Final Note on the Subject

Earlier in the book I discussed the fact that in this business, you have to continually expand your network, meet people and sell yourself. Well, going on meetings and interviews is one of the most effective ways to accomplish that. It's scary and often intimidating, especially at first. Generally, the more meetings you go on, the easier it gets unless you're extremely shy, in which case it's always a bit uncomfortable. You may also wake up one morning like I did and wonder why, after having...

Game Plan for Getting Through the Rough Times

You're bound to have setbacks, disappointments and times in between jobs when you'll wonder if you're ever going to work again. And there will be occasions when your self-confidence, commitment and bank balance will all be wobbling at the same time. But if you have your emergency preparedness kit in place and ready for deployment at a moment's notice, you'll be back up and running in no time. Surviving the tough times involves that Teflon coat I mentioned earlier. It's also having a Plan B to...

Willingness and an Ability to Play the Game

A few summers ago, I started my new USC course with the same lecture I always give during the first class. It included the best and the worst aspects of the business, misconceptions most students have before beginning their careers and what they're realistically getting themselves into. The next day I received an e-mail from one of the students informing me that she was dropping out of the class. After that one lecture, she had decided to cut her losses, because she didn't think she had what it...

Advice From the Experts

Know your lines and don't bump into the furniture. Spencer Tracy As previously mentioned (more than once), a significant part of your success in this industry will be directly tied to your attitude, how you treat others and how you conduct yourself at each and every job you'll ever have. So even though my philosophy and advice on attitude, treating others, etc., is peppered throughout this entire book (sorry, you can't get away from it), this particular chapter contains nothing but advice, from...

Attend Film School or Jump Right In

This is a question I'm often asked, and there is no right or wrong answer. I never attended film school but can see the advantages gained by those who have. Can you make it big without film school Absolutely. Can you go to film school and then not succeed in the biz Absolutely. This is a very personal choice. Film school can be quite costly, but it provides a broad, well-rounded understanding of the industry, as it focuses on film history and theory as well as the teaching of many different...

Be Bold and Mighty Forces Will Come To Your

Attributed to the German philosopher, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), I first heard this quote from Anthony Hopkins, who was appearing in an episode of Inside The Actors Studio. He was answering a question from a student in the audience, and he said he keeps this quote in mind when plagued by self doubt or up against a daunting challenge. John Wayne had another good quote with a similar message. He said, Courage is being scared to death . . . and saddling up anyway. In other words,...

Being a Big Fish in a Small Market or a Small Fish In a Large Market

Most major feature films and TV productions originate from either Los Angeles or New York, where thousands of people are capable of filling the same job and there are never enough jobs to go around. And while the actual locations for these shows could be just about anywhere in the world, when shooting remains in the U.S., the cast and most key crew positions are almost always hired from the show's home base. In general, only support crew, bit acting parts and extras are hired locally. The only...

Being Able to Ask for What You Want

Since few of us have ESP, it helps if you can be specific about what you need help with. My entire job search approach improved once I learned how to ask friends, contacts and previous employers to help me get meetings with individuals I didn't yet know (people they knew), so I could personally introduce myself and make new connections. Until I was urged to be more explicit when asking for help, I would have been too uncomfortable taking what I thought was such a forward approach. A busy...

Being in the Right Place at the Right Time

Having a goal and a plan is powerful, but let me add one more ingredient into this potent mix, and that is making sure you're prepared for the opportunities that come your way. I'm sure you've heard the expression, Something good is going to happen. I can feel it. It's just around the corner. To that I say, If you place yourself at the right intersection, you're more likely to be in the right spot when luck gets there. You have to be ready for the breaks that come your way, even if they don't...

Beware Warning Bumpy Road Ahead

While most entry-level jobs are synonymous with an industry-style boot camp, the regimen takes some getting used to and the experience may not be quite what you expected. They can also be challenging and exciting times that present you with a whole new world of possibilities. And most of the individuals you'll be working with and reporting to, while expecting a lot, are decent people. Not all will have enough time to thoroughly train you, but some will assign their underlings to train you, and...

Cons From the Pros

Ever since they found out that Lassie was a boy, the public has believed the worst about Hollywood. Groucho Marx The following are the answers I received to the question, To you, what is the worst thing about working in this business The insecurity of not knowing what tomorrow will bring. You can have a tremendous success one day, but then worry about what's next when you'll be able to practice your craft again. The politics. Because art is so intangible, this industry becomes fertile ground...

Continuity

Someone who does continuity is also known as a script supervisor. A script supervisor is a one-person department who works on a set at the epicenter of all that's going on. This person's primary job is to match movement, dialogue, props and often wardrobe, hair and makeup from one take to the next and one scene to the next, even though two consecutive scenes may be shot weeks apart from one another. He times each take with a stopwatch, records the type of shot (establishing, two-shot,...

