Tips on starting a career in film and TV

Posted on October 29, 2017

What are the biggest dos and don’ts when emailing CVs and cover letters?

Keep CVs short and specific to the job you’re applying for. If you haven’t gripped them in the first half page they may not read the rest. Follow up, build a network and always be professional no matter how frustrated you may be feeling.

Simplicity, clarity and evidence, are the best tactics when putting together a CV and cover letter. And by evidence, I think the best CVs don’t just list responsibilities but tell you what the person did to improve the work situation or achieve success. So instead of ‘In my previous job I made tea’, try ‘In my previous job I was responsible for making tea and initiated a system which saved the company money and improved efficiency’. The example isn’t a serious one, but demonstrates you have initiative and are savvy enough to improve a situation, which is a godsend in a runner.

What are the best screenwriting courses?

There are an awful lot of online resources available for screenwriters and this is where I would start. There are also lots of screenwriting how-to books. The trick to great screenwriting is finding a great story. You can also find many great scripts from successful films online. Read these and analyse the writing techniques.

How do I network effectively and ask for help without looking needy?

Networking is an artform in itself. Overdo it, and you’ll be dismissed as too pushy. Don’t do it, and no one will know you are there. You need to believe in yourself and be sincere. Don’t overstay your welcome, but remember the person you are talking to will have been in your shoes. Even major players are always happy to help someone who is sincere and polite. And if someone says they can’t help, ask them politely if they know someone who can.

Take the stressful, business aspect out of it, and just use it as a means to get to know people and find out more about the industry you’re interested in working in. Be relaxed about it, it’s just a conversation. However, do make sure to find out the person’s full name and what they do, so if you want to follow up you can Google and email them.

I have some TV experience, but wasn’t credited for it. Do I put this on my CV?

I often see job on CVs which aren’t on people’s IMDB but understand that sometimes people aren’t officially credited even though they were taken on. The trick is to put who you worked with on the job, sometimes they might know them, and will check that way.

I’m a young writer and hopeful director, how can I perfect my writing style without missing chances to get a foothold in the industry?

Perfecting your writing style cannot be done alone. It’s important to get trusted feedback on your writing from an industry professional. Bodies such as BBC Writersroom, Rocliffe and IdeasTap provide opportunities to receive feedback on your writing. It’s also important to read as many scripts as possible, rather than just watching work and writing them. This gives you insight into how the ‘experts’ do it.