The ultimate guide to careers in film and TV

Are you thinking about a career in the film and television industry and wondering what that could look like? If you're passionate about visual storytelling, it's certainly an exciting time to be in film and television. The industry is multifaceted, and there's an enormous range of roles you could pursue whether that's through filmmaking, producing, scriptwriting, or becoming a documentary maker amongst many others.

In this ultimate career guide, we're covering what these roles might look like, which skills employers are going to value, and what impact you can make as a film graduate in 2024.

Navigate this guide:

  1. Is a film studies degree worth it?
  2. What can I do with a film studies degree?
  3. What impact can I make in the film industry?
  4. 8 avenues you can explore in the film and television industry
  5. 29 popular jobs within the film and television industry
  6. 9 important skills employers will look for
  7. Who employs film graduates?
  8. Typical salaries in the film and television industry
  9. The takeaway
  10. Film studies degrees
  11. Careers Service

Is a film studies degree worth it?


Choosing to study film at university equips you with the analytic, technical, and creative skills required to understand and to make film. You’ll get to learn the technical side of film production and get a chance to script, shoot, edit and exhibit films. You'll analyse Hollywood blockbusters, experimental film, and international cinemas, as well as other media like video games, creative media, and television. You’ll understand film’s history and its digital futures, and discuss the latest trends and developments in the industry. By the end of it, you'll graduate with a deeper appreciation of why the visual media are central to our experience of the modern world. With a strong set of skills and critical knowledge of the film industry under your belt, you'll be well prepared for whichever career path you choose to pursue.

Did you know our staff at Essex have included Oscar winners and BAFTA winners? 


Browse film studies degrees

What can I do with a film studies degree?

A film studies degree encourages you to explore emerging trends, innovative storytelling techniques, and new technologies shaping the future of motion pictures. By studying film within cultural, social, and historical contexts, you'll become an expert in the evolving nature of visual narratives, and how to engage different audiences. Being able to see, appreciate, and understand film through different lenses not only prepares you to adapt to the changing landscape of the film industry, but gives you VIP access to other jobs within the interconnected sectors of the film industry.

What impact can I make in the film industry?

Experts in the film industry play a really important role in shaping culture, promoting social progress, and contributing to the overall well-being of society. In March 2024 we've witnessed the impact that filmmaking can have in raising awareness of conflict on the world stage and ensuring history is clearly preserved when Director Mstyslav Chernov won an Oscar for his documentary '20 Days in Mariupol'. The Director said, “We can make sure that the history record is set straight and that the truth will prevail and that the people of Mariupol and those who have given their lives will never be forgotten, because cinema forms memories, and memories form history.” Through the lense of cinema, not only has Chernov been able to raise awareness and inspire change in the present, he's preserved an important part of history that will be invaluable for future generations.

Whether you strive to make an impact with providing escapism, empowerment, cultural enrichment, or education, through leveraging your creative talents and dedication to developing your craft, you'll hold the power to make a positive impact on individuals, communities, and the world at large.

8 avenues you can explore in the film and television industry

The film industry is interconnected with many different sectors, each contributing to the creation, distribution, and consumption of visual content. There are many different kinds of roles across these sectors for you to consider. 

Here are 8 avenues to explore

  1. Production: This sector involves the actual making of films or TV shows, including tasks such as scriptwriting, casting, filming, directing, and editing.
  2. Distribution: Distribution companies are responsible for bringing films to audiences through various channels, such as theaters, streaming platforms (such as Netflix and Hulu), and television networks.
  3. Exhibition: The exhibition sector includes theaters, cinemas, and film festivals where audiences can watch films on the big screen. It also involves the management of venues and organising events.
  4. Marketing and Promotion: Marketing teams work to promote films to audiences through advertising campaigns, social media, press releases, and promotional events
  5. Finance and Funding: This sector involves securing financial resources for film projects through investors, studios, crowdfunding, and grants.
  6. Legal and Business: Legal professionals handle contracts, copyrights, licensing agreements, and intellectual property rights related to film production and distribution.
  7. Technology and Innovation: The film industry continually evolves with advancements in technology, including digital filmmaking tools, computer-generated imagery, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence applications.
  8. Education and Research: Education and research institutions play an important role in educating future filmmakers, conducting industry research, and preserving film heritage.


