My personal opinion is not unless you have enough contacts to hire you in the "biz." There is nothing wrong with maintaining your financial stability while building relationships. The key is to find the time to build new relationships and maintain them while in a job. You are basically using the same time management skills you'll be using once you're working regularly in the entertainment industry, and need to maintain your relationships while you're working.
If you have more questions about breaking in and who to target, let me know.
The beauty of this industry is anything is possible. There are no rules. That said, breaking into tv as a director is a HUGE undertaking. You will need:
1. An outstanding director reel
2. A-List TV director mentors
3. TV Studio Executive advisors
4. A clear understanding of the job and the politics
5. (The outside-of-the-box method) a hit show that you direct independently
Obviously, there is a lot more than this simple answer, but if you're not committed to fully going for those 5, there's no point in going into it further. If you are committed, contact me and we can get you started on a plan of action!
I can't really say there's an "easy" job to get in the entertainment industry. Even seemingly easy to get positions like a production assistant or gofer, are in great demand, and therefore quite competitive.
My clients hear me say over and over that while ours is a competitive industry, every industry is competitive if you want to make it to the top. So my question to you is do you have a strong passion for a particular area of the entertainment industry?
If so, find out what the entry level position is for that area and focus on getting that specific job.
If not, and you just know you want to be in the industry, research the different areas/department and narrow it down to 5-10 jobs that appeal to you. Then, if possible, have conversations with people in each area so you can narrow it down to an entry level position you'd like to pursue.
It's better to focus on a path that you choose rather than getting stuck on a career path that doesn't suit because you chose an "easy" way in.
Ah yes, the "business card barrage." I was referring to the time at the end of an event or a Q &A, when the "guest(s) of honor" stays after to meet & greet. There is a large portion of the audience who hand the guest(s) their business card, sometimes without even a "hello."
It also happens at networking events, when certain people walk around the room and hand their card to every person, without an introduction. Now if someone was doing that with hundred dollar bills, it would be welcome. Business cards are another story. They are NOT a substitute for you. The purpose of a business card is so that a person can follow up with you AFTER you create a relationship. Handing someone a business card who doesn't know you serves no purpose. People have to know you, like you, and trust you before they'll hire you, so to hand them a card and walk away is like making a cold call, not to mention unprofessional.
Instead, focus on meeting a smaller number of people and spending time talking to them before exchanging cards.
Ummm.. with your mouth. Seriously, I'm being flippant, because it's important that you realize that the only difference between you and this "big director" are the opportunities he's had. I'm sure he's talented, as are you, I imagine, so talk to him like you would talk to any human being. Talk to him like a person. Trust me, it will make him feel far more uncomfortable if you start putting him on a weird pedestal or get extremely nervous around him.
If you know things about him personally, other than his work, bring up those subjects. If you don't, ask him what he does when he's not directing. Find something you can connect with, if possible. It's okay to bring up his work, but I'm sure he gets that all the time from strangers and this is a dinner party, so you want it to be comfortable. If you really want to discuss his work, ask him if he enjoys talking about it with new people he meets. If he light up and says, "I love talking about my work, I'm very passionate about what I do," then proceed. If he says something along the lines of, "It's been kind of a long week and I'd rather not." Then be prepared to say, "I totally get that. Whenever I don't want to talk about my work I just talk about (insert another passion of yours) because I always get excited talking about it, and it makes for great dinner conversation..."
Just remember the old Christopher Walken Saturday Night Live skit quote: Guys.. Guys... I put on my pants like everyone else, one leg at a time... except when I put on pants I make gold records.
I'm sure this director puts his pants on one leg at a time too.
Yes, the book, And...Action! is for any entrepreneur, independent contractor, business owner, or sales person who has a passion for movies. Do I address the entertainment industry professionals in it? Yes, so you'd have to substitute your business.
Does my coaching apply, yes. However, my niche is entertainment. I know the industry, I work in the industry, and it's really important to me that the people in the industry get these tools so that they can fulfill their dreams.
So if you're in real estate, or an attorney, or something else that isn't really related to entertainment, I'm probably not your best fit. But for those IN the industry, there's NOBODY better... in my humble opinion (and my mom's).
First, give yourself a break. When you first started doing whatever it is you do in the entertainment industry, you weren't instantly skilled.
