How to get started in a creative career
How to get started in a creative career
For some people, waking up and going to work on a film shoot is just a part of everyday life. But how did they get there? What steps did they take to find the path that led them to such an exciting and sought after job, and what advice do they have for others? On our recent shoot for the Lewis Gets Inked campaign, we took the opportunity to ask a number of the creative people working behind the scenes about how they got started in their careers.
For Sean Harland the special effects supervisor on the shoot, a very normal day at work often involves pouring goo over celebrities like Lewis Hamilton or the Chelsea football team. This sounds like a dream job, but interestingly it wasn’t actually his first choice: “I wanted to be an animator first, but my tutor gave me some brutal, but good advice. He said: ‘you’re alright at drawing, you’re not the best. But, you’re really good at making stuff’. He told me about a course at the Hertfordshire University which focused on model design and special effects. In my second year I did a placement at a special effects company, which is where I am now. When I graduated, I went back and got a job there straight away. It all worked out.”
Sean’s willingness to listen to those around him enabled him to make the best out of his skill set, and led him to a creative and fulfilling career. It shows that being flexible and open to new situations can take you on an unexpected route to success.
A way in
The creative industry is notorious for being competitive and tough to get into, so finding likeminded people and adopting a collaborative spirit to work on projects could really help you in the long run. Our director of photography, Rina Yang, explained that she owed a lot to her network of friends: “I think I was really lucky with my friends because we would help each other out. I could do the camera and lighting work and they could direct. We helped each other to become more established and experienced and I’m still working with lots of them.”
Work your way up
Being prepared to work your way up was one of the key things that the creatives agreed on.
Gretchen Shoring, the producer on the shoot commented: “Work as hard as you can, be really enthusiastic and available, and do whatever’s required. I started off as a secretary, lots of people start as a runner. It’s about getting your foot in the door and getting known to people.”
Sean agreed, adding: “Even though I had a degree, I still started off helping out and making cups of tea. But, eventually you start to pick stuff up, you get trusted with little jobs, and slowly you become valuable. Have a good attitude and be enthusiastic. It’s long hours so just be willing to put in the work and you should be alright.”
Being prepared to go the extra mile was another characteristic that the creatives highlighted. “I think you really have to work hard - it sounds like a cliché. When I was at film school, I was working on film sets on weekends and holidays while some people were partying. I preferred working on set. I worked hard on tiny little jobs for two years. I didn’t get paid much, but that’s how you meet people and network. That’s how I got started and those relationships have continued until now,” said Rina.
Be a people person
It’s not just the quality of your work that counts - having the right attitude and working well with others is also important. Our marketing director, Maria Eagling, who headed up the project for Epson commented: “In the creative industry the work is often on a project-by-project basis, so it’s essential for people to want to work with you time and again. It’s also crucial to have a good attitude and be enthusiastic about your work. Although the creative industry can be informal at times, ensure that you’re always professional, friendly, engaged and polite.”
Rina agrees, offering: “Be nice to everyone, not just because they could become your director one day, but because it’s just such a hard job, and it’s not right to treat anyone any differently. Respect everyone and surround yourself with good people.”
Make your mark
So where should you start? The behind the scenes photographer, Matthew Ford, thinks that people today have a unique opportunity: “Do something that is big, bold and original to get noticed. There can be a fog of material on YouTube and the internet.”
Meanwhile, Rina thinks that you should: “Follow your heart rather than money, because it’s really important to select the projects that resonate, so that you will care and do your best to deliver. I tend to do projects I like in terms of the creative.”
There’s not one route
While most people will agree that it’s worth looking to your peers for advice and direction, the director for the shoot, Rollo Collins from Citizen Films, also made an important point: “On my first job I worked in an editing suite and there were different directors in every day. I would ask every director how they got their job and each would give me a completely different story. There’s not one route. You’ve just got to do it and see what happens.”
Enjoy the process
The creative industry may be filled with uncertainties, but the excitement and glamour that surround it are sure to continue inspiring people to leap into the unknown. The movement specialist on the shoot, Jami Reid-Quarrell, expressed: “You have to know that you’re in for a bit of a roller coaster. Enjoy it and the randomness of it; the ups and the downs. Throw yourself into every opportunity that comes along; literally put yourself out there.”