Tips for finding your first role in VFX

Tips for finding your first role in VFX

Tips for finding your first role in VFX

You may be coming into the VFX industry from school, college or university or switching from a career in another industry.  One of the routes in may be to start as a Runner - this will give you a great insight into the industry and the types of roles you might want to move in to.  To help you find your first role, here are some tips for you...


  • Write a CV if you don’t already have one
  • Make your CV relevant to the roles you are applying for
  • Keep it clean and easy to read - don’t over-design it - we want to quickly find the key information about you
  • At the top of the page start with your name as you would like it to be used, followed by your current address, phone number and email
  • Next, write a short opening paragraph about yourself and your key strengths
  • Then note any employment and schooling, with the most recent at the top
  • For each employer/school, include their name, your role and a brief description of what you did or your qualifications, the dates you were there and the location
  • Note any outside projects/areas of interest ie. short films/designs/painting etc
  • Note any skills and software that you know well
  • Include any references
  • Ask a tutor or professional to review your CV before sending
  • Note links to any work on showreels/social media platforms
  • To name the file - use your full name, what it is and the year i.e. FirstNameShowreelMarch2019.PDF
  • Always send your documents as PDF format

Showreels and social media profiles

  • Only put your best work on your showreel - quality is better than quantity.  We would rather see 2 or 3 fantastic finished examples than lots that aren’t (if you include pieces you don’t think are as good, that is also what we will remember)
  • Keep your showreel to approx 3 minutes and regularly update it with your best work
  • Keep the presentation of your work clean and clear - we want to see what you did and how you achieved it
  • Design some simple slates to introduce each piece stating the name of the project and what you did on it
  • Include an end frame with your name, mobile and email
  • It doesn’t need to be edited to music, we are more interested in seeing what you can do
  • Ask a tutor or a professional to critique your showreel - get honest and constructive feedback and once you’ve acted on it, go back for more
  • Create/regularly update a LinkedIn profile and connect with everyone you meet of interest. This starts to build you a network who can help you in your future career
  • Create/regularly update a Vimeo account
  • Create/regularly update an Instagram account

Work Experience

  • Try and get some work experience - 1 day, 2 days, a week, whatever is available
  • Be willing to do anything - running, filing, photocopying…
  • If you get some work experience, follow up to say thank you and keep in touch to see if there are other opportunities for the future
  • You could investigate programmes to improve your skills and experience:

  • Young Enterprise Launch Pad which offers practical and engaging sessions, supported by inspiring employee mentors and which helps students to discover more about themselves and develop key employability skills:

  • The Greenlight programme at D-Neg providing entry level pathways into the world of visual effects. The programme has been designed to give candidates the opportunity to learn from, and partner with, some of the world’s leading VFX artists, to contribute to amazing shows and to gain hands-on experience in a supportive, collaborative and creative setting.

  • Nextgen run an 8 week bootcamp that is an exciting entry level opportunity for Londoners aged 18 to 24 in the visual effects, games and post production industries.

  • Check individual websites of VFX companies to see if they offer placements.

  • You could also try for temporary running jobs over school holidays or contact agencies like Soho Runners who could help you find temporary running work to build up your experience

Finding jobs/Apprenticeships

  • Do your research 1 - find out about the wider industry and which companies you’d like to work for
  • Do your research 2 - check on their website for specific roles
  • Do your research 3 - find out who to send it to
  • If there isn’t a specific role available, send a speculative application and note your area of interest
  • It can help to reference something about the person/company you are applying to - this will show you have an interest in them and their company and have done your research
  • Check your application and CV for spelling and grammar before sending - detail is important in every type of role
  • You can use the website ‘Grammarly’ to check both:
  • Keep in touch regularly and lightly to see if there have been any changes - this keeps your interest current  
  • There may be roles posted on LinkedIn or on Nuke forums on Facebook and Reddit
  • Find a mentor - apply through ACCESS:VFX here
  • Contact organisations directly to see if they have mentoring programmes
  • You may be able to join a company through an apprenticeship.  More information here:


  • Do your research 1 - find out as much as you can about the company you are interviewing with and the wider industry
  • Do your research 2 - think about what work of theirs you like most and why
  • Do your research 3 - find out about the person interviewing you and their background history/route in the industry
  • Do your research 4 - find out about their culture - ie. is it a relaxed dress code where a suit would look out of place?
  • Do your research 5 - find out where the company is and how long it takes to get there
  • Turn up on time and if you’re running late, ring them to let them know when you’ll arrive
  • Try and be as natural as possible in your interview - we want to find out about you and what your passions are
  • Expand on any questions asked and be specific.  If you can, give examples of what you’ve worked on, how you created something and what you loved most about it
  • Any interview is a two way process - ask questions of your interviewer.  This is your opportunity to discover how they got in to their role, what they like about it and what a company is like  

Once you’ve started...

  • Always turn up on time and let your manager know if you’re running late
  • Be willing to do anything/try anything
  • Where possible, try and find solutions yourself but don’t spend hours going in the wrong direction - sense check first!
  • Find out as much as you can about all the departments and roles and if there’s an area you want to particularly focus on, do some training out of hours in that department
  • Volunteer for extra projects - you may get an opportunity to work on something interesting and learn new skills
  • If there are company events you can attend, these are good opportunities for you to mingle and meet other staff members you might not otherwise connect with.  This may allow you to mention what you want to do next and if there’s an opportunity in the future they may think about you as a potential candidate
  • Identify internal mentors - ask around and see who might be willing and available to help improve your skills and give you feedback on your work  

Other tips:

  • A good way to keep improving on your work is to do a shot, keep a file and then re-do it.  This will allow you to see how much faster and better you can do it over time
  • You can also post your work on Youtube and ask for comments and recommendations