4 Key Film Jobs No One Can Fill - Raindance

I didn’t go to film school (or university for that matter) and I am completely self-taught. Then I decided to look for film jobs. 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 overpriced 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 dumb-ass jobs I used to do in order to keeps the wolves from the door.

If I was starting out again, there are four 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

A sound recordist is responsible for capturing and storing all the sounds on the set. It’s a much less glamorous job than 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

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 are 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: Producer of Media and Distribution

Filmmaker, author and entrepreneur Jon Reiss 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 completed. 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. We offer some good training in our Producers’ Foundation Certificate, and I’m in Toronto in November 2017 trialling a new class: Creating A Festival Strategy. Check out the course details here.

Job #4 Script supervisor

Certainly one of the most taxing and demanding job on a film crew. Starting a few weeks before the shoot, this is the person who breaks down the script and prepares it for the schedule. A script supervisor also notes own all the director’s thoughts about how each scene is going to be shot. on the actual set, the script supervisor makes sure that everything the director wants has been shot.

Basic skillset requirements?

A great script supervisor combines excellent organisational skills with communication skills to match. Good concentration a definite must.

Job prospects?
A well-trained script supervisor is highly sought-after. If you like working consecutive 14 hour days this could be the job for you!

Raindance is doing something about this. Check out our Script Supervision and Continuity Workshop 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.



Photo Credit David Martinez / BIFA 2018

Few people know more filmmakers and screenwriters than Elliot Grove. Elliot is the founder of Raindance Film Festival (1993) and the British Independent Film Awards (1998). He has produced over 700 hundred short films and five feature films: the multi-award-winning The Living and the Dead (2006), Deadly Virtues (2013), AMBER (2017), Love is Thicker Than Water (2018) and the SWSX Grand Jury Prize winner Alice (2019). He teaches screenwriting and producing in the UK, Europe, Asia and America.

Raindance BREXiT trailer 2019

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).

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

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