Dont Count Those Chickens Just

There is no point at which you can say, 'Well, I'm successful now. I might as well take a nap.' Carrie Fisher I'm sure you've heard the expression, Don't count your chickens until they've hatched. Well, that's never been more true than as it Having an agent doesn't mean the agent will line up work for you. Having the most wonderful project in the world doesn't mean it will ever sell. Getting a part in a movie doesn't mean you won't end up on the cutting room floor. Having a producer, actor,...

Eves Recipe for Success

All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them. Walt Disney A sincere love of the business. An array of well-developed people skills. One large network, along with a vast collection of solid industry relationships. Huge portions of assertiveness and chutzpah. Heaps of inspiration and creativity. A plethora of determination. A willingness to start at the bottom and pay your dues. An abundance of hard work mixed together with a can do philosophy. An impressive knowledge of the...

Features Vs Television

I'm sad to report the existence of some poor misguided individuals who look down on those who work in television with a sense of superiority, because they themselves have made it in features (and most likely big studio features). But if they'd ever worked in television themselves, they'd know how wrong they are. If you do well in television, you'll do well in features, because it's a great place to perfect your craft and learn to work quicker, more effectively and more resourcefully. Television...

Finding Your Passion

You have to have a dream so you can get up in the morning. Billy Wilder Before you choose your goals and decide the direction you're heading, find your passion and define your dream. The road to get almost anywhere in this industry is laden with potholes, detours, traffic jams and rough terrain, so find a destination that excites you, or it won't have been worth the journey. Take a few minutes, find a quiet place to sit, and ask yourself What it is that makes me want to jump out of bed in the...

Getting Past the Gatekeepers

Your career will move at a snail's pace, if at all, if you're the type who sits at home waiting for the phone to ring. You also can't rely on the hope that if you send out resumes, someone will see it, be impressed and call to invite you over for an interview. That could happen, but if I were you, I wouldn't hold my breath. If you want to meet specific people and want them to know who you are, one of the best ways to make that happen is to take the initiative. Set up the meetings yourself. It's...

Having an Agent

Only once you've worked your way up the ladder a bit, have scored big at a film festival, sold a script or been offered a terrific deal or position, do you have enough credibility to seek the representation of an agent. This is a classic Catch-22 situation if there ever was one, because it's so much more difficult to establish yourself without the help of an agent, yet you're not likely to attract agency representation without having first established some amount of credibility and success. As...

Having Good Interview Skills

We're sort of back to standing out among the crowd here. If an employer interviews ten different people for the same job in one day, a week later, she's going to be hard pressed to remember one from another, unless one of them really stood out in her mind. You want to be that one person. The ability to do well on interviews is a skill that will serve you well no matter what stage of your career you're in, no matter what business. It starts with doing your homework and finding out as much as you...

Hollywood Drive

What It Takes to Break In, Hang In & Make It in the Entertainment Industry AMSTERDAM BOSTON HEIDELBERG LONDON NEW YORK OXFORD PARIS SAN DIEGO SAN FRANCISCO SINGAPORE SYDNEY TOKYO Focal Press is an imprint of Elsevier Acquisition Editor Elinor Actipis Project Manager Kristin Macek Assistant Editor Cara Anderson Marketing Manager Mark Hughes Cover Design William Harrold Focal Press is an imprint of Elsevier 30 Corporate Drive, Suite 400, Burlington, MA 01803, USA Linacre House, Jordan Hill,...

Hollywood Means Business Know Why Youre Here

For most of us, getting into this industry is a dream come true. If you can establish yourself and can make a decent living at it, consider yourself lucky to be working at what you love. But not everyone makes it, and you have to know when it's not right for you, in spite of your dreams. Honestly ask yourself Can I handle the instability Am I up for the constant networking Do I have the endurance to work extremely long hours (while under constant pressure) Can I deal with other people's tempers...

Independents Vs Studio Films

If you choose to freelance when first starting out, it might be easier for you to find work on smaller independent films. Many independents are non-union, and because the salaries and required levels of experience tend to be lower than on traditional studio union shoots, it's a more plentiful source of employment. And working on non-union films will give you more hands-on experience, because they're not governed by union and guild restrictions limiting what each person in each position is...

International Distribution

I find this end of the business fascinating, and it's the perfect career for a movie lover who's always wanted to be a diplomat or get involved with some form of international relations. A foreign sales company or the international department of a studio or distribution company is responsible for the international launch festival participation of a film along with the marketing, sales, delivery and collection of the film, television and video productions (titles) it represents. If you were to...

It Only Takes

Everyone told me to pass on Speed because it was a 'bus movie.' Sandra Bullock I'm sure you've heard stories about certain projects being out there for five or ten years before being made, and I've no doubt they're all true. If you're convinced you have a great project and it needs to be made, then don't give up. Don't take no for an answer. Sometimes the good ones end up getting buried on a dusty shelf somewhere just because the writer or producer gave up after the third or fifth pass. They...

