In my work with the Missouri Film Office, I’ve had the opportunity to have many conversations with film and TV fans around the state who often say something similar to me. “I would love to work on a movie set, but I don’t have any experience.”
Well, it turns out they might have more experience than they think! There are many jobs with transferable skills that translate very well to working on a film or television production. Let’s look into a few of them.
Are you a Nurse or Paramedic? You could be a Set Medic!
Most large productions are required to have a set medic on site for production. A set medic’s job is to ensure the safety and health of all cast and crew and to respond in the event of medical emergency. Film production sets should have strenuous safety procedures in place, but accidents do happen. A large production can have upwards of 200 people on their set, and there are often heavy electrical equipment, tricky stunts, and long hours, all of which can cause potential medical issues. Because of all these potential hazards, it is necessary to have medical professionals on site in case of an incident.
Are you a graphic designer? You could work in the Art Department!
A skilled graphic designer can always find a job in film and television production. Because of trademark issues, film and television productions are often not allowed to show logos of major brands, so graphic designers are necessary to create fake logos (This is why you would see “Let’s” brand potato chips in anything from NCIS to Modern Family). Graphic designers also make prop flyers, newspapers, magazines, books, and more! And don’t forget, every movie needs a poster.
Are you a landscaper? You could work on as a Greensperson!
Did you know there are whole departments on film and television sets, specifically devoted to caring for any plant featured in the production? If you have a good eye for design and extensive knowledge of caring for plants, you could be a greensperson. The Greens Crew works within the Art Department of a film to design, install, and maintain all “natural” elements on a film or television production. This can include both living and artificial plants, as well as rocks and other landscape features.
Do you work in construction? You could work in the Construction Department!
While some film and television shows film in existing structures, many need to build entire sets from scratch, which can involve huge crews. It is not uncommon for a TV series to rent a large warehouse and build several different sets from scratch inside. On the last show I worked on, the construction crew built four different interiors of houses or apartments in less than a month. From carpenters to painters, many hands are needed to get elaborate sets constructed in a matter of weeks.
Are you a hair stylist or makeup artist? You could work in Hair and Makeup!
Every actor in a film or television production starts their day in the Hair and Makeup trailer. But once they leave the trailer, the hair and makeup artist’s work is not over! Maintaining continuity on a film set is very important, so if an actor’s eyeliner gets smudged, it needs to get fixed right away. Hair and makeup artists are on set for touch ups and more throughout the shooting schedule. And occasionally, there is even a last minute cut or dye job that will have to get done!
Are you a CPA? You could be a production accountant!
In any company, someone needs to keep an eye on the bottom line. Film and TV production is no exception. There are a few specific film accounting programs you would have to learn, but I briefly worked in the accounting department, and was able to pick them up quickly! In addition to production expenses, payroll is an enormous part of the production budget, and any large production will need an accountant and a clerk or two to keep it all straight.
Are you a security guard or police officer? You could work in security!
When a film or TV production needs to block off streets for filming, they need to hire security or off-duty officers to make sure the roads are safe and contained. Even when roads are not being blocked, security is often required by insurance companies to make sure the crew and expensive filming equipment is kept secure.
Are you in food service? You could work in catering or craft services!
A production, much like an army, marches on its stomach. Because film days are often 12+ hours, one or more catered meals are required by the unions. It takes dedicated staff to make sure the hundreds of cast and crew members are fed in a timely manner. In addition to catered meals, craft services provides snacks throughout the day. The crafty person or person(s) make sure the tables are well stocked, and also provide a hot snack in the mid-morning and mid-afternoon.
Don’t think you have any transferable skills? You could be an extra!
Even if you don’t have a job or training that can translate directly to a role on a film crew, you can still be involved in the process! Extras fill out the world of a television or film production. You may not notice them when they are there, but you definitely would if they weren’t! Being an extra is a fun way to observe the filmmaking process without having to do anything more taxing than sitting around all day.
These are just a few of the jobs on a film set that could be available for you. If you think you might be interested in working on a film, but don’t know where to start, you can check out our Film Community Education page or reach out to me at email@example.com.