4. Develop skills
First of all there are a number of skills that will be useful to you whatever job you want to do.
Computer skills are needed across the board these days – so make sure you are completely happy with the basic necessities such as emailing, surfing the Internet, word processing (especially using Microsoft Word), and generally using computers. Strive to ensure your typing is up to speed – you don’t need to be a 100 word-a-minute touch typist, but it is painful to watch somebody typing up a shooting list with occasional jabs of one finger while constantly searching the keyboard for the ‘m’!
Other skills such as image manipulation (eg using Adobe Photoshop), desktop publishing, video editing (eg Adobe Premier or Final Cut), website editing (eg Macromedia Dreamweaver) and interactive programming will be a bonus, and may even make the difference between you getting a job or not. Develop your computer skills through courses, teach-yourself books, watching someone already skilled, and lots of practice.
Communication skills are also essential whatever you do. This may sound obvious yet I have employed people in the past who were highly skilled at specific jobs yet unable to communicate adequately. I had to let go an incredibly talented database programmer recently because he simply couldn’t make himself understood on the phone! You need to be able to speak clearly and confidently, giving the right amount of information at the right pace and in the right tone. You need to be able to do this on the phone, face to face, and to a group of people. You also need to be able to communicate effectively in writing – by email and letter. If you feel unsure about any of these skills they can be improved by short courses in communication and by lots of practice!
Financial skills will certainly be important if you are a producer in charge of the film budget, but will also be crucial if you are to be self-employed. You can take short courses in basic accounting and book-keeping, or study from teach-yourself books. Practice using spreadsheets on your computer (eg Microsoft Excel).
Then there are all the skills to develop that may be more closely allied to the job you are aiming for. You will benefit from the following skills whatever job you are aiming for, as I keep mentioning, the more you know about the entire process the better-off you will be.