Breaking Into The Business

So you want to be in pictures?

As you probably know, breaking into the film industry can be tough. Like anything worth doing, it takes time, energy, and dedication, along with an equal measure of passion and persistence. You’ll most likely have to start at the bottom and work your way up. But over the years, we’ve seen hundreds of local folks–no smarter or better looking than you–make it in the business. So go for it! As George Eliot said, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” Here are some tips to help you along the way:

  • Master the art of self-promotion. Never underestimate the power of a strong, literate cover letter. Sell the skills you have. Describe who you are and why you’re appropriate for the business. Let them know what they’ll get if they hire you. Remember, this is a people-oriented business, involving long hours and many demands.
  • Be realistic. You cannot go from zero to blockbuster film director in 60 seconds. Start your job search in areas where you actually have a chance, like companies that produce commercials, industrials, or educational films. People who start in these areas often transition to television and features.
  • Start somewhere…anywhere. Take any entry-level job that’s remotely connected to the film industry. Do your best in the position and try to meet as many people as possible. In this business–perhaps more than any other–who you know may be the fastest route to success.
    Stay current. Sign up for the Washington Filmworks Newsletter and Blog. Also consider subscribing to Media Inc. [(206) 382-9220], and other trade magazines to stay informed about what’s happening in the Washington film industry.
  • Immerse yourself in the industry. Go to seminars and workshops and get involved in local film-related organizations. Consider programming at area film arts organizations, enrolling in Washington's film schools, or attending statewide film festivals.
  • Intern. If you can afford to and are a student matriculating class credit, volunteer your services on a commercial or film/television production as an intern. You’ll gain invaluable experience and make connections with important industry players. Check with your school to make sure you can get credit for an internship.
  • Be professional. Never go anywhere without a small notepad and pen to jot down important information. Make appointments, arrive on time, and send thank you notes. Remember, you need them, not vice versa. Concentrate on ways you can be an asset to the operation. And don’t forget: we’re all in this industry together, so what you do affects all of us. Best of luck!