Within the world of scripted television there are a few different “seasons”.¬† There is staffing season, where all the writers a hired to new shows, and then there is pilot season which is currently happening now.
What is pilot season you ask?¬† Well pilot season is where show pilots begin production and start to pitch to the big networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, CW) near the end of the season.¬† For those of you that don’t know a pilot is a either a full episode or a demo reel of the show being pitched to the network.
Normally you hear of actors flocking to LA and NY for pilot season because it could be their big break, but I got to say, pilot season should be just as important to us production assistants and other crew members as it is to actors.¬† Because of the high amount of pilots being shot there is a good chance you could land a network gig if the pilot you are working on gets picked up.
So instead of sitting around trolling craigslist for your next gig, purchase a copy of Variety or The Hollywood Reporter or even subscribe to email lists like The Mercury Report or Production Weekly.¬† In these publications they list several shows as well as movies that are in development or pre-production and they usually have some form of contact information.
Don’t get discouraged if you don’t hear anything back because if the pilot has already been shot, then the production company is just in the fun waiting game with the network.¬† While some shows may get picked up right away others will have to wait until staffing season in April-June when networks start to officially announce and order their lineup for the next year.
So get those resumes polished up, and your interview clothes ready to go because who knows how many calls you could end up getting.
I have been super MIA lately so I decided to get back into the swing of things with answering Kristi’s reader question:
I just found your blog and I thank you for putting all the information out here. I had a couple of questions I wanted to ask you about becoming a Production Assistant. I have completed several internships within the entertainment industry this past year, and my last internship was with Fox Broadcasting in the department that handles all the reality programming. So I’ve worked on the network side of the business, but I really want to begin working on set, and naturally start at the Production Assistant level.
I have names and contact information of people that are in charge of handling all the hiring of crews and PA’s, but I was wondering when the best time to start reaching out to them would be. For example, a couple of shows that I am interested in working on are on hiatus until January. Do I wait to contact the production managers until early January, or do I start contacting them now? My main question is when do shows start hiring PAs for the season? Do they do all the hiring at the beginning/pre-season, or do they also hire during mid-season?
Thank you so much for any help you can provide!
From what I have found in the past few years of working is that crew and staff hiring seasons for the entertainment industry varies depending on what type of project it is.
In general the staffing season for scripted tv is May-June.¬† In May is when all of the networks announce their fall schedules of what shows they are picking up and which ones are re-newed or cancelled.¬† During this time is when you should be sending your resume to everyone you know in the industry.¬† Some shows do come on mid-season so in January there is a small window of available work.¬† After that they will only hire when someone either is fired or promoted.
Reality tv works a little differently since they only air for half of a television season.¬† This means throughout the year more reality jobs can be found because they are constantly going into production.¬† There is a down-time though which is generally November to the end of December because of the holidays.
Films I have noticed go into production during seasons like Winter 2011 or¬† Spring 2012.¬† Your best bet for looking for film crew jobs is to start looking in November for the Winter ones and February for the Spring ones.¬† The best places to find out about movies going into production are usually subscription services.¬† My favorite ones I have found are productionweekly.com and mercuryreport.net.¬† You can also buy Variety magazine or The Hollywood Reporter which have a list of things going into production.
As for your contacts I would say that if they are starting production in January then they will probably begin to hire crew sometime in December.¬† I would suggest contacting them mid-December with your resume and let them know that you are available and would love to work with them.
If you are really interested in working for reality tv there are also a few websites that are good to constantly check to see who is hiring.¬† My favorite are realitystaff.com which is free and media-match.com which you have to pay a monthly fee for.
If you work on a scripted production, whether it is a commercial, television show or movie there will be person on set called a Script Supervisor, or a Scripty.
This person I think is an invaluable member of the production crew.¬† The scripty is the one that is checking all the continuity of your project, and they are the eyes and the ears for the editor on set.
If you still don’t get what I am talking about think about the movie Ocean’s Eleven the remake with George Clooney and Brad Pitt.¬† There is a scene where Julia Roberts is walking downstairs and Brad Pitt and Matt Damon are watching her.¬† As the scene cuts back and forth between Julia and Brad, Brad is holding different food items each time it cuts back to him.¬† This is a continuity error in the film.¬† This is bad because it takes the audience out of the story.
Now do you see why a scripty’s job is so important?
If you ever have had a chance to look at a scripty’s notes there are usually a ton of lines and squiggles marked on their script making it look like a child decided to draw on their papers.¬† These squiggles and lines actually provide very specific information to them and the editors.
Check out the video below where the Script Supervisor from Numb3rs explains her notes.
The current show I am on is completing production in about a month or so, and I am now entering what I like to call the find work panic.
It is always at this point in time when I start to hear other crew members already talking about their next gigs and unfortunately I have no idea what I am going to be doing after this yet.¬† I start to have minor panic attacks as I realize, well crap I have to find another gig too.
To ease this find work panic I start to email everyone, and I mean everyone I know in the industry letting them know my availability.¬† Most of these contacts are people I have worked with before and hopefully one of them will know of another show crewing up around the time that I am available.¬† I cannot stress enough oh important it is to keep up with people you have worked with before.¬† This entire industry runs by word of mouth and recommendations.
This time I thought I would utilize my blog as well, so starting mid-September/ October I will be available for work!¬† If anyone knows of anything please send the info on over
The 48 hour film project is a festival where teams write, shoot and edit a short film all in 48 hours.¬† Now to those that aren’t that familiar with the filmmaking process you might think that 48 hours is a long time so it should be a pretty easy task to complete a 5-7 minute film.
I can assure you..it is not.
