I didn’t go to film school (or university for that matter) and I am completely self taught. There are hundreds of times I wished I had learned some basic tricks of the film trade, and knuckled down and had some basic qualification. It would have been even easier for me had a programme like the Raindance Postgraduate Film Degree existed back then.

It would have saved me a lot of really dull and boring jobs including a six week stint in 1991 when for six soul-destroying weeks I worked as a debt collector repossessing over priced televisions from old age pensioners who had been hoaxed by over the top ‘hire-purchase agreements.

I’m lucky now. Raindance is finally flourishing and I don’t need to do the dumbass jobs I used to do in order to keeps the wolves from the door.

If I was starting out again, there are three film jobs that would pretty much guarantee you steady paid work in the film industry. Had I learned any one of them I wouldn’t have had to knock on OAP’s doors!

Let me explain who, what and why:

Job #1: Sound recordist

What?
A sound recordist is responsible for capturing and storing all the sounds on the set. It’s a much less glamorous job that that of cinematographer (responsible for recording all the pictures on the set.

Good location sound recording on a set is one of the basics of filmmaking. Sadly too, it is one that most filmmakers neglect and do so at their own peril.

Basic skillset requirements?
This is a basic geek job. You need to be patient and tolerant. You need to understand the basics of sound recording, and be able to focus on detail. You also need to have good organisational skills and present to the producer a set of sound recordings with sound report cue sheets at the end of the shoot.

We shot the feature film Love.Honour.Obey in May 2013 and the most difficult person to find was a sound recordist with their own equipment.

Job prospects?
This is probably the most difficult crew member to find for a shoot. We did luck out and managed to get one of the country’s top sound recordist Nigel Albermaniche who was intrigued enough by our project and was available, since most of the other productions were paused during the Cannes Film Festival (when we were shooting).

If you want paid work on a film set, learn about sound recording and get practical experience assisting someone like Nigel. Get your own equipment and advertise your wares. You will never be short of work.

Job #2 1st Assistant Director

What?
The 1st AD is the Directors right hand person and is also the link between the producer and the director. The great thing about this job is that there is no formal qualifications to be a 1st AD. You either are a good one, or you aren’t. And if you aren’t any good you won’t get work. and that’s what makes this such a special and hard-to-find crew member.

Basic skillset requirements?
A good first AD has to be a good communicator and a strong motivational personality. They also have to be exceptionally well organised and have excellent time management skills. Envision someone like Atilla The Hun with a cell phone and a pleasant smile. This is probably a good picture of the 1st AD that everyone wants to hire.

Job prospects?
Good 1st AD’s are as rare as hen’s teeth. The combination of skills needed is so rare, that should you possess these skills you will rarely want for work. After sound recordist this is the most difficult person to crew.

Job #3 PMD

What?
Filmmaker, autor and entrepreneur coined the phrase “PMD” just as his authoritative book on alternative distribution, Think Outside The Box Office was going to print late 2009. The phrase is starting to stick and refers to the person on the producing team responsible for audience building, plus the normal unit publicity work and the potential alternative/self distribution role after the film is conpleted. A PMD will also be an expert in crowdfunding, should the production decide to go down that route.

Basic skillset requirements?

A good PMD is a marketing genius who combines these sought after skills with good organisation. Increasingly, a PMD is responsible for live events as well – when the film plays in open air cinemas, rooftops, film festivals and other venues the producers might decide upon.

Job prospects?
PMDs are really marketing all-rounders. A good PMD with the right combination of communication skills and social media know-how mixed with strong entrepreneurial savvy should never need to look for work!

Raindance is doing something about this PMD job training. We have a special one day class on Social Media For Filmmakers on Saturday September 7th. This calls is unlikely to ever be repeated again – the instructor Tanya Laird is heavily in demand with major clients like Youtube and Facebook. Check out the course details here.

Fade Out

The Quickest Route To Get Paid Work In The Film Industry?

Get a commercial driving license so you can drive a hired van! Or get a van that you are allowed to drive. You will become instantly popular and make lots of great new friends.

About 

Elliot Grove is the founder of Raindance Film Festival and the British Independent Film Awards. He has produced over hundreds of short films and also five feature films, including the multi-award-winning The Living and the Dead in 2006. He teaches screenwriting and producing in the UK, Europe, Asia and America.

Raindance trailer 2017

Elliot has written three books which have become industry standards: Raindance Writers’ Lab: Write + Sell the Hot Screenplay, now in its second edition, Raindance Producers’ Lab: Lo-To-No Budget Filmmaking and Beginning Filmmaking: 100 Easy Steps from Script to Screen (Professional Media Practice).

He has produced over 700 shorts and 6 features including the new action film AMBER.

In 2009 he was awarded a PhD for services to film education.

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