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Old August 15th, 2007, 10:16 AM   #1
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For all owners of production companies and others

How is everybody? I have some important questions on how to land a job with a production company. Just a little background about myself. I graduated school at Full Sail in 2002. Shortly after I moved to Chicago and began working freelance on features and shorts. Now I live in Charlotte and am still working freelance on weddings and documentaries, while working full time waiting tables. Jobs are coming few and far between. What I want now is to land a part-time/full-time job with a company.

Now for the questions. I have done a search on local production companies and found some I'd be interested in working for. Where do I start? I have a resume and I need to personalize cover letters, but these companies aren't advertising job openings. Should I send out resumes anyway. What kind of job would I expect to get starting out. I have a wide range of experience in all aspects of film and video. And most importantly, what do employers look for. How do I land this job.

Thanks so much,

Steven
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Old August 16th, 2007, 08:00 AM   #2
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Start with a good demo reel - a must for a videographer. Duplicate it professionally and then visit those places in person, and give them one, accompanied by your resume. Do not wait for them to advertise, most openings are filled by uninvited applicants. Do not mail them the reel, go in person. Most places will not be enthousiast about you, but you never know... they may fall short on staff at one point or another and suddenly remember "that guy with the reel".

Good luck!
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Old August 16th, 2007, 03:43 PM   #3
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When I was in a position involved in hiring there were two basic traits to be considered: Aptitude and attitude.

How good was that person's work?
Did the applicant's personality seem positive?

An employer wants someone that will provide a good return on investment. Having a good set of skills is important but so is trainability. If someone's talented but can't be made to fit within the company's workflow, that's not an ideal candidate.

And a high-maintenance individual is also not a real good choice. There was one staffer who ended up being unreliable and, as a result, the rest of the staff had to work that much harder to get everything done. Needless to say, that individual wasn't popular with the staff or the management.

As a department supervisor I generally wanted to hear positive responses to assignments. If there were problems I wanted to hear that, too but I also wanted to get some solutions or options rather than be told it couldn't be done. Some of the best times we had was when things got tough and we all had to put our heads together to find ways to accomplish the task.

In our shop, initiative counted.

Now that I'm doing a lot of freelance, networking means a LOT. The more people you know, and the more people know the quality of your work and your attitude toward getting it done well, the more likely you are to getting more jobs.

Recently a couple of us were discussing freelance work and it was determined that if two candidates were equally talented -- or even if one was slightly more talented -- the one who had a reputation for getting along with others was the one who was most likely to get picked. Again, has to do with people generally avoiding those who are high maintenance.

I recently did a PSA and the director was just great to work with. The talent was a well-known actor from a TV series currently on the air. Everyone worked together very well. No hassles. No haughty attitudes. In fact, it was fun. No doubt if something else came up along the way we'd all get called back in again.

Whatever you pursue, don't let rejection get you down. You might get turned away the first, second or even third time. But as you develop along the way, and as the industry changes, the paths of perseverance and success will eventually intersect.

Good luck!
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Old August 16th, 2007, 04:39 PM   #4
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Got right to their offices, knock on the door, don't just drop off your reel with the receptionist, but ask for a short meeting with their production manager or human resouce manager and pitch yourself to them.
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Old August 16th, 2007, 10:15 PM   #5
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IMO, there's no substitute...

for in-person introductions. Remember that in-person, people's first impression of you is a lasting one, and that first impression occurs when they first set eyes on you, even before you utter your first word. When that WON'T help is if you cold-call someone out of the blue, but that doesn't mean that cold-calling can't get good results.

When I first got interested in video as a viable 2nd career, I cold-called 3 people one day. (What did I have to lose, right)? All were willing to talk about their experience, and one even offered to take me on as their assistant, simply from speaking on the phone. That's how I got my first gig in this field. After a year, I started acquiring equipment and slowly continued to work on/off for the same indie producer. Since then, and through this indie, I've already taped the mayor of a large city, a federal judge, and am booked for an upcoming gig with the former president of a Fortune 500 company, with smaller gigs along the way. When I felt I'd learned enough, and gained enough confidence to work alone behind the camera, I started seeking work from others, too.

