I had an email today from someone asking for help getting their first break in tv production. I thought I’d post up a modified version of my advice here.
Keep doing the right things – formal courses, online courses (BBC College of Production), writing nice emails to people who have caught your attention. Be nice, positive, polite, friendly and will get you somewhere eventually. Make sure your emails and well written, free of errors and succinct.
Be clear about what you want to do. Do you want to work in production (the editorial/creative side – runner/researcher/director/producer etc) or production management (nuts and bolts/finance etc – production manager/prod co-ordinator) or more craft skills (editing, camera, sound etc).
Keep an eye on The Unit List website/twitter feed for odd days of experience you might be able to do (there are other sites but this is free and easily accessible). Keep plugging away with Work Experience, shadowing, placements etc – and make sure you develop a good looking CV that you update after EVERY experience.
Make sure you get at least one thing out of every opportunity – a new skill, experience, contact. You should watch, listen and ask sensible questions at sensible times but number one priority when you’re doing a job is doing THAT job well. Above all else, it’s no good finding out about the latest tapeless-HD camera technology from the cameraman if the presenter is late because you didn’t pick them up – you won’t be asked back.
Don’t be too focussed on the BBC – it’s a big employer but not the only one… Probably about two-thirds of TV isn’t made by the BBC so spread your net wide.
Talent managers, production managers etc will want to check you out – some just through your CV – but many will Google you to look at Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. – either before or after they call you. Make sure what they will be able to see on there gives a positive impression – so delete the dodgy-photos or outrageous opinions etc or sort the privacy settings out. However NO presence whatsoever raises suspicions (especially if they think you are quite young) so don’t delete yourself completely from social media.
For more advice have a look at this – and the other links on the page – really practical advice from someone who really knows the score.
This advice could go on forever but feel free to tell me if I’ve missed something crucial or got it completely wrong.