If you’re a filmmaker aspiring to get into advertising there are many different routes in. Here are some options to consider:
Direct to brands
The need for branded content is growing all the time in our increasingly digital world. Branded content includes filmed content and advertising and is used across multiple platforms.
Getting your foot in the door will require some leg work on your part, the best way to start is to draw up a list of your target brands and start getting in touch with them one by one. Look for a contact in the marketing team to start with, and be proactive about how you approach them. It helps if you can think of a specific idea to pitch, especially if it means working with one of their brand ambassadors. If you approach the brand ambassador and get them on board first it could help your case.
Many advertising agencies have in-house production teams which usually include at least one videographer. Do some digging and find the production team within the big agency. If they don’t have an in-house team for live-action they’ll have a roster of freelancers you could join. Get in touch and share your reel. Remember distinctive storytelling stands out! Making connections with creative teams who may hire you is invaluable, don’t dismiss this as an exercise.
These tend to be smaller organisations than ad agencies, operating in digital or media, that hire videographers to shoot content for brands. Start off by researching marketing companies near you that offer video or production services. Check their list of clients to ensure they’re a suitable size for you, and that you like what they’re all about – it’s important for the culture to feel right.
Now marketing companies and ad agencies will receive tonnes of calls and emails from potential videographers and creatives so be mindful of your approach; don’t bulldoze your way in, make your message personal to them, and don’t be afraid to ask them what their current situation is and think about what you offer them that’s relevant to them. Include a link to your work, this could be short films or music videos if you don’t have any advertising samples in your portfolio. Also, avoid sending your messages in newsletter form, it could very easily be mistaken for junk.
Content creation platforms
You could also consider using content creation platforms like Tongal which help connect brands with content creators. The benefit is that you can earn funding on the merit of an idea and your ability to execute it. You’ll need to have a comprehensive plan when you pitch! It’s also a great chance to connect with brands and share your work.
Production houses tend to be used for bigger budget jobs, and so they’re usually looking for experienced directors, cinematographers, editors and production designers for their rosters. But this is something to work towards.
You could also consider shooting a spec ad. Make sure you understand the brand, so that you create it in their voice but your style. Invest in good equipment hire, as the quality will need to be up to scratch.
A production company might help you finish a spec idea, or put you on a low budget ad, giving you the same tools they would other directors on their roster.
Remember that they will want to see that you can do one thing really well, so make sure you know what that one thing is, and keep doing it and sharing it with the right people.
Specific crew positions advertised
Lastly, don’t discount applying for a crew position and working your way up. You’ll learn on the job and make good contacts. If you start as a production assistant, make sure you let your producer know that you’re interested in the camera and art department. Always reach out to department heads after each shoot, to bear you in mind for the next job.
You’ll need a thick skin for this industry, but stay proactive, keep going and keep making content you’re passionate about.
Look out for our next article about how to be seen in the industry.