When you become in demand on set, you won’t have to expend a ton of energy looking for jobs. Instead, they’ll come looking for you.
When you first start out, you’ll be getting on as many shoots as possible by any means necessary. Student films and short films will be the bulk of the early shoots you get on. During that time, learn as much as you can about every aspect of the film set from the procedures to the lingo/jargon. This will also be the time for you to start thinking about what department you want to vector toward.
Even in our program, people switch between departments at some point in their career and sometimes work at high levels in more than one. For now though, pick one to focus the majority of your attention on, and remember: you don’t need any prior experience whatsoever in that job to start moving toward it.
Become obsessed with that department. The film industry has a mentor culture, so people working in that niche will see that you are driven and be happy to give you advice and train you. Without being obtrusive, ask intelligent questions that demonstrate genuine interest in the job. These questions could be about how and/or when to use certain equipment or what to do when things go wrong. When you think the time is right, you can ask to be a department PA which will give you a huge opportunity to get hands-on training. Professionals interpret that enthusiasm as a desire to move up, and will want to help you.
The way they do that is by referring you work. As they progress in their career, their day rate is going to increase (yours will as well), but they’ll still be getting offers for jobs at their older rates. When professionals turn down a job, they’ll often be asked to refer someone they like and trust, and you want that person to be you.
From the first set you get on, treat your work as a career. Everyone in the industry started as a PA, so make sure to not look down on what you’re doing or treat the work as unimportant. It’s disrespects everyone on set, and the people you are trying to connect with will see that and judge you in a negative way.
Stand out for the right reasons. Be the best version of yourself and you will get noticed and be taken under the wings of people who can help you build a career in production!
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