Digital Polyphony

film, games, memories & random thoughts

 Rules of Hollywood #5:

How to Get Your Foot In the Door (Without Getting it Crushed)
 
Part 1
 
 
 
I suppose this entry had to come eventually. It's really all been a bit of a buildup to it and is really the main reason I started an entire series of articles to begin with. Some of what will be done here is actually going to be a slight repeat of the two-part screenwriter article. All in all, paths to get your foot in the door are relatively the same. You start small, as in from nothing, and learn, network and grow into your career.
 
Ah, the big "c" word. No, not that one. "Career"
 
That should really be your first question you ask yourself: do I want a career in film and television? What you might assume is big bucks, fame, notoriety, hob-nobbing with celebrities and getting invited to parties is, in reality, tough, thankless, difficult work that will take you years to climb from the muck and mire to still find yourself in a tough, thankless, difficult job.

For some people, that's an easy answer: yes even knowing all that. Usually these are the artistic kind, those that wish to be writers, directors and composers for movies and TV (oh, and actors, but those are obvious). However, there is a large group and chunk of people that run Hollywood that aren't really in that mindset. They're "The players" as they say: agents, managers, execs and producers. While they may not be of the artistic kind, they are just as integral in getting into the industry and are really the most popular choices for those that want to get a foot in the door. So what do those people do and how can I meet them?

Simple as this: Intern

This is the single best thing you can do. If you're interested in the creative process of movie making, a management company (more geared towards writers and directors, not actors) or a production company, whether it be boutique with a first-look deal or a producer/company at a studio, are the best routes. If you feel agency is more your deal, dealing with clients and deals, putting people together in rooms, then that will be your focus. We'll cover your first steps in two parts. The first here will cover the basics: where to look for internships, what is a good fit for your tastes and what to expect at each. It will go over your responsibilities and what you must learn at each before even thinking about moving on.  The second part is where to go and what do once you've "paid your dues." I'd be lying if I said it works for everyone. There are a lot, hell I would say most, that give it a try, feel it's not for them and move on to another career path. If you feel it isn't' for you, there's nothing wrong with it. Some people are good fits and can deal with a lot of the crap Hollywood gestates, others simply get tired of it and want to move on.

 


 
Where to Start 
 
 
First off, if you are in college make note of your alumni. Many colleges have people who work in the entertainment industry or, if you're lucky, have great film schools (or something similar) that allows for great outlets to make connections. Some might offer internship deals right off the bat.
 
Exploit the hell out of this.

 
There's no need to be shy and wait for your professor to say "if you're interested see me after class." Go up to people in departments (film, English, journalism etc...)  and talk with them. Look at your school's website, especially if you're at a college with a good film school (or a film school entirely) and see what they offer in terms of this (some may have internship opportunities a broad as well). You must be pro-active here. Not only to get through that first door, but to learn how being pro-active is one of the fundamentals of building a solid career in the entertainment industry. As a former boss of mine once said "you don't get shit done jerkin' off."
 
If that's not available, or perhaps you start a little late, then you're going to be like me and grind your way from the area even below utilizing college connections. I've spoken to many in Hollywood, and I think (or should I say hope, Lord knows I'm still learning) that there is a good consensus on what to do and what not to do in trying to find the right path to go down. Many in this industry didn't even study film or watch TV in college, they just happened to get into it by happenstance, and then realizing they have knack for it. This always starts out with a trial-and-error scenario of interning. So let's start there.


If Not That, Then...
 
Like exploiting your school and professors like Las Vegas strippers, think hard about who you may know already in the entertainment industry. That's a connection right there, even if they're interning themselves. If your friend's cousin's boyfriend's uncle is a file clerk at Warner Brothers, that is more than you might think it is. The fact is: he may be a fileclerk, but he's there and you're not. So he's already ahead of the game while you're still trying to figure out what to do. 

