Being a professional filmmaker is one of the most exhilarating careers available, but it can be incredibly difficult to get started. Competition is impossibly fierce, and even if you have a unique vision and the drive to see it realised, that doesn’t guarantee success. To be a professional filmmaker, you need to be incredibly dedicated and hard-working. Being creative is only half of the battle; the rest is business and logistics, and while that might sound boring, it’s probably the difference between most professional filmmakers and those that languish in obscurity for the rest of their lives. Here’s how you can kickstart your career as a professional filmmaker.
Secure funding however possible
Obviously, as a filmmaker, you will have ethical boundaries beyond which you don’t want to step. That makes perfect sense, but within those boundaries, nothing should be off-limits when it comes to securing funding. Are you in immediate need of camera equipment or salaries for actors? Why not seek out bad credit personal loans to help you keep your dream afloat? Could you reach out to friends and family to help you with your project? Why not apply for a filmmaking grant? However you choose to do it, you need to make sure that funding is readily available for you, because unfortunately, your career hinges on the money you’re able to accrue.
Build yourself a portfolio
Your portfolio is the key to getting consistent work as a filmmaker. Investors, studios, and anyone else who might give you work is going to want to see what you can do, so the first thing you need to do is construct a representative portfolio that demonstrates your skill and your range. The best way to go about doing this is to build a showreel that you can then upload to YouTube or to your own personal website (both would be ideal). Make sure to keep your showreel relatively brief; while longer work does show off your skill more, most people viewing your portfolio will want to get a thumbnail sketch of your work rather than a longform demonstration.
Work freelance for businesses
Businesses and brands are always looking for filmmakers to create commercials or social media work for them. This work will, of course, feel very different to freeform creative filmmaking, and it might not be as fulfilling or as edifying as the work you might want to do in the long run. However, it’s almost certain to improve your prospects when it comes to obtaining future work, so it’s always worth doing. It may even be worth building an entirely different portfolio for this aspect of your career so that you can show off your technical skill and ability to build brand focus videos for businesses. This can also be a great extra source of income!
Try to break into the industry in other ways
Being a filmmaker isn’t the only way you can get into the industry. There are usually other positions available which can not only serve as great stepping stones, but also as valuable experience for you to understand the ins and outs of your chosen field. Of course, there’s an entire legion of people out there wondering how to get into the film industry, so the competition is going to be just as fierce here as it is for filmmaking itself. However, once you’re in, you can start building your route to a longer-term vision, so you can see it as a means to an end. Just remember that whatever you do, it’s important to give your all, because if you don’t, someone else definitely will.
Always be working on something
It’s never a good idea to allow yourself to stagnate as a filmmaker. You should always be working on something, even if it’s a five-second clip intended only to occupy space in your demo reel. If you’re not working, you’re not actively honing your skills, and you’re losing your competitive advantage over others who will be trying to get to the same places you are. When you find yourself at a loss as to what you should be working on, just try to craft a placeholder project; something basic and simple that will help you in a particular area. Think about your weaknesses as a filmmaker. Where do you need improvement? That’s what you should be working on.
Be on every social media platform
The nature of how filmmakers become well-known has changed somewhat in recent years. If you’re not on social media now, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to disseminate your work amongst an audience that will appreciate it and give you feedback. Many potential employers will likely try to get in touch with you via social media, so you need to set up pages on platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and even TikTok. Make sure your profile name is easy to remember and communicates what you’re all about quickly; something unique, quirky, and fun will get people talking about you and help you to stick out in their minds.
Whenever you’re lucky enough to find yourself in a position where you can talk to people embedded within the film industry, grab that chance with both hands. If you’re worried about being annoying, don’t be; we can guarantee that nearly every major figure in the industry got there by bothering the right people. Always have business cards with links to your YouTube showreel on them, as well as things like your professional Skype ID and social media profiles. That way, anyone you approach will know exactly how to educate themselves about your brand and why they should consider you for a position as soon as you interact with them.