UK film distribution guide
Applying for a work placement in UK film distribution
Getting a job in the film business is highly competitive. As you would expect, when sifting applicants, employers always look for real proof of commitment. So, any experience you can gain via a work placement at a film distributor or in a related media/entertainment sector may help to give you an edge.
This FDA digest is designed to help you apply for a work placement in the all-important film distribution sector. It is not intended to stop you from pro-actively offering your services and making a speculative application. But by checking in here first, you may be able to increase your chances of success.
You can help yourself, for example, by not applying to companies whose placement positions are full, and you can find the preferred time to submit your application to individual companies whose plans and timetables will progress and change during the year. This website is updated every week, so please check back.
Various arrangements apply across the sector. Most UK distributors welcome applications for placements and internships, even though there are not many places. Some take students on an occasional or seasonal basis, while others operate more formal procedures. Some companies may give priority to students from particular colleges or universities.
Please follow the individual procedures for each company set out below:
All applicants are considered according to their individual merits. The most useful aptitudes are the ability to express yourself clearly, verbally and in writing; sound basic numeracy and basic or higher computer skills; lots of imagination tempered with common sense; commercial awareness; and a willingness to collaborate as part of a small, busy, fast-working team.
A demonstrable love of film is important, though not enough on its own. Employers are likely to be as interested in how you spent your leisure time at college as in the subject or class of your final degree.
Make the most of anything you have done that is relevant and could give you an edge over other candidates. Among the useful aptitudes listed above, where do your particular strengths lie? If you've ever worked in a cinema, made a film of your own, run a film society, or written reviews for a student newspaper, make sure this is clearly stated. Quentin Tarantino famously gleaned an exhaustive knowledge of cinema when he worked in a video store.
When communicating with any company, do your homework first. Get to know the range of films they are releasing - you can find such information on this website. Try to reflect some of this knowledge briefly in any letters you write or answers you give.
Further reading is always useful. FDA's guide to UK film distribution includes sections on many aspects of releasing films, including jobs. Be prepared to try your hand at a variety of tasks, including some mundane or administrative ones that are nevertheless essential!
If and when you attend an interview, remember that you are interviewing them while they are interviewing you - personnel selection is a two-way process. As far as possible, try to form an impression of whether the company's style, pace and atmosphere would suit you. How many employees are there and is further job training available to them?
FDA would encourage any dynamic person with appropriate interests - whatever their ethnic or national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, political or religious beliefs - to apply for a distribution work placement. Please ensure you apply correctly to the individual company, not to FDA. And don't forget that any vacancies are sure to be over-subscribed - no application, however strong, is a guarantee of a position. Keep at it and good luck!