working with the wrong team or a bad client. If you haven't yet... you may have not yet worked long enough or you have been really lucky.

I nearly stopped a few years back and one more day on another production was enough to get me back on track.

So never think of giving up till you tried other teams, other types of projects, other regions...

As we say in my family... Change one data of your problem, you've changed the problem altogether.

Once you had the job, things aren't always easier.

Invoicing, keeping organized to follow up, keeping networking, being on social media even though you don't really understand it all, making sure you get paid or get your images without burning bridges...

And trying to do things from your phone as everything happens when you're on the go and you'd rather avoid putting the laptop on when you get home.

and back to looking for work, sending CV, not always hearing back, wondering how you will pay bills.

Schools don't often train you to keep your mood up when you don't get a specific job, or how to face Funemployment or how to take care of finances as a freelancer.

All that freelance business side of things is overwhelming and not what you had in mind. Plus, it often implies using tech and you may not be the type who enjoys going through hours of Youtube videos to understand how to set-up your Google calendar or create your website.

These things are not sexy enough to be taught in film/sound/art/hair or makeup studies.

They are though crucial to stay in the industry and have a good career, one you stay sane, happy, relaxed, healthy and financially savvy.

I read, I learned from other industries who had similar problems. And I did a lot of Googling. SO. MUCH. GOOGLING.

I know I had to learn the hard way. It's been painful at times, distressing and I wish you not to experience this.

Good news is: You don't have to.

You don't have to feel alone facing your CV or clients conundrums...

You can now learn here without the pain I had.

(on the site, with other film people in the Facebook group and soon on Youtube)

  • Starting as a make-up trainee in the Film industry (UK edition)
  • Looking for work. CV, confidence and other tips
  • What are the mistakes to avoid when you send your CV or look for work
  • How to use social media safely, and getting more work from it
  • How to create a website that works for you and attracts the clients you want
  • How to set-up good business practices with minimum effort
  • How to create self-care routines to keep you in good shape mentally and physically
  • Which books have helped me enormously in my career
  • How to become financially savvy and smooth out the ebb and flow of cash flow
  • How to make the best of your phone and apps to help you every day and make your life easier on set and beyond

and more.

You can have a beautiful, happy career, enjoying all the goodness that comes with the job.

You can work on location, with great teams, on projects that stimulate you, having a good understanding and a good handle over your finances.

I will update this post as I create more content, tutorials and full courses so you can always get what you need.

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