Great, so you’ve decided on a career in film or TV production! Good for you! (Though you’ll have a tough time convincing your parents of that. Trust me, I’ve been there.)
So, now comes the tough part. How do you actually get a job? Preferably a paying job? The film world is actually notoriously difficult to break into, as it’s the best example of a real life “Catch-22” that I can think of, and I’m not entirely sure Joseph Heller wasn’t inspired by it. The best method, every time, is networking. But how do you network when you don’t have experience and you don’t actually know anyone?
In the last column I said that most jobs are freelance and you will start out unpaid but work your way up. Still, freelance jobs don’t exactly advertise themselves on LinkedIn or Indeed. Those are all full time, permanent jobs, which then leaves you, a freelancer, at a bit of a dead end. Thank Hera this is the 21st century and we have the internet or I’d be permanently unemployed as opposed to just “semi-unemployed.” Here are some of the best resources for finding both paying and non-paying gigs.
Mandy.com: A plethora of paying and non-paying jobs, Mandy is useful in that it does cater specifically to the film and TV industry. You can find jobs on here that range from freelance to permanent, reality TV to NBC and it also offers casting calls. You do need to sign up to use the site but it is free to join and you can save your resume and cover letters so you can apply to multiple jobs without having to keep re-entering all of your information. The downside? Because Mandy is one of the few sites that caters almost exclusively to TV and film, jobs go REAL fast. If it’s been listed more than 24 hours, you don’t have a snowball’s chance.
StaffMeUp.com: Also a site that caters to the film and TV industry, I find this one slightly less helpful than Mandy because you do have to pay to utilize it though they do offer a 30-day free trial. Another downside is that it is, at present time, dominated almost entirely by reality TV jobs, which while they do pay, and usually fairly well, don’t always offer the kinds of experience and connections you need to get ahead in the scripted world.
Craigslist: I’m hesitant to put this on here because I’d hate to be responsible for anyone ending up stabbed through the eyes with pitchforks, but I have gotten a few good jobs, and some not so good ones, from Craigslist. Check out your local listings for either vrew gigs or tadio/TV/film gigs. The worst part about Craigslist is that absolutely anyone can post an ad and there’s no guarantee of legitimacy and you’ll probably have to weed out the “Help Wanted”s looking for bl*wjobs and massage girls.
Facebook: There are plenty of Facebook groups that exist for freelancers looking for gigs, usually several groups exist for any given city or specific type of freelance work that you want to do, (e.g., I’m in a group solely dedicated to PAs looking for work). The downsides of Facebook are that not everyone is very professional and you’ll have to put up with alot of spam ads even in the closed groups.
Local film/TV resources: Many states and major cities that have thriving film industries offer online resources for job hunting. For example, NYC has the office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting (http://www.nyc.gov/html/film/html/home/home.shtml). Try and do some digging or ask around to find good websites for cities near you!
ProductionHub.com/EntertainmentCareers.net: Again, resources dedicated to Production work, however, this one I find less useful as, again, you have to pay to “Pursue Leads” as they call it on ProductionHub. However, the postings on here are usually legitimate and spam-free which is a terrific bonus. Sometimes you can also figure out enough from the job posting to be able to tell which company is advertising and apply directly on their site without having to pay to do so.
ProductionWeekly.com: An absolutely fantastic resource with loads of jobs and information on upcoming TV shows and films including phone numbers, company info and mailing addresses, if you can afford it. At $60 a month, it’s certainly not cheap. Is it worth it? That’s for you to decide. There are other, similar magazines and industry publications out there that offer job listings but ProductionWeekly is one of the best ones that I’ve found so far.
4EntertainmentJobs.com: Offers a free basic membership, much like Mandy, and can be upgraded to various levels depending on how much you’d like to pay. However, as the name implies, it covers entertainment jobs on various levels such as TV/film/radio/magazines and doesn’t usually have many crew gigs posted but it is still a useful resource, especially if you’re looking to get a foot in the door in an office position before moving up the ladder to production somewhere.
Things to Watch Out For
Do not sign up to any site that requires you to pay to see job listings, as this is, nine times out of 10, a scam. Occasionally it is not, but if you think a job listing sounds too good to be true, and they only want $50 a month from you, then it probably IS too good to be true.
Another thing to watch out for is no-budget indie movies. While there will be a future column concerning the different types of indie movies, if someone is trying to get away with making a movie and not paying ANYONE on crew or cast, unless you’re already a personal friend of theirs, try to steer clear.
Also, as much as companies like Viacom and Warner Brothers encourage you to apply to jobs listed on their website, the sad truth is that they don’t post crew gigs and at least 99 percent of the time those listings are for pure HR purposes only, which means that Joan from Marketing’s best friend’s cousin’s nephew twice-removed’s accountant’s mistress is actually already in line for the job and the listing is just a formality.
Got a favorite resource to use for jobs? Comment below and let us know or tweet us at @LitDarling!
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