History jobs: historical film consultant
History jobs: historical film consultant

While an interesting subject enjoyed by many students at school, history can sometimes fail to appeal when it comes to further education.

The most notable reason why people choosing high school, college or university subjects neglect to see history as a good option is because of the lack of obvious careers it provides. ‘So you’re doing a history degree, are you going to become a history teacher?’ It’s a standard remark. And at first glance, if becoming a historian doesn’t interest you, it would be easy to dismiss history when selecting subjects.

In reality a history degree, like any degree in the arts, will not dictate a professional path in the same way more vocational courses do, but it still stands the student in great stead. But this blog isn’t going to delve into the skill set that the subject develops – at least this post won’t – instead the History Learning’s blog will point out (from time-to-time) jobs perfectly suited to someone with some historical expertise to help combat the view of it not offering interesting and exciting options.

The first career we want to put in the spotlight is that of a historical consultant in the film and television industry.

Historical accuracy and authenticity is something that some film-makers embrace and others ignore; set in the time of The Crusades it is doubtful Robin Hood had an American accent as in Kevin Costner’s portrayal and as for Braveheart, well, don’t get us started. Hollywood would tell you that William Wallace’s blue-eyed charm seduced King Edward II’s wife, Isabella of France, and the result of their affair was Edward III. But according to the history books, Isabella was three years old at the time of Falkirk, and Edward III was born seven years after Wallace died.

Anyway, sometimes ‘artistic license’ overrides any duty to historical facts. But, for many producers and directors, sticking to reality is of utmost importance. From what people would wear, the language they used, how and why events took place and the correct chronology of a story are all things given huge amounts of attention. And how does Hollywood (or any filmmaking region) make sure it gets this right? Historians: either experts in a particular field or someone with the ability to go away and accurately research a subject or event.

In a promotional photo for the new series of Downton Abbey there was a plastic bottle in the background. The hit UK show is set 36 years before plastic bottles were in use. Tut tut. Anachronisms like this can undermine the credibility of a series or film and so having someone on hand who can point of inaccuracies is very important.