View Full Version : Starting off

Gordon JL
08-20-2005, 04:01 PM
So for an aspiring filmmaker like me who wants to find a job, what should I do, and how should I look for those jobs? Beginning video-editor, production assistant... Anything that has to do with film production or even television. Is there anything I can do to work my way up if I want to be a film director, film editor, and/or cinematographer? And lastly, where and how do I look for those particular job titles? I know craigslist would be a good start (they have a video/film section), but that's all I could come up with, and there aren't many jobs to choose from.

Gordon JL
08-20-2005, 04:07 PM
Where and how should I start off if I plan on being a film-director, in terms of jobs I could do right now? I'm in college, but I do have some spare time to find a job for beginners in the filmmaking realm; I just don't know WHAT I should do, and WHERE to look to find that job. I guess for me, any job title would do, as long as it has to do with film or television; but the problem is, I have no idea where to look.

J.R. Hudson
08-20-2005, 04:16 PM
Get busy building a reel of YOUR work.

08-20-2005, 04:18 PM
Hello major movie studio, I would like to be a film director please.

Unfortunatly, you have no concept of how the system works, "an aspiring filmmaker like me who wants to find a job....Beginning video-editor, production assistant... " , there aren't enough LOL's to express my amazement.

Sorry, but........I know you've got to start somewhere, but perhaps if you were realistic....

J.R. Hudson
08-20-2005, 04:23 PM
LOL Pookie you crack me up.

But Pookie is right. Have you tried Blockbuster?

Unfortunately, unless your dad is a member of the ASC you ain't working your ass up anywhere. It ain't what you know in this business, it's who.

Have you even considered fro one moment looking up local video / film production businesses in your area? Have you looked on Mandy or Craiglist for 'Crew Needed'?

LOL "Hello Film Studio." Hell Pookie, it worked for Ed Wood.

Tony D'Amato
08-20-2005, 04:53 PM
This is maybe just how it may for where I live but, you maybe should get a agent and what not show there after your work that you have done and hopefully she/he can get you work on commercials and musikvideos.

Gordon JL
08-20-2005, 05:06 PM
I didn't even know a Mandy existed... Thanks for the link though.

You guys make it like there is no way of working up in the business. But couldn't I work as a production-assistant, and somehow work my way up from there? That's probably a good way of networking also. Actually, I'm not even sure where you guys are getting at... How was I not being realistic? I'm looking for job titles to "work my way up" and ways to find those job titles. I'm sure there is a way of working up; at least, working your way up until I reach a ceiling, in that cause, then it probably does depend on who I know. Which is why I still need to know what jobs I could get, if only for the purpose of networking.

So what the hell should I do, and how the hell do I do it? I've already got production assistant down.

J.R. Hudson
08-20-2005, 05:15 PM
It's not that Gordon (Hell, even I still have illusions of making it in this business). Unless you are in a market that caters towards production (New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Vancouver, Las Vegas......................)

Where are you at?

Are yo making your own films?

Do you have a reel?

How old are you?

What is your experience level?

What are your goals? (Everyone wants to direct)

Competition is insane in this gig.

08-20-2005, 05:23 PM
Gordon - as John has mentioned, help us out by telling us where you live. I mean, if you live in Podunk, KS, no offense to those living in KS, you probably don't have much chance. But if you live near or in one of the above mentioned cities, find out about local productions and try to get on as a P.A. as a start.
Have you done ANYTHING besides just "want" to be a film director?

Gordon JL
08-20-2005, 05:23 PM
Well, I guess my goals aren't really to get a job and to work my way up, but rather, to find a job in between college couses for the purpose of experience and networking (and paying the bills). I plan on transfering to a film-school, but until then, I need a begginer's job (although I don't live in L.A.). The film school will allow me to have a lot of experience and networking opportunities, plus I'll be able to make films there. But right now, I still need a job, even if it is a crappy one.

EDIT: I live in Sacramento, which is in northern california. I've also take a few film classes and video classes, and have made a few short student films, but that's about it.

I realize there are three things needed in the business; talent (which people say I actually have), passion, and luck.

08-20-2005, 05:25 PM
BTW - I "Want" to be as cool as John Hudson..... can you help me out?

08-20-2005, 05:26 PM
Sacramento - Perfect, grab your camera and go shoot a documentary on how that stupid-ass governor or yours is further destroying what used to be a cool state to live in. You could be the next Michael Moore..........

J.R. Hudson
08-20-2005, 05:32 PM
Sactown? (Damn those KINGS were gonna be good; why'd they trade Webber? Dumbasses)

You totally should be able to get some kind of gig going on. Keep checking Mandy, keep checking Craiglist; hit up every production house in town; video and/or film. Keep making films, keep buidling your reel...............