Its Also What You Know about the Industry

If this business is going to be your life's work, then learn as much about it as you can. You should be reading the trade papers (Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter) and other industry publications and websites whenever possible. Know who's who, who's popular, who just started his own production company, what types of movies are currently the rage, who are the newest up-and-coming actors on the scene, what television shows are getting the best ratings. Know the vocabulary, who the power...

Its Not a Business for Sissies

This can be a pretty rough business, and you can't afford to be too delicate or sensitive, nor too easily offended. I believe in political correctness and am fervently against sexual harassment, discrimination and abusive language and behavior, but I know people who take offense at the drop of a hat, and they create almost as many issues as do the true offenders. This is a huggy-kissy-touchy business. While not always sincere, a hug or a kiss alongside the cheek (or an air kiss as they're...

Its Who You Know and Who Knows

Some will tell you that the only way to make it in such a competitive industry is to have the right connections, whether it be a relative, a friend or a friend of a relative. You'll hear plenty of stories about the guy who got his job because his brother-in-law is a bigwig agent, a producer who was able to package her project because her best friend is the personal chef of an A-list actor, an actor who got a part because his neighbor was the director or the PA who got his job because he's the...

Keeping Yourself on Track

When it comes to certain aspects in my life, I'm very undisciplined. Sound familiar If you know you need to write so many pages, make so many calls or set up so many meetings each day or each month, and it's not happening, one way to keep yourself on track is by creating a support system for yourself. Get together with a friend or two who are all in similar situations and working toward specific goals. Start by defining your ultimate goals and then brainstorm until you can come up with a...

Key Ingredients to a Successful Career

Integrate what you believe in every single area of your life. Take your heart to work and ask the most and best of everybody else, too. Meryl Streep No one can give you an iron-clad, money-back guarantee that once you land your first job, you're going to make it big in this business. But laid out in this chapter are the elements that will give you your best shot at it. Most of what's listed below will be covered more extensively throughout the rest of the book, but here are the key ingredients...

Know Where Youre Going and How Youre Going to Get There

Just wanting to be in the entertainment industry isn't enough. You need to know what you want to do in the industry and which facet of the business is going to be the best fit for you. These are questions only you can answer, but evaluating your responses to the above-listed questions will help. So will realistically researching your career options and soliciting the advice of those who currently occupy the positions you covet. Also keep in mind that you can change your mind at any time. You...

Know Who Youre Answering To

If you end up working in a heavily-populated environment (like a mailroom, production office or on a set), you'll find you have a lot of people telling you what to do or asking you to do things for them. You'll need to address this issue when you get hired, at which time, you'll ask (or be told) whom you will be answering to. It should be no more than two people, and ideally, it will be one individual only. It's totally counter-productive to respond to many, because while everyone thinks his or...

Knowing the Market

Many writers write screenplays based on what they know and create stories that are very personal to them, but they're not necessarily properties that are marketable. Do your research and know your market. Know who you're pitching to and what they're looking for. What type of product does this company produce Who are the producers and directors they generally work with What do they currently have in development, on the air or in release Know what's selling and who best to sell to. Research the...

Making Coffee Instead of Movies

One of the biggest misconceptions people have upon graduating film school or just deciding to get into the entertainment field is that because they are bright, talented and creative and may know how to stage a scene, load a camera or edit a montage, they should be able to land a job as a producer, director, cinematographer, editor, production designer or some other notable position, and that it shouldn't take longer than six months to a year to achieve this worthy goal. It happens that way...

Managing Your Time

Another large part of keeping yourself on track has to do with effective time management skills. Have you ever had one of those days (or several) where you do a little of this and a little of that and don't really get much accomplished All of us have at one time or another, but if it happens too often, you're not using your time as efficiently as you could. If you don't manage your day properly and set boundaries for yourself, your productivity will fly out the window. The trick is to schedule...

More Staff Possibilities

Staff positions can also be found at a myriad of film, television, music video and commercial production companies talent, literary, music and below-the-line agencies and management companies unions, guilds, associations and film commissions They would also encompass positions with companies and firms that specialize in international marketing and distribution behind-the-scenes (also known as EPK) production accounting and business management motion picture insurance, risk management and safety...

Music

This is a part of the business I've had little exposure to but have always imagined it to be extremely creative and rewarding. Wanting to know more, I spent some time talking to Michael Brooks. Michael is currently head of production for Rafelson Media, but the majority of his career has been spent in music. Michael has been a music producer and mixer for much of his career, and he equates this position to that of both a producer and director on a film. The music producer is responsible for...

