How do You Get Work in the Film Industry? You Have to Fucking WORK.

There is a symptom that plagues film school students and those who want to work in the film industry.

I know this because I’ve had the opportunity to talk to a lot of film students. That vast majority of them don’t want to work. They don’t want to start at the bottom and crawl their way to the top. They want to make art. Let me tell you something, you want-to-be-filmmakers —

YOU ARE GOING TO FAIL. YOU. YES. YOU.

You’re going to graduate film school thinking you want to work in the film industry, but end up switching careers with thousands of dollars in student debt, or work at a local TV station making shitty commercials, or film weddings for the rest of your life. And that’s no one’s fault but yours.

How do you not fail? You work you fucking ass off, that’s how.

I have not made it. Far from it. But I’m a lot further along than the lot of you. And you probably want to be where I am right now. I work for a “big-time” guy in the industry. I frequent film sets during production and have the occasional chat with a celebrity. My scripts are being read “around town”, and I have representation courting me. This is shit I DREAMED about having 7 years ago when I started this blog. I’m STILL not happy with where I am, but that’s another story. THIS story is about how none of this is going to happen to you because you’re a lazy piece of shit.

If you want to work in the film industry, you have to be willing to work 18 hours days 6 days a week for minimum wage with an Assistant Director yelling at you over the walkie in front of the entire crew right after you’ve spent the last 2 hours picking up dog shit and used condoms off the side of the road for the art department at 6 in the fucking morning.

If you want to work in the film industry, you have to be willing to leave EVERYTHING behind and move to Los Angeles with no money and sleep on a strangers couch that you met on craigslist who smokes weed every day and watches TV until 1 am not letting you get any sleep before you have to wake up at 4am to get to pre-call on set in the middle of sun valley by 6am.

If you want to work in the film industry, you have to leave every comfort you know, and jump headfirst into a chaotic environment using equipment you’ve never used before for people you’ve never met before, while all the time trying to prove that you’re the hardest worker in the world so that maybe they will hire you again for the next job.

If you want to work in the film industry, you need to be meeting people and spending more time looking for work than actually working because you need to have a job lined up when the current job your working is over.

And then, MAYBE, after you’ve done all this for a few years and find a steady job, you will be able to direct enough shorts or write enough screenplays in your “free time” to get noticed and actually do the shit you really want to be doing out here.

If you’re not willing to do any of this stuff. Then do everyone already working in LA a favor and  GTFO of here so that our commute on these god-forsaken highways is minus one car.

Now get off your lazy piece of shit ass and go do something.

-12pt

Production Assistant Resume: Tips for a Production Assistant

Production Assistant Resume

[Post Updated August 8, 2018]

This article focuses on how to make a PRODUCTION ASSISTANT RESUME.

What everyone says about this industry is correct, it is all about “who you know.” Most of the time your production assistant resume is not going to factor into you getting a job. It is more of a formality, as the interview is what will land you the job. But sometimes the resume is what will land you the interview. Now that I’ve thoroughly confused you, let’s start!

I was recently hiring production assistants for a new production office, and I would say 8 out of every 10 production assistant resumes went immediately into the trash pile. Why?

When hiring a production assistant, I only care about two things:

#1: Can you do your job?

#2: Can I stand to be around you for the length of this show?

People don’t give a shit about what your goals are. They don’t give a shit if you went to college. They don’t give a shit about your short film. All they want to know is — do you know how to be a production assistant?

Look at your production assistant resume. If any of this shit is on there, take it off.

DON’T INCLUDE ON YOUR PRODUCTION ASSISTANT RESUME

  • Student Films
  • Unrelated Work Experience – No one cares if you worked at Starbucks — and don’t argue that it applies because you’re getting people coffee. If it’s not a job in the film/tv industry, take it off!
  • Anything you Directed or DP’d or any High-Level Sounding Job – Why the fuck are you applying for a PA position if you’re a director? No one cares. It will make you look dumb.
  • Career Objective – No one cares.
  • Hobbies – Again, no one cares.
  • References – If they want a reference, they’ll ask. 99% of the time they heard about you from someone else anyway, as most people hire production assistants based on referrals.
  • Background – Don’t think the person hiring you, who has probably been working in a production office for longer than you’ve been alive, cares about your background. There is plenty of time for this type of conversation after you’re hired.
  • Interests – Definitely Not.
  • That you Wrote a Screenplay – Seriously, I’m looking at a resume right now where a PA lists a feature screenplay in his work experience. Dude, why would you think a production coordinator hiring you to go pick up lunches for people gives a shit about your screenplay? NO! I would immediately throw that production assistant resume in the trash (and I did).

Now, here is what your production assistant resume SHOULD include.

