How does an aspiring moving image director get their foot in the door after graduating from their degree?

Is it necessary to have to do runner/production assistant roles after 4 years of creative practice at university?


  • There are a bunch of paths you can take, but to answer your follow-up question, it never hurts to do the grunt work and learn the ropes. And if you skip that phase you'll get a lot of side-eye from your peers. Use your spare time to make films without commercial pressure or expectations and enjoy it. Find your voice and style, then pour it into a spec piece that draws in other amazing collaborators for a genre you're attracted to, but isn't already massively over-subscribed. Stick at it and you'll break through one way or another.
  • If you're already making great films, get yourself noticed by a curator, eg us, a film festival, Vimeo Staff Picks. Winning or being chosen by someone well known in the industry is a great way to open doors to commissioners.
    If you're not sure about the quality of your work yet, submit to a site that will get you professional standard reviews of your work, eg us, Short of the Week and (I think) Boooooooom are all highly respected in the commercial industry.
    Come to networking events like ours :) and meet commissioners, roster reps and other people that can help you leapfrog running & PA jobs if they like your work enough.
    Good luck
  • Hi Mona, both Alexandre and David have given you great advice. I am a moving image director and if you fancy assisting / running I could probably involve you on something I do ( Let's meet for a coffee sometime if you are interested. I studied at CSM too and always happy to help a fellow CSM-er x
  • 100% agree with David.

    People don't look at your education.
    Get into the ScreenSkills trainee program for TV shows or film (you have a couple days left to apply). You will be running/ PAing there, meeting a lot of people who you will grow alongside. At the same time, make films on your free time, with the people you meet on set. And guess what, you may have now a foot in the door when you have written that great script because you have worked for X or Y Director/ Producer long enough so they know you are seasoned.

    Think about long term rather than short gains.

    I'll give you 2 opposite examples:
    I have a friend who PA'ed for one of the biggest production company in London right now. After about 9 months PAing then being an AD they offered him to be second unit director on a massive female sport campaign.


    I have done a couple runner jobs after university, but then decided to focus on directing small films while paying my rent as an editor.
    Fast forward 6 years, I have only directed 2 short films, 2 music videos, a couple fashion films and branded content. And being mostly known as an editor, it's way harder to convince people I can actually direct, even with my reel.

    So yeah, start humble but you will see it will pay off if you stick long enough.

    Good Luck.
  • by doing lots of freebies and building up the auld portfolio — and yes to runner etc, the business is all about reliable delivery and is about 30 percent talent and 70 percent trust so observing someone over a period of time or refering to a substantial portfolio and word of mouth references is everything

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