The path towards a career in film and television can take many forms. I remember well walking around Soho, London giving out CVs in order to procure my first runner position. From this, I was offered a three day trial period at The Mill. Standing in a lift with two other candidates, I found out one was a barman just arrived back from Ibiza who fancied his chances in the film industry, whilst the other was a graduate looking to break into visual effects work. My education was a two year college course in Music Production and a random stint at Cannes Film festival as a waiter. My interest lay in editing.
Some work their way up gaining knowledge along the way, others enter already armed with a higher level of education, and whilst that education may benefit some, it may be more relevant to others at later stages of their career.
A report by Creative Skillset, has made some interesting observations and notes the following challenges faced by production companies.
- The lack of programme strands with a career-development role built in, such as those that The Bill and Skins used to offer.
- The value of providing real work opportunities, such as mentoring and apprenticeships, that can help supplement basic skills with confidence familiarity and practice.
- The difficulty of attracting and retaining people with digital and social media skills in the face of competition from other industry sectors.
Andrew Chowns, the Chair of Creative Skillset’s TV Skills Council and CEO of DirectorsUK states that 77% of those companies surveyed in the report, describe a shortfall between the skills they need and those of their current workforce.
As a busy freelance editor and occasional Film lecturer, I see the merits of a media education however, the practical aspects must also be factored in. Learning whilst in the role plus mentoring can really be of benefit however, I know from experience this takes a huge commitment from the employer.
I see the benefits of training courses and education 100%, and in fact short courses compliment the freelance worker who can ill afford to take too much time out of their role. Great commitment is required from employers who perhaps do not understand fully the benefits. The paths to these employers and organisations should be much more clearly marked and clarification of what they stand to gain from taking on fresh new recruits under mentorship.
As a football fan, you only have to look at the incredible benefits of youth academies to understand the benefits of nurturing. It’s an investment in the future of your potential staff, who will demonstrate brand loyalty towards you even if they do move on to pastures new. That loyalty is not something easily taught in a classroom.
Whilst I ended up turning down that role at the Mill for various reasons, I was so inspired at the time by what I saw, I often use their work as case studies for my students here in Norway.
Read the article and full report from Creative Skillset here: Painting the Full Picture of skills issues in the TV industry