Thursday, November 26, 2009

entertainment industry coach question 269: I have multiple interests, but when looking for a job, I'm being forced in one direction. Advice?

If you have multiple interests, there are quite a few things to weigh out:

1. What is your fastest path to making a name and an income for yourself?
This is to be considered if (a) money is an issue and you need to support yourself and if (b) you have the networking skills (or are willing to develop them) to make a name for yourself in one area, and then make a transition to another. For example: television DPs who build relationships on their show and then ask for the opportunity to direct.

2. Can any of your interests be done simultaneously without causing conflict?
Consider this, if one of the interests is an "office job" while other interests can be pursued after work and on weekends and no one is the wiser. For example: A studio publicist with an interest in producing can produce short films on weekends, as well as read scripts before going to bed.

3. Can your interests be prioritized so you can create a long term plan?
When you think about where you want to be in 20 years, can you work backwards and see how the different interests flow into each other? For example: (Years 1-3): an actress who starts out doing indie films, (years 3-5) makes a name for herself, (years 5-10) creates a production company producing as well as acting, (years 10-12) adds directing to her resume, (years 12 and on) has a productive career wearing all the different hats she desires.

4. Do the skill sets compliment each other or are they on completely different paths?
Some jobs in the entertainment industry compliment each other. For example: an editor who tells the story by putting the pieces together (literally) could take those skills and transition to directing. He may even save time in post because he's editing in his head as he creates his shot list.
Or are they completely different paths, like a camera operator who wants to produce. While it's absolutely possible, the skill sets are different. The learning curve it takes to perfect your skills as a camera operator (as well as staying up to speed on the latest equipment) can take just as long as learning how to produce a movie (factoring in development, scheduling, budgeting, and having a knowledge of the different departments). With producing, sometimes, the smaller the budget, the more you need to know. That's because on a studio film there are different people for the many different components to producing a film. With a low budget indie, you could be doing everything from raising the money, to filing in for a boom operator who doesn't show up.
5. Is one of your interests the "big dream"?
If so, consider the skill or craft that needs to be developed. Is that something you can do with a full or part time job? If yes, work on your craft and build relationships while maintaining financial stability. If no, are there opportunities to work your way up the ladder (in a studio system or a crafts department like in camera and production design) to make money and learn from mentors?

The good news is, today's version of the industry allows people to wear different hats and move up in departments. The "less-good" news is that it doesn't make your choices any easier.

For more tips and articles by top entertainment industry career coach, The Greenlight Coach, visit

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