Generation Zs: Think you know about graduate roles in filmmaking?

Laura Clark

Our video production assistant, Laura, shares her personal experience on how Generation Zs can make it in the film industry (spoiler alert: it doesn’t involve making tea and coffee all day).

As a recent graduate myself, we all know finishing university can be tough, transitioning from the freedom of your own study routine into the world of work can be pretty terrifying. After graduating from the University of Leeds last summer (in the midst of a global pandemic!), I was faced with making my own way in the world when all you really want to do is have a big ol’ nap after 17 years of education! So, you end up comparing and putting a load of unnecessary pressure on yourself.

The creative industries are arguably more overwhelming with so many routes to choose from. If you’ve studied film and TV for the past three years and you’re squirming to use your breadth of knowledge on Scorcese’s filmmaking techniques and share your original, fresh ideas on cinema, you tend to push your way through endless ‘politely nagging’ emails to production companies usually in the busy hub of the capital in an attempt to be a runner or at least an assistant (hoping you don’t just make tea and coffee all day!).

Many tiring long hours and near-broken back later, you reflect on why you chose this route and wonder if poor old Martin had to scurry his way through a demanding production company in South West London just so yummy mummies can watch Loose Women on a Wednesday morning before yoga class? Well lucky for you, there are other options in this industry with jobs more attractive that still allow you to pay rent without breaking your back and actually let you hold a camera (say what!). Of course, working your way through a generic film/TV production company can be enjoyable for some but not everyone has the means and headspace to deal with Denise Welch on set (and that’s if you’re lucky!)

So let’s think about the content us Gen-Z soak up every day and the over-saturated visual stimulation the beautiful World Wide Web enlightens us with. The breadth of content is endless, we can pick and choose what and where to find our entertainment, from Netflix, to YouTube and every social media channel in between; we’ve grown up with these platforms and seen them flourish into effective marketing tools for brands. Now this makes for a great area for that buzz word ‘content creation’ – so who makes all that online video content in an attempt to stand out from the very busy crowd? With the rapid rise of video viewing which has almost doubled since 2018, it’s the fastest-growing part of our industry in the UK.

You don’t just have to be an ‘influencer’ or ‘YouTuber’ to promote and design visual content for brands. Production companies like Manto know how to use the techniques practised and taught in the film/TV industry and bring the best to online visual content.

The digital age is heavily ingrained into our lives and brands who are navigating their way in this space need guidance from visual storytellers, like ourselves. This creates an exciting space for creatives and Manto sees this opportunity for filmmakers to expand their careers into the digital realm. You don’t even have to work in London to flourish in your film career, there’s a variety of work in other hubs around the UK such as Leeds.

I was lucky enough to land a spot with Manto and see first hand this path can be equally – if not more – exciting than the usual graduate route into filmmaking – and less of the ‘you’re just a graduate with no experience’ trope! What attracted me to online video production was the huge variety of work; one week you’re assisting dogs on set for a pet food company, and the next you’ve got your head in an edit for a charity that works to rehabilitate young offenders and then you’re slowly pulling focus on a violin while witnessing a beautiful orchestra playing. This allows your creative energy to shine in all parts of the creation process, seeing how a project can go from start to finish, from planning to production to seeing it advertised on your Instagram algorithm. 

Oh, and if you’re dying to get your hands on a big boy camera after practising with industry-standard kit for three years and fed up with the false promises from producers ‘you can have a play with the Red when we have a chance’ – news flash, that time never comes! But don’t you worry, production companies like Manto know you have the capability to tell a story with a camera, why else would you have studied a degree in it and shouted about it in your LinkedIn skills section? Getting thrown in and being hands-on from the outset is such a confidence boost and allows you to really show off your filmmaking skills in a variety of projects.

If you are attracted to the fast-moving environment of the typical TV industry, no two days are the same at Manto. Every day is different as projects come and go with the ever-changing online trends. It’s compelling to learn how to engage audiences’ attention by experimenting with a vast amount of filmmaking techniques for an array of brands. Working in a multidisciplinary environment further hones in on your skills and allows you to dip your toes into all the processes from planning to production (actually using that camera!), to piece the story together in post.

Experience in being a creative all-rounder is vital in such a competitive industry and working in online video production gives you that opportunity. From those promotional videos, you did off your back for that charity when you were 16 because it looked good on your CV, to that bit of graphic design work you did for that society at university, to those photos you took of that band when their ‘official photographer’ dropped out last minute.

You can finally put those skills you’ve endlessly practised into a creative job in this industry (and get paid without breaking your back!). We can all dream of being Martin Scorsese one day, but for now, I’ll happily settle for filming dogs, making dreamy brand videos in the Peak District and using my voice to stand out and tell a story to the goggled-eyed internet.