Two Sides to Hollywood

someone contacts me about my resume service, the first thing I ask is, “Do you want to be a PA, or an assistant?” Because, you see, there are two sides to Hollywood: the business side, and the production side.

Here, I’m using “production” in the broadest sense, encompassing every department from art to editorial. These are the people who actually make the film.1

The business side is populated with people we in production call “suits.” Agents, managers, executives, distributors, people like that. These are the folks who make top-level decisions, like what movies get made and what shows go on the air. They make business deals, negotiating talent fees and distribution rights.1

The two sides interact at some points. Development executives work with writers and directors; financiers and studio execs oversee producers. But beyond that, the connections between these two worlds is limited. Most suits can’t tell a grip from an electrician, and most G&E guys don’t know the difference between the various types of accountants.

Their lives are drastically different. The business side is very much like a traditional job. You go to work at the same time every day, at the same place every day, probably wearing the eponymous suit. In production, your days tend to be longer; you never know when you’re starting or where you’ll be shooting more than a few days in advance (at best); and your job lasts only as long as the shoot. Once the film is complete,3 you’re out of a job and off looking for a new one.

Freelancing is tough. It’s not for everyone. I can definitely see the appeal of the business side– having full-time employment with benefits over the Christmas break would be nice. Personally, I really enjoy the unpredictability and excitement of set. Of course, I may not always feel that way.

If production is starting to sound daunting, and maybe you want to get into the business side of things, I recommend checking out Hired in Hollywood. It’s a free online training session for people who want to work on that side of the fence. The next session, which focuses on the January hiring rush, is tonight, so sign up now.

[[2]]You’ll learn more about these people on KCRW’s aptly named show, The Business.[[2]]

Footnotes    (↩ returns to text)

  1. We interview these types of people on Crew Call every week.
  2. someone contacts me about my resume service, the first thing I ask is, “Do you want to be a PA, or an assistant?” Because, you see, there are two sides to Hollywood: the business side, and the production side.

    Here, I’m using “production” in the broadest sense, encompassing every department from art to editorial. These are the people who actually make the film.1

    The business side is populated with people we in production call “suits.” Agents, managers, executives, distributors, people like that. These are the folks who make top-level decisions, like what movies get made and what shows go on the air. They make business deals, negotiating talent fees and distribution rights.1

    The two sides interact at some points. Development executives work with writers and directors; financiers and studio execs oversee producers. But beyond that, the connections between these two worlds is limited. Most suits can’t tell a grip from an electrician, and most G&E guys don’t know the difference between the various types of accountants.

    Their lives are drastically different. The business side is very much like a traditional job. You go to work at the same time every day, at the same place every day, probably wearing the eponymous suit. In production, your days tend to be longer; you never know when you’re starting or where you’ll be shooting more than a few days in advance (at best); and your job lasts only as long as the shoot. Once the film is complete,{{3}} you’re out of a job and off looking for a new one.

    Freelancing is tough. It’s not for everyone. I can definitely see the appeal of the business side– having full-time employment with benefits over the Christmas break would be nice. Personally, I really enjoy the unpredictability and excitement of set. Of course, I may not always feel that way.

    If production is starting to sound daunting, and maybe you want to get into the business side of things, I recommend checking out Hired in Hollywood. It’s a free online training session for people who want to work on that side of the fence. The next session, which focuses on the January hiring rush, is tonight, so sign up now.

    [[2]]You’ll learn more about these people on KCRW’s aptly named show, The Business.[[2]]

    [[3]]Your part of the production, at least. Editors naturally work for months longer than, say, cinematographers.

  3. Your part of the production, at least. Editors naturally work for months longer than, say, cinematographers.
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