Working in Hollywood can provide the perfect mix of work and time off to enjoy the “chocka” lifestyle. This is one of the few careers that still value the freelance worker giving you plenty of opportunities to have a balance of time off and work while still advancing your career. Travel and interesting experiences are what has kept the pipeline of dreamers arriving in Hollywood steady since the first live action film over 100 years ago.
Deciding to work in Hollywood is not for the thin-skinned or the introvert. This is a game that will take all your social, political, and street smarts to play. My advice for those thinking about moving to Los Angeles or New York? It’s hard, but the prospect of succeeding is exciting. If that overwhelms your fear then you should be there. Before you head out though, ask everyone you know for a name of anyone even remotely connected to the industry. No amount of skill will beat out having the name of someone that is “connected” for your first entry into the Hollywood job market. Network, network, network! and…if you can do any free work on a show of any kind, do it.
You can choose to work in either Film, TV, Reality or Documentary – but once you’ve got your set of contacts and are working in one of those genre’s it can be difficult to move to another one – so decide which genre and role you want -and put all your efforts into it. The hierarchy – from hardest to the easiest genre to enter is – film, scripted TV, documentary, and reality. If you want to travel and freelance with time off between gigs – you’re going to want to work in production and not at a studio or agency, casting director, studio producer, etc. Working in production allows you to move from movie to movie or reality show to reality show and gives you time off in between – theoretically, that is…
Temping is a good way to get your foot in the door if you don’t have any of your own contacts. While they’ll put you in as an assistant at a studio or with an agent or production house – you’ll get to know who’s who, establish contacts, and network your way into the job you want. Although there are many temp agencies, two of the best and most reputable in LA are – Comar Agency & Friedman Agency
You can also try to network by getting placed as an executive assistant or personal assistant – one of the better agencies with placements in LA & NY – The Grapevine Staffing Agency
For a hard core view of the life of a temp – as well as job opportunities, temp agency lists, gossip and more – The Hollywood Temp Diaries
For a no-holds-barred view of the world of a production assistant (PA – who works on sets) and lots of helpful information on getting a job, who-why-what-where (and even a resume service) – The Anonymous Production Assistant
If you want to work on films or TV as an assistant director you can try for the – Director’s Guild training program (offered only in NYC – extremely competitive)
If you want to work on films or TV as an editor you can try for the American Cinema Editor’s intern program (University graduates – extremely competitive)