How to kickstart a career in television
So, how do you get started on a career in television? Once upon a time, you would have been told “fingers crossed, it’s a lucky dip, keep applying and good luck because television work is exclusive and at the very minimum you need to know someone on the inside just to get you an introductory meeting.”
The good news is things have changed dramatically and are a lot easier now.
Broadcasters and production companies all have websites and job opportunities are posted online. They tell you how to apply, the qualifications you need and how much you will get paid. All you have to do is fill in the form and wait for response alongside thousands of others.
Almost every day LA Media meets bright young people who want a career in television and based on our 45 years of experience in television production we tell them what we think. It’s not ‘typical advice’ but it has worked for many. So if you want to find out what we tell them, then this is for you.
Don’t put your future in the hands of others
You could always join the ‘work lottery’ by simply applying for jobs and waiting for replies. However, this can be very demoralizing, especially when your excitement is met with silence.
You need to understand that you are in charge of your future and no one else is to blame if you allow your time to slip away.
Never catch yourself doing nothing
1. Use your time pro-actively by checking out what the production companies like the BBC and independents are making.
2. Consider what you watch on television in an analytical way. Work out what you like and don’t like and then understand why – this will help you gain a clearer picture of the creative path you should be following.
3. Visit production websites and get to know what they make, what they have made in the past, discover the names of the people that lead these companies, and reach out to them through the website. Ask them for a quick meeting or a short chat. Before you do, make sure you know what you want to talk about. It really helps!
4. Cameras, lenses, audio gear, lighting and editing are all areas you should study up on while you are waiting for meetings to happen. YouTube has info on anything you can think of and you should use it to increase your technical knowledge. Most importantly don’t just watch one – watch hundreds and very soon you will learn to ‘talk the talk’.
5. Help yourself by building up a bigger and more informed picture of the industry you want to work in. This knowledge will let others know that you are serious about a career in television and that always goes over well when you are in conversation with people who could give you work.
What are you working on?
1. Time to spare – you shouldn’t have any! If you do then use it to make your own films. Most mobile phones have a video option and there is also free editing software available online. All you need is an idea to start making your own films.
Filming your own ideas is also a great way to simply get better. You will prove to yourself what you already know and at the same time highlight areas you need to find out more about. It also provides a talking point for when you meet others in the industry as most conversations with them will start with the question – so what are you working on?
2. What’s your idea? This is the fun part and yet for a lot of people, it’s also the most challenging. Whether it’s a good idea or a bad idea is irrelevant, it just has to be an idea that will get you motivated to get up and get out filming.
3. Collaborate with others – it can be very lonely out there, so we would always encourage you to get some friends involved with any project you are doing. Discuss your ideas with them and even use them as your presenters, crew, or actors when required. Get onto your social media outlets and ask other passionate filmmakers to join you on your project. You’ll meet new people and get new perspectives.
4. Publish – let people see what you are making and what you can do. Don’t judge your films to the point where you do nothing with them because in your eyes they are not perfect. Be brave, put them out there on social media channels, and take the feedback. You can decide what comments you listen to and ignore the inevitable trolls that will surface.
As ever, if you have any more questions about starting a career in television or would like to learn a bit more about what we do here at LA Media, just get in touch via email at email@example.com or through the contact page on the website.