reprinted from FilmSlateMag
So you want to work in the industry but don’t have a clue where to begin or how to get that first job that will lead you to other jobs and so on. What do you do?
Simple. You need a film credit.
What is a film credit? A film credit is your proof of experience, your resume for the film industry. Credits are that long list of names and services you see scrolling up on the screen at the end of the movie as you’re packing up your left over popcorn to leave. You want your name on this list.
Here’s the Catch 22: In order to get a film credit you need to work on a film and in order to work on a film you need a film credit. See the problem? Not to worry–there is a way to conquer the Catch 22 and land your first job in the film industry.
Tip 1: Education.
It’s important to educate yourself about the craft. Whatever job you desire to do on a film, take the time to learn about it and how it fits in with the other collaborative parts of the filmmaking process. Scour the Internet. The library and local film organizations, along with state film offices, are great resources for materials about filmmaking. Knowledge is power, so get out there and educate yourself.
Tip 2: The three B’s. Be friendly, Be polite and Be personable.
People in the industry surround themselves with people they can get along with as well as work with. Keep a positive can-do attitude no matter what.
Tip 3: Networking.
This tip is probably one of the most important aspects to getting that first job. You have to connect with people in the industry. Visit film festivals and events in the area to meet local film industry personnel. Also remember to follow up with your contacts; send an email, make a phone call or keep in contact through social media– whatever it takes to keep in touch with people working in the industry. You are only one contact away from your big breakthrough.
Tip 4: Volunteer.
No one likes to work for free, but getting the experience can be far more valuable than a paycheck. The purpose is to get familiarized with film industry lingo and to gain exposure to the filmmaking process. It’s also an extremely important way to network.
Tip 5: Training Programs.
The Director’s Guild of America (DGA) and ABC-TV offer some great programs for aspiring writers and directors to get hands-on paid training while working in the industry. Some offer a chance (not guaranteed) for work after completing these programs. Again, don’t forget about local film commissions to see about programs and classes offered in your area that also engage in hands-on training.
Tip 6: Know where to look for work.
It is very rare that you will see a legitimate casting call or production job listed on Monster.com or Careerbuilder.com. Find websites that are geared specifically towards the industry, such as www.mandy.com and http://reelgrok.com. Check the industry trades as well as college media programs for film students looking for help with their projects. Also contact your area film commission office for information on productions being shot in the area.
Tip 7: Change your perspective.
Chances are your first job in film is not going to be your desired position. Most people start out as production assistants. This is considered the grunt work on a film. Being a PA means working long hours and at times it is very physically demanding work. No matter the position, embrace it and give it your all; remember you are in it for the experience and to network.
Tip 8: Be professional.
A film production offers a very casual working environment. You get to show up to work in blue jeans, a tee-shirt and athletic shoes. Many people make the mistake of thinking they can show up to an interview dressed that way. Treat this just like any other job interview and dress business casual. You want your prospective employer, whether the job is paid or not, to see you at your best so project your best attitude with your best dress.
Tip 9: Hone your interpersonal skills.
Film is a collaborative art that brings together all types of people. Having a thick skin and knowing how to interact with a variety of personalities will get you bonus points and save you a lot of stress in the long run.
Tip 10: Be persistent.
Don’t give up. Rejection comes with the territory. Receiving a “no” just means moving on to the next opportunity. If you’re persistent, you can turn rejection into rejuvenation.
If you truly desire to make your mark in the film industry, you have to be willing to humble yourself and do what it takes to achieve your dreams. It’s not an easy profession to break into, but there are opportunities out there, in a variety of disciplines. Be prepared for a difficult journey, but that hard work may just pay off in the end.