Two years ago, I wrote a blog post about getting a job in film. Upon re-reading, I think past me made some valid points, but present me has since learned even more.
Recently, I have become more aware of the delusion epidemic plaguing the film industry. A lot of people genuinely think it's possible to land a rewarding film career with minimal effort. If you read my previous blog, you know that I was one of those poor, deluded souls. Directly out of college, I applied almost exclusively for positions at big name Georgia-based studios, Screen Gems, Pinewood, Turner, etc.
I, like so many others, believed that I am good enough as I am to accept a higher level position in the industry. In short, no, you are not good enough. You might think you are and long to see your name in the credits of that summer blockbuster, but the reality is, you aren’t ready…yet.
Once, I grasped this fact, I was able to set and achieve more realistic goals and you can too! For those still looking to move up or even get their start in the film industry, here are a few pointers and tips I have learned during my career.
People really don’t like to hear this one: you will not start your film career in your desired position. Sure, some people luck out and land great gigs early on (usually through a family connection), but the majority of film careers start small. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
You will likely start off doing grunt work (grabbing coffees, filing paperwork, making runs to the store, etc.), but I promise, it pays off in the long run. People notice when you are willing to take on unpleasant jobs, especially when you do it with a cheerful attitude. Sure, Starbucks runs may not have been factored into your career path, but sometimes those latté runs can pave your way to greater things.
As I discovered, you will often have to start not only with an entry level position, but as part of a smaller production/studio. This is where discouragement often sets in. Fight it! You are building your resumé and that is a great thing!
Attend Film Events
And now all the introverts cower in fear. As your fellow introvert, I promise I can relate, but hear me out. You have to be willing to promote yourself and meet others when working in such a network-based industry. If you live in Atlanta, Jacksonville, or Tampa Bay, you can check out Film Bar Monday to meet tons of local filmmakers and get connected.
The old adage, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” is half-true. A large part of finding that next gig is by making connections at film events and showcasing your abilities. Both socializing and talent are needed to excel in the film industry. Having skills with no network of fellow creatives won’t get you far, but neither will the inverse.
And again, I’m sure the introverts are cringing at having to brag on themselves. Well, in that case, think of it less as bragging and more as marketing yourself for future jobs. It definitely comes across better than being overly humble and not discussing your abilities.
Film is a lot of work, but it is fun work. Yes, you have to face a lot of “no’s” before you receive those long-awaited “yesses.” But you will come away from your experience wiser and more prepared to face the challenges ahead. If you are not exactly where you want to be in the industry, keep fighting until you are. Persistence pays off in the long run and can open the door to opportunities you never imagined.