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Free Resource for Aspiring Filmmakers

Friday January 14, 2011

Every new year inevitably brings about new goals and ambitious resolutions to make the coming year the best one yet. 2011 can't be any different.

You've decided that this year is finally going to be the one that you finish that sure-to-be-awesome script that's been marinating on your hard drive for awhile and set it to film. Am I right?

If so, check out The Everything Filmmaking Book, which is now being offered (in full) online over at Netplaces.com. The book provides an overview for novice filmmakers on the complicated process that is making films, and spells out in plain English what you can't forget to do to get your masterpiece filmed -- and screened.

It's up to you, though, to supply the talent.

Full disclosure: Netplaces.com is owned by About.com

The Oy-scars

Thursday February 26, 2009
If you happen to see the Oscars show this past weekend, you probably shared my sentiment. Oy. Quite dull indeed.

Although Hugh Jacman was great in the first ten minutes, the show just seemed to drag on and on and on, etc.

To get you thinking like a producer, what would you have done differently? What did you see production-wise (e.g., the horrible back and forth shots of the in-studio monitors so that we couldn't see or read the information on screen) that they could've done to make the show more visually appealing?

Whom would hire as host next year? Did you miss Jon Stewart?

I know this is a break from my regular posts, but the Oscars is a huge event in this town and you would think it would go off without a hitch. But there are some years where it just feels 'off' in some way -- and this was unfortunately one of those years.

Let me know your thoughts!

Q & A: When Should I Call to Find Out About Open Jobs on a TV Show?

Sunday February 22, 2009
Dear Phil,

I was wondering, do I have to wait until pilot season ends before I call a production company to find out if there's any jobs?

DC

Dear DC,

Actually, the idea of "pilot season" is starting to fade more and more each and every year. Most networks and cable stations are taking more of a year round approach to their show development. Mainly so that they don't have to rely on having all of their eggs in the Fall/Autumn basket so to speak.

That said, there is certainly no reason why you should wait to contact a production office. If they don't have anything available, or the show isn't being produced yet, they'll tell you. But -- the sooner you make the connection the better it might potentially be as you never know when they'll need someone. If they have your name, resume and contact info at the ready, you might very well be the person they hire.

So, the short answer is -- don't wait. Once you get the info on a potential job opportunity -- jump on it. You never know where (or when) it might lead.

Good Luck!

Pay Your Dues!

Sunday February 15, 2009
If you're a member of a guild or union, be aware that if you don't stay current on your membership dues, you might be prevented from working on future projects.

Guilds and unions are set up to help protect you both WHILE you're working and while you aren't. They provide a support group of peers whom you can turn to for information, comraderie, or what have you. They set up your health insurance and fight against production companies and studios to make sure you are being paid a fair (or more than fair) wage.

As a member of a guild, you are responsible for paying your dues on time. That's pretty much it. The guild will take care of the rest. But, if you default then the guild can contact your employer and inform them of your failure to pay and your employer is usually required by law (because of the contracts they sign) to fire you. Sound harsh? Well, it can be; but it's not something you will ever have to be concerned with if you pay your dues regularly and on time.

Disney Channel Talent Search for Boys 12-17!

Tuesday February 10, 2009
If you're the parent of a teenaged boy (ages 12-17; or look like they could play 12-17), this may be the opportunity you've been looking for. On Monday, Feb 16th, Disney is doing a talent search for Disney Channel shows that focuses on finding comedic teenage boys.

If you're interested and live (or can get to) the Los Angeles area, be sure to click the link below for more information.

Click HERE or go to http://tv.disney.go.com/disneychannel/talentsearch/index.html

Best of luck!

Good Books on Acting

Tuesday February 3, 2009
If you're hoping to become an actor, you need to start with a full understanding of the craft. Acting isn't something you just jump in to. You need to take a beat and really understand that to become a great actor, you need to study and eventually master the craft of acting.

This education can come through books or acting classes. Here is a list of books you might consider reviewing.

Reminder! Pilot Season is Well Under Way

Friday January 30, 2009
If you're hoping to jump in to the television side of things, keep in mind that we're right in the middle of what's known as "pilot season." This is when all of the major networks (broadcast and cable) start to decide which scripts they actually want to make into fully produced pilots.

Which essentially means, they're looking to staff up quickly.