If that fails? Get your job where you can pay your bills and keep pushing forward.

I "Want" to be as cool as John Hudson

What'd I do? You're making fun of me Rizzo? and wasn't Arnold; it was Davis! :cheesy:

08-20-2005, 05:40 PM
Unfortunately, unless your dad is a member of the ASC you ain't working your ass up anywhere. It ain't what you know in this business, it's who.
Completely untrue. It's entirely WHAT you know. The "who" does become important at some point, but consider this:

If you're a supremely skilled craftsman, with magnificent work ethic, superb skills, talent, and a great disposition -- you will never, under any circumstances, lack work. Anyone who meets you once will hire you on every production they ever do. And eventually you will meet someone, and those same qualities (knowledge, charisma, work ethic) will ensconce you in their circle very quickly.

Contrast that with the "I know everyone" model: sure you may know people, but if you don't know the "what" (i.e., you don't have skills), they'll throw you off the set and blackball you in five seconds flat. Nobody has time for name-dropping gadflies. This is serious business with serious dollars at stake.

Learn everything you can, become a master at your craft, and above all don't be a #*($(*&#@ to work with ('cause I don't care how good you are at what you do, if I can't stand working with you I won't hire you -- and neither will anyone else). Once you've got those skills, then what's the big deal -- just go out and meet some people. If you're an asset to the team, they'll introduce you to whoever you need to see. It won't take long (the whole "six degrees of separation" thing and all...)

08-20-2005, 06:17 PM
What'd I do? You're making fun of me Rizzo? and wasn't Arnold; it was Davis! :cheesy:

I wasn't makin fun. I was serious - I wish I could pull off the sleeveless T like you do. Unfortunately people laugh really loud when I try that.

And I know it started with Davis - Notice I did say "Further Destroying".....Arnold is just doing a supurb job of finishing it off. Of course my opinions could be swayed by the fact that I'm a union guy and The Governator has done his best to step over the unions in his state.... but lets not go there................

08-21-2005, 01:39 PM
What are your goals? (Everyone wants to direct)

HEY ... not EVERYONE! I want to produce. I wanna be a producer!!! Hey, wait a minute, we own our own local production company.... WTF I AM A PRODUCER!!!


08-21-2005, 02:32 PM
[QUOTE=Sirius_Doggy]Gordon - as John has mentioned, help us out by telling us where you live. I mean, if you live in Podunk, KS, no offense to those living in KS, you probably don't have much chance.

This is very untrue. In fact, Kansas has a very active film community, specifically in Lawrence and Kansas City. An IFC release date for Lawrence-produced CSA is this year, and is also a winner at Sundance. There are several and successful independent filmmakers out in this area who are trying to build a Kansas film base, in some cases rejecting a move out to LA or other film hubs, as films produced here and several other parts of the United States are a hell of a lot cheaper than Hollywood, NYC, etc.

08-22-2005, 10:19 PM
Get a job interning, I had ZERO experience in the business, and I just got a gig interning on a TV show. They let me do just about everything. When I'm on set I act as a PA, they also let me work as an assistant camera operator for the 2nd unit, and as a field producer for the 3rd unit. In the office, I do work loading and logging footage, acting as an assistant editor, and as an assistat for the motion graphics designer.

Only thing that sucks though, is you work for free. But I'm getting great experience, and they've already offered me a paying job for the future. Gotta learn stuff somewhere. My recommendation is hustle as much as you can, make as many contacts as you can, and find work wherever you can.

Shiloh Arts
09-08-2005, 11:21 AM
If you're a supremely skilled craftsman, with magnificent work ethic, superb skills, talent, and a great disposition -- you will never, under any circumstances, lack work.

Barry this is so true.

I had a chance to PA for Martin Scorsese's new feature "The Departed" for 7 days while they were here in Boston (now givin I was paid peanuts, but they were tasty ones). I treated every day as though it was my first. Since I knew that there were tons of PA's hungry to work in this industry and I needed to stand out not by my ego, but by my humility. I needed this job in order to help me attend Tisch at NYU. Try to be as asertive with people that can help you , and keep your ears open, at the same time respect your contacts.

Again Barry said it right, there is so much at stake and you can't be all about yourself when thrown into this type of environment. They asked me to go to NYC to help PA as they finish the feature, but I'm sure that if I had worked with a mind set like they owe me something then I don't even think I would be called in for day two.

Good Luck and don't give up hope...see you on the big screen some day :thumbsup:

09-08-2005, 12:02 PM
You'll do yourself a superb favor by working for a production company or a post-house. Even if it's just serving coffee or being a runner to start. I see so many posts on here from people on here saying they work for Walmart. This is not wise for a career in filmmaking. There are plenty of entry level opps at film industry related companies that pay the same you would make stocking shelves at Walmart.

