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Old December 23rd, 2005, 07:29 PM   #1
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Formatting Resumes for Film/DV Work

Please forgive me if this has been covered before, but a quick glance through the search tool didn't turn up much:

I'm trying to update my resume for use in the real world, post-graduation. Does anyone have any tips on balancing and ordering film and non-film employment, and student- and professional film work, in order to cram everything into a single page? Is there an accepted format for film resumes? My college's career center doesn't know what to tell me, and my production professors' resumes are all multipage CV affairs, which don't help much for framing a single-page resume.

Also, on a tangentially-relevant subject: I'm ideally searching for jobs in Toronto or Vancouver. I have Canadian citizenship, but I'm not sure where beyond the obvious (Monster, craigslist, etc) to search for film companies that're hiring, and I know I need to learn more about the union situation in both cities. Any thoughts on where to look beyond what naive googling's already got me? Is there any directory for Canadian film like the little yellow Filmmaker's Handbook in the US? I haven't found one, but I may not be looking in the right places.
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Old December 23rd, 2005, 08:07 PM   #2
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Resumes aren't really all that important. People typically get hired based on word of mouth / somebody knows that you can do good work.

For internships, sometimes you can get hired based on a resume. The person hiring probably has a whole stack of resumes to go through, and it probably skimming them to save time.

At the top of the resume, you should probably put your strongest things there. If your university program has a good reputation, then put it there. Put professional experience at the beginning probably. If you have useful non-video skills, list them. i.e. computer repair- They may not have an IT person, so you might be useful to them for that. Client service experience may also be good.

Figure out what they want to hear (or is good if they hear it) and just focus on that. If they do documentaries, then put the focus on documentaries you've done.

You may not want to list student productions, because everyone assumes they aren't that great.

Name-dropping might help if there's a chance if they've worked with that person before. So you might list professional productions you've worked on, with the names of relevant key people (producer, director, etc.).

2- It's probably just better to network, and get your demo reel out there. If you're hiring, a resume is not a very good indicator of how good someone is. Demo reels and word of mouth / networking are the most common ways people get hired.

3- Interesting point of view: I was talking to an editor who had to hire an assistant editor. He got a whole bunch of resumes, some of which were from people who weren't in the city and wouldn't get hired. Some people sent in demo reels, and that was their downfall. After he saw their work, he immediately didn't consider them. So if you demo reel has lots of student work on it, probably don't send it in (unless it's one of those rare occaisions where the final product is actually good).

4- What line of work are you looking for? (i.e. editing, acting, producing, etc.)

There are a lot of opportunities for non-union work in most areas. And some areas don't have unions at all.

5- Playback magazine will have listings of higher-end film and TV production companies. playbackmag.com

I forget the other listings.
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Old December 24th, 2005, 09:44 AM   #3
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Glenn,
Thanks for the response (and the perspective)!

Regarding your question on career paths, I'm hoping to get involved in terms of editing or cinematography. My greatest asset at this point is that I have a solid mix of artistic and technical skills -- while you're right that student films aren't always of the highest quality, I do have a fair bit of experience, and a pretty good grounding in what works and what doesn't, by now. I know my away around the DVX100/A/B, PD150/etc, and Arri 16mm gear. I'm handy with a soldering iron and I've trained in a metal shop. I built my own 9' jib with an electronic pan/tilt head last spring -- sure, its student work, but it works!). I'm proficient in Final Cut and Premiere, and have a passing familiarity with Avid. I've done some DVD authoring work in DVD Studio Pro, for freelance projects, and I've interned at a post-production/broadcast evaluation house.

Thanks for the playbackmag link, I'm looking into it now. Do you have any Toronto-specific advice for job-hunting? I've been advised I might want to look into applying at gear rental houses, because they have need of people with electric/electronic competence. Anything you can offer in the way of advice would be greatly appreciated!

Cheers,
Ryan
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Old December 24th, 2005, 01:20 PM   #4
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Chuck's film television directory is another listing, although lots of the companies there list themselves in the wrong places.
http://www.post-in-toronto.on.ca/levelone.cgi

Quote:
I built my own 9' jib with an electronic pan/tilt head last spring -- sure, its student work, but it works!).
That is cool, I would put that on your resume and maybe include a picture of it. If you were the employer, I think it would make your resume stand out. How many people build their own jib?

