[Film Connection student Jacob Sizemore directs his short film “Song of Silence”]
The film industry definitely isn’t the easiest industry to work in. Getting work and staying gainfully employed requires constant hustling and staying one or two steps ahead of the competition. Stay proactive and get those gigs with our tips on getting working in film.
Have Multiple Skills
If you want to work in film you need to have more than one skillset. Can you edit? Shoot? DP? PA? Grip? Produce? Write? Well, you’re totally going to have to. Thriving in film requires having the abilty to wear more than one hat. Sure, you may see yourself as a director but if you want to work during those lean months, having solid editing abilities or the get up and go of a stellar producer, producer’s assistant, PA, or AD will make you an asset. As someone who wants to make movies your primary objective should be keeping your hand in the game, no matter the job description.
Always Be Following Up
As someone who wants to stay working in film, you need to make following up with your colleagues and potential employers second nature. You want to stay on the radar of the people who do the hiring and who are in the loop. Just a quick, weekly one liner with your contact information clearly listed, can be enough to keep you fresh in mind for potential gigs the moment they arise. Check in and showcase recent film and TV gigs as well. Work begets work, so showcase your ability and willingness to do the work and go the distance.
Make Your Own Opportunities
Produce your own work. If you’re a writer, have you produced anything yourself? If you’re a cameraman, DP or director, have you found a team of people to work with? If you’re someone who wants to PA have you volunteered on a few films? If you’re someone who wants to be in the industry, what lengths have you gone to be in the industry? Chances are there are a lot of opportunities to work on projects in your area, so scour the listings and take hold of the opportunities within your grasp. Then, do your best on every single gig!
Shelve the Ego
If you want to work, don’t be hierarchical about things. Get jobs doing PA, grip, office PA, and 2nd 2nd work. If that’s not your ultimate goal, that’s okay. Just getting on set and building connections will get you infinitely closer to where you want to be. Focus your attention on doing great work, making connections, and making friends. Find people who can help you produce work and book the next gig. It’s the only way to really establish yourself as a known commodity. If you’re working as a PA on a larger production, then the likeliness of meeting lots of working pros is really pretty good. So even if the gig itself isn’t high on the totem pole, the connection building opportunities will be pretty stellar. Showcase your ability to do the hard work and get your hands dirty with nary a complaint and you can impress the right people, fast.
Building a career in the film industry takes time, effort, and dedication. Staying in there and consistently showing up and doing good work is what ultimately leads to more phone calls, job offers, and opportunities. Many people try their hand at one or two projects then drop out when their interest fades or that one connection drifts away. Stay in there and ride it out. Be proactive about your career and grab those gigs the moment they arise. Work to make sure your number gets stored on the phone of every filmmaking pro you work with.
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