From time to time, I get e-mails from aspiring wildlife filmmakers who are looking for advice and guidance to help them get into the industry. For me, these e-mail can be extraordinary hard to reply to. This is for a few reasons, the first is that sometimes the e-mails say something like;
"please can you tell me how to get a job in the industry, thanks"
This can be a hard to reply to as one. The other reason is that there really isn't any one route into the industry. The final reason this is hard e-mail to reply to is that I remember sending mails like this myself and remember how useful the advice was at the time when I did rarely get a reply from whoever it was I was pestering! I also hate these e-mails as sometimes they simply say "please can you tell me how to get a job in the industry", and I don't know where to start and don't have time to write an essay. So, you may have received the link to this page in an e-mail after sending me such a message. If you read this, as well as the advice on the links I have posted at the bottom of the page, with advice from other camera operators (who are all far more experienced that I am) and you now have some more specific questions, then feel free to e-mail me again and I'll try and get back to you.
Firstly, a word of warning.
A career in wildlife filmmaking can mean many rewarding years filled with incredible experiences, privileged access to amazing locations and witnessing spectacles of the natural world that very few people get the the opportunity to witness. It can also potentially lucrative. These ying to the yang that is these amazing opportunities is that can however be countered by long periods of time away from home, loved ones, family, missing important birthdays, Christmases, wedding and other life events. Last minute partners schedule changes or cancellations can lead to and extra stresses and financial worries.
Also become used to spending most of your working career of being too hot, too cold, hungry, tired, uncomfortable. When you work freelance, rather than working for yourself as many (non freelancers) think you do, the reality is that you are in ways For freelancers there can be a recurring cashflow battle of ‘feast or famine’. One month you might have lots of work then virtually nothing the next. It is in those low income months that your resilience, patience and motivation can be really tested.
Start at the bottom
The BBC and other independent production companies always have the need for runners, PMA's (Production Managers Assistants) and other junior roles. There's also equipment rental houses such as Esprit Film & TV and Films@59,
Don't be put off or take it personally when you e-mail producers and don't hear anything back. The same still happens to me and also still happens to far more established people than me! Producers and busy people with stressful jobs, and replying to e-mail such as your may take up time in their day and not be particlualry helpful to them
It may be tempting to try and but when you're starting out, try not to undercut . Ultimately productions will pay the right price for
Natural History Network
Wildlife Film Making MA http://courses.uwe.ac.uk/D4P31/wildlife-filmmaking
With this in mind, I figured the best I could do was to write an account of my personal journey into the industry, the mistakes I made along the way and some bullet points that I feel you should now follow to start making a name for yourself
Sounds obvious, but many people try to make a way for themselves in the industry, without a frame