Getting into the Industry | Some Routes to Take.

There is no doubt that the film industry and video production services are on the increase in Northern Ireland. For some, including all the BNL team, working in this industry is what we wanted to do. Each one of us took a different path to get to where we are, there’s no ‘one size fits all’. We’ve put together our top tips for anyone, regardless of age, looking to get started in the creative industries. So whether you’re 16 years old or 80 years young (or anywhere in between), we have a couple of options and ideas to help you along the way.

Starting Young

If you’re like our editors, Paddy and Andrew, who started young and just knew the creative industries were for them, then you’ve probably already worked out what steps you need to take towards your career. You might be studying Moving Image Arts at school. Or taking a course at your local college like SRC. Maybe you’re planning to go off to a university like Queen’s. Does this sound about right?! Did you know that there are other courses and programmes you can join to give you some extra hands-on experience?! (and they look good on UCAS applications too!). Here are a couple of those options for you:

What is the BFI Film Academy?

The BFI Film Academy now offers training for anyone aged 16-25 years. With their flagship short course being ideal for those still at school: “The BFI Film Academy short courses help to train and inspire the next generation of filmmakers, supporting young people aged 16-19 years to develop the skills, and commercial and cultural knowledge to help develop a career in film.” 

Enrol at BFI Film Academy Now!

In Northern Ireland there are three BFI Film Academies offering the short course. They are at the AmmA Centre, Armagh, BFI Academythe Nerve Centre Derry and Nerve Centre Belfast. The course is an incredible experience offering the opportunity to learn practically about film from industry professionals as you work towards working as a production team to create shorts films. You also have Masterclasses with industry professionals like Armagh local Director of Photography Seamus McGarvey (The Greatest Showman, Avengers Assemble, Nocturnal Animals) and you can achieve an NCFE qualification. The course runs for 12 weeks from September with sessions taking place one evening a week, a handful of Saturdays and your filming days. It also gives you the opportunity to to step up into other programmes and “Past graduates have gone on to work for Disney, BBC, HBO, Sky and RTE.”

If you or a young person you know would be interested, apply now as the numbers are limited. And if you want to apply to AmmA Centre (as it’s practically on our doorstep), you can do so here and the deadline for applications for 2022/23 BFI Film Academy is Monday 19th September at 5pm. 

And there’s more…

Screen Academies also do a course in Games Design and Animation for anyone up to the age of 19.

Cinemagic also does a series of mentoring programmes for young filmmakers and curators.

FilmHubNI also has the Ones to Watch project, which trains young people up to the age of 25 in film programming and curation.

Masters of Life

Well after reading all of that and being a little older you might be thinking there can’t possibly be a way for you to get into the industry! But you might be like our Head of Film, Diane. She didn’t discover she wanted to be in the creative industries until later than most. But she had built up many transferable skills to become a ‘Master of Life’. You might be a little late to the party, but it’s better late than never! Here are a few options.


You might already know what your dream job in the creative industry is, but you might not. Either way ScreenSkills is an excellent place to start.

Investing in the people driving the success of UK film, TV, VFX, animation and games

There is a lot of information, course/training and information about the industry. Firstly, you could start by looking at the careers maps that show all the roles, how they interact with each other and look at potential routes. 

From here you can create your own profile, do some free online courses and look at how they recommend getting into the industry.

Northern Ireland Screen

Funded by the National Lottery and working with the Department for Economy & Department for Communities, Northern Ireland Screen is the film council of Northern Ireland.

NI Screen

Their website has a wealth of information and is continually updated. So if you’re looking for a change of career, browsing their website on your coffee break might just help. They have a lot of information about funding opportunities, skills and training and other opportunities. While they’re not responsible for the crewing of a production, they do list ‘Calls for Crew’. 

Northern Ireland Screens has the new ‘The Creative Industries New Entrants scheme’ (CINE) initiative which aims to broaden access to the screen and creative industries at entry level.  Funded by the Department for Communities and working in partnership with BBC Northern Ireland, the scheme will help identify new talent, specifically targeting those with a disability, from a minority community, or socially disadvantaged backgrounds, to expand our growing creative industries sector and create a more diverse generation of ‘New Entrants’ of all ages.

And then….

If you have an interest in the Interactive side of the Screen Industries, Pixel Mill does a really good work placement programme for any FE graduates.

Getting into the industry | BNL Productions Work Placements

Ok, so this isn’t strictly for the ‘masters of life’ folks. When we take a person for a work placement, you will be allocated a mentor based on your skills and what you want to get out of the experience. The placement is ‘hands on’ and with our film department you can hone skills and gain experience in editing, videography and creative project management. Because of the level and knowledge we love to impart our placements are a minimum of 8 weeks. So if you’re interested, get in touch and have a chat with one of our team today via

And One More Thing…

We know there is so much information out there and everyone’s journey is different. So the best piece of advice we can give is make a film, learn from it and then make another film; rinse and repeat! Join groups like the Media Therapy Group on Facebook, say you want to make a film or you want to help others. Make connections. And remember, the origins of the word amateur is “lover of”; as long as you hold that love close by you’ll always enjoy making films.

Let’s Work Together


We want every project we work on to feel like an experience for our clients. So get in touch, and let us know how we can help shape your next experience.