As a freelancer in the film and TV industry you will have learned the hard way that getting those all important first couple of jobs came down to a dogged persistence, some very hard work, (that you may not have been paid for), and ultimately the founding of some key relationships/friendships that led to more work.
In short your route to working in film and television lies in who you know and your list of personal contacts will always be the ‘sweet spot’ for future work.
What happens though when those contacts dry up? People move on to other roles or even leave the film and TV industry and you may suddenly find that you are out of the loop.
The answer to this problem is of course network, network, network and the purpose of this article is to demonstrate that there has never been a time when networking opportunities within the television and film industry are more abundant, easier and more cost effective.
The following are five areas of opportunity to raise your profile within your given field within film and TV, expand your network of contacts and also provide an integrated and consistent presence to market your brand (i.e. YOU!)
1 Social networking
Most of you will be familiar with the ubiquitous Facebook and many of you will be using it to stay in touch with friend and relatives but how can it help you get work in television and film?
The answer is groups, there are many, many groups set up on Facebook for people working in film & TV including:
The Unit List
London Film and Theatre Network
Television Freelance Jobs
Film Industry Network
These are great places to network with other industry professionals and expand your contacts whilst The Unit List regularly posts jobs and will email job alerts.
Probably the main drawback to professional networking with Facebook is that the face that you present to family and friends is not necessarily the one that you want would be film and TV employers and colleagues see!
For that reason you may prefer to sign up to Linkedin. A much more business-oriented social networking site launched in May 2003, Linkedin is mainly used for professional networking and once again it is through joining relevant groups that you can drive traffic to your profile.
There is an ever growing list of social networking sites and increasingly they are emerging to address particular niches, (dating, jobs, special interests etc.). For one specifically for film and television professionals you may want to look at www.gems-uncut.com.
2 Articles and Lists
There are a number of television and film specific directory / listing sites that you can get yourself listed on for no charge. Some of the important ones are:
You should get listed on all of these and it is worth doing some research because there are many others that are worth adding your details to.
Writing is not everyone’s forte but in these days of informal communication and in light of the fact that you will have something to offer others in terms of experience and insight – we all do – you might consider doing some film and TV blogging. Once again there are lots of blogging sites and increasingly there are sites dedicated to niche and special interest groups. Take a look at:
Who is going to read it? Well you might be surprised but more important than establishing yourself as a world renown guru in television and film is the fact that at the bottom of your blog will be your name, email address and that all important hyper link – more on this in the next item.
If you write something that you feel is particularly relevant, good or even funny then submit it as an article to some of the hundreds article submission websites – again usually free and it could be syndicated to thousands of websites around the world all with your name, email and follow on hyper link included. Have a look at:
3 Your own website
Do I need my own website? Is the wrong question! Yes without doubt you do need your own website; the more pertinent question is how quickly can I get one up and running?
Don’t be daunted by this and certainly don’t spend too much money on it. Consider it a simple online brochure on you and what you have to offer. It need only include your contact details and your CV although if you are a creative you may want to add some images or even video clips of your work. This is very easy to achieve, you could probably do it yourself and if you did it would cost virtually nothing.
The absolute key point to emphasise here is your website is the landing page that all of the above activities point to. You can link your Facebook, your Linkedin, your many and various listings in film and TV related directories and your blogs and articles to your web address and ultimately you’re CV. Generating and funnelling potentially very significant traffic to you and best of all, like placing so many lobster pots, you can set this up and not have to think about it too much.
4 diary services, agents and job sites
It may be that you are at a point in your career that you are thinking about getting professional representation. Obviously having someone else marketing your skills and talents is a lot more convenient than the activities mentioned previously, especially if that other person has a good reputation and long standing contacts within the film and television industry. However, handing over upwards of 10% of your entire income to an agent who may not ultimately bring anything extra to the table could be very costly.
Film and TV diary services are another consideration. Whilst diary services don’t tend to take a commission on your earnings they will charge you a monthly fee of between £40 and £90. It may seem strange that in this age of mobile phones, emails, texting, and laptops there was still a need for a diary service but it is important to remember that film and TV production companies still really value this service as it saves them a lot of time when crewing up.
Inevitably we are seeing an increase in the number of online diary services where you are able to publish your own availability along with your CV and quite often there is a jobs board. Take a look at www.productionbase.com and www.gems-uncut.com as an examples of this sort of service. By organising it yourself the cost is dramatically reduced and can cost less than a couple of pounds a week.
5 working those contacts
Having looked at some of the most up to date methods of networking and raising your profile within the television and film industry it is time to return to some more conventional and time honoured considerations. As was said right at the beginning of this piece your personal contacts within the film and TV industry is the sweet spot in terms of getting more work. These guys know you and your work and hopefully trust you. Be diligent in keeping a contacts list or database, keep your unit lists and transfer details of useful contacts to your database.
Diarise regular CV updates and when you do an update send it out to all your contacts to remind them about you and demonstrate that you remain busy and active.
As you will most likely be emailing your CV make sure you include links in your CV to your website, Facebook, Linkedin, and productionbase profiles etc and keep that traffic moving.
What I hope is apparent at this stage is how the above initiatives can be integrated into a kind of web that permeates the television and film industry but where each strand leads back to you.
This may look like so much work and perhaps you are not convinced that the results will justify the effort. To answer this point I would ask you the following key questions:
1 Are you getting enough work from your existing channels?
2 What else can you do to provide a consistent and continuous presence in the job market?
Nick Pearce is M.D. of Gems Film & Television Ltd. Providing agency services to freelance Film & TV production professionals. The operation falls in general into two areas:
Gems Agency represents very experienced and well regarded heads of department, creatives and production professionals, often found involved in major film and broadcast media projects.
Gems Uncut hosts an online diary service, social networking and job site exclusively for the industry. Bringing together Producers and production companies with all grades of crew and emerging talent within the field.
For more information E-mail Me!