Getting Started


A number of the readings this week focus on how individuals within the film and television production develop the means to maintain employment within the industry. As mentioned by Randle in Managing Media Work this is often “by diversifying income sources, collecting information, considering leaving the sector, and building informal networks” (Randle, 2011, p. 148). So how do we do this as aspiring producers of media content when “barriers to entry are low… but barriers to success are high”? I would argue by applying the same arguments Randall uses to maintain a pre-existing career, primarily through the second (collecting information) and fourth (the informal network) criteria he mentions.

I have been working towards this by attending SIGGRAPH as a student volunteer in 2010 and 2011, first as a regular volunteer and then as a Team Leader.  What is SIGGRAPH you ask? SIGGRAPH stands for the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, and the annual international conference is where the film, animation, tv and game industries best and brightest come together.

So how does this relate to creating and maintaining a career in film and/or tv production? The student volunteer program advertises itself as one where “you will form relationships with other students that will last for your entire career.  The industry’s future leaders are encouraged to apply” (Karp). I can honestly say in the two years I have attended (the first two of many I hope) I have most certainly seen the future leaders in the film, visual effects, and video games industries and met some phenomenally talented students who have since made their way into the industry. Spending 30 hours (2010) and at least 60 hours (2011) surrounded by these people and the access the programme gives you to various industry professionals (reel reviews, career consultations, SV only industry talks) who came through the program as well as a full conference pass would most certainly fulfil the two criteria I have focussed on.

While it certainly falls into the realms of free work and not insubstantial self-financing (SIGGRAPH 2010 was in Los Angeles, SIGGRAPH 2011 was in Vancouver, I was living in the UK) I would argue that the knowledge gained and connections made (some of which have indirectly resulted in my attending Indiana University) were well worth the time and expense incurred, if anything it was a bargain.

– Craig Harkness

Karp, M. (n.d.). Student Volunteers. Retrieved November 1, 2011, from Vancouver SIGGRAPH 2011 – Make It Home:

Randle, K. (2011). The Organisation of Film and Television Production. In M. Deuze (Ed.), Managing Media Work (pp. 145-154). Thousand Oaks, California, United States of America: SAGE Publications Inc.




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