On the Lookout for Good Material

While there are some companies that will only accept completed screenplays, and some agents who will tell you that you can't sell a project without a script, it's done every day. There are many producers who sell ideas and concepts, backed up often by just a short treatment. Some can sell an idea with just a verbal pitch, and many make very good livings by selling compelling stories they've found in newspapers or magazines. It could be a story heard on the radio, a television magazine show or...

Other Considerations

Another great way to start out in the biz is to work as a non-union extra. Whether you have acting aspirations or just want to see how a set operates, it will give you a good chance to get the lay of the land and to make some contacts. If you've recently moved to a new town (like L.A. or New York) or just graduated from school, this is the best time for you to join a networking organization (and more than one if possible). The more people you meet, the sooner you can start connecting and...

Other Departments

There are many other departments to be found within any given studio, staffed by all manner of vice presidents, directors, managers and assistants. Here are just some of them. Acquisitions This department is responsible for acquiring outside properties for release and distribution projects that may have already been developed, partially packaged, partially or fully financed and may or may not have been completed. Screenplays, rough cuts and finished films are submitted to this department for...

Post Production

Post production is the process of assembling and completing a picture. It begins during pre-production with the preparation of a post production budget and schedule, the lining up of crew and facilities, and the planning of arrangements that must be made for any necessary special processes. Once a film has been edited, the remaining components (inserts, pickup shots, sound effects, foley, music, ADR or looping, titles, opticals and visual effects) are assembled (mixed) to complete the picture....

Preparing for an Interview

No matter what type of meeting you're having, your preparation will basically be the same. Here's your list. Do your homework on the person you're going to be meeting. If it's an individual, what is her background What type of projects has she worked on What is her reputation Ask friends, and get on the Internet to look her up (www.imdb.com is a good start). And if this person you're about to meet works for a specific company (or studio), know something about the company as well. Who are the...

Preserving Your Motivation and Confidence

Jackie Jaye-Brandt is a communications specialist, organizational psychotherapist, lecturer and author. I knew her name through the lectures she gives at the Motion Picture Industry Health centers and a couple of years ago, I asked her to be a guest speaker at a Film Industry Network meeting. At the time, film production in Los Angeles had hit record lows, jobs were scarce, layoffs were rampant and runaway production was taking way too many film jobs out of the country. Many of our members were...

Production Management

Another sought-after studio department is also referred to as physical production. The higher level titles in this department are similar to those of the creative group. And instead of creative executives, development assistants, story editors and script readers, you might find a Director of Production, any number of production executives and possibly an Executive Production Manager. Titles will vary slightly from studio to studio or production company, but the production exec title seems to be...

Reality Stings

Yes, many do become successful, famous and wealthy, but it's crowded at the top of that ladder. There's no guarantee you'll reach the top of that much sought-after pinnacle, and if you do, that you'll be able to stay there. And lest you think once you're working in this industry, you'll have a clear shot to easy street think again. It's not always so easy Yes, you can make some good money in this business, but for the majority of freelancers who don't work all the time, that good money will...

Reality TV

I don't know if commercials have anything on the frenzied pace of Reality TV. I've only worked on one Reality TV show, which was a 2003 pilot that was never picked up, but I've spent time since then discussing the experience with my friend Matt Kutcher, who's the one who talked me into doing it with him to begin with. The terminology and paperwork were slightly different than what I was used to, and it reminded me of low-budget guerrilla filmmaking, a kind of...

Relax and Lighten Up

When you find yourself obsessing about whether you're doing a good enough job, if you're moving fast enough, when you're going to screw up again or just how you're going to survive your first job, take a step back, take a deep breath, stop worrying so much and lighten up Don't stop giving it your all, but at the same time, give yourself permission to walk around with a smile on your face. Above all, retain your sense of humor. If you don't have much of a sense of humor to begin with, acquire...

Remembering the Five Ps

Pleasant Letting your affable personality open doors for you. Patient The tolerance needed to get you over the rough spots and through the journey. Positive A winning attitude, and a conviction that you're going to make it. Passionate The motivating force you never want to lose. Persistent Refusing to take no for an answer, and refusing to give up. Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will...

Resume Guidelines

Just like with a cover letter, a resume should be professional looking and typed using a simple font on good-quality 8-- x 11 paper. If you can keep it to one page, that's great. It shouldn't be longer than two pages. Again, the people on the receiving end are busy. If it's too long, they won't even bother. If it's not easy to read, they won't read it. If you've misspelled words or names, it's in the trash. And this is not the time to be cute and creative. Just the facts that's all anyone wants...

Reverting to Plan B

Not everyone in the biz is fortunate enough to be able to climb progressively, one step at a time, up the ladder of success. Some of us find it necessary to take a step or two down, or sideways, before starting back up again. It's rarely preferable that way, but sometimes necessary. If you're flexible, willing to take a lesser position or slightly change directions without resentfully feeling above it all, it could prove worthwhile, because you never know what you're going to find or who you're...

