The short answer is, as always, work for free (or, preferably, intern before you graduate from college), until you have enough experience to get paid.
The truth is, everyone found their first job in a unique way. Maybe they knew someone, like a cousin or uncle in the business; maybe they had a connection from film school; maybe they just happened to walk by a film set right at the moment they needed an extra hand. (Seriously, I’ve heard of this happening.)
There’s no pattern, no set way of climbing the ladder (or, rather, of reaching the ladder in the first place). Yet, people do it all the time.
I’ve gone on record saying I think “breaking in” stories are worthless:
After years of running on the same treadmill, you start to think there must be something you’re missing. Some step you skipped or some trick you just don’t know…
Some secret handshake or codeword. Something that means it’s not all random luck. But the truth is, there is no secret.
It comes down to luck and timing as much as persistence and hard work.
That being said, this blog tends to emphasize the negative. It occurred to me it might be inspiring, or at least less depressing, to tell aspiring film students (and another newbies) a true story of getting a job for the first time in Hollywood.
Now, obviously, I can’t tell my story (anonymity and all that). That’s where you, dear reader, come in. If you’re a working professional, especially one who’s started in the last five years or so, I’d like to hear how you got started. I’ll put a few of these together for a guest post somewhere down the line.
- Shameless plug time! Two of my customers, Brittany and Greg landed an internship and a job (respectively) after using my service. I obviously can’t claim credit for getting them their foot in the door (they’re both smart, capable young people), but they seem to think I helped.↩
- Only much more lame.↩