So, how do you know what's getting picked up to pilot? You can either keep checking the trades at HollywoodReport.com or Variety.com, or you might consider signing up for a more detailed tool like TVTracker.com.

Regardless of how you keep abreast of what's coming up, remember that the easiest way to find out what a show's needs are is to contact the production office of the show itself or the studio that is producing it. Don't bother contacting the network as they are the "buyer" of the finished product and not the producer.

After a relatively low volume pilot season this time last year (due to the writer's strike), this season is already off to a pretty good start. So, be diligent, dust off your resume and keep an eye out. You never know what might be right around the corner. Good luck!

ABC Merges With ABC Studios

Friday January 23, 2009
As the television model continues to adapt to a brave new world every major network has had to be creative in coming up with ways to reinvent themselves.

So, after being able to avoid much of the turmoil that has befallen other networks, ABC announced today that it too will be changing its structure.

ABC Networks and ABC Studios will merge to become ABC Entertainment Group. This "new" company will be run by Stephen MacPherson who was already serving as the head of ABC Networks. Mark Pedowitz who was serving as the head of ABC Studios will now serve as Senior Advisor to Anne Sweeny (the head of ABC TV and Cable -- Steve MacPherson's boss).

On the surface, this might look like an odd shift, but after studying it a little, you come to realize that it's actually a pretty smart move. This allows Mr. Pedowitz to focus more of his time on figuring out "what's next" in the realm of television viewership while Mr. MacPherson continues his work on the day to day of the existing television landscape. This might give ABC a slight edge over NBC, CBS and Fox in rejiggering their business model to suit an ever changing media world.

Anyway, if you're in the TV world, you know this is big news. Let's hope it serves them well!

Q & A: How Do I Get Started Becoming a Screenwriter?

Friday January 16, 2009
Phil,

I am a former producer for local and national TV (news, sports, entertainment, corporate) and I enjoy writing in general. I have an B.A. in English and Iím told by coworkers and casual friends that I have a talent for writing.

Iíve always been a film fanatic, especially the golden age era of the industry. The recent influx of film production [in my home state] and the daily media stories about Hollywood icons such as Clint Eastwood and George Clooney filming here have spurred me to seriously pursue my interest.

Iíd like to combine my affinity for writing and interest in the film industry and apply them to screenwriting.

Iíve read everything I can about the topic, both online and at the local library.

In your recommendation, what should be my next step? Do you recommend any workshops, online courses, or screenwriting software?

Thank you in advance for your feedback.

ANSWER:

It's officially time to start writing. Screenwriting is not a huge mystery. The hardest part is often just realizing that you're ready to get started. It sounds like you've done your research on exactly what the craft is, so now you need to start practicing.

Writing for the big screen is a format-heavy process. Meaning, it helps to have an understanding of the basic structure and format of a typical screenplay. You can do this simply by reading existing screenplays -- not transcripts, but actual screenplays. You'll quickly get an understanding of how the story, dialogue, characters and scene descriptions are laid out. When you start writing, a good timesaver to consider is to buy a software program that will do the formatting for you such as FINAL DRAFT (available at Amazon.com, FinalDraft.com, and a number of other retailers). There are others out there like SCRIPT THING, MOVIE MAGIC, etc., but FINAL DRAFT has always been my preference and is the first choice of most production companies.

The point though that I really want to get across here is that you just need to start somewhere. Start by figuring out what the beats are to your story. If you don't know the whole story, start by figuring out pieces until it seems like it's coming together. Every writer's process is different than the next and this time will be spent figuring out what process works for you. You may find that starting with an outline makes it easier, or 3x5 cards, or a story timeline, or you might find that you're most comfortable just jumping right into the script. Whatever works for you is what's right. One man's recipe for success in Hollywood is another man's disaster, so you really need to find out what works for you and go with it.

So, no more excuses -- figure out what your story is and start writing -- period. The sooner you do, the sooner you'll hone your craft and have something that is hopefully worth producing.

Good luck!

Interested in Becoming an Actor?

Sunday January 11, 2009
I'm going to be starting a series of articles on what you need to do to get your acting career off the ground. Keep coming back over the next few weeks as I'll be adding to this subject regularly. [p] How to get an agent, what classes you can take, what to avoid and how to get started.

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