Scripts Scripts and More Scripts

If you're not a writer but a producer who's searching for good, completed screenplays you'd like to option and attempt to sell, just start putting the word out that you're looking, and don't forget to state the genres you're interested in (or you'll be overloaded with submissions). Let your friends know, your relatives, the people you went to school with, people you meet at networking functions, find the appropriate websites to post on, take out a small ad in a trade publication or...

Seven Steps to a Successful General Information Meeting

You've got your first meeting lined up (for example's sake, let's say it's with a female studio executive). Now what 1. Walk in, shake hands, make eye contact and thank her for taking the time to meet with you. 2. Always acknowledge the person you're meeting. You'll have done your homework, so you'll know what you're going to say in advance. It could be a compliment on her past accomplishments, on the company's latest film, etc. If you hadn't been able to find any background information on her...

Skills to Fall Back On

It's important to have a way to earn a living while you're waiting for your big break or in between jobs. It's something that those new to the industry don't think enough about, because everyone wants to believe that once you land your first job that's it you're on your way. It works that way for some people, but not for all. It's also easy to ignore the necessity of a back-up plan when you're young, don't have too many expenses, can live with roommates and share costs and you're anticipating...

Studio Operations and Administration

My friend Jack Kindberg didn't start out with the goal of running a major motion picture studio nor is it a part of the business one would traditionally go to film school to pursue. Jack just fell into it, and for the past several years, he's been President of Studio Operations and Administration for Sony Pictures Entertainment. He's been managing film lots for several years now first the smaller Culver Studios, then both Sony and Culver and now just Sony. He's good at it and enjoys what he...

Swimming with Sharks

Once I started teaching my USC summer class, I found myself talking a great deal about the benefits of networking and schmoozing. I'd also listen to the guest speakers I'd bring in who, unsolicited, would reiterate and emphasize the significance of networking from their own perspectives. I would routinely have students do research on networking organizations and always stressed how important it is for them to keep in touch, because they are each other's first network. For the students who would...

Taking This Route to Become a Producer

For those of you who want to be producers and don't want to start in a typical entry-level position, for those who have been in the business for a while and want to move into producing, and for those who have an alternate source of income to see yourself through until your first sale is made this is a good way to go First and foremost, you need to have found and secured some good material. Next, you have to know the market who the buyers are, what they're looking for, how to reach them, what's...

The Cultivation and Maintenance of Contacts

Not all your industry relationships will be the same. Some will become life-long friends, and others will remain as just co-workers and casual acquaintances. Some may function as mentors others will be individuals you choose to mentor. And many will become the source of valuable help, advice and support throughout your entire career. No matter how close you are, how well you know someone or how often you see him, industry relationships are like gold, and it's essential that you protect your...

The Educator

Educating future filmmakers is a part of the business I thought little of before I became an instructor. In fact, before I started teaching, I wouldn't have even considered it part of the business. But it definitely is. One evening over dinner, I had a chance to discuss it with Duke Underwood, who teaches at USC's School of Cinema-Television and is also the creator and director of the summer program there. When he's not at school, he manages to squeeze in a few months each year to work on his...

The FollowUp

If you've sent in a resume, you'll want to verify that it's been received. If you've ended your cover letter with, I'll call your office within the next few days to see if I may set up an appointment to meet with you, you've got to follow through. Call back in a few days, no longer than a week, and be prepared for what you might encounter on the other end of the phone. The people you're calling and their assistants and receptionists get tons of these calls each day from individuals just like...

The General Information Meeting

This is one of the very best (and most rewarding) aspects of the classes and seminars I teach. Once my students understand what a general information meeting is, how it works, how valuable it is and that they're capable of setting one up (on their own), it changes everything. It's as if I've handed them a magic key that will unlock countless numbers of doors, each representing a new possibility. This is a meeting you ask for. This is a way you can take your career into your own hands and create...

The Giving Part of Networking

No matter where you are in your career, and even if you don't know enough people to start your own e-mail networking list, you can always find something of yourself to give to others. If you're a computer whiz and someone you know is having a computer problem, offer to help. If you hear of a job opening that isn't right for you but might be right for someone else, pass on the lead. If you hear of a seminar or a networking event you think a friend or classmate might get a lot out of, forward the...

The How To Part of Networking

Every summer as my USC course winds down, I ask for suggestions as to what I could do the following summer that would make the class better. A couple summers ago, a student of mine named Andy Stoll said that throughout the course I stressed how vital it is for them to network, stay in touch and continually meet new people, but beyond the steps needed to set up a general information meeting, I didn't go into enough detail as to how to network. I realized Andy was right. Knowing it's important...

