7 Critical Steps for a Successful Career in the Film Industry

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Apr 2, 2020

Apr 2, 2020 • by Rebecca Smith

The American film industry is huge. It employs over 2.1 million people in different verticals. In the previous year, the industry generated over $43.4 billion, representing an annual growth of 2.2% over the last 3 years. In 2018, the global film industry was estimated to be worth more than $136 billion. As of April 2020, the average annual earnings for professionals working in the US film industry was estimated to be $80,030 a year.

Some of the most popular career options in this industry include working as the film producer, set designer, costume designer, film composer, or as a film editor.

However, not everyone who chooses a career in this industry succeeds. What does the small percentage of people that succeed do differently? What are the mistakes that those that fail to make? Next, we look at

1. Define success

The best film composers such as John Williams and Hans Zimmer , agree that defining success makes it easy to choose a niche and stick to it. It helps you identify what you need to do and the right people to start networking with. This is important because success in the film industry requires a lot of networking and collaboration.

Your definition of success will most likely be different from what other people in the industry want to achieve. For instance, while one person might be in the industry to create the next big Hollywood movie, your aim might be to create content for the local media. So, be real with yourself.

Determine what matters to you and what that means to your career. Ask yourself why these goals matter. Set goals that will make your career worth pursuing. More importantly, make sure your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound.

2. Be good at what you do

Identify a craft and give it yours all. In 2020, we are living in a world where most people have access to cameras and video editing applications. There are also free and premium courses in the film sector, which people can access at the click of a button. Anyone can produce films.

So, you need to give people a reason to work with you. Make your own project and learn. Share your films with friends and see their reactions. Work with others in their project, even if you aren’t being paid for it. You will learn something new and while at it, make connections. Attend as many film festivals, screening events, and network. The film industry is heavily connection driven. You might not be able to start your career with the best film scoring company, but through hard work and networking, it will happen.

  1. Work on your attitude

What does attitude have to do with the film industry? It impacts a lot on the final product. You might be a very talented person in your craft, but getting people to work with you requires the right attitude. Only apply for projects that match your ability and give your all.

Your body language or words can either send the right or wrong signals to your workmates. Your attitude towards people you work with also matters a lot. There will be instances where you disagree with your workmates. Ensure that you provide positive criticism instead of bashing others.

  1. Keep time

Time is of the essence in the filmmaking industry. A small delay can cost your project a lot, and it is not the best way to conduct business. Showing up late may indicate unprofessionalism even if you have a good reason behind it. It might even trigger the director to drop you.

Leaders in this market such as Hans Zimmer are always looking for people who can keep time. You must consistently deliver within the given timeframes if you want repeat business. Do not keep your team waiting on the site. Be there 30 minutes earlier, and let them find you settled. Ensure that you get all the necessary clearances and permits before you start any project.

  1. Collaborate with the best

You cannot sit on the table of average performers and expect to bear exemplary results. You need people that will challenge you if you want to move to the next level.

The film industry is very dynamic. Missing one step might make you irrelevant and burry your film career for good. You need assurance that people you work with can deliver. For instance, if you are a gifted scriptwriter, you need to work with the best film scoring company to make sure the final product will be as amazing as you envisioned it.

Choosing the right partners goes beyond individual technical capabilities. You must also establish whether the potential partners understand your industry and the customers’ needs. Who have they worked with? What past projects have they completed?

  1. Walk the path

If you are looking for overnight success , then this industry might not be the right fit. Some of the big shots you see in the film industry have taken years to be where they are today. Not every project that you will work on will be successful.

Some projects will be rejected by media houses and streaming platforms. Some platforms will request that you rectify some aspects before accepting your project. There are projects you will enjoy working on while others will be draining. Be ready for the fun and the not-so-happy moments in this industry. Take every failed project as a chance to learn something new and better your craft.

  1. Adopt success boosters

Build and nurture your professional networks beyond the film industry. You need people in areas such as public relations, marketing, and transport to succeed in this industry. You need to develop both hard and soft skills as you interact with other players. Some essential skills that will come in handy include pitching, persuasion, leadership, communication, and collaboration. Your mental and physical health also matters a lot if you want to deliver.

Lastly, understand that it might take time before you achieve the level of success you desire .

Learning never stops in this industry. Each successful or failed project will teach you something new. Get a mentor and ensure that you are always up-to-date with what is happening in the industry. Believe in yourself, invest in your craft, and network with the right people.