Why it’s never too late to start a career in film

13th June 2023

Screen and Film School Manchester’s student blogger Chloe Bush discusses whether or not it’s ever too late to start a career in film, with her fellow Manchester students and lecturers.

“Is it ever too late to start a career in film?”

This was one of my biggest fears prior to starting at Screen and Film School. I wasn’t certain that I wanted to pursue a career in the film industry until during my gap year, after I had finished college, and I was worried that my lack of experience (especially from a film theory perspective) would make me feel like an outsider.

Despite studying a media qualification at college, I hadn’t actually watched a lot of films and most of my existing knowledge of anyone working in the film industry was that they seemed to know at around the same time that they started to walk that filmmaking was something that they were destined to do. I was concerned that, because I came to filmmaking later in my life than some people would have, I would be at a disadvantage to those who had always known this industry was for them.

However, once I’d started at the film School, I quickly realised that all of my peers had come from backgrounds of varying experience levels and had decided that they wanted to pursue a film career at different stages of their lives, all for different reasons. They all had these really cool stories about what inspired them, and I quickly realised that starting a career in film wasn’t really about when you pursue a career in film, what mattered most was why you pursue a career in film – what drives, motivates and inspires you.

To illustrate some of the different paths that people take towards a career in this industry, I asked a few of my friends, and members of staff at Screen and Film School, about moments from their lives which influenced them to pursue a career in film.

Here are some of their awesome stories:

“When I was younger I would always create movies with my siblings mainly using iMovie and filming the whole thing on my iPad. I didn’t think of it as a potential career path back then, and decided to venture into photography which I studied as a GCSE. I was set on being a wildlife photographer, dreaming of travelling the world and making money whilst doing it. I was constantly told by family members and others it wouldn’t be a good career. So, I decided to study A level media, where I redeveloped my passion for filmmaking. Which leads me to where I am now, studying filmmaking at Screen and Film School Manchester. Five years down the line I see myself working in the art department (hopefully on Disney films!)” – Hamaas Mahmood

“When I was a kid, I was obsessed with Spiderman – the Tobey Maguire films were the first films that I ever really watched. So, growing up, it was always like “How do I get there and be just like him?” Then through growing and realising, “Hey maybe Spiderman isn’t real, I can’t be him” I sort of understood that maybe that wasn’t the point. It’s more about what the character and what the story represents. So, subconsciously, this film had given me this moral compass and belief in doing good that I didn’t realise that I had straightaway, and there was also this relatability with Spiderman that let me, a somewhat awkward and nerdy kid, feel good! Since then, it’s always been about replicating that feeling for someone else and film always felt like the best format to do that.” – Tom Botterill

“The film industry was always quite daunting for me and that’s probably why I didn’t go for it first with my original degree, I studied Business Management instead. But after that, during lockdown, I realised that Business Management was just not what I wanted to do. I was a bit nervous about going into film, but I always thought to myself that I have something to fall back on and I need to do something that I really love and want to do. So, although it was scary, I wanted to take the leap into the film industry, and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.” – Jamie Balford

“As someone who struggled to learn how to read as a child, films were my only way to truly appreciate stories. As a result of this I became quite skilled in media literacy. So, with that and my developed art skills, I knew that my best chances in life as a creative person were to work in the film industry. I simply love stories and I want to be a storyteller in the best medium that is film.” – Corey Clark

“I didn’t always know I was going to work in film. I knew I wanted to work with cameras when I was younger because I loved taking photos and my initial thought was to be a landscape or a wedding photographer. However, when I was studying media in college, I realised that there wasn’t many films out there which portrayed me on screen and this was largely because there wasn’t a lot of representation of people like me behind the scenes either. This influenced me to pursue a career in the film industry – so that I could help to put stories like mine in front of the camera. Especially after having been on a film set this summer and seeing that there were not many women there, and even fewer black women (because it’s still a male dominated industry), I’m even more motivated to make sure that there are people like me represented behind and in front of the camera.” – Monique Knapgate

“Very early on in my life, after being subjected to a range of movies from the minds of Aardman or Jim Henson all the way to creatives like Jack Black, I realised that through any form of visual media, impactful stories can be told. No matter the medium or genre, you can create memories for others, change perspectives and impact cultures just from translating your imagination to screen. This was the creative outlet I craved and needed so badly: Film. Initially through stop-motion animation and later through any camera I could find, I have strived to tell all manner of stories in the hope that they may positively impact the world and people around me.” – Jacob Perrin

“I have always had a passion for photography and cinema and I have always believed that I would do something related to it in the future. I moved to the UK when I was twenty and my English wasn’t great at the time, so I wasn’t feeling confident enough to start Uni. I had just moved to a new city, new country, new life, had lots on my mind. The covid period has helped me a lot to think and reflect on what to do in my future. I knew I wanted to start studying even knowing that I was already close to my 30s, the only thing is that I didn’t know whether to do it in Italy or in England. After living 8 years in London, I also felt confident enough to have this experience here in the UK. I think the only reason I started late is because I didn’t believe in myself enough. But I am also of the opinion that it is never too late.” – Federica Taddeo

“When I finished school, my only real guide in terms of a future career was that I knew I was creative, and I liked films! It was only while studying a very general, widespread “performing arts” degree, and by trying many mediums I didn’t like (music, theatre, digital) and lots of roles I didn’t like (directing, acting, post-production), that I finally found what I wanted to do. I remember being so proud of my work producing my 3rd year final project and thinking, “I can do this”.” – Naomi Ayres, Producer / Production Manager and Freelance Lecturer

“When I was a teenager I had a pretty nasty accident and was on crutches for around three months. I spent a lot of my time watching daytime TV. One day Trisha spoke through the telly and told me that if I wanted to be a TV presenter (I thought I did until I went in front of the camera) then I should go to college and learn TV production. I was surprised to find that my local college in Sheffield ran a course and I signed up. I quickly found that it was the organising I liked and started my journey into production management.” – Judith Suckling, Head of Careers and Industry

What these experiences perfectly capture is that it doesn’t matter whether your interest in film began from the first film that you ever saw, when you were in college trying to figure out what to do next, or later in life, after realising that what you’re currently doing isn’t something you’re hugely passionate about: it’s never too late to start a career in film.

All that really matters is that you have a passion for telling stories through a visual medium (whether that be films or music videos) and you feel courageous enough to take the leap – everything else you can learn along the way!



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