TV is a competitive world to get into and once your in it, you’ll realise it’s a freelance world. Reputation is key and you’ll need a portfolio of companies that know you in order to ensure you’ve got plenty of work coming your way. You want to be in a position where people are fighting to hire you, and when you leave a company everyone sings your praises and can’t wait to hire you back. Here are a few tips to help you achieve that.
Stay out of politics
It can be easy to get sucked into office politics, sat with the team after work, knocking back a pint and revelling in everyone’s hatred for the boss or rumours about who’s having an affair with who. It can almost be addictive and give you a bit of power but remember people always think if they are speaking that way about a person what are they saying about me? It can feel great in your first week to be so involved with the team that they are telling you all sorts but try and maintain a healthy distance from gossip. Be neutral as it can often come back to bite you. If you are at the start of your career that’s not the reputation that you want to have.
Do the things no one has time/wants to do
Go above and beyond the job description and do this with humility.. It’s a balance between getting your job done and then finding solutions to make everything easier. You don’t want to be that person that is constantly bemoaning what needs to be different or that person who talks about what worked at your old company whilst putting down the place you work in now. If you see things that need fixing and you have preferably free ways of doing that that will save time for everyone then these things are always appreciated.
Be a good listener
In the fast paced cut and thrust telly world we often listen to respond rather than actually hear what is being said. In the incessant need to prove that we are doing a good job we can often talk about what we’ve done rather than respond to what is being asked of us. If you don’t understand something ask for clarification, “do you mean this?” Often in the need to prove ourselves we suffer in silence and struggle without asking for help or really what is required of us. This always leads to problems. It’s always better to ask and always best to really listen.
Do your job well
This sounds really really obvious but people can often come to a role particularly an entry level role with ideas of what they want to do rather than what is required of them. So know what you are supposed to be doing and get on with it. It can be tough, you can work with difficult people but be dignified at all ocassions. Learn from people and make sure you do the job the best that you can. No one is expecting you to be perfect but make sure you get through that to do list.
Don’t be nine to five
If you are clock watching, always leaving on time when there is so much to be getting on with, well people really notice that. If you’ve done all you’ve got to do, no problem, but people do remember those that in the midst of a production crisis don’t muck in and stay late. It’s about working as part of a team and working towards the same common goals of creating a great programme. Everyone on the team has an important part to play. So ask, “do you need me to do anything before I head off”, or update people as to where you are with your tasks rather than quietly sneaking off and everyone wondering where you went.
Be able to read people
Emotional intelligence is key to working in telly not everyone has this and not everyone can see beyond what’s going on in their world. So pick up on clues, they look stressed so is now a good time to talk about my personal development. Start of the day is generally better for that kind of chat not in the midst of production. If someone is in an intense conversation or working hard against a deadline suss out that maybe now is not the best time to talk about your weekend, or the student film you want them to see.
Don’t take it personally
You will come across stressed difficult people in television and the key is how you handle them. There will be an urge to eye roll and tell them exactly where to go but think is that going to be really helpful to your career. Spot that they are stressed and think what can I do to make things easier. Also know that it’s never really about you but more about what’s going on in their life. So keep it professional, keep it focused on the work and be clear about what you’ve done. Come up with solutions rather than blame other people and be positive and people will respect that.
Lose the attitude
You may well have been the best filmmaker in your college but you were a big fish in a small pond and now you are swimming with the sharks in the ocean. In the words of Kendrick Lamarr “be humble”, you have a lot to learn and be open to that. People love working with keen enthusiastic people and a know it all who thinks they are above certain things gets tired very quickly. So be nice.
Let people know you love it there
Don’t be sat in the corner sulking and pouting or blend into the background so much that you become part of the wall paper. Tell people you enjoy working there. Ask them what other productions are coming up. Say you’d love to work there again. Often people are so busy that sometimes unless you tell them that you are keen to stay they will presume otherwise. Don’t be too saccharine and fake though, a Disney princess is fine for the movies but can be annoying in the office.
Keep in touch
Don’t wait for people to remember you, keep in touch. Let people know when you are coming free again. Let people know as you develop new skills and climb up the ladder. Also if you’ve watched one of the productions the company has made just drop them an email to say how great you thought it was. So keep chatting to them and they’ll remember you. Be wary though of verging into stalker ex girlfriend territory though.