Second, what I taught today are business skills. Skills take time to master. You met two people! That's great for a "shy" person. I discussed "Next Steps" for people today, and your next step is to practice, practice, practice. If at first it makes you nervous... bring along a friend.
I think it's great that you wrote to me and addressed this so quickly. It shows that despite feeling shy, you are driven, and with drive, you will overcome your obstacles. And I will be here to help!
Different people have different ways of writing books. It also depends on the type of book you want to write. My book, And...Action!, is educational, so it came very easily to me. I knew I wanted to write a book that kept the reader learning business tools, strategies and mindsets, while moving him/her forward over a year's time, so I:
1. Made it 52 chapters
2. Put the 52 topics in an order that set the reader up to succeed
3. Matched movies to the topics to use as metaphors and make the "work" more enjoyable
4. Asked for referrals to publishers
5. Was accepted by the first publisher who read my submission
Writing a fiction book is a whole different process. My advice is to go to a bookstore or library and research books on "how to write a book," if you need concrete instruction. Otherwise, my question for you is "what is your objective for writing the book?" If you want to get it published, you may want to write a book proposal first and test the waters. If you're going to self-publish, just write your book. Good luck!
Not really a career coach question. I should say, "SPEAK TO A LAWYER," and leave it at that... but, I'm me, so here's a little something. When I worked in development, we were told when reading a script, that putting music in a script is a no-no because someone could hate the song and pass on the script. Something to consider. Personally, music inspires me when I write, and there have been scripts where I've written: A classic 70's song like Lola by the Kinks.
Now, actually using it is a WHOLE other thing. You CAN NOT (again, check with a lawyer) use someone else's music without paying royalties or their permission. You can find royalty free music on the internet, but using music that someone owns the rights to, NO.
If I'm off base, please chime in lawyers and such...
A cover letter is extremely important because it's your first introduction to someone. I have a feeling this was asked because I brought it up in question 199, about making your resume stand out. So, to remind you of what I pointed out, a cover letter is best sent with a referral from someone. A name that your recipient recognizes, gets noticed.
A standard cover letter, will not stand out either. The point of a cover letter is to give the recipient some insight about you. Therefore, tell them:
Well, it's been a little hot this summer, but otherwise, the weather's always great so I say, anytime. But really, if you're asking me that question, I'm going to assume you're starting from scratch. Therefore, whenever you've saved up enough money to put down first and last month's rent and have enough left over to leave you enough time to find a job to cover your bills, the cost of any classes you'll need for your craft, the cost of joining networking organizations, and the cost of investing in learning how to run your business, it's time.
You're going to have to build relationships. The story about stepping off the bus and being discovered was in Bofinger-- but that's a movie, not real life. So be prepared to spend time growing your contacts and your business.
Though this is a general question, I waited until today to answer it, in order to do so, in a specific way. As you can see, this is my 200th day in a row of blogging answers to your questions. I made a commitment to you, 200 days ago, and I have done whatever it takes to keep that commitment. At one point, I had to pre-answer 30 questions for the month of June because I was in an intense training and knew it would be overwhelming for me to have to come up with answers everyday.
What does this have to do with your question? Well, if you haven't started making the connection already, my answer is "commitment." This industry doesn't have specific steps that lead to specific results in a specific time frame. It is your job to set up goals for yourself and commit to them FULLY. Will there be moments when that commitment is tested? Yes. It's how quickly you reconnect to that commitment that counts.
"Commitment" is a mindset. There are many tools, strategies, and systems that I can coach you on toward "making it." However, if the commitment is not there, making it is unlikely. I can give you the roadmap, and then you must take action and drive!
This was a follow up question to my answer to #197. I told him why having a picture wasn't a good idea but I didn't answer what DOES actually make a resume stand out. So here's my answer:
If you're an academy award winner and/or have worked on top box office grossing films, that's going to make your resume stand out. Although usually at this level, you won't need a resume.
So what really makes a resume stand out if you have basically a number of unrecognizable credits with semi-unrecognizable talent? A REFERRAL. In other words, sending out hundreds of resumes cold, is pretty much a waste of time and money. Instead, target specific jobs, speak to your contacts to find out if they know anyone involved with the project, and then send a cover letter with your resume stating that you were referred by _______. That's what makes you stand out, having a connection to someone involved.
