9 Career Boosting Skills Filmmakers Need | Raindance Film School

Career boosting skills might sound like a clickbait title – but really – unlike a clickbait title, this is exactly what’s inside the tin. I decided to call it exactly that.

There is no denying that the creative industries are fiercely competitive. It’s also a fact that most so-called educations is stuck in the 20th century mindset. Unlike other films schools we embrace students who have no film school. We also pride ourselves in demonstrating that the way for a successful career in film is to become multi-skilled and aware of all formats. It’s this attitude that attracts so many to our Postgraduate, our Fast Track and our Accelerated HND BTEC classes.

1.Content strategy

Of all the career boosting skills a filmmaker needs is the ability to source, identify and/or create content. I like to look at it like this: Pop stars get famous by singing great songs. They either write them like one of my favourite British bands, Alt-J or they perform other peoples’ great song lyrics like Elton John does.

Why not learn the essence of great storytelling for the visual medium by taking one of our excellent screenwriting classes? Then you too can position yourself as the ‘rock star’ of story. Filmmakers of all shapes and sizes will beat a path to your door.

2.Project Management

A filmmaker runs a business with a series of projects. When you get a project together you need to manage the project in the same way that entrepreneurs in other industries do.

A filmmaker needs to know how to create a budget, which is the list of all the people and things you need to make a film and how much it will cost. Then, a schedule is a list of the times and places you need  to make the movie happen.

You have two choices: either pay someone thousands to budget and schedule your feature, or take the single evening budgeting and scheduling class for less than half the price of a monthly Oyster.

3.Fundamentals of accounting

When Michaelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel he made a budget and scheduled (above) and then over the course of seven long years he painted it. He always knew if he was spending too much time (and money) and also if he was ahead of the game.

Filmmakers too can learn from creative entrepreneurs in the past. The modern day creative creators understand how money flows. They know how to utilise tax deals and to raise money by derisking investors finance.

It might sound complicated, but the basic pricipals are explained in the single evening Movie Money class, which is part of our popular Producers’ Foundation Certificate where you learn essential skills needed to manage all the legal contracts, business plan and other essential paperwork you will need to make your film.

9 Career boosting skills
4.Essentials of film finance

Of the essential career boosting skills a filmmaker needs to acquire is understanding how money flows. It is really useful to spend some time researching different routes to financing your film or project.

Part of the skill development plan is to really understand the entire filmmaking process: from script to shoot to sale and distribution.

I do a weekend masterclass Lo-To-No Budget Filmmaking in which the production process is outlined in detail on Saturday, and the marketing, finance and distribution process is outlined on Sunday. This class is illustrated with about 25 short films and video clips and actual marketing materials made for films that have debuted at the Raindance Film Festival since 1993.

5.Presentation skills

“In the beginning was the word and nothing but the word” the ancient prophets wrote in the Bible thousands of years ago. Movies start with a verbal pitch. Of all the career boosting skills this one is the one often overlooked by filmmakers.

Take our Pitching Skills Workshop – online or inperson – and discover the techniques used by filmmakers and screenwriters to sell their projects to cast, crew and investors.

6.The career boosting skills of public relations

Mark Borkowski is one of the nation’s top publicists who specialises in creating stunts for his clients. He has an informative and entertaining blog you should read. As Mark tells it, filmmakers do not have the budget for expensive advertising and marketing campaigns. However, the tool of publicity is cheap and relies on your own creativity. Go for it!

While you are at it, learn the basics of creating your press kit.

7. Social media

You either have it or you don’t. If you don’t have a strong social media you are going to lose out.
Here’s some blog posts that might help you sort out a strong social media presence:

Ten Essential Elements of a Filmmakers Website
How Filmmakers Build Social Media Authority On 18 Minutes Per Day
Why Indie Filmmakers Are Missing Out On Social Media

8.Personal branding

As a filmmaker you have two branding challenges. Firstly to create the brand for your film or screenplay. The second is to create your own personal brand.

Let me explain.

Branding has nothing to do with your logo or website. It has everything to do with what people think or when they think of you. As your career skills increase and as you gain more and more experience you will have more and more to talk about.

I wrote a blog post you might find useful: 7 Ways To Create A Film Career Brand Strategy

9. Networking (for the shy and introverted)

The film industry is a people industry. It’s not what you know but who you know.

I was once asked if you could still be a hip and cool filmmaker whilst leading a humdrum life. In response, I mentioned the Bronte sisters who created some pretty amazing novels despite living secluded lifestyles.

Networking is an essential (and time-consuming) skill. Don’t worry if you are an introvert. Introverts have much to offer and have an unique skillset.

Have you ever been at a film networking event and not known how to break the ice?
Here’s a handy Raindance Networking eBook.
Here’s some ice-breaking tips that I use.

Fade Out

These career skills are exactly the sorts of things we work with our full-time students, our intensive 6 months, one and two year programmes:
Fast Track, the Accelerated BTEC HND film programme and our excellent Postgraduate Film Degree (in association with Staffordshire University).

Let me know if you have any thoughts or comments!

Let’s make movies!




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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