2- Check out the various users groups... it can be a good networking opportunity.
atug.ca - Avid user group, supposedly a lot more pros than the FCP user group.
http://www.frameblender.com/torontofcpug/?page_id=4

There are also probably some Apple and Adobe and manufacturer events like that... I don't know if they're any good.

3- Of the few rental houses I know, check out

cinequip white's
PS (production services?)

sim video
bullet digital
vistek

4- I think these kinds of jobs are competitive anywhere you go. You might have to start interning (usually they don't pay you) and work your way up into the assistant jobs and so on.
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Old December 25th, 2005, 11:52 AM   #5
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Glenn,
Thanks again for your input, and the links/suggestions! I guess the next logical question is "how do you survive while interning, if it comes to that" and the answer seems to be "work a part-time job evenings and weekends." Of course, any other advice on that topic you've got handy would be very appreciated.

Ryan
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Old December 25th, 2005, 12:04 PM   #6
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Nothing wrong with having multiple resumes tuned to specific job categories.

The focus and emphasis really depends on what you have to say (school vs work vs projects), there is no generic answer. It needs to be easy to read, and get right to the point of who you are and what you can do. Always lead with your most important experience. There are lots of theories as to one page, multiple page, first person, third person, yada yada. What is important is that it can be effectively scanned in about 6-10 seconds, because you have to make it past the first cut or nothing else matters. And the first cut happens in about 6-10 seconds. If you are selling edting skills, then your resume should be technically and visually pewrfect, with no errors and no sloppy work. Unless that is how you edit as well....

Remember that the goal of a resume is to get a phone call, and the goal of the phone call is to get the interview. Nobody ever gets hired from the resume, so do not try to make it do too much. Keywords have become very important at bigger companies that scan your resume into a database. If someone is looking for AVID experience, and you do not specifically list AVID as something you know, you don't even get out of the personnel office. At smaller companies this does not matter, but it DOES matter on career websites like monster and hotjobs.

When I was a recruiter, it was amazing to me to see how bad some resumes were, people just had no clue as to what to say or how to say it. Even people looking for $150k/year jobs just needed help, since most people only look at a small number of resumes in their career and write their own only a few times in their life. I often toyed with the idea of doing "consulting" to help people with their resumes, not typing them but just telling them what to say. But anytime I did it, it usually ended up easier to just type it out rather than try to explain it thru ten revisions for the nitwits.

Good Luck.
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Old December 25th, 2005, 02:46 PM   #7
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Well one of the best ways to network is to let all your friends and family know what you want to get into.

Quote:
Thanks again for your input, and the links/suggestions! I guess the next logical question is "how do you survive while interning, if it comes to that" and the answer seems to be "work a part-time job evenings and weekends."
I don't really know the answer myself.
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Old December 27th, 2005, 07:27 AM   #8
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Bob,
Thank you for the advice! I guess the main stylistic question I have is, how should one represent student and professional film/video experience on a resume? My film professors have multi-page resumes that include a list of recent production projects in the format of:

Project Title. Medium (film/dv/etc). TRT. Year. Short description of piece. Other well-known-names attached to project.

I've asked the career services desk on campus, and they have never heard of this (or dealt with film and video work at all) and suggest I don't do it. I think that makes sense, because in all honesty, out of the 10 or so large projects I could list, 3 are freelance jobs that involved filming an event with a multi-camera setup, editing it, and authoring a DVD; 3 are student film projects I wrote and directed; and the remaining 4 are crew credits in other student films. As Glenn was saying before, student films usually aren't that impressive, so I doubt listing the particulars of their production will get me anywhere. However, it is important that employers know that I have a decent amount of production experience. (eg: it may put me ahead of other contenders for an entry-level position who have less time behind a camera and in front of FCP/avid).

