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Case Study: Catherine

Personal details
Degree:Films Studies and Modern History MA (Hons) Profile picture
School(s): School of History, School of Philosophy, Anthropology & Film Studies
Year of Graduation:Jun-2011
National of: United Kingdom
Employment details
Organisation: Green Screen Studios
Job title: Marketing Assistant
Occupational Sector: Marketing
What has been your route to getting your current position?
After studying film at St. Andrews and being heavily involved in the theatre society, Mermaids, I decided that I liked the idea of film and television production- it seemed to suit the skills I’d obtained. I managed to get a brilliant contact in the film industry who put me in touch with a company in London, where I carried out a few weeks work experience during my summer holidays.

From here I realised how little I knew and how much I wanted to learn- so I applied to various places for work experience and internships. After a few freelance jobs once I’d graduated I then met with a film producer who was setting up a new company and needed some help in the marketing department- for both the films he was producing and the company studio.

This job was basically obtained through a combination of a fairly experienced CV (for my level) a few contacts, and a producer who gave me a chance. The film industry is hugely difficult to get into and I was really luck
What does your job involve ?
I am the Marketing Assistant and Unit Publicist for a newly formed film company, Green Screen Studios, based just outside of York in England. This company is formed from four notable film producers with the interest in establishing a more prolific film industry in the North of England. The studio itself has green screen facilities, post-production suites, and many more rooms, offices and even accommodation to make it a brilliant movie-making location. I was hired as a member of staff for the foreseeable future to assist in areas of marketing, with the added opportunity to help out on productions when we are filming. There are currently a number of movies lined up with big names and I am assisting on all matters from marketing, to liaisons with agents, and many more responsibilities (they keep growing daily!)
What are the best bits of your job ?

I enjoy meeting talented and passionate people in the industry, working on films that are well known, with well-regarded actors, the travel to and from London, the mentoring of my boss and working with the team around me. I have only recently started in this job and I feel extremely grateful to be working in such an exciting environment, and to be a part of this studio from the beginning when I believe it will grow to be a leading UK film production company in the next few years.

Why were you successful?
I’d like to think I was successful because of the varied amount of skills and experience in my life with regards to production, events management and academics, however even though these play a part, in this industry it’s really about who you know- I wouldn’t have got this job without contacts, although at the same time I wouldn’t have got the contacts without my experience.

My time at St. Andrews definitely set me up for the real world- the great Film Studies department broadened my knowledge in cinema and Mermaids really allowed me to be part of a huge society that impacted many across the town and to work with great teams of people. Finally, I think it helped that the man who hired me is a St. Andrews graduate!

What skills/ knowledge from your degree have you found particularly helpful in this role?
Firstly, my writing style changed dramatically from first to fourth year- if this hadn’t improved I wouldn’t feel comfortable writing anything for my work, and I think the History department’s guidelines really helped me there.

And as I mentioned, the Film Studies Department broadened my knowledge in cinema- I came to University with limited knowledge of film theory and would mainly watch the mainstream movies- but I left with a firm idea of how the industry came about, the history of cinema, knowing about films all over the world, and now go to see a movie with a completely different frame of mind. I hugely appreciate films that are made out of passion and talent, rather than purely financial purposes, but at the same time I understand that the money needs to be there to allow these films to be made!

What advice would you give to students wishing to follow the same path?
If you want to go into film production I would advise you do two things. Firstly- try and get some work experience- in this industry you usually start off as an unpaid runner and the earlier you do this the sooner you’ll be promoted. Use any contacts you have and try to get a week somewhere where you can learn about different areas.

Secondly- Don’t do it unless you realise it’s long (and unusual) hours, very unstable and much harder work than most people think! In film, plans can change constantly so there are ever-changing timelines, and when you start out at the bottom you can really get taken for a ride. It’s all worth it if you’re passionate though, and your talent will get noticed sooner or later.

However, I’ve only just started out so I’m not the best person to ask- try me again in a few years!