Even Steven Spielberg started as an intern—so consider these skill-building entry-level jobs to launch your film career.
As the saying goes, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” If you’re an aspiring filmmaker, there are a growing number of entry-level jobs to begin your film career.
Though these six entry-level jobs aren’t exactly Spielberg-worthy, they are essential building blocks to the filmmaking process and provide a step up as you begin to climb the ladder in the competitive world of filmmaking.
1. Set Production Assistant
As a Production Assistant—or PA—your job is to meet the needs of everyone else on set. From crowd control to shepherding talent, organizing costumes to organizing the coffee run, this position requires flexibility, professionalism, and irregular hours in a variety of conditions. But for all its demands, a PA role is one of the best ways to meet and shadow a professional crew, and learn while you network.
2. Office Production Assistant
Where the Office PA has a similar work load to the Set PA, the Office PA handles more of the behind-the-scenes administrative work that happens in production. The office setting is more intimate, meaning you have the potential to network more quickly because virtually everything and everyone will come through here. Writers, directors, camera orders, props, you name it: it all starts at and travels through the office. (So professionalism and attention to details are key.)
The Grip is responsible for assembling all of the equipment supporting the camera. This involves tripods, cranes, dollies, tracks, jibs, and many other types of heavy or complex equipment. If your career aspirations involve the cinematographer’s team, gaining experience as a grip is a must; a Grip’s work directly influences how smoothly each shot will run. As you gain experience as a Grip, you may also have the opportunity to work closely with the director.
4. Script Supervisor
Little details like “What necklace was the actor wearing on a particular day?” and “Which hand was Meryl Streep’s coffee in?” are so important to the filmmaking process, and someone has to be paying attention to it.
That’s where a script supervisor (also called continuity supervisor) comes in. This eagle-eyed crew member reviews the continuity of every scene, including wardrobe, props, set details, hair and makeup, and more.
5. Second Assistant Camera
Simply put, the Second Assistant Camera (2nd AC) ensures the camera is ready to go: batteries full, film loaded, all unloaded film marked and organized, and the most exciting part…operating the clapper. The 2nd AC works closely with the director and film operator keep all shots well organized, and is a good starting point for an eventual role as Director of Photography.
6. Assistant Editor
Tribeca Flashpoint alumus Brian Zwiener combined a specialization in cinematography with his technical editing skills to forge his own path in the industry—one that eventually led him to work as assistant editor on the blockbuster hit, Deadpool. Assistant Editors support the post-production process and coordinate many moving marts, so the Editor can work without interruption.
So what’s the next step?
Finding a college curriculum that mimics the real-world is the best way to help bridge the gap between college and a career.
At Tribeca Flashpoint College, our faculty of industry professionals assign projects that encourage collaboration, hard work, and professionalism. Each student walks away with real-world, client experience to add to their resume, as well as the key skills they need to land a job that will springboard them into a career in film!
If you’re interested in learning more about the journey from student to film professional, download our guide, Film: From College to Career.
Apart from working as an Outreach manager and content creator for TFC, Timmy is a working actor, YouTuber, comedian and writer who specialized in inspirational sketch based comedy! He attended UCLA for Film and SCAD for performance and is on a journey to make a living doing what he loves!