Our guide to breaking into the industry

The Scottish Film & TV industry has experienced a significant growth in recent years, with our first-rate services, talented crews and epic locations drawing in global productions of all scales. This progression has meant an increase in job opportunities for the talented creative pool Scotland plays host to. If you’ve been thinking about getting into the industry but are not quite sure where to begin - read on!

Getting your foot in the door can be done in many ways, and everyone has a different story...here’s how some of team MTP got in:

James Heath, Managing Director, and Executive Producer:
The one thing I’ve firmly believed for a long time is there is no one way into the industry or route to success. Some of the most successful and happy people I know in the industry have gone into the industry with a vision or a goal as to what they want to do or be and its completely changed (sometimes more than once) once they work out, they are better or happier doing something else. So, my top tip would be, don’t be afraid to change or even quit what you do and don’t be fixated on doing one particular thing. The ability to learn from your own failures, mistakes, and rejections, to then improve is the most important skill anyone can learn to achieve success.

Sean Geddes, Editor:
Despite loving film and TV as a kid I never realised it was an option for me when I left school. After years of working in a few industries I figured getting paid to write would be a good way of paying the bills so off to Uni to study journalism I went. However, while doing my Undergrad I realised that the only thing I enjoyed doing was creating news packages in Avid.

It might seem stupid, but it was only then that I realised I could work in movies and TV, so I went and completed an MA in Film. From there I tried freelancing for a year or so. It was a hard graft, working sporadically on promo work and to be honest I wasn't sure it was going to work out. I then got a call from someone I went to uni with asking if I wanted to come into MTP the following day for work. The rest is history.

My entry into the industry and the work that I'm able to do has taught me two important things - You've got to be ready to say "yes", even (or especially when) this takes you outside your comfort zone. People have long memories, they remember those people they like working with, that are good at what they do, and those that are dependable.

Kieran Smyth, Production Coordinator:
Getting your foot in the door of the Film and TV industry is tough when you don’t have connections and can feel more like banging your head against a wall. The catch-22 of how to get experience without having any experience. The first gig I got in the industry was on Outlaw King helping to restore locations after production had moved on; pulling track mats caked in mud out of a forest, sweeping up tonnes of stones from Linlithgow Palace, packing up set dressing and props. It was tough work but got my career-ball rolling and the following summer I got a job on a drama and the rest is history. Note: I had to lie about living in Inverness to get said job, so definitely lie on your CV in the beginning.

Charlotte McKelvie, Production Assistant:
After almost a decade of working for music venues in Glasgow in London, I needed a change. Friends of mine in the Film & TV industry in Scotland were all thriving and loving their jobs - which got me thinking about changing careers. Luckily, an old colleague had a contact at MTP, so I emailed asking for any advice they may have to get into the industry, instead they gave me a chance to work and I was thrown in at the deep end, working as a Runner on a commercial for a major telecoms brand, and I loved every minute! Now I work full-time as a Production Assistant and Marketer at MTP, and am incredibly grateful for the opportunity. If you don’t ask, you don’t get, so get asking!

(BTS from Duck Daze by Kevin J Thompson)

Despite there being many different routes in, we also have some general advice that can guarantee gaining experience and contacts in the industry:

Education - there are many different job roles to consider, whether it be in filmmaking, production, post-production, animation etc. and all require theoretical and practical training. Consider pursuing formal education;  Scotland boasts renowned institutions like Screen Academy Scotland, Glasgow Clyde College, Glasgow School of Art, and Edinburgh College of Art (to name a few) which all provide a range of different courses that will equip you with the technical skills, knowledge and networking opportunities needed for a job in the industry.

Networking - building a network is vital, especially for freelancers and those starting out in the industry. Look into attending film festivals, workshops, and industry events to grow your network. Organisations such as the Glasgow Film Festival, Scottish Documentary Institute and the upcoming Edinburgh International Film Festival all host various events throughout the year in addition to their main festivals, and all would be a great starting point to grow your network! Engage in conversations, seek advice, and form relationships that may open doors for future collaborations and opportunities.

Join organisations and groups - become a member of film organisations in Scotland to stay updated on industry news and gain access to exclusive resources and funding. ScreenSkills, The British Film Institute, Scottish Documentary Institute, and Screen Scotland are all valuable organisations that offer a range of support. There are also many groups on social media; Facebook, WhatsApp etc. that will post about entry-level runner or trainee jobs, which is how many of the greats have started out.

GMAC Film are another incredible organisation whose ethos is championing an inclusive, diverse, and ethical film sector. They support young filmmakers through their youth projects and commissioning schemes like Little Pictures, by providing equipment, arranging networking events with Q&A’s, showcasing films at their events such as Café Flicker, and offering spaces for hire to host workshops, film screenings, etc.

Find out more about GMAC Film or donate via → www.gmacfilm.com

Work hard, watch everything, stay inspired and don’t hesitate to get in touch!