Here are a few examples of the types of roles you could find employment in across the various sectors we've covered above, and a little bit about what they're responsible for.


  1. Scriptwriter/Screenwriter: Responsible for creating the script or screenplay for a film or TV show, outlining dialogue, scenes, and overall narrative structure.
  2. Casting Director: Coordinates the selection of actors and actresses for roles in a film or TV production, conducting auditions and casting sessions.
  3. Film Director/Producer: Leads the creative vision of a film or TV show, guiding actors and crew members, making artistic decisions, and overseeing the overall production process.
  4. Cinematographer: Manages the camera and lighting crew to achieve the desired visual style and atmosphere for a film or TV show.
  5. Film Editor: Assembles raw footage into a clear narrative, incorporating visual and audio elements, transitions, and special effects.
  6. Film Crew: Handles various production tasks in movie-making, including directing, filming, editing, costume, and design.
  7. Music Director: Oversees all aspects of music production for a film, from developing film scores, selecting tracks to coordinating recording sessions.


  1. Distribution Executive: Negotiates deals with theaters, streaming platforms, and other distribution channels to bring films to audiences worldwide.
  2. Sales Agent: Represents films to buyers and distributors, negotiating distribution rights and licensing agreements.
  3. Publicity Coordinator: Coordinates press releases, media appearances, and promotional events to generate buzz and interest in upcoming film releases.


  1. Theater Manager: Oversees the day-to-day operations of a cinema or theater, including staff management, scheduling, and customer service.
  2. Film Festival Organiser: Plans and coordinates film festivals, selecting films, securing venues, and managing event logistics.
  3. Event Coordinator: Organises special screenings, premieres, and film-related events, ensuring it runs smoothly and is an enjoyable experience.

Marketing and Promotion:

  1. Marketing Coordinator: Assists in the development and implementation of marketing campaigns, including social media management, content creation, and event planning.
  2. Public Relations Specialist: Builds relationships with media outlets, influencers, and stakeholders to generate positive coverage and publicity for films.
  3. Digital Marketing Manager: Oversees online marketing efforts, including website management, email campaigns, and digital advertising.

Finance and Funding:

  1. Film Producer: Secures financing for film projects, oversees budgeting and financial planning, and manages production logistics.
  2. Investment Analyst: Evaluates potential film investments, conducting financial analysis and risk assessments to inform funding decisions.
  3. Grant Writer: Researches and applies for grants and subsidies from government agencies, foundations, and arts organisations to support film projects.

Legal and Business Affairs:

  1. Entertainment Lawyer: Provides legal advice and representation to filmmakers and production companies, negotiating contracts, resolving disputes, and protecting intellectual property rights.
  2. Rights Manager: Manages licensing agreements, distribution rights, and intellectual property portfolios for film properties.
  3. Contracts Administrator: Drafts, reviews, and manages contracts related to film production, distribution, and licensing.

Technology and Innovation:

  1. VR/AR Developer: Designs and develops virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) experiences for immersive storytelling and entertainment applications.
  2. Visual Effects Artist: Creates computer-generated imagery (CGI) and special effects for films, enhancing visual storytelling and creating realistic or fantastical elements.
  3. AI Specialist: Explores applications of artificial intelligence (AI) in film production and post-production, such as automated editing, facial recognition, and predictive analytics.

Education and Research:

  1. Film Studies Professor: Teaches courses in film history, theory, and production techniques at universities and film schools, conducting research and publishing scholarly articles.
  2. Archivist: Preserves and catalogs film archives, conducting research and providing access to historical film materials for educational and cultural purposes.
  3. Film Researcher: Conducts studies and analysis on film industry trends, audience demographics, and consumer behavior, providing insights to filmmakers, distributors, and marketing teams.
  4. Location Scout: Identifies and secures suitable filming locations for movie productions. This could be suited to someone interested in research, writing, and international travel.

9 important skills employers will look for

Whichever direction you pursue within your film career, there are 9 key skills that employers across all sectors will be looking for. You'll build these (and then some) right here at Essex.