I was lucky enough to participate in this whirlwind of a festival two weekends ago and I have to say that I am now finally catching back up on my sleep. The screenings start to take place this week and I am so excited to see what the other teams accomplished.
I have to say that I highly recommend anyone and everyone to participate in the 48 hr film project.¬† The festival tours the country so I am certain there will be a one taking place near you.¬† As another incentive, if you win your city you get a chance to win the national competition to screen at Cannes Film Festival.
I love this festival because it forces you to do what everyone in this industry always talks about, making their own film.¬† I cannot tell you how much you will learn and how fun it is to create a concept and see it air on the big screen.
To find out more information about 48 hr film festival check out their website.
Good luck to all of those teams that are screening this week!
It is not a misconception that the film and tv industry is a mostly male dominated work place.¬† Each department has their exceptions however the camera department is usually the most male dominated area of them all.
That being said when I see a female DP, camera operator or a female AC I get super excited and happy.¬† I have so much respect for them because I know how hard it must have been for them to get where they are and to be taken seriously.
I am proud to say that on the show I am currently working on we have not one, but two amazing female camera operators and one amazing female AC.¬† To me this is a huge achievement because the cameras that we are using weigh about as much as a small child.
I can tell you from exprience that¬† carrying those things on your shoulder is not an easy task and it can get extremely tiring.¬† These three amazing women are working 10 hour shifts running up and down stairs in this oddly designed house we are shooting in and they are all holding their own compared to the other male operators and ac’s.
So to all of the women out there, do not let this male dominated industry scare you.¬† These three women are proof that you can hold your own with the boys club.¬† Do not get discouraged and give up. ¬† They worked hard and are now out there shooting, so why can’t you?
This past week was the annual Comic Con in San Diego.¬† For years comic con has been solely for comic books and the nerds that love them, however, in the last few years video games, tv and movies have slowly been taking over the convention.
Comic con is now becoming an amazing networking opportunity for anyone in our industry. ¬† Since pretty much every huge tv show and new blockbuster has either a panel or a booth for you to attend there are several opportunities for you to speak with some very important people.¬† Also you never know who you will meet while standing in the 5 hour line to see a sneak peek of Breaking Dawn.
So while you are getting your fill of geekiness while playing Uncharted 3 or looking at extremely expensive and rare comic books remember that anyone that you meet or run into could potentially help you with your career.¬† Make sure you have a ton of business cards to pass out in case the opportunity arises.
But Rachel, comic con is expensive to attend and the badges sell out in a matter of minutes on their website.¬† How do I even attend? Well if you have a respectable credit on your resume you can apply for an industry badge which from what I hear is free but don’t quote me on that.¬† Also if you want to bypass the craziness inside there are several things happening right outside the convention center.
Just remember to make friends, because as I’ve said before friends are going to get you your next gig, not someone you just hand your card to. I will see you all at comic con 2012!
It has usually been common knowledge that the way to make it in the entertainment industry is to move to one of the two big hubs, New York or Los Angeles.¬† Believe it or not though many people do live outside of these cities and are still able to work and thrive in this industry.¬† Take for example, yours truly.
I started out in this industry in Miami, FL.¬† After graduating from University of Miami I was too nervous to leave my comfort zone for the last 4 years and make the big move to LA like most of my fellow classmates did.¬† I started out at a talent agency and eventually moved on to freelance production.¬† Thanks to tax incentives created in Florida more productions started to move down there and I was able to step away from the talent and casting side to production.
After a few years I finally decided to make the move to the west coast but I was hesitant about moving to LA.¬† I visited LA a few times over the years and even considered going to college out there but to tell you the truth I actually despise LA.¬† It really is just not my scene.¬† So I decided to move to San Diego instead.
In San Diego I have been fortunate enough to find work in both places, especially with reality television shows because most of them are travel shows anyway.¬† Does this mean I will never move to LA?¬† Who knows.. but for now I am able to work in both places and I am extremely happy.
As for others that have made it outside of LA take for example Gabriel de Jesus who is a screenwriter living in Puerto Rico.¬† Gabriel made it to the finals of the Nicholl Fellowship competition.¬† Read an article about his exprience on John August’s blog here.
Is it easier to make in LA?¬† Yes, since the number of jobs available is higher.¬† However, that does not mean that you do not have a shot outside of the big city.¬† Look into your local film commissions, and check out various websites like craigslist, media-match and entertainmentcareers.net.
Keep at it and eventually you will be able to make it no matter where you live.
TAPA has a blog post up yesterday that really made me sit back and think.¬† TAPA explained how he currently has a job as an office pa on a movie that will last him until the end of the year.¬† Recently he got an offer to work as a director’s assistant on a low budget horror film which he was ecstatic about.¬† When he went to the interview he found out that the job would only last him 8 weeks, and he sadly had to turn down this dream position because he couldn’t afford to have that job and he decided to stay in his current position as office pa.
I started to think what would I do if I were in this position?¬† It made me think of my predicament of being stuck on a hamster wheel and how I would love to be offered a different position.¬† Would I bite the bullet and take the job knowing it would help further my career or would I stay at the steady job so I could pay all of my bills?
This is such a tough decision that I feel that a lot of people in our industry have to make.¬† At what point do we need to start thinking about moving up in our careers and taking the gigs that don’t last that long over taking the steady ones in positions we have done countless times before?
I completely understand TAPA’s decision and I have to say I don’t blame him for staying in the longer gig, however, I think I may have taken the director’s assistant position and dealt with finding money to pay my bills afterwards.
Walt Disney said “All of our dreams can come true- if you have the courage to pursue them” and I agree with Mr. Disney 100%.¬† We have to have the courage to take the chance for our dream jobs to happen.¬† If we do not then we will remain in the dreaded hamster wheel and never truly get to where we want to be.