Looking to land a video production job? Here’s how to stand out

Want a video production agency job but don’t know where to start? If you have the work experience and you’ve been searching for months and haven’t gotten the results you want, then maybe it’s time to think about what you could do differently.

Working in video production is great. You regularly meet new people, work on different sets, different projects, with fun gadgets and equipment – among other things. But the competition is fierce. A lot of people starting out create showreels with university or arthouse projects. Here’s the thing. No one wants to see it.

As a video production company, we get approached by a lot of people wanting to work in this industry, which is great! If you want to get noticed by us or companies alike, here’s what you should do.

Get your foot in the door – the right way

One of the hardest things in video production is getting your foot in the door. Grab your prospective employer’s attention by writing a bespoke email to show that you researched the company and that you have a general interest in working for them.

You can do this by referencing a project they have worked on or a blog post they have written. Access to this kind of information should not be that hard. Trawl their website, check out their social media or ask around about the company. Do your homework!

When you’re getting started, you should be trying to build your network in the industry. Therefore start with small goals rather than asking for a job outright. That could mean aiming to get advice, a mentoring opportunity, joining a shoot or coming along for free to get some experience. You’ve got to offer something and get someone to give you the opportunity to impress them.

Network and be nice!

Your first job, you’re not necessarily going to be chosen because of your skillset because you’re not doing much on a shoot. You’re simply helping out. So, you have to build rapport. That’s why you’re there! Whether in office or on a shoot, the best thing to do is to ask what the person in charge wants from you. Don’t go in thinking you know what you are doing. “Just tell me what you want me to do and I’ll do it.” That kind of social intelligence on a shoot is what we’re after.

And for the love of God, be on time. In this industry, no amount of skill, creativity or hard work can undo the damage done by arriving late. The best video professionals we know leave absolutely nothing to chance. They arrive at least 30 minutes early and grab a coffee while they wait. (Speaking of coffee, we are proud to support a local South African business – you can buy coffee beans online from them).

You never know when a job can come up – it pays to be nice. People can leave jobs at any time and your name might come up. We asked our MD, Jamie about this and he said: “When a job opens up at TopLine, if we already know someone who might be right for the role, and they’ve impressed us on a shoot, we will go straight to them and invite them to apply. This saves us a huge amount of time and reduces the risk of hiring the wrong person – after all, we have already seen them in action.”

Mentors help

Getting a mentor is great. Especially if they can expose you to the right people. We use lots of freelance crew that ask to bring along an assistant, just for the experience – your skills will help you succeed in the role, but a mentor will serve as a character reference before you get it. And you will find most freelancers are amenable.

Is there still a place for the showreel?

This is tricky because timing is everything. If you’re trying to get your first job in video – as soon as you say “here’s my showreel” – chances are the content isn’t going to be relevant to the company.

However, if you’ve been in the industry a year or two and you’ve worked on relevant or relatable content, that’s a different story. We work with many freelancers and every now and then we get an email from them to show what they’ve been up to, almost like a newsletter. Because it’s someone we’re already in contact with, we nearly always watch their video content.

Ask yourself: does your showreel represent some industry work that would be noticed by the recipient? If you’re contacting a production company that solely produces animated explainer videos, your camera work showreel is not applicable.

Being a jack of all trades isn’t necessarily the best approach

Video production used to be more specialised. In the past, you needed formal qualifications, training and exposure to expensive equipment and software to start producing content.

With new tech advancements, cameras and software are cheaper and entry to the industry is easier. Accordingly, a lot more opportunities exist for self-taught individuals. So how do you compete when today, everyone can do almost everything because it’s so accessible?

Having a diverse skill set can be advantageous but specialism shouldn’t put people off from applying for a position. If we have someone apply for an editor position who can’t do anything else but edit vs someone with the ability to also do sound, direct shoots – among other things, we would always hire whoever was the best editor.

Focus on mastering one thing, and once you’re really good at it then by all means, get the other skills and use them to your advantage.

We hope you found these tips useful and informative!