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Your First Production Job

Getting your first job in the film industry can seem a daunting task. But I have put together a few tips so you can get that first job on that big feature.

Who you know

The film industry really is all about who you know. Most film industry jobs come via referral, not by your resume. If you have friends working in the “biz”, stay in touch with them and ask them to help you get that first job. If you have friends who have friends working in the film industry, meet them, get to know them. See a pattern emerging here? You never know where that referral or job offer can come from.

My first job came from the husband of a friend of my sisters. My sister arranged that I house sit for them while he was doing a feature film in New York. After that, I stayed in touch and he hired me for my first job: Julia Roberts driver on “Pretty Woman”.

That job led me to a job as an Assistant Location Manager on “Pump Up the Volume”, where I met the Assistant Director who hired me on “Pacific Heights”, “The Doors”, “Point Break”, got me started doing Commercials and was directly responsible for giving me my start as as AD (Assistant Director).

Work for Free (Internships)

Nobody likes to work for free, or do they? I have done several jobs for no pay. Why? At first it was a way to meet new people, get into new networking circles. Now, I do it as a kind of payback for all the help I received on my way up.

Working for free can help open doors to bigger and better things. The more experience you have, the more Producers & Production Managers and AD’s are likely to give you a shot. Working for free is certainly an opportunity to learn, but for me, I think that it is an opportunity to shine. When you take that free job, work your ass off. Outwork the other PA’s (I always did), pay attention, think ahead. If it looks like it might rain, take the initiative and get a pop up (or other rain cover) built. Get it?

Get Personal

Sometimes just showing up is enough. Roger Pugliese, the UPM (Unit Production Manager) who hired me on “Pretty Woman” got his first job, literally, by just showing up. He was a cab driver in New York, and one day he drove past a set and asked who working on the movie. They told him Faye Dunaway was starring. . . He, being a HUGE Faye Dunaway fan, parked his cab, and talked his way into a free PA job, which turned into a paying job. . .

Often times a personal visit may earn you a job. If you’re there, and the othes aren’t, you’re in!

Keeping your First Job

Hours on a movie set can be long and arduous, with a lot of hard work thrown in. If your call time is 5:00am, be there at 4:45am. Showing up early and eager to work leaves a lasting impression. Every job is an opportunity to network and advance. Keep a good, positive attitude, work hard and be on time! This will get you hired again and again. Failing any one of these will insure that neither I, nor anyone else will want to hire you again.

You will start at the bottom but that’s where you learn the most. Keep your eyes open. Pay attention. Everyone in the film industry was once the one who got coffee for everyone else. Remember (I know I repeat myself) every film is a networking opportunity. Look for any and every job you can do that will get you on set. Once you’ve started working and making contacts you can quickly earn your way up the ladder into the position that you really want.

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