First question: Can you talk to anyone naturally? If you can't, then it sounds like it's out of my realm. You need to speak to a professional therapist.
That said, I'm going to answer this question as if you do have friends and family members who you can talk to easily. If you can talk to them easily, you can talk to anyone easily, you're just getting in your own way.
Most people's problem is that they don't think that they're interesting. You are- to like-minded people. The rest don't matter. It's like dating. You don't connect with everyone and that's okay.
Here are some tips:
1. Know some subjects you feel confident about so you know what you can talk about.
2. Ask questions. Instead of worrying about what you will say, get them to answer a question about a subject you're interested in, so you'll be able to join in.
3. Read the trades and stay current on industry happenings. This way, you'll either be commenting on a subject they're already aware of or giving them new news.
That would make it stand out all right... but not in a good way. My rule is: don't give them any reason to say NO. A picture could do just that for a number of reasons:
1. It makes you look "green" because people don't do that, so it looks like you just stepped off the bus and thought it was appropriate to put your picture on a resume.
2. They might not like the looks of you. Despite giving people the benefit of the doubt, there are still those who "judge a book by it's cover.
3. You may remind them of someone they don't like, appear to young, or too old. Bottom line, you just may not look "the part" of whatever they think your classification should look like.
Now, the ONLY exception, (and I even think this trend may be over) is actors putting their pictures on their resume. But, before you do, check in with casting directors, agents & managers, and working actors to see if they're still doing it.
I have at least 20 off the top of my head, but here's the thing. You're doing what EVERYONE does when they're looking for work (that is everyone who hasn't coached with me). You're calling your contacts every week, month, hopefully not day, to tell them "I'm available." This is NOT strategic. This is not good business. How would you feel if you were working and in the position to hire people, you already hired the people you need, and then get 50 "I'm available" calls each week. What would you do? You wouldn't have time to call everyone back and say that you're sorry but you don't have anything for them. So, that is why you find yourself where you are now.
Okay, suggestions. First of all, because it seems as if you don't know enough people who are working and you are their #1 or 2 call, this isn't necessarily going to be a quick process, so it's important that you're patient.
1. Target and meet at least 5 new people per month
2. Meet 10 people per month who are in the industry no matter what classification
3. Ask the people you already know for referrals
4. Review the previous 195 blogs for new ideas
If this seems like a huge amount of work, you're either making it harder than it actually is, or you don't fully understand how to successfully run your business. If you're making it harder than it is, sign up for my FREE newsletter at www.TheGreenlightCoach.com to find out when I'm giving FREE seminars, so you can find out how easy and fun it can be. If you don't fully understand the business, I recommend you invest in yourself and get coaching. The longer you wait the harder it gets.
There was a time that people specialized in one area (TV, Film, Commercials, Docs, Industrials, Sports, etc), but now people can move from genre to genre with more ease than in the past. That said, if you have a long term goal, you want to start setting yourself up for that now. If in 20 years, you see yourself in feature films, start building your resume, reel, and contacts in that area.
Many people have worried about getting "stuck" in one area. I say, get known in one area and once you're well known it will be easier for you to move around. People who try to do a little of everything and never make a name for themselves in any area, have a tougher time maintaining a long term, rewarding career.
Whose definition of good matters to you? What you think is good will be different than other people's opinions. Even movies that win academy awards have naysayers. You can't please everyone.
I've heard Hollywood compared to Vegas many a time in my career. There is no science to what makes a successful movie or they'd all be blockbusters. Different people have different taste. Why was Private Benjamin a huge hit and no one's heard of Major Movie Star (basically same concept starring Jessica Simpson?
When I worked in development I only gave 2 scripts a Recommend. Both films were made (not by us). One was on screen exactly how I'd pictured it in my mind. The other, one of the scariest thrillers I'd read, turned out to be a joke on screen.
There are so many people involved in making a movie that the script is just the leaping off point. Unless it's your script and you direct it, there's no guarantee your vision will be what's on screen. If you're reading it as an actor or as a department head, what looks great on paper could turn out completely different by the time the director, movie stars, editor, and studio execs (after a few focus groups) get their hands on it.