INCLUDE

  • Name and Contact Info – Email, phone number, home address.
  • Job History – Name of Show (or movie or commercial or photo shoot), Position (Set PA, Office PA, Art PA, etc), Date of job (if you want), Production Company (this is where you can make it a little sexier by adding in WALT DISNEY STUDIOS or something).

That’s it. Anything else on your resume should go below those two things. (AND PROBABLY NOT BE INCLUDED AT ALL) Your production assistant resume should look like a list. Name and contact on top, below just a list of all the production assistant jobs you’ve held.

Chances are you haven’t worked that much. If you need some padding see below: (ALSO CHECK OUT THIS ARTICLE ON NOW HAVING MUCH WORK EXPERIENCE)

PRODUCTION ASSISTANT RESUME PADDING

  • Schooling – No one cares, but it doesn’t take up much room… and why else did you get a film degree if not to do SOMETHING with it… so put it on the resume. At the bottom. (Still, no one cares).
  • Skills – A producer friend of mine says he likes it when skills are listed on a production assistant resume. It doesn’t take up much room. But it’s where you can list appropriate skills like Microsoft Office Suite, Adobe Suite, Scenechronize, Final Draft, Final Cut, Avid… etc. This is more relevant for a non-set PA job. You can even put MAC and PC… If you know how to hook up network printers on Macs AND PCs, you instantly become like a god-figure in the office. Same with knowing the ins and outs of how to use an iPhone ( a lot of technologically impaired people work in production).
  • Internships – Unlike student films and your own shorts, a good internship at an agency or production company is basically a non-paid Office Production Assistant job. In this case, “internship” is an easily dismissible word when the experience you gained shouldn’t be dismissed. I would just change the job title from “internship” into whatever job you were doing  — Office PA, producer’s assistant, development assistant… Looks better and it’s basically the same job, you were just getting school credit instead of being paid.
  • Job Descriptions – You can add this stuff if you’re seriously lacking in things to put on your resume. Just a few bullet points under every job. Try not to be monotonous.

PRODUCTION ASSISTANT RESUME DESIGN

  • Make your resume clear and easy to read – You won’t believe how many people’s resumes look like a jumbled mess of text. Or, god forbid, they try to make it “artsy”. Nobody wants to read — they want to SCAN! I should look at your resume and know in 1 second if I’m putting you in the consider pile or in the trash can. If I have to read too much… sorry buddy… you’re in the trash.You might now be thinking, “Why is this guy so lazy and disgruntled? He’s going to pass on a qualified applicant just because they have “too much text” on the page?” Dude … when you work in a production office hiring PAs, you literally have a 100 resumes to go through in an hour. I’m not reading your fucking wall of text. If it takes a wall of text for me to realize you are qualified for a job where you get lunches and answer phones, you’re doing it wrong. You get a quick glance. That’s it.
  • Keep your resume ONE PAGE  – You’ve done 40 jobs? Pick the sexiest looking ones. I shouldn’t have to turn the page when looking through your resume. No seriously… keep it one page. This is a PRODUCTION ASSISTANT JOB. One page only. Or it will go in the trash.
  • Portrait View – Seriously… a landscape resume? Don’t. Ever.
  • Make Font Bigger – A larger font is easier to read and stands out more. Even just bumping the standard 12pt to 14pt is a nice touch.
  • A Little Color Never Hurt Anyone – Even using greys with black looks better than a simple black text resume, and it’s non-color printer safe.
  • Too Much Color Hurts Everyone – If it looks like a Teletubby took a shit on your resume — I will burn it.

IN CLOSING

People in a hiring position only want to know that YOU know what you’re doing. And the best way to persuade them is by showing that you’ve done the job before. So if you’re looking for set PA work — stack your resume with Set PA jobs. They’ll take one look at it and see SET PA, SET PA, SET PA, SET PA. “Great! Bring ’em in for an interview.” If they have to navigate through your resume like pans fucking labyrinth — you’re on a fast track to the trash.

[UPDATE]

Download a simple production assistant resume template here!

12PTRESUMETEMPLATE082714-page-001Also check out:

I’m Moving to L.A.

Basically, if your life’s dream is to become a giant Hollywood screenwriter, then you need to live in Hollywood. – John August

If you want to be next to writers, you need to be close to producers. And that means either being a PA on a production, or finding work at a production company… which I HIGHLY RECOMMEND! – Joshua Dobkin

What the fuck are you trying to do in Atlanta?  COME OUT HERE! – My friend in L.A.

I had a plan. I was going to work in Atlanta for a few years, write some specs, and save money. Then I was going to make the jump to L.A. with a couple of scripts under my belt and work my ass off. My plan for Atlanta isn’t working for a multitude of reasons, and after some recent advice from a friend working in L.A. — I’m jumping in and taking the risk!

