Do the hustle
Most above-the-line work opportunities are created through the entrepreneurial efforts of the screenwriter, director or producer, or a combination of all three.
Often, above-the-line careers begin with a screenwriter who directs their own short form work, or a director who writes. From there, with experience gained and ongoing development of their craft, careers can progress to larger projects, telling your own screen story or working as an experienced writer or director on an existing television series. As with all film and television projects, each story is unique as are the combination of key creatives behind those stories.
Below-the-line work is freelance and project-based. Many below the line workers belong to a union or guild and as such, will be listed as available workers, called to work on motion picture projects signed with the relevant union. This does not mean that the labour organization will find you work, but they do supply labour from their membership (and those with permittee status) to signatory productions.
As both an above-the- line or below-the line-worker, you may also consider listing yourself in one – or all – of the people directories that list media talent for hire.
Animation, Visual Effects and Post Production work tends to be posted on job boards and managed through traditional recruitment practices. Learn more about animation companies in BC and a list of contacts here.
Visual effects jobs in B.C. are often posted on this job board.
For work in animation, look for the Spark Animation annual career fair by subscribing to their mailing list.
As a below-the-line worker, you can expect to start your career by working on-call, also known as Day Calls. Working on day calls means you will be working as needed, subject to the demands of the production. As each day of live action production is different, some shooting days may need many more hands on deck with a particular department to help with a higher demand day. Some examples: a shoot day with high logistical needs, such as filming on downtown city streets with a stunts sequence or elaborate dressing.
When starting out, you may work as little as a single day on a production or a series of days on that same production. As with any day of work in film, consider maximizing your work experience by actively learning on the job, and meeting new people to expand your network of connections. Each day worked can count towards your career goals, whether it’s gathering on-the-job practical experience or accruing work days towards union or guild membership.
How Crewing up generally works
This diagram below illustrates the hierarchy of a live action production, with respect to hiring. While this process can vary in each production, generally, the producer hires the director, and additional production management roles, as well as key creative roles such as director of photography and production designer, and then additional design and technical heads.
Quick links for Permittee Applications
ACFC West: https://www.acfcwest.com/become/
Directors Guild of Canada – BC District Council: https://www.dgc.ca/en/british-columbia/becoming-a-member/getting-started-in-the-industry/
ICG 669: https://icg669.com/join/
Teamsters 155: https://www.teamsters155.org/employment-v2/
When you start work, you will want to be familiar with the paperwork involved in working on a production so you can follow proper procedure. Learn more from these resources available through IATSE Local 891: https://www.iatse.com/membership/starting_a_job.aspx
If you are starting work as a Production Assistant, check out this page from the Directors Guild of Canada – BC District Council and specifically this guide: https://www.dgc.ca/assets/Uploads/DGC-BC-PA-Your-first-day2.pdf