I just graduated in May and I plan on moving to LA at the soonest possible time. My question, though, is this: what exactly is the best route to producing features? I’ve heard advice to get an office PA job and try my best to attach myself to a producer that will take me under his/her wing, and then I read in your blog that you get it through being an AD1 (starting out as a set PA I assume?).
I know people that have done some good stuff in documentary and independent films… but none in the big budget stuff I want to get into. Any help and advice you can lend would be much appreciate! I’m confident that I can outshine the competition and impress the people in charge — all I need is an idea of a good path to work on from someone who actually knows what they’re doing.
First of all, I don’t actually know what I’m doing. If I did, do you think I’d still be a PA?
In any case, yes, moving up the AD path is one way to become a producer; riding the coattails of a successful producer is another. Or, you could rise up the ranks in a studio or production company, and then switch over to actual producing. And there’s always the possibility of just producing an indie that hits big.
The point is, there are any number of paths leading to the same destination. You don’t want to artificially limit your options now.
And while we’re on the subject of career paths, here’s two more bits of advice– work in the field you aspire to be in as soon as possible. If you want to make independent documentaries, great, go for that. If you want to produce big action movies, look for work on one of those. If you want to create reality shows… may God have mercy on your soul.
Secondly, producing is a very competitive field, and there’s a very real chance you won’t make it. I’m not saying you shouldn’t aspire, but you should be prepared. So, don’t work in a department you hate because you hope someday it will lead to producing.
For example, I could never, ever be an AD; I’m just not wired that way, and I’d be miserable doing it. If I took that job as a stepping stone, I may not actually have anywhere to step to. Then I’d be stuck in a job I hate.
So don’t take a job just because you think you’ll like where it leads. Take it because you like what it is, now.
- I honestly don’t think I’ve ever said this. I may have said ADs become UPMs, who may eventually become line producers and even producers, but I don’t think that’s what Dylan is talking about.↩