I will be packing my ’94 Honda Accord (that just hit 200,000 miles yesterday!) with everything I need to live and drive from Tennessee to Los Angeles, California in the next week/week and a half. I will sleep on couches (or in my car if I have to) and take every job I can get. I need work; I crave work. Anything even related to film will do. I have 5 different resumes made up, enough money to get out there, and a TomTom GPS.

Speaking of work. If any of my readers could put my sweat and tears to good use in L.A. shoot me an email. Preferably with a production company doing something in development, screenwriter’s assistant, or a writer’s P.A. But like I said, I’ll be Kevin Smith’s oil boy if It will get me in the door.

Honestly, I wish I would have done this months ago.  I only have a couple of months before my massive student loans start coming in. On THAT note, don’t go to film school on student loans… bad… bad……very bad idea. Can’t change the past so I must look towards the future.

So… if chapter one of this blog was film school, chapter two will be moving to L.A. and working my ass off trying to get someone to let me work my ass off.

So let the madness begin. What do you think about moving to LA? Bad idea or a fucking awesome idea?

Getting a Job is Hard. Getting a Screenplay Produced is Awesome!

Lately, I’ve been working my ass off trying to convince people to let me work my ass off. I have called several different productions over the past week. What I’ve come to realize, is that people (usually) don’t hire people they don’t already know. It’s becoming a real pain in the ass trying to get the position I want, especially when people retain the same crews over and over again — on every production! Unfortunately, that old Hollywood adage still holds true – getting your foot in the door IS the hardest part.

Another thing I realized is that trying to join a Union right out of school is also a massive pain in the ass! I NEED to have some work experience, to be accepted by the Union… but I sorta’ need to be already accepted by the Union before employers will hire me for said work experience. Funny how that works, huh? So, on that note —-> I’ve also become aware of the fact that just because a state is a “Right-to-Work” state, doesn’t mean someone will hire you if you’re not in the union. It might be illegal, but one production came right out and told me that if I wasn’t in the IATSE, then they weren’t going to hire me. I’m sure I would love the IATSE if I were in it, but right now… it’s a fucking pain in my ass!

So, now that I’ve accepted the fact that I am not going to get the job I originally wanted, I’ve started re-applying to all the same productions for a set PA position. Only to learn, that more than half of the productions I’ve applied to are now totally crewed up!

If you are planning on working in the Industry, I guarantee you will come to loathe the term “Crewed Up.” Every time you hear it, your immediate response will more than likely be the “f-word”… screamed at the top of your lungs… in complete anger and frustration. Just make sure you say it after you hang up the phone.

In other news, a short film that I recently wrote is now being produced! I got to visit the set last night, and it was pretty weird/amazing to witness my words being brought to life.

Now that I’m done with the short, I have finally started on my next feature, which is a little more innocent than my previous scripts. It’s kind of like How to Train Your Dragon meets E.T., and I’m writing it for animation, even though I know all the big animations guys (Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks… etc.) develop everything in-house. It’s a story I’m passionate about, and if I do it well, I can at least use it to snag an agent or a producer’s attention.

I’ll keep posting every once in a while about the trials, troubles, and tribulations, which arise from my attempts at getting a job in the motherfraaaacking movie industry.

Oh, and look for a new script review coming soon! As well as a further detailed article on what I’ve learned while trying to find a job.

:FADE OUT.

Graduated! Now what…

Finally graduated from college. All done.

Now, what do I do?

The hunt for work has officially begun. I’m craving it. If I’m not on a production soon, I might just paint my bedroom walls with the inside of my head. Too bad my friend’s IMDB pro account expired. I need to start cold calling and throwing my resume around to everything going on anywhere. The hardest part right now seems not to be getting onto a production, but figuring out where to live/stay for the first couple weeks while I find an apartment. I need temporary housing around the Atlanta area until I get a few paychecks. That sounds like a bitch to figure out. Craig’s list? I don’t know. Hotels are expensive.

The good news is I hear there is an ass load of production coming to Atlanta this year.

In other (writing) news, I finished another feature. I’m sitting on it right now while I develop a couple more ideas. I know it’s not going to rewrite itself, but I think some time apart will give us a fresh start when we reignite our relationship. I am developing a script for animation right now. I’ve never written for animation, but I think it could be a lot of fun. It’s also a very innocent script, unlike the R rated thrillers I have been writing recently. I’m excited about it.

I also have a stack of unread screenplays to read and review. So I better get started on some of that.

That’s where I am in my life.

It’s All About Story Structure

Student and independent filmmakers, more often than not, have an annoying and unrelenting ability to make films without a plot. I’ve never really understood it. It drives me crazy!  Currently, in film school,  I see this happen all the time.  The worse part is that these filmmakers don’t even notice that their films are sometimes downright hard to get through. Yes, making a movie is hard. Yes, that dolly shot was beautiful. Yes, you did a good job pulling some great emotion out of those actors. Wow, that location was great! Very artistic cinematography!  Holy shit! You did a sweet crane shot!