Filmmaking is a business of favors. Get in anywhere in film and build contacts, do favors for people and make friends so they can help you down the road. These people can lend you their expertise, gear, studio time other industry contacts, etc.

If you make friends with the owner of a production company or a post-house and they respect you, your work ethic and take you seriously WOW that can do so much for one's reel, experience and opportunities.

And Barry made a great comment earlier...it really is ALL about the work. Become very good at what you do and people will start knocking. Just don't forget to market your abilities and get yourself out there.

09-11-2005, 08:20 PM
Quit dreaming bro, I was in your state a year ago... lemme give you a run down of what might come:

Excitment - You can picture a whole film of your own front to back in your head, script memorized, you wanna get into the business and be an active member in this community. Gotta do this!

Dream come true - yes, you got a camera, yes! you landed a gig... not high paying, but wow Im shooting something thats gonna go somewhere on TV or DVD. A reality series, thats where the beginners go!

Hmm, slight doubt - Youre kinda realizing youve been shooting for morons with money to spend on reality series that will not even make it to digitizing. But no worries, this is the darkest before dawn

Jackpot - Alright! someone wants you to DP for their short film... it was a fun experience, met great people...and then its over

Yawn - so.... still no work... people call you up and you end it finding out its either fat people porn or high heeled shoe bondage videos. How desperate are you? The eternal wait of that big break continues....

Tada! Good luck bro

Shiloh Arts
09-12-2005, 09:51 AM
Wow dude are you kidding me? :undecided :thumbdown

It all depends on how good, and how well your social skills are.

09-12-2005, 11:05 AM
Quit dreaming bro, I was in your state a year ago... lemme give you a run down of what might come:

One year is nothing in this business. If you're already this cynical after a year imagine how you'll be in 5, or 10. I am a strong believer that it takes a solid 5-10 years of learning, experience and persistence to have a satisfying, well-paying job in this business.

99% of people who establish themselves in film have worked for those low-budget, dishonest, shady individuals that we have to call clients. It's just part of the business. This is the weed-out course. The serious individuals are the ones who get beyond this.

Believe me, when you get beyond this BS into the real legitimate film business, it's a whole other ballgame. In my early freelancing days I had way too many people bounce checks or simply refuse to pay me or my vendors. That just doesn't happen to me now. People at the top, legitimate professionals, guard their reputation very seriously.

Shiloh Arts
09-12-2005, 03:02 PM
Well said natob2 :thumbsup:

It may take much less years also...it depends really on the timing and your ability to know when to be asertive and when to be passive.

09-12-2005, 04:58 PM
Well you know, people have their ups and downs in this business.

But bro, just dont make this into your ONLY business, I know you love it but for the time being, think about how you'll pay off those student loans when you get outta school... or you'll spend the next couple of years eating Ramen noodles and waiting til its 7 o clock when the bakery downstairs sell their 3 breads for a dollar special. So just make sure you got an escape plan and study something else. I wish I did

Okay and to be positive, get out more! You'll never meet the people you need to meet staying home. One morning for a cup of coffee, I met Wong Kar Wai who visits chinatown a lot and met some guy named Doug whos shooting for a series. So tada, some good some bad...mostly bad happens, but some good...but mostly bad happens.

09-13-2005, 12:25 AM
If you have no experience, chances are you are only qualified to be a Production Assistant or an Office Assistant. Even getting a PA job on big productions is pretty competitive, you have to have an "in" basically or intern at first.

People used to shotgun-fax their resumes to all the productions that are listed in the back of the Hollywood Reporter or shotgun-fax all the production companies in the LA 411. I have friends who sent out 250 resumes in two days and got no responses, but have friends who got their jobs that way.

Haven't really used Craigslist or mandy in a long time, used to be the ones that were printed on Mandy were on Craigslist too, but craigslist updated quicker. And the faster you respond, the better the chance you have.

Worked on a production with an office intern who went around handing his resume to offices in the old MGM complex on Colorado - the production manager just happened to need someone the day he stopped by. He got hired on the spot.

