Getting started in the film industry


Reading about theory, studying films and texts is a huge step into taking on a career in cinema or film.  However, only so much can be taught in the classroom.  The rest can only be learned by doing.  That is why film studies programs, including online ones, encourage their students to pursue internships or apprenticeships as a way to see what the industry is like in the “real world” and to discover what direction they would like to take their career.

Most programs offer some sort of Career Services site, listing internships available for students and graduates.  Students are always encouraged to find opportunities on their own, as well.  However, having a resource to open the doors to these opportunities makes the process that much easier.  Many of these are unpaid, so a decision does need to be made as to whether an internship, studies and working can be juggled, but if you are able to take on this additional task, it will pay off in the end.

Internships are not easy to get into due to the number of candidates out there, but the more accessible ones tend to be in the independent film industry.  The larger film companies do offer internship programs, many of them fairly lucrative, but keep in mind that the number of opportunities in these companies is few and the selection process tough.  Finding a smaller company, one starting off or a company less than ten years in business, may be the best bet.  Be sure to research the companies before you apply so that you can vet whether they truly are legitimate companies and what type of film they produce.

Opportunities are out there for grant-writers looking to fund film opportunities as well as screen-writers.  Many documentary films rely on grant funding to fund their project.  While this type of internship would be less glamorous, you would also have an opportunity to see what goes into preparing and producing a documentary film.

The opportunities are out there.  You just have to do the leg work, but have fun with it.  Be creative and explore your options, and you will find the internship that is just right for you.

Barnard Film Studies Program:

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