The Less Glamorous Aspects

Networking, schmoozing, selling yourself and lining up future jobs is a full-time job in itself that never ends. (You have to keep it up even when working.) It's hard work, time-consuming, expensive (lunches, event fees, gifts, cards, etc.) and often-discouraging. If you think you can get by on your talent alone or that you shouldn't have to dance the dance you're going to have a hard go of it. When you're on a show, you'll be working such long hours and will be away from home so much, your...

The Many Faces of a Producer

I started this chapter by implying that I was going to introduce you to career options other than producing, directing, writing and acting, and now here I am bringing up the topic of producers. The thing is, few people really understand what producers do or that there are many different types of producers, so I thought the topic deserved some attention. This next section might be a bit confusing, but believe me, it's not easy to explain either. On a feature film, there will...

The Production Office

For those working on a specific film or TV show, this is where it all starts. Casts and crews and vehicles and equipment don't magically appear at a designated location site on a specific day at an exact time and start unloading, rigging, setting up, dressing, rehearsing, lighting and shooting unless a team of people seeing to every little detail makes it all possible. The office could be set up on a major studio lot, in a high-rise, in an old warehouse, a bungalow, a trailer, a mobile home, a...

The Resume Pile

Studios, networks, production companies, agencies anyone doing business in the entertainment industry collectively receives hundreds of thousands of resumes each year. And while there are times when having a well-written and professional-looking cover letter and resume is absolutely necessary, because this is unlike any other business, rarely will sending a resume to someone who doesn't know you (or know someone who knows you) result in a job. For the most part, you'll be lucky if submitting...

The Word According to

No matter how insignificant your job or position may seem at the time, think of it this way the TV or filmmaking process is like assembling a large jigsaw puzzle, where many small little pieces and some larger pieces (each representing a person or element involved in the production) slowly come together to form a complete picture. Each piece, no matter how minuscule, is just as essential to completing the picture. And once totally assembled, this picture is so rich in detail, it evokes emotion...

Theres a Barracuda in My Office More on Politics

Hollywood's a place where they'll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss, and fifty cents for your soul. Marilyn Monroe In his book Reel Power by Mark Litwak (Silman-James Press), Mark states, Successful filmmakers are distinguished, not only by a command of their medium but also by their political savvy. Unless a filmmaker is adept at the politics of moviemaking, it's unlikely he will ever get the chance to demonstrate his skill as a moviemaker. As a rule, when you work as part of a crew, you...

Theres More Than One Kind

I bet you didn't know there are different types of meetings as they relate to interviews. There's the standard interview for a specific job opening, which you may have already experienced, and then there are the following three types (which are explained in greater detail within this chapter). My favorite is the general information meeting. This is a meeting you ask for. It could last five minutes or an hour, depending on the circumstances. Its purpose is for you to introduce yourself to...

Tips from Heather

My Heather Hale is in the process of writing a book about networking. Because she's such a wealth of valuable information, I've asked Heather to let me share a couple of her extremely helpful suggestions with you. It's advice that makes a great deal of sense and is incredibly useful. HH Tip 1 Not all networking is equal. You may be going to networking events, but are they the right events for you Are they serving you well Are you making the right connections Make an effort to meet and network...

Unions and Guilds

All major studios and many independent production companies are signatory to certain basic union and guild agreements, the most common being the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), which represents actors, stunt coordinators, stunt performers, professional singers, puppeteers, airplane pilots, professional dancers (which may cover swimmers and skaters as well) and extras the Directors Guild of America (DGA), representing directors, unit production managers and assistant directors the Writers Guild of...

What Theyre Looking

I want everybody to tell me the truth even if it costs them their job. Samuel Goldwyn This is one of the topics for which I sought the opinions of my friends and colleagues in the business. Those I surveyed are working professionals, individuals representing diverse segments of the industry, all of whom are in a position to hire. The question posed was, What do you look for when an applicant walks through your door The following are their responses I want...

Working Around Celebrities

Once you start working in the biz, your days as a fan, while not over, will change forever. Your enthusiasm for being around celebrities must be greatly restrained, because if you're going to be working around the powerful and famous, your job will be as support staff, not as a devotee in search of an autograph. When meeting a celebrity for the first time, it's okay to say something like, It's a pleasure meeting you. I'm a big admirer of your work. But leave it at that, and go no further. No...

Finding Your Market

A couple of chapters ago, you read about the importance of knowing what you want and setting goals for yourself. Your next step is figuring out where you should be working and who you need to meet. Armed with the knowledge of where you're headed, it's to your advantage to target the employers who are doing what you eventually want to be doing and the companies that can provide the learning experience you need instead of just taking the first job that comes along. The best of both worlds is an...

Getting Your Material in Front of the Buyers

Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what's going to work. Every time out it's a guess and, if you're lucky, an educated one. William Goldman, from Adventures in the Screen Trade (Warner Books) Once you figure out your market, have your project as packaged as it's going to get and are ready to get it out there, your next step is to line up your pitch meetings or connect with buyers who will agree to read your project. If you're going to...

