Before the ink is dry on your yearbook, you may already be armed with interviews and 'setiquette' tips from your mentors. Here's 9 ways to jump start your career after you graduate.
Peter Hawley, Academic Dean of Tribeca Flashpoint College:
Today, young media professionals trying to break into the industry need much more than good shooting and editing skills. As a baseline, you must be proficient in editing with either Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro and have a strong understanding of the Adobe Creative Suite; knowing how to shoot with a DSLR is also mandatory in this climate. In my opinion, you won’t get an interview if you cannot show that you are at least capable in these areas.
Beyond the hard skills, which one can easily and quickly build, having a handle on the “soft skills” is even more important. You can improve your technical abilities with a three-day workshop but it takes years to master things such as accountability and how to be professional. At Tribeca Flashpoint College we stress these soft skills. Making deadlines, collaborating with others and networking efficiently are all core to our curriculum.
From an employer’s standpoint, I would look beyond a candidate’s reel and portfolio and ask a potential hire how they would handle specific situations. Have a conversation to find out if the applicant really wants to work for you or wants to be the next Spielberg. Find the person you feel will be your best collaborator, not necessarily the person with the “hottest” reel.
Diane Gayeski, Ph.D, Dean at Roy H Park School of Communications:
The Park School of Communications at Ithaca College has been graduating successful students in film for more than 45 years. Our secret sauce for their job success has been concepts, confidence & connections.
They need to have mastered concepts - rather than lots of facts or even very specific hardware or software skills that quickly go out of date. To enter a career path that leads to positions of influence, grads need to understand the " big picture " of the field, including the artistic, interpersonal, and business facets. They need to have mastered timeless concepts of persuasion, humor, storytelling, aesthetics , and to have knowledge of one or more disciplines that help them originate new content ideas - that could be history, forensics, politics, criminal justice, anthropology, etc.
But being smart is useless unless you have confidence. That comes from knowing and being able to articulate your personal brand and unique skills and perspectives. It comes from working on lots of projects and feeling confident to walk into a new situation and hit the ground running. Employers want positive, energetic people who are not afraid to roll up their sleeves and do menial tasks as well as challenging assignments
Connections are important. In the entertainment industry, reputation and being in the right place at the right time is essential. Film & television is a gig to gig career so people are always looking for the next project.
Michal Krasnodebski, GM, Bigstock:
For new grads with film experience, there's never been a better time to pursue their passions, stay creative, and make money all at once. Filmmakers at all levels and stages of their careers license stock video, but new grads can best take advantage of the chance to get out into the world right away and film what captures their eye and intrigues them most. The best way to learn how to get better at anything is to get out there and do it.
In addition, the financial barrier to entry is low. You don't need expensive equipment or fancy lenses to get started. Take the video camera you have and make something spectacular with it. Over time, as your career progresses, you might decide to invest in a new camera that offers you more options and settings. For now, though, trust your instincts, focus on small improvements, and earn your way to the next level.
Ben Feuer, Atavision:
The first major difference you encounter after graduating and entering the working world of film production is the need to specialize. This is particularly true in Los Angeles. Although the first few jobs you get will help give your resume some shape, the sooner you can show an aptitude in one of the major hiring tracks (production, post, agencies or studios/production companies) the better.
The next most important thing to understand is that connections are vital to success in film — therefore, classmates and alumni will be your best resource for jobs and opportunities in your first 3-5 years of work. Be polite to everyone and say yes to everything you can.
But the most important qualities in young graduates are patience and persistence. Getting your first job in the industry can take a long time, up to a year in extreme cases. Your potential employers are busy, distracted people — they aren’t going to remember your email from a week ago, so it’s important to (politely!) stay on their radar. It’s your job to keep them updated on the cool new things you’ve been up to.
Monique Anair, Assistant Professor for Film Production & Media Studies at Santa Fe Community College in NM:
I tell my students that you are going to have to eat and also sustain your passion. Film students are like any artist who will need to find a funding base to feed their projects. In my case I was lucky to have a peer group with varied talents and we each had day jobs in different parts of the film industry and then combined our skills and resources on the weekends. It means working seven days a week, fourteen hours a day. But if you truly love filmmaking it will be so much in your blood that you will live, eat,
and sleep movies.
The best advice I had post-graduation was from a Disney executive who was rejecting my
application; "Have perseverance. That is likely to be the skill that will serve you best in this industry."
I would tell graduates to maintain and nurture all those awesome relationships you built in school. You are all going to go on to do amazing things and be successful, but help each other. I am sure most recent grads have been part of a great community of friends and peers and connections really are the most important thing in the film business besides talent and drive. Don't let any of those things go!
Also, work, work, work. It seems obvious, but constantly be creating. But have a purpose with everything you create. These projects are going to take a lot of time and effort on your part (and probably from many of your awesome friends helping you), so don't just make something and then let it disappear into thin air. Think about what you are going to do with your film, script, web series, music video etc. so it really helps you move forward.
* Are there certain trends and techniques, must-have new equipment or software, or resources specific to the industry they need to know?
I think there is a lot of focus on having the newest and best in everything from cameras to software and so on, but I think most people know that the story and purpose of your project is the most important thing. Mark Duplass' latest film at Sundance was filmed on an iphone, so don't need a RED camera to make a great film. That being said,
* Character traits that are specific to this type of graduate?
I would say, just keep working on creating stuff and most importantly improving, keep meeting with people. Be optimistic, somebody once told me it is not a sprint it is marathon and you just have to keep on going!
Becky King, High Point University, Communication Specialist:
For the life of their careers the technology they make use of will be ever changing, so they as professionals must be the people that both understand and command that technology. They must be the knowledge centers and problem fixers for the people who hire them in very specific roles. Yet they should not use technology for technology's sake, but in service of the creative demands of a project.
Often we find ourselves enthralled with the latest and supposedly greatest. The latest and greatest might be just that and deliver an extra "cool factor" as well, but that fact alone doesn't necessarily make it the best tool for the job. So that is part of it, too, choosing the right tools for the job while staying on top of the curve.
Upgrading your computer's memory.
Computers can begin to slow down and lag when there's a strain on the system due to downloading files, installing/utilizing robust software, or surfing the web (all staples of being a filmmaker). Unbeknownst to many, however, investing $50 in a memory upgrade can revamp a slower computer and get it running like new...and it's actually as easy as changing the batteries in a remote control. The hundreds/thousands of dollars saved can be put to better use towards these budding filmmakers' careers.
Zac Johnson, Blogging.org:
Before graduating and trying to get a solid career for yourself, you should first make sure you have a solid online reputation and a way for people to find and research your name online. For instance, what appears at the top of the search results when someone Google's your name? If it's not you, then you are already behind. Create a web site, a blog and social profiles to build brand awareness around your name and expertise while also ranking higher in the search results. Your potential hires are going to be searching for you online, so make sure they find something good!
image source: Crisp Video