My advice if you like the script: trust your gut, see who's involved, do your research on them, do the best work you're capable of, and see what happens.
Anything is possible. Obviously someone who is established in their career has it much easier because when it comes to getting jobs, they're already a "name." The goal is to create relationships and maintain them. If you can do that from either coast, great. If someone calls you for a job in the morning in LA and you're in NY, that's going to be a problem. I need more information to advise you fully on this. Are you choosing to be bi-coastal or is an obligation keeping you tied to one city?
The bottom line- Discipline! I know how you feel. I work from home and have no one to answer to. Some days there would be nothing better than to stay in bed and snuggle with my dogs BUT I made a choice to be an independent contractor JUST LIKE YOU. Therefore, I recognize I have to respect my business the same way I respected my work environment when I worked in the corporate world. When I had a boss to answer to, I had to be at work at a specific time, work for a specific number of hours, and give my all. Aren't those the same requirements of YOU when you're hired on project?
What you must realize, is when you're not on a specific project, you still have work. If you don't know what that work is, I'd be happy to coach you.
Here are some tips :
1. "Forced" motivation- schedule meetings/phone calls for 10 am (you can make it earlier, but hey, working for yourself has to have some perks right?)
2. Throw you hat over the fence- tell someone you respect you'll have something done by a specific date. That will force you to get out of bed and get to work.
3. I've said it before and I'll say it again- get yourself into an accountability group with people whose opinions of you matter.
You can't be pushed out of the industry. That would imply that the industry has control over you as opposed to you having control over your career. Never give away your power like that. There are more people in this industry than you could meet in your lifetime. Everyday new people flock to Los Angeles to work in our industry. Look how many people's careers should have been over for seemingly unforgivable things, and yet they come back even stronger. For Pete's sake, even The Hoff is still on TV, tormenting us with song!
So let's chunk this down. Who specifically do you think might be pushing you out of the industry? Identify that person or people first, so you can diffuse the overwhelm of feeling like an entire industry is pushing you out.
Once you've identified the source(s) of your concern, you can:
A. Evaluate the circumstances and decide if it's "real" or if you're making mountains out of molehills.
B. Choose to move on and create new powerful relationships
C. "Push back" as you put it. (I don't particularly care for this option. Why waste time "pushing back"? I say PUSH FORWARD!)
Once you've decided which way you want to go, let me know if you have further questions regarding your new strategy.
Collaboration! I happen to know that the person who asked this question is an actress.
Because she's an actress with an idea, to create a web series, the bare minimum she needs is:
1. a writer(s)
2. a director
3. a producer
4. a camera person
5. an editor
On many web series, 2 people can be all 5 of those. She also needs equipment for camera, sound, and editing.
With no money, she'll be looking to collaborate with people who want to build their credits and skills/experience, believe in the idea, and want to create relationships with others working on the project. They will volunteer their time, equipment, and resources.
The little details of creating a project like this, that I'm not going into, will be discovered when you begin collaborating. You will probably need some money (for batteries, lunch, etc.).
BE SURE to have non-disclosure agreements when discussing your project as well as contracts for all involved. EVEN IF YOU'RE WORKING WITH YOUR BEST FRIENDS!!! You can even download these for free on the internet and make them fit your needs. Protect your project! If you want to make everyone equal partners in it, fine. Just put it in writing!
Before I answer this question, I'm going to ask you to read the archives of this blog. Start at number one, because early on, I was addressing many questions that dealt directly with getting work. Once you've read through the archives, you should have a lot of ideas. At that point, you will still have questions, but you'll be more clear and therefore, will want to ask me more specific questions that are the "next-step" questions for you.
People looking at resumes are looking for recognizable titles and people. If you haven't been hired by recognizable people and you haven't worked on projects that people know, it's really NOT about your resume. While it's always about building and maintaining relationships, when you don't have a strong resume it's ALL about the relationships.
When you build strong relationships, people will hire you because they like you and see your talent and/or potential. Having a resume will make you look professional, but the relationships will get you the job.
Accept smaller/unknown projects to build your credits/reel/contacts. People you meet on these projects may be the people with whom you grow into larger projects.
