Acting is a notoriously overcrowded profession. Only 25 per cent of Equity's 30,000 members are working at any one time and 4 per cent can expect to be out of work for more than 12 months at a stretch.
This is one of the most sought-after jobs in radio, and stations receive hundreds of unsolicited applications and demo tapes. There is, however, considerable responsibility attached to the position; for one thing, the D J is more often than not the station's image figure. A music presenter has to be a very good all-rounder; in addition to technical experience (music presenters in local radio handle their own studio equipment), the job calls for an easy microphone manner, a grasp of current affairs, a pleasant voice and the ability to think quickly and to ad lib when necessary. There is also a lot of 'routine' attached to a DJ's work; program running orders have to be listed and records have to be timed and logged for royalty payments.
The services of a location manager are needed most frequently in connection with drama productions. If, for example, the script calls for a Jacobean house, it is the job of the location manager to find a suitable one, obtain permission to use it, arrange for such things as parking space and see that the place is left in good condition when the shooting is over.
Make-up artists spend much of their time doing corrective work, such as combing hair and powdering noses, or carrying out routine tasks such as setting up and stocking equipment. The creative aspect of their job really only comes to the fore during drama and light entertainment productions, for which they may be required to do elaborate face and body make-up, style hair and wigs or produce effects such as scars and bruises.
Make-up artists do not always find themselves in the comparative comfort of the studio; location work may take them outside in bad weather. They need a calm, tactful personality for they work with many different sorts of people - actors, politicians, ordinary members of the public - all of whom are likely to be nervous before going on camera.
In broadcasting there is a great deal of work connected with contracts. Presenters, performers, and other freelance production staff are employed for one program or series on a contract which sets out their payment, conditions of service and entitlement to residual rights. Work in a contracts department demands a thorough knowledge of contract, copyright, employment and trade union laws and legislation. Legal expertise is also required in fields such as libel laws and court reporting.
Librarians in a broadcasting organization are much more likely to be handling 'non-book' material, such as film, videotape, scripts, music scores and newspaper cuttings, but will be expected to have had appropriate training. There are a number of posts for graduate chartered librarians, assistant librarians and clerical library assistants. Librarians perform the normal range of library tasks and will, in some cases, also carry out research. Film and videotape librarians need knowledge of production, storage and handling techniques and can be asked to do simple editing. Music librarians in a small organization may need a wide knowledge of music, but in a large organization their work is likely to be specialized.
Production electricians, also known as lighting electricians, follow the plans of the lighting director, arranging studio lamps on the lighting grid in the studio roof so that the desired effect is achieved. They also repair and maintain the apparatus they use, so a good head for heights is essential.
Costume designers work in the areas of television light entertainment and drama. They begin by reading the program script, then in liaison with the producer, director, choreographer and set designer, plan the costumes and work out the costume budget. Costume designers should have a good grounding in the history of costume and etiquette and be creative and innovative, while possessing administrative and supervisory skills. Some television companies have their own stock of costumes, while others rely on theatrical costumiers.
Costume Design Assistant
This is one of the entry points to this profession. The assistant's duties include arranging fittings, researching and shopping for fabrics. Applicants normally hold a degree or equivalent qualification in theatrical or fashion design and have had professional experience.
Dressers are responsible for the maintenance of costumes and for helping artistes on and off with their costumes. They carry out minor alterations and must therefore be able to sew quickly and neatly. They need tact, maturity and sensitivity when dealing with artistes. Both men and women can work as dressers, but people under the age of 20 are rarely recruited for this work.
Dressmakers work on any kind of costume, from a caveman's skin to a Martian spacesuit, and are expected to make their own patterns from the designers' working drawings. A dressmaker will have had basic training in pattern making, cutting and dressmaking to Higher National Diploma level, and work experience as a dressmaker with a fashion house or theatrical costumier.
Some companies start their trainees operating cameras early on, but others make them spend several months operating cranes and moving cables. It usually takes six years to become fully trained and promotion to the top grades of the profession can take between 10 and 20 years.
Film Camera Operator/ Lighting Camera Operator
Trainees begin by performing tasks such as pulling focus, loading and charging magazines, checking and cleaning equipment and recording takes. Senior film camera operators - also known as lighting camera operators - are responsible for the technical and artistic quality of the pictures and, with the director, share major decisions about camera positioning, lighting and how the action will be shot.