First Light interviews film industry employers

First Light interviews film industry employers

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How do you get into the film industry? First Light asked film producer Colin Burrows, who runs Special Treats Productions, about what he looks for in his trainees.

Do you prefer interns/new entrants to be graduates? If so, are there any particular courses that stand them in good stead?

A degree is not important as far as we are concerned – personal attitude is far more crucial. However, if a degree has been obtained, a hands-on degree in the practical aspects of media – camerawork or editing – is welcome.

What qualities do you look for at Special Treats?

Positive attitude, attention to detail, willingness to lend a hand with every aspect, sense of humour and sense of responsibility, good time keeping and personal appearance.

Is there any advice you could offer young people seeking a career within the industry?

Smarten up, show willing.

What advice do you wish you had been given when starting out?

I was given tons of advice when I started out knocking on doors. Being persistent was the best advice I received as getting a job now is as hard as it was then in a previous recession so will happen as much by luck as by anything you do. But give luck a hand by putting yourself in the way of potential employers by volunteering for unpaid work experience.

Is there anything that trainees should avoid doing at all costs?

They should avoid the opposite of smarten up and show willing. There’s nothing trainees here avoid as they wouldn’t last if they did. However, as an employer, I try to remember I have a responsibility not to exploit the trainee so they tend to work shorter hours with us and don’t do weekends unless they want to.

What do your trainees normally go on to do next?

Many stay on to work with us…we have a long tradition of growing people from inside the company. Others are freelance producers and directors now.

During the past 20 years, Special Treats Productions has built a reputation for excellence, providing broadcast and production services to a wide range of clients including Universal, Paramount, Disney, BAFTA, Sony, Warners and 20th Century Fox. The company produces cinema trailers, Electronic Press Kits, corporate videos and provides event coverage for the biggest names in the entertainment industry. And they produce the sizzle for the First Light Awards so they must be great!

We also spoke to Celine Beunier and Anna Swift who work in Careers and Recruitment at Framestore.

Anna recruits for Animation and VFX, and Celine for Film and VFX

Do you prefer your interns/new entrants to be graduates? If so, are there any particular courses that stand them in good stead?

AS: The majority of junior hires at Framestore are graduates. Seeing as this industry is highly sought after, most students have a rough idea of what they want to do within the industry, therefore VFX and Animation courses are the more popular courses that give graduates a more direct route into the company.

CB: Interns are in their 2nd or 3rd year of study generally. For new entrants we don’t hire a lot of graduates in all honestly. If we did it would be junior roles but we do prefer grads with some production work experience.

What qualities do you look for at Framestore?

AS: People that a hardworking, passionate about VFX and who can work well with others to strict deadlines.

CB: We look for people that are really passionate and willing to do anything to succeed. People that take every opportunity to succeed are the best for us really!

Is there any advice you could offer young people seeking a career within the industry?

AS: To do some lengthy research as to what area of VFX/Animation they want to get into as it is pretty broad and hard to get into. Following that, looking at the relevant software that we use for the specific areas of VFX and trying to use it whenever possible! Also it great to learn from the best. Whether it be Animators or Concept Artist, have a look online at what some of our talented artists do, and there is your benchmark!

CB: I would say to try and interact with industry as soon as you possibly can as this will give people the best indication of what jobs there are available and how to get into them!

What advice do you wish you had been given when starting out?

AS: That everything will work out you just have to work hard and be committed with the right attitude! As most graduates have worked hard (and paid a lot) to study, it can be disheartening to start at the bottom, but it REALLY is the best way to learn and will give you a better skill set and more confidence as you continue your career.

CB: I wish someone had told me to take advice of uni careers services in finding out about the industry I wanted to be in – get involved in work experience as soon as you can!

Is there anything that trainees avoid doing at all costs?

CB: Rejecting opportunities – even if you don’t think they are what you want at the time. All experience is good experience.

What do your trainees normally go on to do next?

AS: Most junior hires start as runners, trackers or paint & roto artists and then work their way up from there. We train anyone that comes into the company at a junior level and want you to develop your career and skill set with us.

Framestore creates amazing images that entertain, communicate, influence and shape people’s views about subjects as diverse as health, music, films, television and many aspects of our society. Framestore’s clients include most leading advertising agencies, Hollywood studios, and major brands such as Nokia, Coca Cola, Nestlé, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Pepsi, Volkswagen and Cadbury.