Also, career services always suggests that I put my education first (and I understand why, considering Cornell pays their bills) but in previous discussions here, people have pointed out that a BA in film theory/production really doesn't mean that much (if anything) in the industry. So I'm not sure how to put that together, and what I'd put at the top of the list instead. I've worked on many small projects, and that gives me solid experience, but none of them are the sort of thing that'd have name recognition to people outside the Ithaca area.

Any thoughts would be welcome!

Ryan
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Old December 27th, 2005, 08:04 AM   #9
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Without actually seeing your resume, I would say this.

If all your projects were student/unpaid/minor, list your education first.

I think that your role in each project would be important. Don't embellish too much !!! Just say "here is what I have done". The projects you wrote/directed should be available for review if they want to see them. IMHO, listing the projects without your specific role is meaningless (but this is generic resume advice, I have never seen a film resume in my life). I would probably list running time or other details that give reviewer some idea of size of project. Just don't put so much info that you sound impressed with yourself.

Keep in mind that the resume is your calling card to get a phone call to get an interview to get your reel watched (not necessarily in that order). If it raises too many **obvious** questions, then you are dumped into the "bad communicator" bin (round file next to desk). After all, your job will be in the communications field!!

Get your resume "tested" if you can, once you think it is DONE, COMPLETE, (you can't make it any better). Corral someone and ask them to review your resume just for clarity This should not take them more than two minutes. Even someone here might do it for you, even though they can't offer you a job (or especially because of that).
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Old December 27th, 2005, 08:07 AM   #10
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One more thing. In most any field, academics (professors & teachers) have the worst resumes, or else they would actually be doing instead of teaching. Be careful what JOB advice you take from them. Usually they are too long and too self-important.
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Old December 30th, 2005, 08:48 PM   #11
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My two cents, for what it's worth to you, is forget the resume' and get a job in film- period! I never look at resume's when I'm hiring. Never. If I had to read resume's I'd never get any work done. I get dozens and dozens of them every show and when sorting through my paperwork from my in-box, if I see a resume' that tells me how many years they studied film at UBC, or wherever, or how many shorts they've directed or produced, I toss the resume' over my shoulder in frustration. Sorry, but it's the truth. I'm not looking for a director- we already hired one! And the producer hired me- so we got one of those too. When we need more bodies I turn to my Assistant and tell him to find us another PA- usually someone who knows someone.

If you want to be a cinematographer or whatever your passion is, start at the bottom like most people do as a Production Assistant working in film. You get paid a couple of hundred bucks a day and meet people who have the same interests as you and then when you guys have a few bucks and some spare time go make your own little movie where you can be the cinematographer or director. At worst you'll meet people in whatever department you want to be in and that's your in! If your lucky you won't get all caught up in making money and forget why you got into this business to begin with.

Remember; it ain't what you know, it's who you go skiing with on weekends.

Now some of you might be wondering how to get a PA job? Easy, go down to the Directors Guild of Canada office in whatever city you live in and get on their permitee list, which involves taking some day courses so you can legally stop traffic(which you can't legally do in most cities anyway)as well as a set etiquette course or two and then start looking for work. How? Go to any movie set shoot in your city and, armed with the paperwork from the Guild that says you can look for work, ask to speak to the Assistant Location Manager(or Location Manager if he's not at Starbucks)and say hire me or I'll kill you... or something funny to get noticed. I'm half kidding about the killing thing. After you've made a stunning impression, hand them your phone number(not a resume)and a gift certificate to Starbucks. See how easy that was? I know many people will say that it isn't that easy. Well you know what, it is if you want it bad enough. Whenever possible go and meet them face to face.

The point is, start at the bottom and work your way up, meeting people along the way that share your interests in your ideas and yourself. You're only a short conversation away from getting your first job.
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Old December 30th, 2005, 09:24 PM   #12
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Scott, I like that idea. It sounds crazy enough to work! :)
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Old January 4th, 2006, 03:36 PM   #13
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Thanks for the advice, Glenn, Scott, Bob, and others. I really appreciate the pragmatic advice from people who actually have experience in the industry.

So I guess my next step is to get to Toronto and find out about permitee status from DGC.

Cheers,
Ryan Spicer
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