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July 2021 | Georgie McGahey

Internships are designed by most companies to offer new entrants a real slice of the industry and are the next step up from work experience.

What is an internship?

An internship should offer new entrants to the film industry an immersive experience into the business of film production. Internships in film production are incredibly rare but within the business, non-production, side of the business they can be found in development, distribution, marketing and film sales. 

Unlike work experience where you will be making the tea, internships should offer a little more for the intern to get their teeth into and are the next step up from work experience. So instead of making the tea - which will still be a requirement - you will get to sit in on meetings, learn to and provide some script coverage and may even be given a little project to work on while you are there.

For the company and the intern to get the most out of the placement, internships should last between 3-6 months, with a working week no longer than 40 hours.

There are two types of film internship:

  1. Student internships run hand in hand with an academic course, much like the American system. Student internships are not paid placements. 
  2. General internship. If interns are classed as a ‘worker’ then companies should provide a wage in accordance with the national minimum wage. 

Internships provide you with that all-important reference at the end of your stay with the company. The film industry in the Uk is incredibly small, so having someone to vouch for you is a real win when it comes to getting the CV out in your search for full-time jobs. 

When should I find a film internship?

Many already have an internship programme set up to go with the academic year, especially in post-production. It’s wise to get organised and try and plan ahead when looking for internships as they get filled up very quickly. Smaller companies might not list their programmes so make some phone calls to find out who is offering placements. 

Where can I find internship placements?

Alongside MFJF there are a host of major companies that run internship programmes. If you are interested in distribution, looking at the major studios based in the Uk is a great start.

If you are based far from a major city during your summer holidays. Look for placements and smaller production companies in your area. 

If you are interested in film production, don't forget to register your CV with the local film council who have databases of the local crew including runners. 

As with work experience, read the guidelines and know what the company is going to be offering before you agree to anything.

What is the difference between work experience and internships?

This is a grey area in the UK film industry and it’s why you need to familiarise yourself with the guidelines. A company can offer a short placement as an intern, what they actually mean however will be work experience. Work experience in the film industry is the same as other sectors and is defined as:

  • Work experience - 160 hours max to be taken full-time over a month or part-time over 3 months. Work experience should be observational, rather than a set of tasks that would usually be designated to a paid junior member of the team. It’s there for you to get a feel for the industry, not for you to be used as unpaid labour. 

Internships as we know are more immersive and you should be offered a set of tasks that you can get your teeth into. The majority of the companies in the UK are aware of the guidelines and genuinely want to induct new talent into the industry. However, there are always those that will bend the rules to suit their needs so you need to know what your rights are and when you should be getting paid. 

Internships offer so much more than work experience and we strongly recommend that if you want to work in the non-production side of the film industry you need to have multiple internships under your belt. Your CV will look great and when you get to interview you will have the skills and knowledge needed to do the job!

If you ever have any questions on internships or work experience placements, get in touch with us via the Facebook Group or email us at [email protected]

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