Being Part of a Crew

Being part of a crew means you're a member of the team that supervises, directs, prepares, designs, dresses, finds locations, builds sets, lights, photographs, rigs, records sound, videotapes, keeps continuity, moves the production from one place to another, prepares the talent, creates props, stunts and effects, publicizes, edits and compiles all the necessary elements to complete a film or TV show. Each time you're hired for a show, the crew you're about to become part of becomes like a new...

Shameless Self Promotion

Part of the job hunt is getting your name out there and finding ways to create memorable impressions. One way to do that is by using what the latest buzzword refers to as branding. Start by creating a company name for yourself, something that encapsulates all your endeavors and possibly your personality as well. Once you've thought up a name you'd like to use, see if it's available by filing for a DBA (doing business as). Check with the county clerk's office in your city. They can guide you...

The Word According to Everyone Else

Just as I did for other parts of the book, I've interviewed many industry professionals from different aspects of the business and varying career levels and asked each of them to offer some words of advice to those just starting out in the business. And whether you're just starting out or are knee-deep in it already, there's something here for all of us to learn, no matter where we stand on the proverbial ladder. Here's what they had to say. This is an awesome way to make a living and worth the...

Being Well Liked and Having a Good Reputation

It doesn't quite seem fair that while most of us endeavor to be hard-working, polite, tolerant, honorable, reliable and pleasant, others are allowed to exhibit the worst behavior imaginable. But unfortunately, that's the way the show biz cookie crumbles. If you have a proven track record of successes, a creative brilliance that's always in demand, a certain status or the ability to generate mega bucks or mega ratings, you pretty much get a free pass when it comes to conduct. I'm not suggesting...

Introduction

Life is not a having and a getting, but a being and a becoming. Myrna Loy Do you have any idea how difficult it is to come up with a good book title Let's just say in the case of this book, it was much more difficult than I ever imagined it would be. The title I'd always wanted to use, but someone beat me to, is What They Don't Teach You In Film School. My second choice was Fade In On Reality, but I was told it sounded too much like a book on pop psychology or an expos on reality TV. And...

Network Opportunities

Major television networks in California and New York offer a variety of entry-level opportunities internships and Page programs among them. Many local television stations throughout the country also offer various career opportunity programs for students and entry-level applicants. NBC's page program in Burbank, California lasts a year, and those accepted work as part of the Guest Relations staff as a liaison between the network and the general public. Pages conduct tours, perform various...

First Things First

Before you commit to any property, and even if it's your script, make sure you have a basic understanding of what constitutes a good story. Next, is it structured and formatted properly Is it the right number of pages If you're not sure, go to www.samuelfrench.com or www.writersstore.com, and order one of the many books available on proper screenplay structure. Most of the books will also give you a rundown of the screenwriting software available that will allow you to write or convert your...

The Land of Big Egos and Bad Tempers

Ambition is a dream with a V8 engine. Elvis Presley I was sitting in my eye doctor's waiting room one day last year and happened to pick up a copy of a Readers Digest that was sitting next to me on the table. It was the December 2003 issue and in it was a piece on Julia Roberts. I started reading and then took out a piece of paper and a pen, so I could write this down in discussing the issue of where she and her husband were living, Miss Roberts said she didn't like living in California because...

The Production Team

I know this gets confusing, but the production team as opposed to the studio's creative team whose members are given production titles refers to physical production and those who physically prepare for and supervise the shoot of any given project. The Producers Guild of America defines the producing team as those responsible for the art, craft and science of production in the entertainment industry. Physical production encompasses the positions most newcomers are aware of, but at the same time,...

The Merits of Working for Free

If you're not having much luck landing a job, consider working as an intern. It may not sound terribly appealing, but if you can afford to do it even for a short period of time like a day or two a week , it's one of the very best ways to get your foot into any show biz door. I once took a job as a second unit UPM and worked for a very astute line producer named Jonathan who, at the time, specialized in non-union features. My first day on the job, he took me on the set and pointed to an...

The Secret

If you view networking as just something you have to do to get ahead and to get other people to help you with your career, you're in the wrong game. It needs to be a two-way street and become part of your life, a part that freely gives to, shares with, helps and supports others. Think of the film, Field of Dreams, where Kevin Costner's character keeps hearing the voice say, If you build it, they will come. Apply the same theory to networking If you build the right foundation, are willing to...

Freelance Vs Staff

Before choosing a particular job or specialty field, you'll have to decide whether to pursue a staff job with one company or freelance work. Freelancing entails working from project to project in a wide variety of positions, such as actor, writer, composer, musician, storyboard artist, graphic artist, dialogue coach, script reader, script doctor or a member of a film or television crew. It's a job that has a finite term, and that term could last anywhere from one day to a year or more. How...

