Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Breaking in to Film

So I won't bore you all with my life story every day, I will focus on a new topic today and plan to continue my personal journey in one posting a week. 

Today's topic will be breaking in to film. This is another question I get all of the time. How does one break in to the industry? It is very true that there is a ton of competition in the film industry. It is not unheard of for each job opening to receive a thousand resumes. In fact, most industry jobs aren't even put on the open market. They are often filled through word-of-mouth, or referral. This is so the person filling the job doesn't have to deal with so many resumes and unknown applicants. Instead, they can feel comfortable they are hiring someone who has been endorsed and, many times, tested by a trusted source. 

Don't give up! It is possible to break in. You just need to make yourself stand out from the rest of the applicants. The best way to do this is to have experience. Thus enters the Catch-22: you need the job to gain experience but you need experience to get the job. So what's the answer? Be a child of a famous celebrity? Well that is one way. There is another way for those less fortunate, like myself. 

The single, best way to break in to the film industry is (drum roll please): work for free. Yes, that's right. Work for free. It doesn't matter at what phase in life you are or how much work experience you have, the best way to break in is to become an intern. Of course, you should also apply for those coveted paid positions but don't hold out for them. It's better to work for free for a while and gain experience that will land you the paid position than to hold out for a long period until you find that company that will pay you.

There are many opportunities available for interns. The most opportunities are for students who can garner school credit for their internships. In fact, most production companies will only hire interns who are getting school credit. This is due to liability. They have less liability if you are getting school credit than if you are just volunteering in their offices. But never fear, there are many smaller companies and film productions that need the help and are willing to overlook any liability concerns. 

The best advice I can give about what kind of internships to seek is to aim as high as you can. If you are a student, definitely try to intern for an established production company. Learning from the best is invaluable. But don't overlook the value of cutting your teeth on smaller productions and with smaller companies and then moving up from there. The relationships you garner at any level, even as an intern, will help you to establish the career you want. And you never know where that person for whom you are working will end up. She may be a small producer working out of her home today but tomorrow she may be running a major production company or studio. And who knows? She may even take you with her.   

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