The Majors

The top major studios include Sony Pictures (which owns Columbia and has just purchased MGM/UA), 20th Century-Fox, Universal, Walt Disney, Warner Brothers and Paramount. Major independent production companies include such high-profile and prolific producers as DreamWorks SKG, Imagine Entertainment, Jerry Bruckheimer Films, Mandalay and New Line Cinema. They're all structured a little differently yet share many commonalities.

While the studios finance the films they release, they don't physically produce the films in-house. Instead, they vigilantly (some more vigilantly than others) supervise those who do in order to protect their investments.

Staff jobs at all the major studios have always been highly sought-after. Landing such a job isn't an easy feat and often involves timing and luck as much as it does talent and ability. The politics are no different than what you'd find in any other segment of corporate America, but are challenging regardless. What surprised me when I first started working with the studios and larger production companies was the vast sea of red tape one must trudge through, which at the time made me wonder how their shows ever got made. But this is a business first and foremost, and profitability rules. Also paramount is protecting the corporation, as anything labeled Hollywood has always been a huge target for insurance claims and lawsuits. So if you have the patience and a fair amount of ability, happen to be a terrific politician, are adept at watching your backside and don't mind starting off as an assistant, a studio job could be the start of a terrific career. The following is an overview of some key studio departments.

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