Meeting Etiquette for All Occasions

Call the day before to confirm your meeting for the next day. This holds true for formal meetings and interviews as well as casual lunches. People get busy, schedules get backed up, something unexpected develops, day planners are accidentally left elsewhere, someone forgets. It's always a good idea to confirm. The proper dress for industry meetings is nice-casual stylish, but not too corporate unless you're interviewing for a big corporate position or at an office where you know the dress...

Getting Into the DGA

If you think you might like to pursue a career as a DGA assistant director, there are a few different ways to get into the guild. While not the easiest to qualify for, the best route is via one of the official training programs. Headquartered on the West Coast is the Directors Guild Producer Training Plan Assistant Directors Training Program , which was established in 1965 by the Directors Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. To qualify for this program,...

Getting Past the Disappointment and Depression

No matter how many positive messages you repeat to yourself over and over and over again, sometimes it'll happen anyway you'll get depressed. You've given it your all you've worked hard, you deserve it, and this opportunity should have been yours , but it just didn't happen. You're terribly disappointed and your spirits have taken a major nosedive. My response to your dilemma would be to offer about five minutes worth of empathy, but then I'd recommend you not spend too much time feeling sorry...

Your Vision and Mission

Another way to keep your goals in front of you is by creating your own personal vision and mission statements. Businesses, organizations and institutions do it every day. It lets employees, stockholders, customers and the public know what they stand for, what their goals and intentions are and how they intend to realize their objectives. These powerful statements are effective tools that can be used by individuals as well. A vision statement expresses your optimal goal. It's a short, succinct...

The Cover Letter

A cover letter isn't written for the purpose of asking for a job. Even if you're responding to a specific opening, it's basically an introduction to you and your resume. While your resume lists the details of your background, the cover letter is more conversational in tone. And while your resume is fact based, your cover letter can be slightly more creative and a way to inject a bit of your personality and background into the presentation. A well-written and professional-looking letter should...

Moving to Tinseltown

If you're moving to Los Angeles or New York or just getting out of school and trying to make it on your own for the first time, do you have enough seed money to pay for rent, utilities, phone, car maintenance, auto and health insurance, food and miscellaneous expenses for several months until you can generate an income Can you afford to live alone or do you need to find a roommate Do you know the lay of the land and how you're going to be getting around What are you going to do if you can't...

Proper Phone Etiquette

If part of your job is answering phones and taking messages, don't underestimate the importance of this task. It takes someone who is bright, quick and patient to do it well. Doing a good job on the phones will gain you extra brownie points and get you noticed. On the other hand, you could be the brightest kid on your block, but sounding dour instead of upbeat, terse instead of friendly, or unsure instead of competent can quickly negate all the positive qualities you have to offer. Here are...

Humor Is Still the Best Medicine

You cannot be mad at somebody who makes you laugh it's as simple as that. Jay Leno I know I've mentioned this several times before, but I can't emphasize it enough. A healthy sense of humor will serve you well throughout your entire career. Next to owning a Teflon coat, it's one of the most valuable survival tools you'll ever possess, in this business or any other. We work too hard, face way too much competition and far too many challenges not to be able to have fun along the way and to laugh...

Theres Always More to Learn

Technology is constantly evolving, creating advances in fields such as visual effects and animation, cinematography, post production and new media. Production entities come and go. The most cost-effective shooting locations change regularly along with respective exchange rates and government incentives. Executives move from one studio to another. What's hot today is lukewarm six months from now. Screenplays of one genre that are selling like hot cakes this month may be pass by next year. Every...

Unit Publicity

My friend John Pisani has the coooooolest job. He's a unit publicist. If you enjoy keeping up with the latest on who's who and who's hot, if you enjoy creative writing and interviewing people, if you're outgoing and social and want to be in the thick of it this might be the career for you. John is assigned to one film at a time and remains with the shooting unit throughout principal photography. He's in charge of coordinating all the publicity for the film, its actors, producers and director...

Temp Agencies

If you have the necessary qualifications, a great way to explore various industry jobs is to sign up with one or more of the temporary employment agencies that specialize in entertainment-related jobs. Each agency varies slightly, but in general, most place individuals in jobs as receptionists, assistants, executive assistants and in technical, creative, accounting and legal positions. Some handle production-related jobs from PAs to production coordinators , and one agency owner said she...

Networking and Schmooching

The best time to make friends is before you need them. Ethel Barrymore When I started in the business, one didn't hear buzzwords like networking and schmoozing or as one of my former international students, who had never before heard this word, mistakenly put it, networking and schmooching . At that time, no one was writing books and giving seminars on the topic. It was obvious from the beginning, though, that people preferred hiring their friends. I would see two individuals up for the same...