If you know someone who even remotely has a connection to the field you're interested in, then simply call them, facebook them, email them, whatever you might do. Family, friends, family and friends of friends families. A lot of times, there's less a degree of separation than you might think. It could even be local - such as a local network affiliate.

 

 If Not That, Then...

While there are certain "industry" websites, boards, and job/internship listings, they are often not for regular distribution or accepting of those not in the industry. For example, there's something called the UTA Joblist which also lists internships, but they aren't going to give these to you. Instead, if you If you know someone (as in the above steps) that is involved in the entertainment world, ask them for it. They know what it is and can get it (or other internal job listings for that matter). As an outsider looking in, though, you need to find other places that list internships. I'll be honest, I know of very few but they, if anything, are large websites that do list quite a bit. 
 
Entertainmentcareers.net: A fairly comprehensive site that I use myself when posting internship opportunities and I know has a number of companies, studios and agencies use at as a resource.
 
Variety: Industry paper Daily Variety has an online section that lists jobs and potentially internships.Variety is the leading industry paper that everyone and their mother reads in Hollywood.
 
Media Job Market: A division of the Hollywood Reporter (part of the "Professional Network") and Nielson Business. A good resource.
 
Mandy.com: Sounds like a porn site, but it's actually a massive, international database. This one seems a little more geared towards actual jobs than internships.
 
Craigslist: When it comes to just internships, and maybe a job or casting call, Craigslist's Los Angeles area with jobs focused on TV/film isn't half bad. It's not half great either, so make sure you do research on who you're going to contact before pulling the trigger.
 
University of Dreams: Christ, what a cheesy name. What this is, and there are others like it, are internship companies that will help you find an internship. Personally, if you have to do this then maybe you aren't cut out for the Entertainment industry. Your college has the resources these guys probably have already, and you don't need to pay them extra to do it. Still, I'm putting it here at least as something for people to consider.
 
Entertainmentjobsnow.com: Another site, but I would consider it last of the last. This one does ask for money. I'm a little skeptical on that, if you've read my previous article on screenwriting you know there are always people out to cash in on you... but if you have the cash, the five day trial might be at least up your alley to see what it has. I put it below craigslist for a reason, though.
 
 
And if Not That, Then...

As difficult as it may be at first, the best place to start is to take a look at your favorite movies. Who are the companies involved in the production of that movie? The actors' representation? The post-production facility? In this age of the internet, you can final all this information out with relative ease. Once you know the name of a place, finding their phone number is easy by simply using a search engine.

This is where the legwork starts to come in. Now you have to start making calls and sending emails if everything else has fallen flat. I put this last because it really should be the last resort and certainly takes the most effort. 

You should first check to see if any of these companies have websites. If they do, look for a general email link or, if you're lucky, a job/internship link which would make life much easier. If they don't, and many companies outside the major studios and large productions companies do not I should note, you have to pick up the phone and simply call them. I'll streamline it for you in an example of what not to do as illustrated by President George W. Bush and Tom Selleck circa 1985.

  ------

 

 

Them: "Hello, Totally Awesome Movie Company." (if they say their name, which is rare, then refer to the person by their name)

 

                            You: Hi, my name is John Smith and I'm a student at USC.             

 Them: That's great (this means they don't care, and trust me, they don't).

 

 

                                                                     You: Do you guys offer internships?

 

Them: Yes we do.

 

                                                                  

                                                                                                       You: Can I send in my resume?

 

 Them: I'm sorry, we aren't accepting interns at this time.

 

                                                                                                        

                                                                                                                          You: When do you?

 

Them: Can I put you on hold?

 

                                                                                            You: ... 

 

 

 

 ------


Now, let's try that again and show you what you should do. Stay focused, on point, cover your bases quickly and effectively:

 

Them: "Hello, Totally Awesome Movie Company." (if they say their name, which is rare, then refer to the person by their name)

 

 

You: "Hi, I was wondering if your company offers internships and is currently accepting interns.

