Film and Music Industry Job Search Tips
There are as many ways to break into the entertainment industry, as there are job types. What follows is a brief list of strategies that you can try in order to
get noticed by a potential employer.
Remember this list is in no way all-inclusive.
While it may not be necessary to implement all of these tips in your own personal search, because you will likely face strong competition, you may at one point or another need to step out of your comfort zone. Keep in mind that the key to most attempts is to get one concept…creativity usually pays off.
Periodicals. It’s a tried and true method that never goes out of style. Get your hands on both local and national newspapers and search the “Services Needed” section or “Skilled Trades.” Either of these two will typically advertise the need for creative folk.
Local “Rags.” These are the local papers usually found at the entrances to your nearby grocery store, dance club, health club, and music store. Because they are usually aimed at a younger target audience, you may have an increased chance of finding larger opportunities. Not only should you check the classifieds but also peruse the entire paper. Many employers will place a large ad purely to attract talent.
Physical Location. If you already know that you wish to work at a specific location, then go to them directly to see if they are hiring. While this may seem like obvious advice, you’d be surprised at how many individuals will not do this. They will wait for a ‘formal’ opening to be announced. Remember, be bold!
Book a Tour. If they won’t talk with you directly, another approach is to see if they allow “tours.” Many companies will do these to attract customers to their shop. Once you book a tour, you will be able to get a contact name of the person in charge of your specific field. Use this to obtain a business card and direct all future inquiries to this person.
Letter of Intent (LOI). Mail in a letter of intent explaining exactly what you wish to achieve, and why you think you will make a great addition to their team. Include a well-written resume (See ‘Resume Tips’) and any samples of your work if applicable.
Go to Church. Many church bulletins include member advertisements stating either what business they are in or services in need. The faith industry has exploded in the last few years; especially in live sound production. Contemporary services need sound, lights, and video production crews. Also, traditionally after the service, many churches need duplication and distribution for their content. Someone has to do this work.
Grab Lunch! If you are aware of the location of employment that you wish to work for, it is possible that many of the employees will more often than not habitually visit the same locations for lunch. Try to hit some local eateries to strike up a conversation with the clientele. Who knows, you may end up talking to the exact person who either hires or makes the recommendation for new employees.
Bars. Bartenders are similar to hairdressers. They often have to play ‘psychologist at large.’ With this in mind, many people spill their guts to these folks. If so, they often have insight into who’s doing what and where. There is nothing wrong with hitting several clubs and asking if they know anyone looking for your services. If you build enough rapport, give them a card and ask them for a referral if possible.
Network. This goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. The best way to learn of film and music industry jobs and get in the door is by networking. Tell anyone and everyone you know or run into what you are looking to do. Also, make sure you give them contact information in case something comes to fruition.
National Trade Magazines. Most industries have magazines specifically geared toward both client and consumer.
(See Resource Links). These magazines, whether in print or digital versions on-line, offer another fantastic chance at scoring a position. Usually, there are 3 places to look in the literature. The line ads in classifieds typically at the end of the book are one. Before that, they will usually have a series of pages with 1/4-page ads. Lastly, throughout the entire magazine, you may find full-page ads sprinkled within the pages. The great thing about large color ads is that they usually guarantee a company has money to pay. However, just because they can pay, doesn’t mean they will pay. So be also be prepared for the classic ‘unpaid internship‘ response. (See ‘Freelance Vs Employment‘)
Ask to be an Extra. Often film crews will be on location in major metropolitan areas including small cities to shoot a specific scene. They will usually advertise using several of the methods previously described. Volunteer. You just may get your break or meet someone you need to.
Go to Them. If you can’t seem to locate anyone who knows anybody, do the reverse of the above. Advertise your availability. Describe what you are looking for and whom you would like to work with. Include your talents and any awards you may have won if applicable. Run these ads at least for 3 months to give you a fair chance for visibility. Although you may not get an immediate call, sometimes people will save your information for a later date.
Check your Chamber. Not the dungeon. No. The local Chamber of Commerce. Again, these places will have in-depth descriptions of who belongs, what they do, and best of all, the contact info for all in charge. If you really want to put your best foot forward, go ahead and join the Chamber yourself. It’s another chance to advertise your skills. An additional perk, is that usually once a year the Chamber will hold an event where all involved in the community will meet and greet one another. As mentioned earlier, Networking is critical.
Search the Internet. Using your favorite search engine like Google or Yahoo, type in what you are looking for and see what comes up. Be patient. You will need to spend lots of time and do lots of research to really make it worth your while. If you are willing to do so you may stumble upon a plethora of possibilities. Make sure to look at the section Resource Links. I’ve included a number of excellent websites that should get you started in the right direction.
Work for Free. Although this seems like an illogical approach, often it may take a freebee or so to prove to the employer that you are worthy of their firm. Keep in mind that the competition for most positions in the entertainment world is fierce. That being the case, often film companies and music companies are inundated with so many resumes that the idea of ever needing more employees or staff seems irrelevant. However, once they see a person in action, it may trigger a thought in their mind that they cannot afford to let you go.
Paid Services. Depending on the type of work you are looking for, there are services out there that focus on listing the “better” jobs. You have to pay a small fee to access these listings on the Internet. Be careful, though. Often, what these companies list is available directly from the employer. So, use this after you have exhausted many of the other methods.
MySpace and YouTube. What else can you say. The services are free. Create a webpage for yourself and your goal(s). Try to link up with others who can present your requests to others in the industry. As with everything on the Internet, be careful and cautious.