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    I'm Mei, I'm 14 years old and I had my heart set out on becoming an actress until I started having second thoughts about a year ago.

    I then decided that I wanted to go into filmmaking because I made silly little films with my friends and edited them and my sister said I was really good and praised me for it. So I got the idea of doing it for a career.

    I was really focused and determined. I scoured the internet for possible work experience (to no avail) asked a ton of questions at career evening and read countless paragraphs on www.creativeskillset.org

    Recently (last night even) a man who worked in film as part of special effects for Warner Bros came to my parents' pub and so I got to talk to him and ask him questions. He said to email him with the departments I'd like to go to for work experience and he'd see if he could get something for me.

    So I just started looking online to see all the different departments there were and now I'm scared as hell.

    It all looks so daunting and intimidating and so complicated!! I don't have a good idea if which departments I'd like to work in yet (possibly editorial or the direction department, both of which are rather different from each other)

    The more I read on, the more I feel like I'm not cut out for this kind of work. They say you should be good at working on your own quickly and effectively, able to multi-task and have a good can-do attitude and be able to be organised and work without supervision.

    They say that it's a manufacturing industry and that it's not about theory and most of the people who work in the film industry are not academics.

    I am not the most observant or organised person, I'm not too good at working without supervision as I have a lot of hesitancy before I feel certain I know what to do (or trust myself not to screw up), I'm not too good under pressure, I'm not the quickest or brightest brain on the block, don't have a huge amount of common sense.

    And moreover, I'd say I'm an academic. I like learning, especially things like history and geography and philosophy. The guy I talked to said he didn't go to university and you really don't need very good grades to get into the industry if you're good. I don't know if I'm good and I really want to go to uni and I'm excited by the idea of going to university to learn.

    Is the film industry really for me, then? Am I chasing after yet another dream until I'll change my mind a year later? Am I just not suited for this kind of thing? Please help, because I need to send this email soon and I'm midway through a meltdown.

    That was long....and very dramatic. I'm all too aware I probably won't feel this way about it later. But if anyone could give any advice, that'd be great. Again, really sorry for the long read.

    Hello Mei,

    Firstly, respect to you for going to the correct place for information (Skillset) and researching this properly!

    Yes, the industry will look daunting and intimidating and complicated to you. That is absolutely inevitable but that should also not, in itself, put you off. Most areas of work look complicated before you get immersed in them and film is no different, as such it will look intimidating, especially at your age. Before I started working (in TV) that was exactly how I felt, now it all looks a lot more straightforward and easy and you will find eactly the same if you get to work in the Film industry.

    Next, you absolutely do not need to decide (or even have an idea of) which department you want to work in at this stage. Almost everyone gets into the industry in the same way (by being a runner) and you will have plenty of time and opportunity to decide what you want to be and do once (if) you get in.

    In terms of personal qualities, yes the list you have outlined is a good one BUT it is not exclusive. I know many people who are many other things and are equally competent as people who are able to multi-task etc etc. Production needs all kinds of characters and those qualities that are useful for eg some Directors may well be not the same as those for eg some editors. It is a very broad church so again, worry not! Not only that but you will change a lot between what you are like now and what you will be like in five years. I know, I am a parent and I see it happen!

    And finally, no you do not need to go to University to get into the film industry, however being bright, intelligent and hardworking are all very useful qualities. You are very likely to demonstrate those qualities at University, and develop them, so my advice would be to do that, especially if you love learning. You will not harm your career chances by going to University, absolutely not! And my further advice would be that, when you get to decide where to go and what to study, you opt for the most academically rigorous course that you enjoy at the best University that you are capable of entering. Choose English at Manchester or Chemistry at Imperial over Film Studies at Bournemouth or TV Production at Westminster. Nothing against those types of courses but you will develop and become a much more interesting and recruitable individual with those degrees from the former places that those from the latter.

    And the best thing you can do from now until you graduate is: keep making films! You will learn a huge amount by planning a shoot, taking a camera out and editing the rushes. Keep working on making those films better and the best way of doing that is to shoot material with a planned narrative ie think of a story and shoot the material that tells that story. That is far better for you and you will develop much quicker than simply to put together "arty" shots to interesting music with no rules.

    Oh and watch Film, lots of it, and with a critical eye.

    Good luck, you sound like you have got your head firmly screwed on so I'm sure you won't need it!

    Hi Mei

    It stands out a mile from your post that you are a person who will go somewhere - your post is intelligent, articulate and thoughtful.

    Please do go and do your work ex that you got under your own steam because you're a bright spark - don't worry a jot about all the other stuff - it's too early! At this point, you just need to be keen (you are), interested (you are) and up for helping out and making the tea (I'm sure you are).

    I felt the same before I got into TV but guess what - it was actually full of friendly, helpful people who expected me to be a newbie and helped me. All the other skills, qualifications, abilities, that will all come later. Also, don't worry about the academic stuff - loads of people in the creative industries have a degree - it's just that often, you don't have to have any particular qualification to work creatively. It's OK to be brainy and a creative type!

    I encourage you to do your work experience, I bet you really find it enjoyable and inspiring! Good luck
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