Alumni advice - straight from the industry

Alumni advice - straight from the industry

These guys are all First Light and Second Light alumni, all in their 20s, and in varying stages of their careers in film and TV. They have some advice of their own for new entrants:

Charlie Coombes, 22

Charlie worked on First Light film 23 Pieces back in 2006 and hasn’t looked back. Charlie decided not to go to university and has already built up an amazing CV working on The Boat That Rocked, Harry Potter and Never Let Me Go. The started out as a runner and now works in Production.

It is often said it is not what you know but who you know, well I didn’t know anyone when I started out, and I think experience really counts: The great thing about modern technology is that you can now make HD movies using phones! Make lots of films using whatever camera you can get hold of, even if its stop motion using lego! Write to production companies and ask for work experience, lots of indies are always offering work experience, you will learn so much and it will look brilliant on your CV.

Whilst working in this industry has its moments, it is not at all glamorous! Be prepared for long days, making lots of tea, fighting epic wars with unruly photocopiers, no social life and lots of hard work. If you are giving your all people will notice and perhaps doing that little bit extra will get you your next job.

Asif Ali, 28

Azy Ali joined the Second Light pilot scheme in 2010. Since completing the training he has gained a place at the National Film and Television School where he is near to completing an MA in Producing. He is the first Scottish Asian to gain a place on the course.

“Starting out can be extremely difficult when no-one takes you seriously. Especially when you are a minority, and have a thick Scottish accent. I have been fortunate to meet some inspirational individuals who have been nothing but supportive, but I had to convince them that I am not just another person. The most difficult aspect is getting the door open and the minute the door is open take it both hands running”.

“I would now say it is important to be specific about what you want. Try and meet people who you wish to work with. I found it extremely frustrating and difficult to get people to see me but I never gave up. Being tenacious is a great asset.”

Sue Lau, 26

Sue was a trainee on First Light’s Creative Apprenticeship scheme in 2010 and has since worked on various shorts and has been accepted onto Creative Skillset’s Trainee Placement Scheme for a position as a Script Supervisor.

All industries have their own unique challenges. When I decided that I wanted to establish myself in the film industry I didn’t tell anyone as I didn’t want to be told it was unrealistic; this was probably a mistake as the support I now get from family and friends is invaluable.

The first thing I learnt was that there is more than meets the eye to the film industry… being a runner is the best position to observe the different roles involved and how it all operates. Nothing is more valuable than on-set experience.