If you decide to go that route, here are a few things I learned from being a Set PA in L.A.:

• Don't work for productions with titles that use a "z" instead of an "s" (i.e. Girlz instead of Girls).
• If you can swing it, be an office PA - so much better.
• If the electrics/grips puke after eating the catering, 1) don't eat the food and 2) run away. (sometimes it can be good to eat nearly last).
• Never, ever complain about your job, no matter how tempting it is. Stay away from those who like to complain constantly whenever possible, their life sucks and they are looking for someone to go down with them. If you have to vent, complain to a trusted friend in private, not in public, and never on set. Having a good, positive attitude and keeping your cool will go a long way.
• Be friendly with the other PA's - they are way more likely to get you gigs in the future than any other person on set.
• Only sit for meals, and always bust your ass. If you sit around, people think you aren't working, and you'll be less likely to work with them again. If you are bored, pick up trash or clean - any decent sized production has enough slobs to keep you busy constantly. DO NOT camp at the crafty table.
• Don't stand around in doorways or commonly used walkways.
• If you f--k up, fess up - right away.
• Be responsive on the radios, but don't do any mindless chit-chat or joking around - people can get the wrong idea sometimes. Some P.A.'s have made a career out of staying in the production truck and responding to every single request on the radio while doing absolutely nothing, such is the power of the radio. I wouldn't recommend this because this is pretty poor work ethic and the other P.A.'s will despise you. (see above)
• And most importantly, find another job - as quickly as possible. You'll get burnt out very easily working as a set PA constantly. Offer to help out the department you want to work in the most. So if you want to work in sound, make friends with the sound guys, volunteer as a boom operator or cable runner for them on other sets, or for others.

Good luck.

Shiloh Arts
09-13-2005, 08:00 AM
But bro, just dont make this into your ONLY business, I know you love it but for the time being, think about how you'll pay off those student loans when you get outta school... or you'll spend the next couple of years eating Ramen noodles and waiting til its 7 o clock when the bakery downstairs sell their 3 breads for a dollar special. So just make sure you got an escape plan and study something else. I wish I did

Actually, for myself …I’ve decided to leave a potential MIS Degree from UMASS Boston just to study Directing and Acting. Even when I was told that I don't need film school at all, However, I still know that it's just good discipline to first study it for self knowledge and better your creative mind.

As far as student loans go...you got to place that first, and when I mean first I mean pay them off, then play. Even if that means finding another job totally unrelated.

The sooner you pay them off the more powerful you’ll be.

Thanks for your advice :beer:

By the way what film school did you attend?

09-13-2005, 09:17 AM
As for any job listing in a magazine, online, or another listing service...most of these are to fulfill equal opportunity quotas. These jobs are often already given away to the owner's kid's friend, or someone internally or some other connection. I bet 95% of these jobs listed in the entertainment business are already filled, but by law, they have to list them as open. I have met people who have told me they were about to get promoted and their boss called them in to say "Just want to let you know that you got the job, but we have to list it anyways..."

In short, don't depend on these. Find a way to be unique other than sending out 250 resumes and a cover letter.

09-20-2005, 11:36 AM
If you can find a job as a PA, that is great. Work on as many projects as possible. While your working on other peoples projects you might be able to find people to help you out on your stuff. You need to have a few good shorts to compile a reel. Just don't try to recruit people to work on your film while your working on someone elses time. Nobody wants to hear about that while there trying to work. Whatever you do don't go around and pass out your script for a feature you want to do. This sounds silly, but I have seen people do this. On on feature where I was a PA, I saw this dude who was in the feature, walk up to the director and hand him like a 400 page script. He just stood there like he was going to read it on the spot. Just keep up the dream man, and don't give up.

09-24-2005, 05:33 PM
Hmmm. If I were starting off, I'd read a lot of books on directing, I'd study films (watching with the sound off really helps to understand how a film is cut) and most of all, I'd make movies. We live in a time where you can take a $400 camcorder and shoot a film, and edit it on your home computer. You never learn as much as you do when making a film. You can learn all of the technical details later, learn about directing if that's what you want to do. Study a lot, and never stop making films.

Zak Forsman
09-25-2005, 03:34 AM
when i moved to los angeles 8 years ago, i wanted to be a filmmaker. i took a job as a runner for a small company with 4 producers and about 20 editors on staff that specialized in motion picture advertising -- trailers and tv spots. in three years i worked my way up from machine room operator, to asst editor, to editor in a company that had grown to house 75 staff editors. now, i'm a freelance editor making great money which affords me the freedom to take time off whenever i need it to pursue the writing/directing/producing of my own feature films.

10-03-2005, 06:32 AM
go make a film, there's your school, hire yourself as director/writer, there's your job, pay for it by building utility trailers and selling them (learn to weld) there's your financing, it's e a s y . and your next production will go easier then the next one you'll be able to sleep the night before a shoot anf the next one someone else will finance and you have arrived yee hawww go get your hands dirty

10-03-2005, 11:04 AM
i couldnt agree more with latenitemike. to steal from nike: just do it. then do it again. then again. just dont stop. eventually someone will notice you and your films.