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A Film Career Requires Knowledge and Perseverance

Kenna wrote, and directed several plays, taught acting for kids. She is a former talent scout and directs and produces.

Know the Industry

Whatever profession you decide to be in the film industry, whether in front of the camera or behind the camera, the more you study and learn about the industry, the more likely you will be successful. Study it well and gain more knowledge about your job.

Learning and knowing your profession explains why some directors are one-hit wonders. They direct a hit movie or two and are never heard of again. They couldn't continue working in the right direction because they didn't study their craft to know why their film was a hit.

As you gain experience, you will be like one of the professionals, living a life as a director or camera person. You may find yourself in the exact place you have dreamed of your whole life. If you keep your nose clean, the knowledge you have of the industry will keep you stable. And you will work into your golden years.

Dress for Success

Dress for Success

Dress Code

People who work behind the scenes in the film industry do not dress formally, but they can't look careless or ineffective. So, wearing down is the style for film crews. Lawyers, lobbyists, stockbrokers, and executives dress for success. But, Hollywood is a little more extreme in images.

To find your dress code, check out what the top people in your chosen position wear on the set. There are different looks for different jobs. Studio producers and agents don't look like cinematographers or gaffers.

The jobs in Hollywood are creative. The aim is to look expensive while wearing play clothes. It is costly yet casual and hip. Fashion is being in the spirit of the time.


What to Wear to Your Job Interview

What about traditional wear? When a suit and tie walks onto the set, there are murmurs of "Heads up. There are suits on the set." It is not a complimentary term. But, typically, many creative executives and most business executives, agents, lawyers, and accountants are "suits."

You must pay attention to the fashionable dress of the top people in your chosen position. But, it is also beneficial to develop a look that is all your own. Then, people remember you because you stand out from the crowd. Personal image consultants in the film industry or costume designers can help you find a look that suits you because you certainly would not want your "new" look to backfire.

Hollywood is almost inconceivably conscious of looks. It is not surprising to think about how the industry manufactures visual imagery. When you go to the interview, you will be judged by what you wear, so it's best to present yourself carefully and the way you wish to look. If you apply for a production assistant position, you will not wear a suit or tie. Decent shoes, clean jeans, a clean t-shirt, and flannel are appropriate.

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Learning on the Job

Learning on the Job

Working at Movie Lab

Growing up, Brian was never really into movies. He was more into soccer and boy scouts. After high school, Brian got a job in the shipping department at Technicolor. He did the packing and logging of shipments. Then, he got another job in the shipping department at Movie Lab.

After working at Movie Lab for a while, Brian heard about an optical timer's assistant opening. They needed someone to take notes on the timer. He would go to the screening and write down what people said and what happened to the film. He worked with the timers for about three years.

Optical Effect Timing

From there, Brian got a job as a timer. He made sure that the dailies looked like the rest of the film for the movie. Now, he is doing the timing of the optical effect for movies.

There are no optical effect timing classes in schools. According to Brian, you can't learn how to do it by reading a book. Like most jobs in the movies, you learn on the job. But if you are determined, you can get into this field.

Brian started with an entry-level position. While he worked, he watched what was going on around him and asked questions. This tactic worked for him. It could work for you.

Working as an Extra

Working as an Extra

Things to Know

So, you want to know what it is like to work as an extra in a film. Well, there aren't too many Film-Extra Gurus in this world because it's not all that glamorous or lucrative. I have worked on a few movies, but it doesn't make me an expert. However, I can tell you there are some things you should know.

  1. When you go to the casting call, make sure, even if they don't have it on there, you list your experience. For example, if you have done films, put down the film title, how many hours you worked, training, credits and so forth.
  2. If you get the callback, make sure you get to know the casting directors/agents. One woman I know who worked as an extra made sure she knew the casting director well. She told the first casting directors she met while on a film that she was available day and night. She didn't care about the hours. They considered that because for three straight nights, she filmed from 5 p.m. until 7 a.m. She went back and shot eight times after that.
  3. Always be prompt for the casting call. I know for a fact that this matters. One extra told me he learned on his third day filming that if they say 7:30 a.m., they mean 7:30 a.m. He came at approximately 8:40 or so, and they had already started filming. He didn't get to work on the film until they finished shooting the shot, which can sometimes take all day.
  4. Have the right attitude about it. I never look tired or bored. Make sure you don't complain. Especially if you were in the shot, but they moved you, so now you aren't. Always follow directions. If they say "QUIET ON THE SET," they mean quiet. You get pulled off the set if you don't follow these rules.
  5. Finally, have fun and smile. It's supposed to be a fun and enjoyable experience. Plus, you get to meet the stars.
Casting Directors

Casting Directors

Casting Director

The casting director is another preproduction job that requires a strong understanding of the script and a keen eye for talent. Directors set guidelines for the "types" they are looking for, and the casting director selects actors and brings them to audition for the director, who makes the final selection. The casting director must know the actors' abilities and communicate them to the director. In turn, the director must provide feedback to the casting director, so the casting director knows whether they are on the right track.

Casting directors need to be an actor's best friend. If an actor hits it off well with a casting director, it could determine whether they will get a part in a feature film.

Supervising Extras on Set

Casting directors have to have excellent people skills because they sometimes deal with large crowds of people a one time. Sometimes casting directors are looking for temp workers, like when they have a big production coming to town and need someone in the office to sit at the desk and make a thousand calls to pull in five hundred extras for a big shot in a couple of days.

Also, casting directors need to supervise the extras on the set, which entails making sure the background actors don't leave their holding area and behave throughout the shoot. When an actor plays an extra, there is a lot of waiting around, and sometimes waiting around can lead to trouble. The casting director must make sure all the extras behave and understand what it takes to be an extra in a film.

Clean Hands

If you want to build a career in the film industry, you need to know about the business. Study, listen, network, and build bridges. You will get there as long as you follow the rules and keep your hands clean.

Questions & Answers

Question: What should I put on my resume, so I can get a job in the film industry?

Answer: Remember there are lots of other people out there who want this job. Your resume needs to look professional, readable, and tell the truth. You included your name, phone number, education, work experience, skills, activities, and interests. Any experience you have in similar professions include it. For example, you were part of the stage crew for High School or college productions. You help set up a stage for a local band or did lights for a local Christmas show.

© 2016 Kenna McHugh


Kenna McHugh (author) from Northern California on November 26, 2018:

Vin, Thank you for visiting my site. Yes. Being a casting director is hard work. But, it pays off in many ways because you are in a creative field and the perks are many. Keep in mind, you need to live in a city where there is a tremendous about of film production for you to earn a decent living.

Vin on November 26, 2018:

Thank you for a very informative article. I find your information helpful. I want to be a casting director. It sounds like a good fit for me. Is it hard to be a casting director?

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