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...

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,...

Key Ingredients to a Successful Career

Passion Passion And More Passion 31 Being Prepared 32 It's Who You Know and Who Knows You 33 It's Also What You Know about the Industry 34 Understanding the Power of Networking 35 Having a Plan, and Committing to Your Success 36 Being Able to Ask for What You Want 40 A Willingness and an Ability to Play the Game 41 Being Well Liked and Having a Good Reputation 42 A Game Plan for Getting Through the Rough Times 43 Remembering the Five Ps 43

Avoid Burning Bridges

Hollywood is a place where they place you under contract instead of under observation. Walter Winchell Continuing on the subject of working with certain individuals you'd rather not be associated with, I'd like to bring up the matter of burning bridges or not. This goes beyond leaving a job or distancing yourself when necessary and touches on how you would leave or distance yourself. I once worked for a company where neither of the two top executives could utter one complete sentence without...

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...

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...

The Mail room

The mailroom is a great place from which to work your way up, and agency mailrooms are especially well known as starting points for agents, managers, producers and studio executives. Many extremely successful, well-known industry icons, such as Michael Ovitz, Barry Diller and David Geffen, started their careers in a mailroom. Agency mailrooms can be grueling. The hours are long and the pay is rock-bottom. As in any other entry-level position, it's a world in which the word no does not exist....

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...