Complications Ensue:
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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Let's say I tracked down the production office addresses of some shows, along with the business phone and fax numbers/names and titles of some folks at work on these shows. What, would you say, is the best way to ship them my resume and get it into the right person's hands? Without getting it burned and danced upon? I'm trying to think of a professional, classy, non-creepy way to do this. Do you think faxing a cover letter and resume (addressed to each production coordinator, I'm guessing?) to the production offices will do? I'd guess these people are already bombarded with cold callers' resumes. And I actually hate bugging people. But letting this information go to waste feels spineless.
This is a tough way to break in. You're right, they're probably bombarded with cold calls and faxes. (Wow. People still fax things?) And generally by the time you hear about a production, it's staffed up. And you're right: contacting the individual production coordinator is slightly better. I'm guessing that walking a paper resume in the door would probably do heaps better, assuming you're perky and presentable. But how would you get in that door? And that's a huge investment of time. Really the way to get hired onto a show is to know somebody on the show. If you don't know anybody, the usual way is to offer to intern. Most people will listen to an overqualified person willing to intern. I have to say, though, that being a p.a. on a show is a bit overrated. There's a big divide between production and producing. Producing is mostly about development and working in regular offices. A writer can learn a lot from working for a producer. However, a writer doesn't learn that much from being a p.a. It gives you some stories to tell, but the people on a shoot, with the exception of the director, have almost nothing to do with how a show gets greenlit. The job you really want, assuming you're a writer, is writer's assistant, or writer's intern. Those jobs are even harder to get. Readers: I'm not being very helpful here. Does anyone want to share their wisdom? UPDATE: The comments below are FAR more useful than my post.


I've been an office PA on a bunch of shows and let me tell you, this is probably the hardest way to get a job. 99.9% of the time every position is set before you can even dig up a fax number. In the rare case that someone cancels or there's an opening then everyone on staff is quick to recommend their cousin, aunt or old roommate for the job. I've never seen anyone get an interview from faxing or e-mailing in a resume. Has it happened in the history of television production? Probably, but not to anyone I know. I've known production coordinators who look at the resumes but I've never seen them call anyone.

Hand delivering is going to be hard or impossible. Many of these offices are on studio lots and you're only going to hand the resume to a PA, not to anyone who can make a decision. So you might as well save your gas and B&E skills for another purpose.

To sound like a broken record the only way to get these jobs is to know someone, preferably the coordinator, assistant coordinator or a producer. Milk every one of your contacts both in and outside the industry over the next few months. People will be getting pilot orders soon and it'll soon be a good time to get work on a pilot.

Why be an office PA if you're going to be a writer? It's all about the networking. You will learn a large amount about how a show runs, which will be helpful if you ever get some producing duties and you'll meet absolutely everyone from the costume folks to the writers to the transportation guys. You'll make so many contacts that can be helpful to you in the long run and if you're trying to get that writer's assistant job or get a show of your own made.

Another benefit of being an office PA is that you almost always have a computer. During quiet periods I've managed to get a lot of writing done. So in some weird way, I got paid to write!

Best of luck to all of you. The hours are long, the work alternates between insane and boring and the personalities can be a lot to handle. But if this is what you want to do, it's a good way to get started.

Hope that's all helpful.


By Blogger Eitan Loewenstein, at 1:45 PM  

I'd mostly echo Eitan's comments. As a former office PA, I can all but guarantee this approach won't work. By the time everything is rolling, we're already inundated with resumes from people the staff already knows. And even they won't typically get calls. When the need for an additional PA comes up, the rally cry is, "Know anyone?" -- without so much a glance at a resume.

For a job like this, I'd recommend interning some place, or taking classes somewhere and meeting people. You just kind of have to know someone. But don't let that scare you.

"Knowing someone" doesn't mean you're somehow connected to the industry or have someone shepherding you in. It just means finding another person like you. Having friends. Sharing interests. If you love movies and you're in LA, or a production heavy area, you'll eventually become friends with someone who can help you. More importantly, someone who will want to help you. Because you're friends, and that's what friends do.

As far as writing, I found being an office PA helpful. It gives you a look at the layout of the battlefield. You get to coordinate with all the departments. See how they work. How they function. You won't get to see how movies are developed, but you'll see how they're made. And it can be pretty interesting. Certainly demystifies the process. Because it's crazy.

I found it difficult to write on the job, but I know a lot of people can. Might just be a process thing. When I write, I like to really zone in. Really focus. And it's nearly impossible with that damn phone always ringing...

Anyway, good luck out there! Hope it all goes well!

By Blogger D, at 10:09 PM  

tI just moved to NYC to pursue film...I moved from KY. My contacts upon arrival? ZERO
BUT! Take heart there are ways around "The ZERO".
1) $650 = Hi-Def DSLR camera (lightly used) + 3 lenses (close, mid, wide) + shotgun mic + Premiere Elements (or for $200 more get Final Cut X; it's now $299) + tripod = MAKE SOMETHING, submit it to a festival and get experience as well as an imdb credit (submission without acceptance STILL gets you an IMDB credit)
2) Your new camera and initiative will get you friends who like DOING stuff (instead of TALKING ABOUT stuff). Now, you've got the beginning of a film club/ starts with one. And, you don't seem as needy.
3)NYC has this program called REEL JOBS (google it, it's free) and they guarantee a certificate and 2 years of job assistance. But, this is for people who really are at ZERO. If you have a film degree, a masters degree or any significant connection to film they will not accept you. They said they've place over 300 graduates (it's a five week class) into PA positions.
4) I've been in NYC 9 days and I've met 3 people who work in film. Are we best friends? No...not yet ;) But, turns out the guy who works for Focus Features really likes Explosions in the Sky, and hey! I do, too! We're getting beers Friday. Where did I meet them? Church, apartment building, a friend of a friend of my wife.
5)There's always the script competitions: Nicholl, Sundance Screen Institute, Warner Bros Writer's Wrkshop
At the end of the day, how long have I been at this? I just MOVED to NYC, but I've been working at this for no less than 4 years by writing consistently, starting 2 writer's groups, taking continuing ed classes on screenwriting, meeting other film lovers and acting in their dumb projects. I think the important thing've got to be prepared for the long game, set reasonable goals and achieve them. Then, when you finally get that connection worth its weight in gold you won't smell of desperation and you'll be ready. In the meantime, have some fun experimenting and producing! Chickpeas and Ramen ain't so bad.

By Blogger Unknown, at 3:25 PM  

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