Occasionally I still find myself wondering at the fact that I am a Film Producer, even after having produced two feature films.
I know, it sounds ridiculous.
The reason may be because I didn’t take the traditional route to become a Film Producer.
My first career was in Banking where I mainly worked on large projects and strategy. And although it has been years since I left the industry, the mindset of being a Project Manager has proven itself to be sticky and just won’t leave me alone.
While this may sound a bit like a complaint, it is exactly what enabled me to put a foot in the door and produce films.
One of the most challenging things for people wanting to start a new career is finding an entry point.
Where to start? How to find a way in? The feeling is like wanting to cross a wall but not finding a door to enter through or a rope to pull yourself up by. Should you dig a hole under the wall? Get a trampoline and jump over it? Or walk to the end of the wall and then around it? Of course, we can argue that beginnings are nothing compared to the struggles that come after, and I can attest to that.
Finding ways to replicate or improve what you’ve already succeeded at is a journey fraught with excitement and despair, but you can only get to that point in the first place if you’ve tackled the first challenge.
So how to get in when you find yourself industries away from the career you want?
By first identifying which of the skills required by your future career you are already strong at.
My goal at that time was to start a career in film.
I never directed a feature film, I had no camera skills, and I didn’t know how to write scripts either. I had acting experience, but that alone wouldn’t enable me to become a film producer.
One thing that I knew I was good and experienced at was managing projects, and at that time for me making a film was like tackling a project. So I wrote a professional business proposal, made a teaser video with a group of very talented people, presented it to investors, and made my first feature film.
It wasn’t as simple as that, and I will share this story some other time, but it was what got everything up and running.
My entry point into filmmaking was by using my most transferable skill at the time, which was project management.
If you want to move into a different career, ask yourself what skills are highly important in your target industry. On the other hand, what are your strongest skills? Then, match these, focus on this pairing and try to plot a strategy.
Among others, a film producer needs to have strong organizational, problem-solving, and people skills.
During my time working as a Project Manager I had to work simultaneously on multiple projects, which required me to be highly organized. Working with people of very different levels of seniority, from office boy to CEO, taught me tact and diplomacy, and bringing people of various departments together to work on a common goal helped me hone my leadership skills.
Each project required me to learn new things to get up to speed with the people I was going to work with. The skills couldn’t be more transferable. In hindsight, of course, everything makes sense, but had anyone told me at the beginning that I could be a film producer, I wouldn’t understand how.
What I want to say is that in most cases when making a career change, you don’t need to start from zero.
Realizing that you are already halfway there and that the next half is a continuation of your journey so far, instead of a total start, can be morale-boosting.
If you look at your dream career closely and take it apart, and look at your current skills and experience and disassemble those, you are likely to find several dots that connect you from your current career to your target career.
You don’t need a trampoline to jump over the wall. Trust me, it doesn’t work that way.
Zoom in on that connection that you found, work your way from there, and you’ll be surprised to see where you find yourself in a few years.