Breaking into the Business

It’s actually not that difficult to break into the business. But you first must have genuine passion for the industry and the craft, you have to have it in your blood. Then it’s just a matter of applying yourself. It all starts with desire, a desire to get into the business. With strong enough desire, and dedication to the effort, you can get into and find your place in the business. You may have heard, “Who you know gets you into the business and what you know keeps you there.” But there’s more. It’s how well you do the job that keeps you employed in the industry. So making contacts and learning craft skills are essential elements for successful entry but you must create your unique place and continue to add value in addition.

All this takes preparation. A top-rated film/video school is a good start. Working on student films and videos in any capacity is important. Seeing, analyzing and discussing films, reading books on production, observing film and video productions, visiting equipment rental houses and befriending camera assistants who are prepping camera equipment for an upcoming production, and attending professional exhibitions, seminars and workshops are all means of learning by living the craft.

There is no substitute for experience. There is no substitute for hands-on opportunities. Working on independent productions in any capacity is a way of acquiring that experience. It is well to keep track of any and all production experience by starting and regularly updating a resume which can be presented to prospective employers in order to gain more work opportunities and more experience.

Then you have to create a break for yourself. How do you get yourself in front of people who will see you as a valuable commodity to their staff or organization. This takes some ingenuity and patience. It can be about putting yourself in particular places at particular times that will increase our odds of a chance to be involved with an ongoing production or group of people. You have a choice between laying on the beach or literally walking the streets of Hollywood observing. Find out where productions are going on in public, where to people go to lunch, what do they do after work. You may even recognize someone you know. You have to be genuine though.

In addition, people like to work with their friends. This is one of the fundamental structures of any business, the relationships that you create, maintain, and nurture. This can’t be done by force, it must be organic. You want to build relationships with the initial people who are willing to share their time and knowledge with you. Be interested in them as individuals as well as members of the industry. If done well, these people will begin to care about you as a person as well and want you to succeed. People by nature want to help others.

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