Getting started with a media career is no easy feat, as most of you already know. But do your homework, feel the passion, and WORK at it and you have every chance of success. As we have said here before, while you are trying to break in to TV you need to be developing your TV skills and marketing them.
Ash Bhardwaj set up a blog (http://ashbhardwaj.wordpress.com) covering his interest in travel, adventure and documentary filmmaking. Not only did he come up with an idea for a film about his mixed race background and the personal conflicts it raised but also he worked hard to find a producer to help him make a trailer. On the back of that six-minute trailer he got interviews with the BBC and Channel 4.
Even if he doesn’t get the film commissioned Ash is certainly making some great contacts. Ash himself admits, in an article he did for SceneTV, that the blog helped improve his skills:
“I began blogging about my story – which forced me to understand and refine it better. It also massively improved my writing skills, which is always helpful. And by telling people I was doing it, and posting developments on Facebook, people would ask me about it and that created accountability for me! I couldn’t fail to make it as my pride would be bruised! Twitter is also a brilliant way of finding and connecting with people. I post the video to Facebook and unexpected things come of it – people I haven’t spoken to for years have put me in touch with agents or people who may want to fund the project”.
Ash is learning a lot about making your way into a media career and nows shares those valuable lessons with us. Over to Ash:
Getting Started with a Media Career
In the last week I’ve met two staff employees in the media industry. One is a staff writer at a News International publication and the other owns his own production company having been a head of department at two British broadcasters. But both of them had similar things to say and several points came up in both that are worth repeating here:
- It’s a slog. You will spend a lot of time, especially at the beginning, feeling like you’re banging your head against a brick wall. Trying first to get experience and then contacts, trying to figure out what editors/commissioners want. The key is asking.
- But, you shouldn’t be working for free for too long. It helps to gain initial contacts and learn jargon or the structure of an industry, but do not undersell yourself: why would someone pay you for something if they know you can do it for free. It can help to get some experience on your CV and make a few contacts. But the key is to applying for entry level jobs, or jobs appropriate to your ability and experience.
- Even for experienced people, there is little security. Media is fast moving and ruthless. People are not in posts for long, and they will move around regularly. Ratings and feedback are quick and unsympathetic. And the higher you go, the more accountability you have for failures (people don’t notice success as often!)
- When you work in freelance, start thinking about what you are doing next midway through what you are doing now. Time out of employment is just as important for your admin, networking and relaxation (it’s a stressful job at times).
- It’s hard to map out a career path. In many careers, such as accountancy or medicine, you can plan your direction several years in advance. But in media, you don’t know where your next assignment might lie – expertise is often learned quickly and you can become a specialist by accident. However, knowing this, you can try to specialise in certain areas or work for certain production companies.
- Be creative with your ideas and gain access to decision makers and those who will give you guidance and feedback. This is the advantage of a staff position. Offer up ideas and believe in them. It can be a lot of knockbacks and developments before something is taken up, but when it is, the reward is almost incomparable.
- Get to know as many people as possible. Impress at every opportunity and be honest about what you want. Ask more experienced people for advice – they are usually very willing to give you a hand up. Also, if you leave a good impression, you’ll be kept in mind when a job does come up.
- But enjoy what you do! Media work can be hugely rewarding, not to mention fun. This is essential if you are going to put up with the negative aspects of the industry. It is not secure, reliable or stable. But you will have phenomenal experiences and meet great people. It’s genuinely creative and enormously varied.
- Blog about what you do – record your experience to build a portfolio, demonstrate your interest and to use your time effectively: it will cause you to focus your thoughts.
- Be patient – the banging your head against a brick wall is making more progress than you think
- Don’t work for free if you should be getting paid for your level
- Be aware of the lack of stability
- Plan your next job
- Think about where you want to go and seek work in those areas
- Use meetings well to develop ideas and get feedback
- Network and ask for advice.
- Enjoy it!
An excellent and realistic view of the route into a media career. Thank you Ash! You can read this article on Ash’s own blog at http://ashbhardwaj.wordpress.com.
You can also follow Ash on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/#!/AshBhardwaj