One recent gig I got was for someone who didn't know me from Adam, but was coming from way out west into my general area for a shoot a couple hours away from me. I replied to a forum posting and listed my equipment. He was interested. After a few e-mail exchanges, 2 phone conversations, and me quoting a price, he accepted me, sight unseen and, most surprisingly, without asking for a demo reel. (Which was good for me, because I hadn't assembled one yet). He came almost from the west coast, and only brought his laptop and iPod, trusting that I had all the equipment I claimed I did and knew how to use it for his job. We finished the shoot on time/without delay, and afterward, he told me I was better than my price reflected and I was "good enough to charge more" than the price we agreed on. After the shoot was over, he even ended up paying me more than I quoted. That was a big confidence booster. He was a great guy to work for; I'll never forget him, and the trust he put in me.

I don't know how I've been so lucky, but the moral of the story: don't be shy about putting your best foot forward, and NEVER claim to be able to do/deliver something unless you're absolutely positive you can deliver it.

Different methods will work with different people. If a few tries with 1 method don't get results, try another, even on the same people. I believe that persistence is enthusiasm incognito. Astute people will realize that, so try, try again. (What have you got to lose)?

Good luck, and apologies for the long reply.
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Old August 17th, 2007, 10:34 AM   #6
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So, is it safe to that getting a job with a production company is on a freelance basis, not a daily job? Thanks for the above responses they are all helpful.
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Old August 17th, 2007, 12:40 PM   #7
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Steve, I don't claim to have

garnered the wisdom of the ages, and I've never held a "daily job" in the video field; I've only ever done freelance/indie work in video. (Though I did enjoy a near-30-yr corporate career that had absolutely nothing to do with video).

Re: a "daily job" in video, my impulsive hunch is that (relatively) few of those exist. Based on my limited and narrow experience in this field, unless you're lucky enough to land a spot with a company that produces one or more regularly-scheduled show(s), freelance seems to be how the majority of people start out. Just making up a number that probably isn't accurate, that majority may be 60%, but it's still the majority. But, as many others in this forum can attest, freelance can lead to a daily job. If one had the time, and read through some of the stories here, I suspect you'd find quite a few where folks landed daily jobs, or forsaken them for the freedom, independence, (and relative insecurity) of freelance work.

If you really enjoy this field, and it's what you want to pursue, keep trying. Repeat calls for your help or your work will be the best indicator of how your contributions have been viewed by those you've worked with/for. And, because so much in this business seems to happen from referrals or word-of-mouth, network, network, network.
Best of luck.
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Old August 17th, 2007, 02:06 PM   #8
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One of the things that makes answering your question hard is that there are different kinds of "production companies" and they are organized in different ways.

Some are what I would call "story focused" who are run by and/or employ producers who focus on developing and then producing various story ideas. These companies don't own much in the way camera, grip, audio etc. equipment. They hire freelance directors, camera ops, mixers, grips etc. as needed to complete projects. They then market the project and make most of the money. The people such companies hire are generally those they have good relationships with (or those who have good relationships with those they have good relationships with) from other projects. The people they hire are often likley to belong to a union or guild. Much of the material on TV is produced by such companies as are many feature films. The budgets are large. The companies are culstered in major productions centers -- Hollywood, New York, Philadelphia etc.

Another kind of production company is what I'd call "camera focused" (no pun intended). These companies own a lot in the way of equipment and are more likely to have full-time camera ops etc. These companies often produce TV commercials, corporate videos, event videos etc. The budgets are not nesc. small, but are smaller than feature film/TV program work. They also will hire freelancers as well, of course. I am guessing that there are more camera focused companies in Charlotte than story focused ones.

Between these two types of production there are lots of hyrids. The point is that to know how to sell your services effectively to a production company, you need to know what they produce and how they are organized -- that will tell you a lot about what they are looking for, whether you'll fit, and what the local freelance market will demand.
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