  1. Creativity: Employers will want to hire someone who can think outside the box, bring fresh ideas, and contribute creatively to projects.
  2. Communication: You'll be working with experts from across the industry, so strong communication skills are essential for collaborating effectively with team members, clients, and stakeholders.
  3. Technical Proficiency: Being skilled in using relevant software and equipment, such as editing software, cameras, and lighting rigs, shows employers your ability to handle the technical aspects of film production.
  4. Adaptability: The film industry is fast-paced and always on the move, so employers value graduates who can adapt to changing situations, deadlines, and project requirements.
  5. Attention to Detail: From scriptwriting to post-production, attention to detail is absolutely essential to ensure accuracy, consistency, and quality in every aspect of filmmaking.
  6. Close Analysis: You'll need to demonstrate your ability to analyse film elements and techniques, such as cinematography, editing, and sound design, to understand their impact on storytelling and audience experience.
  7. Critical Thinking: Employers will value your ability to evaluate and critique films, considering various perspectives and interpretations.
  8. Contextual Research: Being able to conduct research on historical, cultural, and social contexts will allow you to inform creative decisions and enhance storytelling authenticity.
  9. Hands-on Filmmaking: Your practical experience in all aspects of filmmaking, including pre-production planning, on-set production, and post-production editing will be an essential skill employers look for.

Who employs film graduates?

You don't need us to tell you that the film and television industry is a global entity. Whether you aspire to work on location, travel, or remain routed with your feet on the ground, there are many companies around the world that hire experts in film. To get you thinking, have a look at some examples of companies operating within the film and television industry that have significant UK and international influence.

  • Working Title Films (known for Bridget Jones's Diary, and Les Misérables)
  • Warner Bros. Pictures (responsible for the Harry Potter series, and The Dark Knight trilogy)
  • StudioCanal (distributes films like Paddington)
  • Netflix (known for it's global streaming platform and producing original content like Stranger Things, and The Crown)
  • AMC Theatres (one of the largest cinema chains in the world, including UK locations)
  • Premier PR (London-based entertainment PR agency)
  • 20th Century Studios (known for extensive marketing campaigns for films like Avatar, and Star Wars)
  • British Film Institute (provides funding and support for UK film projects)
  • Lionsgate (global entertainment company financing and producing films like The Hunger Games, and La La Land)
  • Sony Pictures Entertainment (legal department overseeing global film and TV production and distribution)
  • Framestore (London-based creative studio specialising in visual effects for films like Gravity, and Blade Runner 2049)
  • Industrial Light & Magic (pioneering visual effects company with offices worldwide, working on films like Star Wars, and Jurassic Park)
  • American Film Institute (provides education and training for filmmakers in the United States)

Typical salaries in the film and television industry

According to UCAS, the average salary in the industry is between £36,974 and £75,598, and there have been over 64,000 vacancies in the past year. UCAS also predicts a 3.31% growth over the next eight years in available jobs. The best way to see the going-rates for jobs is to visit job sites and have a look at the vacancies. Not all will disclose salaries as they can often be dependent on experience, but it's equally a good way to see the variation of roles and keep an eye out for something that might interest you. (You can also browse the companies listed above to see examples of current vacancies).

Start browsing:

  1. Indeed
  2. Total Jobs
  3. LinkedIn

The takeaway

Studying a film degree opens the doors to many exciting careers in the ever-evolving film and television industry. Whether your passion lies in filmmaking, screenwriting, or behind-the-scenes roles like marketing or the business side of things, a film degree will leave you with the skills and knowledge you need to dive head first into a fast-paced industry. With embracing new technologies and platforms such as streaming services and virtual reality, a film degree will make sure you're well-positioned to make a meaningful impact on the way stories are told and experienced by audiences worldwide, amd contribute to the future of the film industry.

Film studies degrees

Careers Service

At Essex, it's our mission to develop your employability skills throughout your degree, ensuring that when it's time to walk across that stage and throw your graduation cap in the air, you're feeling confident and prepared with your next steps toward your future. From careers events, building a solid plan, finding a job, getting interview support, networking, and maximising your potential, all the support and guidance you need is right on your doorstep, and we're so excited to lead the way.


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