If you are a director looking for your big break, this can be a very stressful time. With so many directors and filmmakers on the market, getting signed to a big agency can seem almost impossible. Fortunately, if you are looking for tips and tricks on how to increase your chances of getting signed, you have come to the right place! We have compiled a list of tips that will come in handy for young directors who are looking to take the industry by storm!
1. Production Companies
Get in contact with production companies! More often than not, production companies are open to working with freelancers on a variety of projects. Constantly be on the lookout for open project briefs and potential client contacts. There are numerous websites where various parties who are interested in getting a video produced post their briefs. You can try websites such as Genero, Wooshii, and The Smalls. Just create an account and browse through their open briefs. You should keep in mind that these websites are often looking for production companies, so we would recommend being affiliated with one!
Compile a list of production companies and get in touch with them! Send an e-mail, call, show interest, and showcase your best works!
A great example of how fruitful affiliating yourself with a production company can be is director Charlotte Regan. She is a young, up-and-coming director who created the multi-award winning short documentary Drug Runner. Charlotte partnered with us to produce this Vimeo Staff Pick-winning short film, which has also been nominated for the Leeds International Film Festival and the Shots Awards! You can check out Drug Runner here:
2. Showcase your Previous Work Properly
The first impression a prospective employer will get from you is your CV and portfolio. Make sure that you previous work is easily accessible. We recommend that you create a website where you can upload the best projects you’ve worked on; this way, everything is in one, easy-to-navigate place. Include this link in your CV and in your e-mail signature. No possible employer will go out of their way to access your work, so it’s essential you put yourself in the best possible light and make it easy for people to find you and your work.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a website builder extraordinaire or pay someone to build the website for you. There are plenty of free website builders on the internet. These online softwares offer a quick solution for putting together everything you want highlighted in one place. These templates provide a great foundation for creating a personalised online space where employers can understand more about who you are as a director. Here are a few options which might come in handy:
Website Builder: https://www.websitebuilder.com/
And of course, a good old-fashioned Vimeo channel can work wonders, as well.
3. Know When to Make Use of Your Creativity
In today’s day and age, everything moves fast and people’s time is more and more limited. This means you have to stand out from the crowd. However, sometimes oldies are goodies for a reason.
Make sure that when you send an email to a potential employer, you abide by the general conventions of formatting a formal email. Your email should have an opening and closing line, you should clearly introduce yourself and explain the purpose of the email. This will help you appear serious about your potential and professional. Keep it short, sweet, and concise, and don’t forget to attach your CV and portfolio. Here is where you can let your creativity and individuality shine – the way you design and build these elements should be tailored to who you are and what you stand for.
Make sure that your initial contact is easy to read and clear. Employers receive dozens of emails every day. Receiving something that does not look professional is very likely to be perceived as spam and disregarded. Think of it as business in the front, party in the back! Professional, formatted email and fun, customised CV and portfolio!
4. Freelance Camera Operators are Your Best Friend
Camera operators will take care of the technical aspect of your shoot. They will record the image for you, have the right settings on the camera, and keep an eye out for inconsistencies. Find the right camera operator, and you can truly focus on directing rather than the complexities of working a camera.
More often than not, camera operators are there to shoot well what they are asked to shoot. In terms of style, look, and feel, the director will be leading the creative on this. Creating a relationship with reliable camera operators can be extremely helpful down the line. If you need someone short-notice, or would like to do a passion project, you will have someone you can turn to immediately. If a client wants a recommendation, you can vouch for this person.
A good place to source camera operators is film schools. Students are eager to add to their portfolios and get experience. Think of it as a “I scratch your back, you scratch mine’ situation. Having a camera operator (or camera operators) that you have nurtured a professional relationship with can help you get noticed (and/or recommended!) down the line.
5. Never Underestimate Film Festivals
Film festivals are a great way of showing your work to a larger audience and increasing your chances of being noticed by the right person. Check for upcoming film festivals and submit your recent work. Each festival has a different submission process, so we advise that you check the necessary steps carefully on each festival’s respective website.
To increase your chances of having your work screened, make sure you highlight why screening your work at the festival will attract participants to the festival. Festivals are looking to include films which elicit a strong reaction from the viewer and create interest. Market your piece as intriguing and interesting, highlighting the unique selling points of your film. Help them see why screening your film will bring in viewers and increase their festival’s appeal, and you are bound to give yourself the best chance!
6. Start as an Assistant Director or Junior Producer
Building your career from the ground up is a good, old-fashioned way of making a name for yourself in the industry. We recommend two very good starting positions to keep in mind are assistant director and assistant editor.
Being an assistant director allows you to gain experience and build a relationship with an already-signed director. Take this opportunity to observe how you should conduct yourself on-set, meet people, and build work contacts that will be of use in your future career as a director. Additionally, you will get the opportunity to add projects to your portfolio and consolidate your skills.
As a producer, you will obviously learn about producing, but the best producer also knows a lot about every aspect of the video creation process. Due to this, you will gain a well-rounded knowledge of the video and film industry. You will have more opportunities being towards the top of the food chain to make creative decisions and have influence over the finished product. It is commonplace in the industry nowadays for successful producers to step into directing shoes.
There you have it–six of our top-tips to getting signed. Work with a production company, make sure your CV/portfolio/website is consistently up-to-date, make use of your creativity, build relationships with freelance camera operators (and eventual DPs!), attend and submit work to film festivals, and start in an assistant or junior position. There is no right or wrong way to begin making your name in the industry. Any combination of these tips will help.
The most important thing is to be persistent and always be careful about your work ethic. At the end of they day, you are representing yourself – every contact with a possible employer or client shapes your image in the industry. Take full advantage of each and every one of these encounters – everyone wants to work with someone who is pleasant, talented, and genuinely works hard!