BUT WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON!? There is absolutely nothing going on in your story to keep me watching.

I talk about this now because I happened to read a great article by John August that you can read right now HERE.

No. Really. Read it. Now.

Read the script Buried. I did a small review on it a while back. The entire script takes place in a coffin. ONE LOCATION. ONE ACTOR. Yet, you keep reading because it is full of conflict, and questions that you want to be answered!

Your crane shot doesn’t matter; your witty metaphorical dialogue doesn’t matter, your million dollar location doesn’t matter. Not even your actors matter more than the ability to tell a clear and concise story that keeps your viewers intrigued and watching. Story is the backbone of any successful film.

Story, Story, Story.

One down. One to go.

The semester is over.  Holy fucking shit.  One more semester and I graduate in December.

A lot of stress, many sleepless nights, the temporary loss of hearing in one ear…. but I passed all my classes, and people LOVED my film. Apparently, there was clapping and cheering in the middle of it. Before it was even over. Awesome.

What does the summer hold?

I have the month of May off…. kinda.  I have to do development on a doc I’m shooting this summer. I have to get my wisdom teeth taken out and get a tetanus shot. I have to get my eyes checked and get new glasses. I have to work.  I have to WRITE! Due to school, I haven’t been able to really sit down and write in weeks…

In June I go to Bonnaroooooooo! And then I’m going to Israel for six weeks. Then I have the beginning of August to get my shit together before school starts again.

Post Workflows and Fire Eyes

For my senior project, I produced a short film called Foreclosed. For the past three days, I have been doing non-stop post work.  I had an editor… but one thing about film school is, eventually you end up doing everything yourself. It just happens that way.

This is what the past few days have looked like:

Final Cut Pro — Sonic Fire Pro — Final Cut Pro — LiveType — Final Cut Pro — Pro Tools 8 HD — Final Cut Pro — Sonic Fire Pro

Tomorrow it will consist of:

Sonic Fire Pro — Final Cut Pro — LiveType — Final Cut Pro — Color — Final Cut Pro — DVD Studio Pro

Hopefully, I will be about to wrap this project up by then.  Oh, wait. Then I have to send a time-coded version out to the person doing music. When I get the music back, I think I’m going to have to go back into ProTools and Final Cut… and then get a copy to send out to festivals. Fml.

Basically, post-production is a giant pain in the ass — literally.   I have been sitting in a chair looking at a computer screen for 12 hours a day since Monday. Right now my brain feels like it’s running out of my ears. My eyes feel like they are on fire. My throat is scratchy. I just feel like shit. Not to add I have real finals next week.  Tests I can’t study for because my film is due.  My director made a good point the other day when he said his falling GPA has a direct correlation to how many films he makes.  …or something like that.  Basically, we are film majors… we make movies and get shitty grades… It’s how it works.

But hey, at the end of the day I have a finished film.  All the shit I went through to get it is worth it.

To sum it up.

  • Post is a pain in the ass.
  • Film school is run very inefficiently.
  • The work might be hard and make you want to stab your eyes out, but in the end, you get a finished product with your name on it… hopefully.

sounds like scratch’n

The First of Many

As if I didn’t have enough distractions in my life already, I have finally decided to follow the crowd and start a blog. Yay for me!

Why don’t I take this time to tell you a little bit about myself…

I am currently a film major set to graduate in December. After spending a small fortune on school, I will finally receive a worthless piece of paper that reads B.S. Film Production.  …Finally.  It’s really weird to think about not being in school.  I have been going to school every fucking year of my life since kindergarten.

I have recently decided that I would absolutely love to be a professional screenwriter. Everything about it seems attractive to me. The ability to set my own hours, and work when and where I please. The chance of selling big and paying off my student loans. Taking a simple idea and developing it into a monster of plot, conflict, character, and emotion. And in the end, being able to hold in my hands 120 pages of ideas that came out of my head. Something I created. Something I can be completely proud of no matter how much it sucks ass. An assortment of thoughts and ideas that somehow, over the course of many months, has come alive. A Frankenstein, written in 12pt Courier, with two brads holding it in place.

This blog will turn into a story of my life.  Finishing college, hopefully getting a job in the industry, writing screenplays and trying to sell them.

Between updates on my life and screenplays, I will write rants and random tidbits about life.  I will also occasionally review a script I have recently read. I aim to journal my life in pursuit of my goals. Hopefully, I will inspire others to pursue their goals, and maybe they will find some useful information through my journeys. Perhaps we can go on this adventure together.

So sit back and enjoy the ride. (Can’t believe I just said that.)