Film Adjacent Careers
Those working behind those who work behind the scenes
Many employers, niche work
“Film adjacent” careers is a term used to encompass all the work opportunities that are not directly involved in production. Roles for production are covered by creative leads (above-the-line), creative support (below-the-line), or creative tech (animation, VFX and post production).
Outside of that core production activity are hundreds of different companies, associations, organizations and government offices in which people work to directly and indirectly support motion picture production activity. Their contributions are tremendously important to a production’s smooth function and also to the success of the industry itself. This is a smaller workforce than that at the core of motion picture production.
Sometimes film adjacent careers require expert knowledge of a specific field relevant to the film industry or the creative process. Sometimes it requires technical skills relevant to a specific department in physical production. But it’s not always essential to have an understanding of film production to work in film adjacent careers. It will be necessary to generalize about the types of jobs available in this supporting segment of the industry. We can give you foundations and ideas in this orientation that will inform your own research should you seek to pursue a creative pathway toward a film adjacent career.
Working in the industry ecosystem
Lots of film adjacent careers never touch the set.
This is the work behind the Behind the Scenes crew, with a wide range of jobs including many supporting the industry beyond production. The Ecosystem page lays out clearly five key areas of business activity that support actual production and offers the most comprehensive lists and links to B.C. film adjacent organizations and businesses.
Here you will learn about the types of careers in each:
- Service, Supply & Production Equipment Companies
- Education & Training Organizations Related to Film
- Industry Associations
- Film Commissions & Related Government Bodies
- Film Festivals
Traditional recruitment through job postings
Film adjacent careers can offer longer term employment, as they are not project-based.
Some examples include working as an operations manager or technician for a film equipment rental company or broker or banker specializing in motion picture insurance and finance. And there are jobs working in the larger ecosystem, such as curating films for a film festival or working at an industry organization or economic development agency or film commission.
The key is to understand what jobs match your current skills and to look at the people working at that company (either in its employee directory or on LinkedIn). See the scale of the company, the range of functions and levels of seniority among its staff. This will give you a sense of how large the business is and whether there would be opportunity to enter then grow within the company over years as you expand and advance in that field.
Find jobs by monitoring their websites and social media profiles for work opportunities if you are interested in “film adjacent” careers.
Getting in, building skills and experience
Related work experience matters. Many who work in film-adjacent careers bring transferable skills such as budgeting, logistics, computer skills, communications and leadership.
From there, they learn about industry-specific practices and are trained on the tools that help them do their jobs.
Get acquainted with film adjacent careers
The following is a guide to each of the five segments of the ecosystem from a careers perspective. The five segments are Service + Supply, Education, Industry Associations, Commissions + Government and Film Festivals.
This overview will help you to compare and contrast them based on:
- what the purpose of the segment is and how it fits into the ecosystem
- what function this segment serves and some types of roles typically found in the segment
Service and Supply
This is the work behind the Behind the Scenes crew, with a wide range of jobs including many directly supporting production. The service and supply companies provide everything from equipment and gear rentals to legal and casting services and even the purpose-built sound stages that are leased by productions.
To find work at Service + Supply companies, look for job postings on Linked In, on our Opportunities section of the website and on their company websites.
Function and Stage
There are too many functional roles to list them all, but the following will give you a good idea of those people and companies known as Supply and Service:
- warehouse positions in equipment supply companies (also known as gear rental houses)
- specialized suppliers such as marine filming units
- casting directors
- talent agents
- insurance and finance teams
- business affairs personnel
- rights clearance specialists
- music licensing experts
- script breakdown services personnel
- marketing and publicity specialists who support the sales and distribution phase of filmmaking
As a highly educated workforce, many who work in film have post-secondary education, whether training on the art or craft of filmmaking (film schools training above-the-line talent), a specific technical or trades function relevant to live action production, and animation, VFX and post production. (animation and VFX programs or schools training creative tech talent)
Additionally, the industry has a dedicated health and safety training organization, Actsafe, which serves workers in the entertainment and the arts. See some of the required training courses to work in motion picture production listed on the Opportunities section of this site, or visit ActSafe.
Function and Stage
Whether private institution or public, most education institutions will have a mix of film instructors, professors, operational and administrative staff.
Industry associations tend to operate adjacently to production activity. Instead, these associations operate year-round to connect their membership (typically businesses or individuals in the industry). Many industry associations offer training, networking events, communications and promotion, as well as data and policy development relevant to the segment of the industry they serve.
Function and Stage
Industry associations tend to be small organizations with some paid staff, and a board of directors comprised of people with senior experience in the industry and current leadership roles in industry.
Commission and Government
Film Commissions and Government agencies supporting film production activity include the provincial film commission and six regional film commissions. See more about these organizations.
Government agencies include municipal licensing agencies who provide permits for location shooting, to funding agencies such as Telefilm Canada, Creative BC and the Canada Media Fund to those who work in policy development in government agencies.
Function and Stage
Here are some of the roles in Film Commissions and Government Agencies:
- Film Commissioner
- Location Consultant
- Community Affairs Coordinator
- Film and Special Events permitting and licensing staff (municipal)
- Business analysts
- Grants administrators
Film festivals often operate with a small core staff, and expand with contract workers and volunteers to run the festival. Volunteering at a film festival can be a good way to make film industry connections and develop a network of peers.
Function and Stage
Here are just a few roles that a film festival may have:
- Festival Director
- Festival Programmer
- Marketing & Communications
- Development Director
- Community Outreach
Explore more in this section
Quotes from set
This is a very social industry. It’s very important that you learn how to network and develop long lasting relationships.
~ Stunt Coordinator, Labour Market Study, 2019