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How to get a job in the entertainment industry

Getting a job in film, tv or the arts can be tough, but there aren’t many people in the UK who know better what it takes to get a career than Cathy Alford of Searchlight.

Cathy Alford – Searchlight Managing Director

Based in London, Searchlight is a leading provider of recruitment and executive search for the media and entertainment sectors, both in the UK and internationally. We interviewed Cathy to talk about the qualities of applicants in the entertainment industry.

Could you tell a bit about your job?

As Managing Director of Searchlight, I oversee a team of talented consultants who work with our clients to fill their open vacancies. I also handle searches for senior candidates.

How did you end in media & entertainment recruitment?

I was a film editor originally and then went to work in a number of management jobs at the BBC. I joined Searchlight when I wanted a more work/life balance and have been here ever since.

We have worked with most of the international studios, UK broadcasters and many independent media companies in TV, Film, arts, events and digital.

What are the most and least competitive jobs in film and TV?

All jobs in the film and TV industry are competitive, but a lot of people want to work in production as producers and directors. However, there are so many other roles within film and television which are equally rewarding, whether that be in marketing, sales, PR, or even business affairs.

In any of these roles, you could be flying off to LA or Cannes to handle the sales and marketing of TV programmes. There is always a shortage of good quality broadcast engineering types, so if you want to work in TV but have technical leanings, this is a great way in.

What advice would you give to people who want to work in the entertainment industry?

Don’t feel any role is beneath you (making the tea today could lead to a junior production assistant role tomorrow). Or start in reception. This could lead to a junior marketing or PR role.

Get as much work experience as possible, and network with everyone you meet. Make sure you get their contact details so you can keep in touch. Be nice to everyone – they’ll remember you next time there is a job available.

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The Event Cinema experience

Should you go to film school?