 

 

If they say "yes" ask who you can contact/email/fax regarding it, write down the info and go from there. If they say "no" simply thank them and hang up. 

 ------

 

Wow. That seems pretty simple doesn't it? The trick is, as it was with my tips for screenwriters, don't make them feel as though you're wasting their time. Don't ask "why" or try and sell yourself, save that stuff for later when they actually interview you via phone or in-person. Plus, this will help you get the most done in the quickest amount of time. You simply need information at this point, and that is what you should remain focused on entirely.

However, you don't want to call every damn company in the universe, do you? You have to ask yourself what you want to focus on. Let's take a look a the major candidates you should be considering:

 
Places to Go
 
There are hundreds of places you can get into. All are pretty self-explanatory by their simple names. An agency or management company represents actors, writers, directors, novelists, editors, producers even models. If there's a talent, there's an agency that reps them. Networks and studios, both often under the same roof, are where movies are made, tv shows produced and decisions, er, decided upon. Production companies, also often under the same roof as studios (not going to talk about conglomerates here) are those behind the production elements, creating projects, developing ideas to go to studios with, attaching talent alongside the agents and so on.
 
 
 
Networks/Studios
 
(note, this list does not include their subsidiaries or companies they offer deals, which is extensive).
 
Studios and network internships are probably the most sought after, if anything for the environment and overall fun of working on a lot. These can be difficult to get into and many are far more corporate-oriented than anything, but check their sites, look for job/info links and start contacting. The major networks/studios are:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Production Companies
 
When looking to production companies, your first mission must be to look at what movies they have made in the past. This is how you should start off your list, not by the largest company but one where you feel you can contribute the most. If you know a lot about comics, a place that has made a good amount of comic movies might be a fit. Have an extensive background on horror? Look to a company that does its fair share of genre pictures. You shouldn't excluse companies that don't appeal to your sensibilities, but those that don't should be relegated to the bottom of the list you are compiling. Start with what you want first.
 
A few examples of some production companies:
 
 
 
 
 
 
Scott Rudin Productions 
 
 Scott Free Productions
 
 
 
There are hundreds of production companies, many are affiliated with directors, writers or actors so know who is in charge and you'll get to understand what their approaches are. Also know there are also distribution companies which also fall in the same line (and sometimes companies act as both).
 
 
 
Management Companies
 
Management companies act a lot like agencies (many actors, writers and directors have both), in putting together deals and getting their clients into meetings, however also concentrate a little more in developing and helping their clientale get the best out of their projects, handle more personal tasks when asked too and also act as publicists from time to time as well (especially if the client doesn't have a publicist). Like productions companies, and this also as to do with the fact many management companies also have a production wing, there are numerous ones and of various sizes. Also, like production companies, size really doesn't matter. You have large ones with dozens of managers/producers and hundreds of clients and ten projects in development but those with merely a few members, a couple dozen clients and a handful of projects aren't to simply be shunned. They're good at their jobs too. Some examples of Management companies are:
 
Management 360
 
Evolution
 
3 Arts Entertainment
 
Benderspink
 
Untitled Entertainment
 
Industry Entertainment
 
Anonymous Content
 
Circle of Confusion
 
 
 
 
Agencies
 
All agencies are relatively the same. Some have a few more opportunities for junior agents, agent trainee programs, and some do odd assistant rotations, but the differences are pretty negligible. Agencies are pretty good overall in hiring and promoting as long as you stick with it. Most likely, you aren't sure what agencies are out there, so here's the big ones to get started with:
 
 
 
 
 
 
And a handful of small, boutique agencies such as Agency for the Performing Arts (APA), The Gersh Agency, The Glick Agency or Innovative Artists.
 
 

 
Great, now you have an idea of where to start. So how do you secure getting these things and what can you expect? Part Two will cover just that: setting up your resume/cover letter, the interview process and what exactly you'll be doing as an intern.
 
 
 
 
 

 
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