Lights, camera, and … action! NotGoingToUni looks into an apprenticeship in the film industry, what you can expect from yours, and where it could take you.
From those jerky, monochrome silent classics to tomorrow’s 3D CGI blockbusters – whether they go straight to Blu-Ray or not – the motion picture industry has been entertaining us with offerings great and/or gruesome for over a century … and doesn’t look like stopping any time soon. And there’s more to any movie than just a hero, a leading lady, a villain and things that go bang, as you’ve no doubt seen, unless you’re the first to leave the cinema, or switch the TV off as the end credits start running.
So that means there’s any number of jobs that need doing to help bring a story to life on the silver screen … or a documentary or even a TV commercial.
For an apprenticeship in this sector it is most likely you would be working in pre-production, studio facilities or post-production. Jobs on film sets are not set up for the apprentice route. If working on set is what you want to do then the route to follow is 'work experience' and or 'runner'. For a great insight into the roles for working on set we recommend this very funny and very in-depth site: So you wanna work in movies?
What to expect during your apprenticeship in the film industry
No matter who you serve your apprenticeship with – from a tiny independent film outfit to a multi megabuck multimedia conglomeration, you’ll start your training off at the very junior end of the scale.
This means you’ll be unpacking gear, perhaps helping to set it up and dismantle it … and then packing it back up again.
There will also be sandwiches to be fetched, hot drinks to be brewed, cables to be tidied, props to be sorted out and possibly the occasional primadonna to placate.
It’ll all be in a day’s work for you and most of the time, once you’ve been shown what to do, you could do it with your eyes shut.
But that would be a mistake. Because while you’re doing all that grunt work, if you keep your eyes and ears wide open and in seriously receptive mode, you’ll be able to absorb all kinds of knowledge that’s going to be very useful to you later on – even though you won’t realise it at the time.
You’ll also, of course, be learning what to do and what not to do on and around the set, and other aspects of professional behaviour.
And the time will soon come when instead of watching other people doing what needs to be done, you’ll be doing it yourself with other people watching you, ready to give advice or lend a hand if you need one.
Whatever you’re doing at work, you’ll be going back to the classroom on a regular basis to learn more about the theory behind it, while working towards a nationally-recognised qualification. You’ll also be studying towards relevant certifications to help you get your foot into the door of what is, after all, a very competitive industry.
Pay and prospects in a film apprenticeship
The minimum UK apprenticeship wage has been set at £3.30 an hour (2016 rates). The competition for entry roles into film and TV mean that you are unlikely to receive any more than this. Whatever the size of your pay packet during the first year of your apprenticeship, the legal minimum wage for your second and subsequent years will be set at the national minimum wage for your age group … or higher.
Apprentices now enjoy exactly the same kind of rights and benefits as everybody else they’re working with. This means you’re entitled to such things as paid sick leave and paid holidays, plus whatever perks come with the job like, say, a subsidised canteen. But film work is unique and you will be expected to work to schedules that are not consistent.
So it’s up to you to shine throughout your apprenticeship because of the references you will need. It is highly likely that your post-apprentice work will more than likely be freelance, as this is how the majority of film industry works. So get your networking skills leveled up.
If, at the end of your apprenticeship, you have applied yourself correctly you will have gained both an extraordinary experience but also exactly the right kind of experience and training that production managers would be looking for. And these are the people you will need to impress.
For more details about a film apprenticeship, try visiting the Apprenticeship Vacancy Matching Service.lsc.gov.uk and look for “Film Apprentice C045 or additionally, you can have a look at our jobs section and see the film vacancies available there.
Related Articles >>