Available Opportunities
Expanding Growth
Getting In
Making Connections
Passion vs. Talent

We all know the word, collaboration. We all agree collaboration yields the best projects/products.

I have written and lectured a ton about finding backdoors into the industry to meet people to collaborate with and learn from. When you’re leaving a concert or theater play, stop by the sound, lighting video console, and congratulate them on a great show. Then strike up a conversation about getting into the industry. The same is true if you’re attending a large event or even a wedding, state fairs or outdoor festivals with live stage shows, all these have lights, sound, and video. Stroll over and introduce yourself. (but never while the gig is active, haha)

You can also try landing a job on a film shoot as an extra or the catering company. Drive an equipment truck for a production rental company. Work in a retail store that sells equipment to the industry.

Anything that will get you to meet people in the business and give you a chance to learn what positions are available and how all those positions work together to produce a show.

That in itself is experience. It’s probably not enough to get you a front-row seat to your career, but at least it will get you into the building. Once you’re inside, you will start accumulating knowledge of how the industry works, and you will be meeting people who are in the game.

One hundred percent of all successful careers are a balance of only two skills, interactive people skills, and practical skills that the industry needs to operate. It takes time to master both of these, but you’ll never develop them until you get into the game at any level.

Suppose you’re only aware of the few top career gigs in the industry, like director, cameraperson, or writer. In that case, you have already limited your chance of kickstarting your career by about eighty percent.

There are thousands of positions available in the industries. Most of them are never mentioned in school or by your peers. Watch the credit roll at the end of a feature movie or episodic series. All those names have landed a position in the industry. There are dozens of more names that don’t make the credits but are part of gig. All those positions may not be the end game for those people, but it at least got them in the game.   

Imagine entering a grocery store you’ve never been to. Now close your eyes, and begin picking things off the shelf to make a meal.

When you get home, open your eyes and open your shopping bag. Now try to make dinner with what’s in the bags. The chances are the random foods you picked up are not going to make a worthwhile dinner or even anything edible.

That’s how most of us try to start our careers. We wander around, taking in random information from people we don’t know, and cannot evaluate the information we are gathering. 

Then once we’ve collected this random information, we try and bake it into a career.

Even school doesn’t give you the exact cooking directions. What they provide is more like the ingredients on the side of a jar or box. Basic quantities, vague combining directions, and a bad picture of how to serve.

The burnout rate in the entertainment production industry is almost 75%. Notice I didn’t say failure rate. Failure rate would mean they were offered tasks that they couldn’t accomplish. Burnout comes in many shapes and sizes. Sometimes it sets in after several years of an exhaustive search to meet the right people. Sometimes it comes from external pressures like a significant other wanting more time to start a life together, student loans, parents not understanding why you don’t have a steady income, friends outside the industry advancing, and then many times just the struggle to find the next gig causes you to lose your motivation.

Whatever the reason, burnout is a real thing. It’s not failure. It’s just the right time to stop. Now comes the million-dollar question, “How do you know when it’s the right time to stop?”. 

The answer to that takes some deep soul-searching balanced with a practical approach. The practical approach I’m speaking of is how important is getting in verse possibly sacrificing other aspects of your life.

I have learned to give myself milestones against a timeframe, “If I’m not at this point in one year, then I’m out.” Or “I need to make this amount of money in two years, or I’m out.” 

If you talk to most veteran professionals in any sector of the biz, they will all tell you that that approach works in theory. What usually happens is you don’t land exactly on the goal, but you get close enough to reset the milestone and the timeline.

The difference between creatives and the rest of the world is we are driven by passion. We love the expressiveness of the biz. We love trying to bring a vision to reality and share it with the world. We love working around and with others who share the same passion. We love the challenge.

Outside of our biz, others work for career advancement, predictable income increases, fixed hours, selectable vacations, etc. Hey, there is nothing wrong with any of those things. As a matter of fact, all of us would love that setup. The only difference is we wouldn’t trade it for what we do.

Almost to a person when a veteran frontline production person is introduced to a younger person looking to get in, they all make the same crack “Take my advice and run. Run as fast and as far as you can away from this business.” Yet after all their years in the business, none of them ever left.  

The good news is the game and the players needed to play the game are constantly in flux. Gigs come, and gigs go. Technology demands new skills and new people with aptitudes to master those skills. Most of those who told you to run have succeeded. They all make a good, if not a great, living. Most of them own property. Have health insurance. Put kids through school. Go on vacations, live a “normal” life and still manage to enjoy the benefits of a life in the biz.

All things are possible if you’re willing to put in the work and be patient.

Fast track your entertainment production career