Starting Out: Advice


So you want to work in the screen and broadcast industry?

There are no predetermined routes or ‘right ways’ to go about pursuing a career in the film, TV and broadcast industries in Australia, however one fact is true of this industry and that is that it is highly competitive.

For those who are passionate and motivated to tell screen stories the following is a round up of candid and honest advice to get you on your way:

  • There are protocols and ways of doing things on set and in the studio: The screen and broadcast industry is a small tight-knit community. Many beginning filmmakers make the mistake of thinking that this industry is casual when it comes to behavior because it's a creative field.

    It is not. Most of the decision makers are sharp observers with equally sharp instincts. Understand early on that you will need to follow the established protocols, processes and ways of doing things.
  • Creative, reliable, capable, and easy to work with: Delivering what you say you can deliver is key as is being prepared to start at the absolute bottom and work your way up. In this business, where most people have worked their way up from the bottom to get to where they are, the decision to hire someone even at the lowest rung of the ladder is about potential.

    If you were given a good reference by someone in the industry or they made a call for you, respect that gesture and return the favour by leaving your ego and attitude at the studio door. Muck in and do whatever needs to be done, whether that's photocopying, rotoscoping, picking up lunches or filling a sandbag in a field for hours on end. Just get on with it. There will be something to watch and learn.
  • Your attitude is your best asset: On set and in the studio, where the days can be long and the working conditions sometimes not so glamorous, the crew member with the negative attitude (the one complaining, finding fault with others, blame-shifting, boasting or whingeing) is noticed and rarely invited back. Even if you feel the sentiment is legitimate everyone is in the same situation and is working collaboratively for the end goal.

    Remind yourself there are scores of others just waiting for the opportunity you have been given. Best also not to post or share negative thoughts on social media, that can be seen by decision makers in the screen and broadcast community.
  • Relationships are king: Not necessarily based on friendships, working relationships are built around history and shared goals. Often the most successful working relationships are built around mutual strengths/weaknesses and importantly previous projects.

    Screen productions are collaborative by nature and you will build a professional reputation based on your work ethic and deliverables. You are only as good as your last project.
  • Get some experience: Attachments, mentorships and internships are an excellent way to learn in a live environment.  AFTRS runs a film volunteer scheme each year, which is a terrific way to get some real 'on-set' experience in a number of departments.
  • Network: Guilds, festivals, associations and state agencies often have talks, events, conferences and forums you can participate in, attend and learn from and make connections.
  • Stay in the loop: Read the trade magazines and websites such as IF, The Production Book, Screenhub, Radio Today, Jocks Journal and Radio Info to stay plugged in to what is going on in the industry.

Succeeding in a competitive industry is not easy however if you stay focused on your goals, bring a good attitude with you and are genuinely happy to put your hand up for anything as well as reliable, you have a shot.




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Last updated: August 1, 2015
Image attribution: Photos by Dominic Loneragan for AFTRS




The Australian Film Television and Radio School would like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners, the Bidjigal people and Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, on whose land we meet, work, study and teach. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and extend our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from all nations of this land.