The biggest catch-22 in Hollywood is that to get a job in entertainment you need experience and to get that experience, you need to get a job! It can be quite frustrating for the Hollywood freshman. So, what can you do to circumvent this issue? Here are four ways you might consider:
- Temporary Entertainment Positions: One of the fastest ways to get the experience you need is to sign up with a "temp agency." Temp agencies will place you in a wide variety of positions within the entertainment industry. Most of these positions are administrative positions such as working as someone's assistant for a few days or weeks. At first glance these jobs might not seem all that glamorous. But it's often the perfect way to get yourself on a studio lot.
You'll not only meet a number of potentially influential people, but you'll be in the perfect position to find out what else might be available that matches a bit more with your career goals. Make sure that when you seek out a temp agency, you find out whether or not they specialize in working with entertainment and/or media companies. You can find out which temp agencies each major studio or network uses by contacting their human resources departments and simply asking the first person that picks up the phone.
- Internships in Entertainment: Most of the major networks and studios offer up a wide variety of internship programs. You don't necessarily need to be in college to take advantage of them either. These programs are in a wide variety of fields from writing and directing to programming and development. If you are a minority then you might look to see what minority specific programs each company might offer. You might be pleasantly surprised by the number of opportunities that you can qualify for. To find out about these programs, simply visit the various corporate websites and under their "jobs" sections you will find a list of available internship programs.
Volunteering: One of the easiest ways to get a bit of experience is to offer to work for free. Almost everyone in the entertainment biz could use an extra pair of hands and if you can afford to forego a paycheck for a bit you'll be greatly surprised by what you can find. For example, if you live in Los Angeles or New York chances are you have driven past a few movie sets. Next time, park your car and walk up to someone on the set and ask if there are any departments that they know of that could use a little free labor. From the camera department to the make up department most movie sets are often shorthanded and more than likely, you'll sign a waiver and be working the same day.
If you live outside of Los Angeles and New York you can find out if there are films or television shows being produced in your area by contacting your local film commission. If your city doesn't have a film commission, check with the county clerk's office.
Become an Independent Producer: Some of the greatest names in Hollywood started out by writing their own rules. They didn't want to have to fetch coffee for Jerry Bruckheimer or work as a production assistant on the latest Spielberg film. They chose to go it on their own from the start. Although it's not a road that is easily travelled, there is certainly much to be said for those individuals who take a chance and risk it all. If you feel that you have a project that you want to get off the ground right now then go for it. Read every book you can get your hands on and educate yourself on the process. Find the money and talent that you need to get your project going. One of my favorite books for nubile producers is The Movie Business Book by Jason E. Squire. Add this to your library if becoming an independent producer sounds like the road for you.
Getting started in the entertainment industry can present a huge set of challenges. But to get the experience you need to get on a true career path consider looking in unorthodox places. If you think about the first two to three years in Hollywood as if you're "studying" for your eventual career, you'll be much more accepting of low paying, but highly educational opportunities.