Corinne Orton currently works as Festival Producer for Glasgow Film Festival where she has a hand in programming, event managing, guest coordinating, staff recruitment and bizarrely, tech support!

Scotmid Shop Assistant
Well, with no experience you’ve got to start somewhere – I was 15 and living round the corner from Scotmid. One day I walked in and offered my services for a measly £2.20 an hour. It was the start of a long line of part-time retail jobs seeing me through school and Uni. I still see my old colleagues when I go back home to my parents as some of them never left.

English Language Teacher – Prague   
A teen fascination with Eastern Europe led me to Prague where I taught conversational English in a high school. I had just left high school myself and was the same age as most of my students, we used to go to the pub together after class. I was paid £100 per month and had a room on the 4th floor of the school next to the classrooms and a burly Slovakian janitor. Sometimes I’d sleep in and would have to dash across the corridor to the shower without the pupils seeing me! In my free time I travelled as much as possible – safe to say my wanderlust had begun. After Uni, I taught English in Akita, Japan for 2 years, then in Barcelona before returning to a language school back home in Scotland.

Front of House Assistant – Santa Barbara Film Festival
After 4 years teaching English, I was itching for a new challenge. I found myself on an extended holiday in California and volunteered at a local film festival. What an eye opener! I met fellow film geeks who I could chat at length with about obscure foreign movies and documentaries and crammed in as many free films as I could.  Until then it had never occurred to me that this could be a possible career path. I quickly became hooked…

Guest Assistant – Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF)
When I got back home I applied anywhere and everywhere for festival jobs. Most were short-term and initially unpaid but I eventually managed to quit teaching. My first internship was as a Guest Assistant for EIFF where I coordinated travel and accommodation for filmmaker guests. This was a great way to get in – Edinburgh was where my knowledge of what it takes to put on a big film event really began. Festivals are so fast-paced that even 3 months work can seem like 6 and your job title never quite encompasses all that you do. You feed off adrenalin and team work. I went back to various jobs at EIFF over 4 consecutive years, eventually moving into the Industry and Talent Development side where my interest lies, in between short stints at various other festivals.

Guest Representative at Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)
Skipping ahead a little, one of my more significant career breaks was when I headed West. My travel bug returned so I began juggling visa and job applications – lucky for me my Canadian visa came through just days before I got a call to join the TIFF team. Toronto was an incredible experience – a big budget Festival with some of the most fun employees you could ever hope to meet. One of my highlights was taking down Isabella Rosellini’s credit card details over the phone (THAT VOICE!) as my colleague danced excitedly in the background and I struggled to keep a straight face. I wound up staying in town for a year, volunteering at a number of smaller film festivals and on film shoots, before landing a really interesting job assisting with the Hot Docs Forum – a large pitching forum for documentary filmmakers.

With Festival work you never quite know where your next wage slip is coming from – it’s frequent bouts of unemployment punctuated by intense pressure, overflowing inboxes and late nights… but it certainly keeps you on your toes – and there are plenty of free films! I don’t think I could do my current job without the experience gained in the jobs I’ve mentioned – working with different personalities, thinking on my feet, keeping a cool head and adapting to new working environments are all skills I’ve honed along the way!

Photographer – Santiago Marin


We’ve asked professionals in creative industries what jobs they have had in the past to get their foot through the door (or at least pay the rent). For more in the “My First 5 Jobs” series look here.