Cracking your first job in reality TV can take time…and a lot of patience. If you have taken the leap and quit your job to chase your TV dream, then you may find yourself with a fair bit of spare time on your hands (at least for a little while).
It’s a tricky place to be, on the one hand you have free time to do what you want, on the other hand, you may not be earning money and you need to be available in case the opportunity you have been waiting for comes up!
You’ll probably hear the phrase “Once you’re in…you’re in.” which is great when you’re in but not particularly useful when you’re still trying to make in-roads. Having spent my own fair share of time in limbo when I was just starting out…I know that it can feel like an eternity, so I’ve put together a list of productive ways you can spend your days once you’ve exhausted your contact list and are playing the waiting game.
1. Watch Reality TV
It might sounds ridiculous given that this post is about productive ways to spend your time BUT watching reality television is research!
You need to have an understanding of the formats that exist. Start watching with a critical eye and thinking about how scenes are being shot, how the challenges work, what questions do you think the producers asked to get the response you see in the episode and what tense are contestants speaking in? Having a good understanding of the Reality TV landscape shows you take an interest in the industry you want to work in and this will help you when it comes to interviews, networking and will also arm you with some small talk for when you do land your first role!
Make the most of your time off by learning a new skill and keeping your brain active!
Lynda.com is an online learning platform where you can find courses on a huge range of topics. The easy to follow video tutorials can help you learn a new creative skills like editing with AVID or Premiere Pro, designing in Photoshop or shooting and photography techniques. The best part is that it’s free to sign up for a one month trial period.
3. Get On Top of TV news and Trends
Take an interest in what’s going on in TV land. Read TV blogs, find out what’s rating well, follow entertainment news and listen to TV podcasts.
The TV Tonight website is great place to start…it covers industry news from daily ratings summaries, network goings-on, new shows being commissioned, interviews and all things TV-related. It is definitely your friend for all your need-to-know TV news. If you’re passionate about TV then this will come naturally and won’t feel like homework.
Working in TV can be quite physical depending on your role…think carrying gear, traipsing across locations, testing challenges etc, so when you get that first runner role, you are going to need some muscle!
Why not use the time you have now to get into shape and get TV-fit! It will also get those endorphins pumping and keep you feeling good.
5. Start a Passion Project
You’ve got time on your hands so why not use it to pursue your other creative interests that make you happy?
Make a special interest Instagram account to showcase your photography skills, start a video project to practice your shooting and editing, write a blog…use that bottled up creative energy to take your mind off the fear of never working in television.
6. Attend Industry Nights and Networking Events
Industry nights and networking events can be a bit daunting when you’re a no-one in TV but they are a really good way to meet people, learn more about TV and put a face to the name of leaders in the industry.
Grab a friend and get yourself out there – you never know who you might meet or what opportunities could come out of it… plus there’s usually wine and cheese..so what have you got to lose?
7. Explore your city
If you find yourself at a loose end…why not take a day to be a tourist in your own city?
Explore new beaches, take a walk through the national parks and discover nature walks. Besides giving you something to do and being completely free, it will also give you some inspiration for shoot locations which will always come in handy as you progress in TV!
8. Spend Time with Friends
TV land can be an all-encompassing place. The hours are long, the schedule can be forever-changing and the work can be pretty full-on which means when you do get a full-time role on a big show…your social life outside of work can take a hit.
Make the most of the calm before the storm and enjoy the freedom you have to do whatever you want, whenever you want without worrying about a 3am call time.
9. Set Goals
It sounds really boring and can be hard to do if you’ve been trying to land work for a while and feel like you aren’t getting anywhere but making a list of what you want to achieve short term and long term in your career, can be a really good way to figure out what you want so you have something to work towards.
Goals can be long term such as working on particular productions (your dream show) or working your way up to a particular role but it could also be just to figure out what department your want to work in. You can have as many as you like but it’s good to have a variety of goals with some that are easier to achieve in the short term and others that you can continue to strive for – that way you can take a look back at your year and tick some things off.
Dream big and aim high (I had two dream shows that I wanted to work on when I started out in TV – both of which were formats that were considered “dead” in Australia at the time I landed my first role but they were soon recommissioned and I have been lucky enough to have worked on both. Whatever you do, always make sure you have some realistic and lower key goals so you’re not setting yourself up for failure.
10. Make sure your CV looks good
If your reading this blog post then presumably you’ve been sending out your CV and are waiting for the calls to come rolling in. Ideally, that means that your CV is clear, concise and grammatically correct – all pretty obvious stuff BUT how can you go that extra mile?
Some people might disagree with me but in my opinion you should inject a little bit of personality into your CV. I don’t mean plying it with selfies and opening with a three par description of your interests and, of course, experience will always trump a bit of photoshop magic BUT if you can use a colour scheme or style that represents you to make your CV stand out even a little from the flood of other entry-level CVs that hit a PMs inbox then it’s worth a shot!
I hope that gives you a few ideas to keep you busy during the slow times. I’m not going to lie…it sucks. But once you’re working in TV and the contracts start rolling, you’ll probably dream of a time when you could indulge in a “passion project” or do that thing known as “exercise”. I’m holding the television industry responsible for the fact that Fitness First has been my number 1 charity for the last year – that’s my story anyway!
Want to know what else you can expect in your first year in TV? Check out my post 5 Awesome Entry-Level Jobs In TV You Never Knew Existed in TV.
Wondering what new TV shows you’ve got to look forward to? Check out TV To Watch Out For In 2019.