5 show-stopping jobs in TV and film

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Whether it’s making sure the sound for a football match is spot-on, or tracking down the perfect candidates for the latest reality TV show, there are tons of awesome jobs in TV and film.

There’s something for creative, artistic types as well as more methodical, analytical thinkers. There are university routes as well as apprenticeship opportunities. Don’t forget that film industry jobs and TV production jobs are super competitive.

Here we’ll take a look at 5 jobs in TV and film, the skills they require and how you can get a head-start in the industry.

1. Production runner

A production runner helps out on TV and film sets. The role is varied – you might be answering the phone, filing paperwork or coordinating a movie or TV show’s extras. Production runner jobs also involve arranging lunch for the cast and crew and booking transport. Production runner jobs are usually freelance, low-paid and the hours can be long and irregular.

Hear from Imogen, a production runner on Downton Abbey:

The skills you’ll need…

  • Flexible, organised, punctual.
  • Able to think on your feet.
  • Good communication skills.
  • Be able to take orders and requests.
  • Be tactful and diplomatic.
  • Enthusiastic and willing to learn.
  • Able to work calmly under pressure.

How to get started…

You usually won’t need any qualifications. There’s a lot of competition for production runner jobs, so you could get work experience in TV, student radio, film-making or drama. Many people use production runner jobs as a stepping stone to other creative roles.

2. Researcher

A researcher comes up with or develops ideas for TV programmes. They check facts for the guys who write scripts for TV presenters. TV researcher jobs are available across all types of TV production. Typically producers will give researchers a brief about ideas for shows, and then they have to carry out research into those ideas. For example they might interview people to see if they’re suitable for a reality show, or find archive photos for documentaries.

The skills you’ll need…

  • Communication skills: you’ll need to establish working relationships with production crew and cast members. You need to clearly and tactfully explain why you think a person might be right (or wrong) for a particular TV show.
  • Organised: able to keep up-to-date contact lists and information and able to keep a detailed record of costs.
  • Excellent presentation skills and very well developed analytical skills.
  • Able to think visually and conceptualise ideas.
  • Brilliant teamwork skills and able to work alongside professionals from different skill-sets and backgrounds.

How to get started…

You don’t need a particular qualification for TV researcher jobs but a degree in a media-related, TV or drama subject could be helpful. You could start out as a runner or production assistant. Search for trainee positions here.

3. Lighting technician

A lighting technician oversees lighting equipment on the set of a movie or TV show. In film industry jobs, they’re sometimes referred to as “sparks”, and are responsible for positioning lights during a shoot.

Skills you’ll need…

  • Good understanding of health and safety rules.
  • Be comfortable working at heights.
  • Strong communication skills and interpersonal skills.
  • Enjoy working as part of a team.
  • Flexible and able to take instructions.
  • Able to work quickly and efficiently.
  • Stamina and fairly fit – lighting technicians work long, hard and irregular hours.

How to get started…

You can get started as an apprentice. Contact lighting companies directly to find out about their opportunities.  

4. Editor

When it comes to jobs in film, editors are one of the top dogs. They work with film directors to create a final movie. They work in the editing suite, carefully choosing each shot and editing it into a series of scenes, so that the story of the movie makes sense. On bigger productions they will manage a team of assistants and trainees. Editors work long hours, under pressure, and are usually employed on a freelance basis. They work on films as well as TV drama.

The skills you’ll need…

  • Technical abilities and broad experience of the post-production process.
  • Skilled at using a wide variety of software and editing equipment.
  • Able to work and be creative under pressure.
  • Good imagination and understanding of story-telling.
  • Excellent communication skills and interpersonal abilities. Able to lead a team.

How to get started…

You could take a higher education course in film production. You would then work your way up from being a runner to a trainee, to first assistant and eventually editor.

5. Production designer

Production designers help film and TV directors to define and then create the look of a film. They are responsible for a production’s art department. Whether it’s an alien planet or a Victorian street, production designers manage all the visual aspects of a film. They oversee the teams who create sets and costumes, and hold one of the more important TV production jobs.

Skills you’ll need…

  • Brilliant design skills and visual awareness.
  • Expert knowledge of design-related subjects and techniques, including draughtsmanship, technical drawing, building and construction, interior design and lighting.
  • Able to learn and use lots of different software, for design as well as keeping track of costs.
  • Leadership skills for motivating your team.
  • Brilliant time management skills.
  • Presentation skills.

How to get started…

To work your way up to becoming a production designer, you will usually need to have done a degree in art, theatre, architecture, interior design or 3D design. Then you would usually start doing other jobs in film, for instance junior draughtsman, moving on to draughtsman, assistant art director and art director.

4. Broadcast engineer

A broadcast engineer provides the picture and sound for film and TV. They work either on location or in a studio, usually working on sports, music events or news programmes. They operate camera, sound, lighting and studio equipment.

Jamie is a broadcast engineer for ITV News:

Skills you’ll need…

  • Able to learn technical skills.
  • Excellent communication skills.
  • Adaptable and can respond to any problem.
  • Awesome time-keeping and multi-tasking abilities.

How to get started…

You could do a degree in broadcast engineering or you can also get started in this career by doing an apprenticeship. Start your search here. It’s also possible to start out as a production runner.

Interested in digital media jobs? Find out how an apprenticeship can launch your creative career.

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