Film production as a second career? It’s possible – here’s how

Film production as a second career? It’s possible – here’s how – words Alexa Wang

According to recent U.S. government statistics, the typical worker can be expected to change jobs about a dozen times over the course of his or her career.

Not all of these job changes are dramatic. If you work for a big organization, there’s a decent chance you’ll move laterally from one department to another at some point during your career. Or, you might jump at a slightly better job offer to do pretty much the same thing you’re doing now from a cross-town competitor that does pretty much the same thing as your current employer.

But there’s an equally decent chance that, sooner or later, you’ll seek a clean break with the past — that you’ll well and truly change careers.

Where will you go? Well, if you’re like many budding creatives, you’ll seek out a profession that rewards your inner muse. You’ll go into film or television production, like this noted film producer who left behind a comfortable life in international finance.

This leap isn’t for the faint of heart, of course. Here’s what you need to know to navigate it without falling flat on your face.

Just Start Working

When you don’t know what else to do, put your nose to the grindstone and do what needs to be done. No on-set work is beneath aspiring creatives, no matter how trivial it feels in the moment. How else are you going to get noticed?

Organize an Extracurricular Production Crew

When you’re not working, create. Find like-minded creatives and collaborate. Get your work in front of people whose opinions matter. And don’t take “no” for an answer.

Collect Credentials (But Don’t Obsess About Them)

The film business is littered with self-taught pros. If you’re trying to make it in Hollywood, pursuing post-graduate studies at Harvard (or UCLA, for that matter) isn’t the best way to go about it.

Then again, there’s a place for practical credentials on your CV. Once you settle on a career track, look for certifications that might give you an edge over your greener-around-the-ears competitors.

Learn Post-Production Skills

Finding it tough to break into on-set work? Learn to code, as they say. More specifically, get familiar with post-production software and techniques, then canvass for gigs in this rapidly growing field.

Use Digital Tools to Your Advantage

Speaking of software: you’ll need it to go viral. If you’re struggling to earn tastemakers’ attention through well-worn channels, perhaps a YouTube channel is just what the producer ordered.

Pursue Your Passion, No Matter How Long It Takes

Professional passion has no expiration date. It’s never too late to give up on your dreams.

Of course, you won’t realize your passion without taking concrete steps to achieve it. It’s up to you to set in motion the chain of events that, should things work out as intended, will culminate with you stepping into the role you’ve always wanted.

How you go about that is up to you, but the process outlined above is a good start. When in doubt, reach out to successful creatives who’ve come before you and ask, simply: how did you do it? You might be surprised by how open some are willing to be.

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