I'm a former corporate lawyer now working in film and TV as a script editor and producer. More than happy to answer any questions or give advice to anyone thinking of doing the same.
For all those corporate lawyers out there who are worrying that they are committed to their profession - check out Deanne's story. Thanks for a really comprehensive, useful and inspiring interview!
I'd just say don't be afraid to email anyone you can find who works in the media! Media is all about the networking, and I've been surprised at how willing people have been to meet up and chat to me about their experiences; usually because they've been in the same position I was once and understand what you're going through.
I work at CBBC as an assistant script editor on a popular children's drama. This means working with the script writers and the producer to think up storylines for the new series, then helping to get the scripts into shape by giving notes on each draft that comes in until everyone is happy with it, at which point it goes into production.
I also do development for CBBC which means reading lots of scripts and writing reports on whether I think they're any good or not (and why!). Last summer I was a production assistant on Just William, which basically consisted of running around in fields with kids and making lots of cups for tea! The end goal (hopefully!) is to become a TV or Film Producer and I also produce low-budget films in my spare time.
I studied law at university and then completed my LPC before starting my training contract at a corporate law firm in London. I did my 4 six month seats in Corporate Finance, Fraud litigation, Capital Markets (in the Tokyo office) and IP.
I quit law as soon as I qualified, and if I'm honest, my heart was never really in it. I'd always dreamt of working in film or television, but didn't know anyone working in the industry, so had no idea how to go about it. Strangely, law seemed like the easier option - a very structured and defined career path, not to mention respectable and well paid.
The breaking point for me came when I was working in Tokyo - there I was in this wonderful city, having an amazing time, but I still felt totally miserable and unfulfilled. I was constantly bored at work, felt like an imposter wearing a suit and, worst, had no desire to be good at what I did or to climb the career ladder. I felt like I was wasting my life. I knew something had to change.
When I met some documentary makers working in Japan, they were so passionate about their job it was infectious. Not only that but seeing the reality of what they did, it finally began to feel like something I could actually do and be good at. By the time I got back to England I'd pretty much made up my mind, although I also knew I wanted to complete the last 6 months of my training contract so I'd have the qualification behnid me if it all went horribly wrong!
As soon as I knew I wanted to make the change, I signed up for a part time course in Film Production. This was 10 weeks long, all day every Saturday. It gave me a really good overview of what was involved, as well as meeting people I've stayed in touch with to this day. I also started saving furiously, as I knew I'd need as much money behind me as possible.
Once my training contract finished, I moved back up north to live with my parents. This was pretty drastic but I knew there was every chance I'd have to do unpaid work experience and it was the only way to afford it. I asked around and did a few days here and there with production companies. I applied for every entry level job going and sent my CV to everywhere I could find.
After 6 months of unemployment, I was lucky enough to get a place on the BBC's Production Trainee Scheme, a paid 18 month Scheme where you work in various departments of the BBC and get training inbetween placements.
The best thing is obviously the job satisfaction. I can honestly say I enjoy coming into work everyday and I really feel like I'm challenged and working to the best of my abilities. I never wish I was doing something else, even when things get tough (which I did constantly when I was a lawyer!). I've met some incredibly interesting, creative people and a whole bunch of new friends. There are also some nice perks, such as getting to go to film premieres, wrap parties or the filming of TV shows.
Negatives are the money. It is far far less well paid than being a corporate lawyer and the probability is I'll never earn as much as some of my friends do already (until I win my first Oscar of course..!). Its a very unstable industry and fiercely competitive so you've got to be very dedicated and driven and constantly looking out for new opportunities, which can be exhausting!
The best advice I received was basically just do it. There's always going to be excuses and reasons why right now isn't a good time, blah blah. But the sooner you do it, the better. I'd also say, be prepared because it will inevitably be difficult; at times it may even seem impossible. But if you've got the determination and drive it will happen in the end. Do as much preparation as you can - be focused on your goal and find out as much as possible about your chosen new career. Some jobs sound great but in reality are very different.
When it comes to the media industry, http://www.skillset.org/film/" rel="nofollow">Skillset are really useful for information about different roles in the media and on training.