This particular person is referring to the MPEG (Editors Guild), but I will answer it generally because there are different criteria for different Unions. Here are just SOME of the entertainment Unions: SAG, AFTRA, WGA, DGA, IATSE (which covers most below the line unions such as Locals 600, 700, 80, and many many more).
So first of all, you have to research the website of the union you're interested in. If it's "hair and makeup" or "production design" and you don't know how to find them, check with IATSE.
Once you know what union you want to join, check their website to see if they have the instructions for joining. If not, call the union and ask to be connected to the person who can give you new member information.
Deciding whether it's the right time for you to join the union is a whole other topic, one I covered early on, so check the archives.
Okay, so I have more details from yesterday's question asker. He works in a "department" where his boss (the head of the department) is a screamer, who emotionally and even physically injures people. That said, his boss is hugely "in demand," so the person who asked me this question fears leaving because the perks of working in this department are: lots of money, good contacts for the future when he moves up in classification, steady work, and the rest of the crew are like family.
So here are some tips for tolerating your boss:
1. Immediately start building relationships outside of your "crew family" so that you may find yourself in an equally prestigious work opportunity with a better boss. Part of this is to be meeting people that make you happy and inspire you.
2. Start planning for your future by building a reel. This will make your current job feel like a day-job while you pursue something you're more passionate about. Create a 1-2 year plan to be out of there! It will give you something to live for (I'm being dramatic, but as I said yesterday, I've been there).
3. Because you said he is a screamer, but never mentioned you feel your job is in jeopardy, recognize that he's just a schmuck and his screaming is due to lack of management skills and most likely a small.......... sense of self. I know, that doesn't help in the moment, HOWEVER, on top of recognizing this, I want you to create an emotional anchor* that you can fire off when he's done.
What's most important is your health! Working for someone like this can literally be hazardous to your health because of suppressed emotions and stress. So you MUST find a healthy outlet.
*an anchor is a tool to change your emotional state. For more information on how to create an anchor, contact me or order my book And...Action! at Amazon.com
Soooo many answers to this question. Unfortunately, this general question leads me to a series of more questions:
1. Do you need the job for: the income, the prestige, the education, the connections, etc?
2. What are the underlying feelings for your boss: unhealthy stress, anger, jealousy, resentment, fear, insecurity, etc?
3. Have you pursued other opportunities?
You see, I can advise you on how to change your perspective and make your workplace tolerable (Lord knows I have YEARS of experience doing that), but I need more information to understand why you're choosing to stay in a job with a boss you can't stand.
I look forward to hearing from you or anyone else in this situation in my comments section. More to come on this topic...
If you're using my system, I'm assuming you've followed up and aren't just waiting to hear from the person. I usually suggest following up 3 times, the 3rd, letting them know that it's your 3rd time contacting them, and that perhaps they're working or out of town, and if they are interested in mentoring you, you'd be thrilled to hear from them whenever they're available, and if not, you won't be following up again. And thank them again for their consideration.
That said, since you're following my system, I'm also assuming you sent out multiple letters and didn't put all of your eggs in one basket, right? Right?....
Hmmmm. If not, get back on that horse and reach out to multiple people. All it takes is one YES to make your day and possibly your career : )
It's a numbers game, and if you only reach out to one person and that person doesn't respond, you can get very discouraged. And when that happens it can set you back and start the negative conversations in your head. Push through! There are people out there who want to give back, to contribute, and to share their knowledge. The right ones will connect with your requests.
I'm so glad, that as a college student, you recognize that there are expectations to address. Too many people move to LA with unrealistic expectations and then give up quickly when they're not met.
My advice is to expect what you can control:
1. Expect to find a job that will give you financial stability (this may or may not be in the entertainment industry- see a previous post when I covered industry jobs for writers)
2. Expect to commit to a writing ritual- in other words how much writing do you plan to do and how often?
3. Expect to invest in your career- this may mean joining networking organizations, becoming a guild member, taking educational courses for both your craft and your business, and the material costs of having a writing business
4. Expect to update your material often, adding to your writing portfolio- this may mean new scripts or re-writes on older ones
5. Expect to be a business which, like a business in any industry, requires relationships, product, marketing, patience, perseverance, and a team (just to name a few)
Even though I answered this for a writer, this blog applies to all classifications in the entertainment industry.