If you don’t have film experience yet, any work experience that shows you have stamina, a good attitude, good people skills, a zest for life and enthusiasm for learning on the job will help. For instance, people with hospitality backgrounds tend to transition into film successfully because of those qualities. Collect some good character and work references for your resume. If you have a car, mention that – you’ll be working strange and long hours in far-flung places and having your own transportation is an important bonus.
Be thorough. Look for possible opportunities in commercials, corporate videos, digital content, music videos, short films and student films. Volunteer work is invaluable when you don’t have work experience – it helps build your resume and it provides important contacts that may lead to paid work in the future. However, be clear about what you’re agreeing to, what you’re doing and who you’re working with.
Consider the world of commercials as it isn’t unionized – there are a handful of companies producing commercials in the lower mainland, most are listed on the CPAWC website.
Investigate working at a rental house that supplies the department that you’re interested in, to learn more and expand your network.
Entry-level work in production on larger big budget shows is generally as a production assistant (PA) in the locations department or the production office. Contact BCPAX - British Columbia Production Assistant Exchange, which is a network of support and connection between PAs and employers. They also help people who are working to connect with the department they would like to join, manage the website BCPAX and are in the process of launching an app called Crew Call, intended for all departments in the industry.
These Reddit links #1 and #2 have some advice about getting into the industry and some good info about what to expect. The Directors Guild of Canada, BC Chapter also posts a PA manual and survival guides.
Being an extra/background performer can also be a good introduction to working on set, too.
Regarding jobs, here are some links:
Craigslist “Crew Gigs” – as always with Craigslist, be aware that the postings are not vetted and it’s wise to ask questions before committing to anything.
Resumes for the motion picture industry look different from a standard resume. If you are unfamiliar with the format, examples of resumes can be found on union websites. Some positions will also require a portfolio/demo reel.
And some words from us to take along with you for your first days on set
There’s a lot to understand in the world of motion picture production so stay positive, alert and humble, be patient and curious, listen carefully and ask questions if you don’t understand how or why you’re doing something. There’s no such thing as a stupid question when you’re starting out. Locations PA’s are often the ambassadors of the film industry in the greater community as they are generally the first point of contact for the public, however everyone who works in film on location are essential ambassadors in all of the communities we work in. So, get to know as much as you can about your role and the impact of production in order to be a positive representative for both production and crew.