The UK film industry is a complex beast – partly because different people mean different things by the word “film”.
Think of the industry as having three components:
Big budget studio filmsThese are major commercial productions, typically action movies with a lot of digital effects, usually backed by one of the Hollywood studios, made in the UK for global cinema, TV and other audiences – e.g. the Harry Potter franchise, the Bourne franchise, etc.
Low/medium budget British films These are still commercial but more modest in scale, typically more character-based, financed from a variety of sources, made primarily for UK audiences – e.g. Fishtank, Made in Dagenham, Nowhere Boy.
No-budget/micro-budget films These are speculative or voluntary projects with little or no money and little or no prospect of cinema or other commercial distribution. Some are genuinely creative collaborations.Sadly, others are cynical rip-offs. (You may find it useful to consult the Guidance for New Filmmakers attached this page).
These three components do NOT connect up neatly.
Typical career paths do not start out in no-budget/micro-budget films, then move on to low/medium budget British films, and finally break into big budget studio films. For one thing, a CV based on no-budget/micro-budget films will not act as a passport to a career in the commercial film industry.
And for another, in the commercial sector, many talented people prefer the challenges of low/medium budget films and look for work on those productions. Others, equally talented, prefer the different challenges of big budget blockbusters. Neither is better than the other.
For more information on the different skills and jobs in the film industry go to Creative Skillset