GUIDANCE – MANAGEMENT, PRODUCTION, TECHNICIANS & CREW
This section covers all aspects of the entertainment business where you are working in support of a production, we offer guidance in getting started and have isolated a few important things which are essential if you want a career in this industry.
We intend to provide you with an introduction to the business and to help in organizing your approach to obtaining the employment you want. We can direct you to the essential contacts and give the answers to many of the questions you may have.
All events produced and constructed for stage, television, film, the fashion industry or even a car show – require many highly talented specialists. This support includes people required in: accounting and budgeting, set design, lighting and sound crews, right down to arranging for crew support vehicles. This will include everything that is normally referred to in theatrical accounting terms as ‘below the line”.
If you are looking for a career in management, production or you have any specific technical experience or talent - read on.
When considering entering the entertainment business the process appears very daunting and it is difficult to know where to start. We can provide assistance with the following:
- What are the necessary qualifications
- Where can the training, guidance and experience be obtained
- Joining a Union
- Needing the services of an agent
- Obtaining interviews
- Avoiding being taken advantage of
It is our intent, at the start, to help organize your thinking and to provide you with an introduction into the business. In the past much of this business has remained somewhat behind the curtains, in that, it has been covered in mystery. Our job is to open the curtains and guide you in such a way as to provide clarity into the industry, its contacts and answer as many questions as possible.
In this section we will concentrate on ‘Management, Production, Technicians and Crew'. Stay with us as we introduce you to some of the common issues facing anyone wishing to work in the entertainment industry (all those seeking work in front of an audience or camera - see the Section for: Performing –Dramatic Arts).
THE POINT OF DECISION
There is a right way and a wrong way to proceed. Most famous entertainers worked at regular jobs before getting their big break. They scrimped and saved money for classes, photographs and bus fare to auditions. The cliché “The struggling actor” is true. So, in order to keep the struggling to a minimum you must adopt practical ways to administer your time and money.
Perhaps you have finished your schooling and you now know a bit about the industry and how it functions. But did you spend any time in learning about “the business”? It isn't exactly glamorous but it is necessary – you must know something about legal and financial issues, from taxes to contracts. You may be confronted with dealing with Agents and Managers to mention a few. Now that information technology has become a daily part of our lives you must learn how to make the best use of it. It can be very helpful in keeping you organized, keeping track of appointments, time scheduling and in getting you to appointments on time.
So, you've decided this is the industry you wish to work in. What you don't do is to jump on the first plane and fly to the closest large city in the hope that this is where it happens and perhaps where you will be offered work. Forget it! It doesn't work like that.
It is also important to learn the proper etiquette----about contacting employers and production companies.
Many new people to the business obsess about whether to join the union and when is the best time. What are the pluses and minuses of working outside of the union?
Before joining a union, try as many different environments as you can – such as working through the school, as a student or working in independent films. Also, speak to seasoned workers about the reality of making a living in this business. Experience will also help solidify your conviction with your chosen skill. Before you spend thousands to join a union, be sure this is what you want to do.
Experience counts: in small films and stage productions, you learn professional behaviour while developing your craft and gaining credits for your resume.
When you are ready for union membership; remember to study their contracts and policies carefully before becoming a union member. The major unions are strict about their rules regarding membership, so follow them carefully.
It is essential to be properly prepared which means that you need professional training. In this section you will find helpful links to many of the Courses offered by Universities and, or private schools. Whether you take classes at a local college or school, you'll need to learn the basics of the industry and of your chosen field.
Be prepared to get yourself in shape; eat, sleep, and live a healthy life. The craft you are about to undertake will be physically demanding, so start with a proper exercise regime. You may need to acquire special tools of your chosen field so be prepared for the expense. You may be required to secure various licenses and/or degrees showing your level of scholastic achievement.
Let us speak of the very basic of experiences. Work on as many amateur productions as possible. School plays are a great start, as is community theatre. If not, find a local college that offers filmmaking classes and volunteer to work on student films. Depending on your chosen profession you may wish to seek experience in projects which will enhance your resume.
This is an extensive area covering everything from local work to contract work for projects demanding a higher level of expertise. The main thing is to constantly work to expand your area of knowledge and skills. Always remember something as basic as a Driver's License can be surprisingly helpful.
RESUME'S / HEADSHOTS:
These are essential tools used to present yourself to the professional bodies. You may feel that in your field of expertise a photograph of you is not necessary, but we are speaking of the entertainment business and in this industry they like to know if the person they are speaking with is someone they recognize. Many times a Crew Manager has to deal with several hundred people in a crew for even an hour long television program. He might not remember your name but may recognize your face. So, you may secure work just by being remembered by the man doing the hiring. Once you have your headshot you may either use it separately or have it imprinted on your resume. This is an asset when used to directly approach production companies or crew listing agents. Alternatively you may choose to have a professional service make the approach on your behalf; such a service is offered by PRO-ACTIVE.
This is a tough part of the industry and unless you are experienced and have been accepted as part of a pre-selected crew; there is no escape. You must be properly prepared so study the section on this carefully. It is a skill you need to learn.
Most people working in the entertainment business, at some point, move to a large city where there are usually more jobs available. However, large cities are notoriously expensive; so make sure you have saved several thousand dollars before making the trip.
Be very careful and be wary of strange proposals it is not only the inexperienced young actors, singers and musicians who are at risk. Be wary of strange proposals, especially ones which sound to good. Such as, in an ad, someone promises you work with a major production company, guaranteed to wow Spielberg's people. Perhaps they will offer you training that asures you work at some major Theater. Sounds so easy, that's when your red alert should start flashing. Scammers prey on your most vulnerable points: your passion and your inexperience. The scammers' greatest asset is their ability to surprise you, playing on your ignorance of how the business works in order to take advantage of you and steal your money.
To arm yourself against the most common scams – as well as new and usual ones – check the Scam Alerts site, which will be updated regularly. Keeping you informed is the best way to prevent being fleeced by unscrupulous folks.