DePaul University Career Center's Blog

Alternative Paths to Filmmaking: Examples and Resources

Zoe Parris

Entertainment is one of the most interesting, creative, and risky industries out there. It is an incredible example of the value of teamwork and few other jobs sound as cool to your friends and family as Screenwriter or Editor.

As you (yes, you!) become concerned about what being a film major, minor, or entertainment-related declaration means for your future career, it is important to know what pathways are available to you. Even before considering alternatives, let’s break down standard pathways.

Each of the 11 concentrations DePaul offers (as well as many other entertainment-related declarations) falls into 3 standard pathways.

Assistantship or Production Assistant

Concentration → Assistantship/PA → Production Manager

For many graduates, their first introduction to the entertainment industry will be through PA work. Some may find that they like the emphasis on organization and coordination others may enjoy the hands-on learning experience. Depending on the department you work under you can progress within that community or build connections with some of your peers to transfer to a department that better suits your interests. 

Alternatively, for more creative concentrations that are less likely to have a long chain of command for you to slowly climb, there are Assistantships. An example of this is an Assistant Director. While it can be more difficult to find a mentor, taking on the less-than-fun logistics of filmmaking is a great way to build experience.

Standard Internship/Job

Concentration → Internship (i.e. editing, sound design vfx) → Junior Position → Senior Position

Concentrations like Editing or Visual Effects can find some luck working for companies that specialize in providing their services to production companies who want to outsource their work like Whitehouse Post. This pathway would involve finding an internship or job like most other majors and then putting in the work until you can be promoted to a senior position.

List of Chicago-based companies

Skalawag Productions LinkedIn

Pink Hippo Productions

Audacy, Inc

Lakeview Productions

Personal Funds/Projects

Concentration → Freelance/Personally Funded Projects

Unfortunately, building experience in this industry can cost you. Direct directing, screenwriting, cinematography, and production experience can be hard to come by unless you are working on self-funded personal projects at times. It is a good way to have projects that you had direct creative control over and make connections to other people who are new to the industry. It is also hard to go down this path if money is a concern or you do not have a project idea to start with.

While each of these branches is a viable option there are many reasons why a film graduate maybe be unsure about them. Many of these positions are hard to find with a wide range of pay and the industry itself is a bit unstable. Each of these also requires a high level of networking skills.

What can you do if traditional entertainment does not fit you? / What can you do for a stable income as you work towards your dream job?

Media Researcher/Consultant

Media Researchers are utilized for fact-checking or scouring the internet for any information needed for print, broadcast, and digital news companies. They often operate the production equipment and keep records of media materials.

Learn more about Media/Entertainment Researchers here

Media Consultant job description by Pen State

Multimedia/ Non-profit

Similarly, there are Multimedia positions. You can find these jobs and internships at school board offices, non-profit organizations, hospitals, or any other company that would like to create videos, presentations, and social media posts at a much smaller scale compared to a production company. Often you will work under a small team that will handle a wide range of tasks covering the entire media creation process.

Some non-profit organizations in particular (depending on funding and how ambitious they/you are) will allow their multimedia employees to work on larger projects like documentaries or YouTube series.

Learn more about Multimedia Assistants here

Multimedia Assistant job description by The University of New Mexico

Social Media Marketing

Social Media Marketing is very similar to Multimedia positions but is confined to applications you’d find on your phone. There is a larger focus on customer engagement. The number of videos you would work on will be more but the effort per project is lower. Responsibilities would include creating, scheduling, and posting content on various platforms as well as creating marketing strategies. Social media marketing is not confined to small-scale media production as positions can be found in companies like Crunchyroll, The Lyric Opera, or Lincoln Park Zoo.

Learn more about Social Media Marketing for Corporations from DePaul Alumni

Commercial Production (or non-film/tv media outlets)

Companies like Video One Productions specialize in creating business content for corporations which mostly involves commercials and advertisements. If you are someone who likes to work on a wide variety of things, finding a commercial production company with a diverse clientele may be the way to go.

There is also availability to do production for news outlets and radio stations. Multimedia positions often require interdisciplinary skill sets that may not fit everyone. If you want to specialize in script writing, camera work, or sound design, companies like NPR might be more your style.

These are just a few of the many pathways a film major can take once they start striding into their career. If you find a starting point that interests you it is always helpful to research how a position fits your goals and keep in mind almost no career is linear you can jump from pathway to pathway if it suits you.

If you want to learn a little more about your career options, set up an appointment with one of your Career Advisors!


Whether you’re a freshman or an alumnus, it’s never too early (or too late) to utilize our services. Book an appointment with Zoe or another member of the advising community through Handshake, or by calling the front desk at (773) 325-7431. 

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