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Tips on Making Your Talent and Career in Film and TV Pay Off

The field can be uncertain for those not fortunate enough to have a permanent job in the sector.

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By Victoria Goro

The film and television industry is an exciting one, full of opportunities, rapid innovation and constantly shifting collaboration networks. However, the same factors that make the sector so attractive, also make it hard for film and TV professionals to build financial stability.

The field can be uncertain for those not fortunate enough to have a permanent job in the sector. Many professionals are freelancers, some full-time employees, and some are small-business owners, and others a combination of the two.

Each of these career paths has advantages and disadvantages, especially when it comes to financial stability. These are some tips for building a financially stable career within the film and TV sector.

Grow your network

Across the African continent, the film and television sector tends to be dominated by a handful of major businesses, with dozens of small enterprises acting as suppliers to the majors. These relationships are constantly shifting, with constellations of networks that change from project to project. To become part of this ecosystem, look to expand your own personal network. Join industry associations, attend talks, conferences and expos, reach out on social media, online debates, X spaces, or other forums. Most of all, treat everyone you meet with respect. Your network is one of your greatest assets, and as your fortunes fluctuate, it is reassuring to have a network that may offer your next opportunity.

Take ownership of your finances

When you are in full-time employment, it is sometimes tempting to leave big decisions to the all-knowing Company. Retirement planning, medical aid and pension funds often come with your pay package and it feels like everything is being taken care of by your employers. This is not always the case. It’s far better to learn all you can about your financial choices. Consult a financial advisor, but take ownership of your own situation. Where possible, establish financial plans that will remain in place, whether you are in formal employment or not. Choose what suits you, your life stage, and your income, and review your position regularly.

Budget for the tough times

Because the film industry is unpredictable, when you are earning, you should create a financial buffer that will see you through times of hardship! Get into the habit of prudent money management – whether you are flush or not. Maintain a humble approach. Fortunes can change rapidly. Don’t take the good times for granted. But don’t let the tough times break your spirit either. Sometimes one text is all it takes to change your life!

Develop your skills

Because there may not always be opportunities in the film and TV market, it is worth learning skills that you can apply in adjacent industries. Social media, marketing, publishing, web content, corporate communications… all these sectors require similar skills to the film industry. Network in that sector too. Take some courses, research other industries, and apply for opportunities. Institutions like the MultiChoice Talent Factory (MTF) can help you gain skills, build a network, and find work opportunities down the line. Market yourself according to your skills, not just one role. Once you have built up experience, you may find you are suited to being a teacher, lecturer, or a coach. The world is large and there are many places where you could be the right fit.

Get that paper

Ensure you get paid! It may seem obvious, but if you are a freelancer, it becomes a lot more difficult getting paid. Whereas a full-time employee only has to do their work, a freelancer has a triple challenge: finding the work, doing the work, and getting paid for the work! So, if you become a service provider, make sure you register your business, or become registered on your clients’ databases. Make friends with the people in the pay office at each of your clients. Know your rights when it comes to your creative input. Explore how blockchain technology and smart contracts can help freelancers and entrepreneurs in film and TV to secure their royalties and intellectual property rights.

Many people build long, rewarding careers in the film industry. With the right skills, the right network, and an approach of lifelong learning, it is possible to thrive creatively – and financially – while helping to create the kind of content that enriches the lives of thousands.

The writer is the Academy Director, MultiChoice Talent Factory East Africa Academy

 Read: SportPesa CEO Kicks Off Sports Talent Search in Kenya

>>> Dandora Stadium Boosts Kenya’s Quest to Tap Sports Talent

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