Exec Assistant? - Complications Ensue
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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Q. I am from India.

I have written, directed, produced, camera operated, edited and acted in a 110 minutes documentary feature.

I'll be soon completing my MBA.

I want to work as an Executive Assistant to VP in Hollywood.

What is the salary I should expect for the post of Executive Assistant?
First of all, I think it's great that you're willing to work as an assistant. You're right that a documentary feature and an MBA aren't enough to walk into an above-entry-level job in Ho'wood, especially when you're from overseas. You need connections, and a sense of the industry, and working as an assistant (especially in an agency) is a great way to get those.

I have no idea what an assistant makes, but there are employment agencies that specialize in show business. (Maybe my readers can fill me in which are active.) They will know. I don't think anyone gets a job from the classifieds in VARIETY or THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, but employment agencies wouldn't be in business if they didn't fill jobs. I never got a permanent job from an employment agency, but I did get a bunch of temp jobs here and there in the biz. Some of them were really lousy (the billing department at Disney?) but some of them could have turned into something permanent (assistant to the video marketing director at New Line?) if I'd wanted to work in a big company. At any rate, you need a foot in the door.

Right now, of course, is the worst imaginable time to try to get work in show business, because so many people are laid off. But God willing the Axis of Six will come to their senses and offer the writers a fair-ish deal and everyone will be working overtime to make up for lost time.

There's also EntertainmentCareers.net and ShowBizJobs.com, which should have listings; though again, who knows if people actually get jobs out of them. Almost all jobs in showbiz are filled through relationships.

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3 Comments:

There are a lot of independent distributors and prodco's in LA that would welcome someone who is bilingual -- especially in a territory they are trying to crack in sales.

And there are more and more opportunities every day to work for the studios in India as several have set up studio infrastructure/ co-pro deals. There will be Hollywood execs who will need assistants there in India as they travel back and forth.

That to me would be an opportunity to market yourself.

Good luck!

By Blogger Bill Cunningham, at 1:48 PM  

Starting assistant salaries at agencies/studios/production companies generally range from $20,000-$30,000 a year. (I work in the mailroom and make even less.) It's not much, especially when LA rent for a decent place is usually a minimum of $700/month and you're going to be filling up your gas tank every week. Sometimes there are perks...bigger companies offer health benefits. PAs/Runners will make extra money for mileage and often work overtime. And many places keep stocked kitchens or buy their assistants lunch. But nobody makes much money. You have to remember that it's really competitive and everyone is a hard worker with a degree, good connections and experience. It's a glamour industry that everyone wants to be a part of; if you aren't willing to do a lot of work for cheap, someone else surely will.

By Blogger Amanda, at 9:04 PM  

Also -

Industry websites and even the UTA list rarely result in interviews, but you never know. I applied for 50-60 jobs off them and got 4 or 5 calls. Just make a cover letter template so you don't waste too much time.

Employment agencies that specialize in entertainment are The Friedman Agency -
http://www.friedmanpersonnel.com and Star Staffing -
http://www.starstaffingservices.com

I had a negative experience with Friedman, but they did get me an interview at William Morris Agency. A few friends of mine got jobs at Paramount and the American Film Market through Star, which they really liked.

By Blogger Amanda, at 9:09 PM  

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