Gaining Set Experience

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  • #175763

      Hello Team Deakins and forum members,

      I have recently listened to Monaya Abel’s episode of the podcast and it caught my attention how – apparently – being in film school is a great way to gain expertise, by both building a network and working on your colleagues shorts.

      Not being to film school, I feel a bit “stuck” on this aspect. I would deeply appreciate having more set experience, getting my hands dirty, but I am usually disregard for the position I apply for being inexperienced. Tricky, right? I need experience to have more experience…

      I would appreciate any inputs from the community, mostly thinking about:

      • Is self producing a great way to get this much needed expertise?
      • When hiring a young professional, what do you usually look for?
      • Is it necessary to be in film school to get trainee/apprentice positions in the US and Europe?

      Thanks in advance for all replies, I honestly appreciate it.

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    • #175796

        ● Yes, although it’s a bit different than experiencing an ‘established’ set.

        ● Depends on the role. For any creative position I’d exclusively look at their work. Other than that, enthusiasms and a good personality. A good personality has much more influence on your career than you might think.

        ● I don’t know but the majority of people I work with didn’t attend film school.


          Forgot: I started as an AC, having only done personal short films prior. I transitioned to cameraman, DoP and ended as writer/director, which had been my dream from the beginning. Along the way I was occasionally thrown at different positions, including PA, boom operator, AD ect.

          If you get your foot in the door, the rest will follow automatically.

          Roger Deakins

            I think you will find in the podcast there are many ways to get into the industry. Film School is not a must and certainly not the best course for everyone. For myself, the National Film School helped me gain some level of confidence.

            James Parsons

              No film school experience here, just one night school class a decade after my undergrad degree in English. I interned, then PA’d, then eventually joined the union as an AC, all while shooting or assisting on any project that would have me (student, corporate, advertising, music video, whatever).

              About half my colleagues are film school grads, half had family or family friends in the business, and half came from theater or music or event production or a zillion other similar but not quite the same fields. I know that’s 3 halves, but hey.

              Your enthusiasm, spirit, attentiveness, dedication are all much more valuable than any “expertise” when you’re starting out. Be willing to take on (and learn from) ANY job on any set, but once you’re on set (and killing it) at whatever starting position you find, don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to the people doing what you really want to do.

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