Some of my oldish posts have been getting comments, recently. Not really sure why this is happening now, but they do bring up interesting points.
Sarah replied to my post “No, You Don’t Need to Go to Film School”:
You don’t need to go to any school, but film school is one of the few degrees that you actually learn A LOT (assuming you go to a good school…like say Santa Fe, which is where my brother goes). Also, a lot of people need college time to “grow up”, so consider that as well. Just playing devil’s advocate.
Is it opposite day? If you’re a doctor or a lawyer or an engineer, you do need schooling, and a lot of it. Film and television? Not so much.
For one thing, no one asks to see your degree when you’re applying for a job. Never, ever. It just doesn’t happen. Secondly, there’s no “right” or “wrong” way to make a film. Yes, we can argue all day long about the artistic merit of this film or that, but the truth is, quality comes from experience, aesthetic judgement, and inherent talent.
School can certainly help, but frankly, you learn a lot more by watching classic movies and working on sets. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my time at film school; I certainly “grew up,” as Sarah put it. But my degree is about the least necessary piece of paper I ever spent $100,000 on.
Also, Santa Fe? I’ve never heard of it. It may very well be a great school, but the name value is zero. Sorry.
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Casey rejected my advice to lie during an interview–
As a recruiter this is terrible advice and I see why it took you so long to get the positions you desired.
The reason people choose to interview you for a job is to do THAT job. They often don’t care about what you WANT to do they just care about what they NEED you to do.
The second most people (lying or not) say they want to do the job of the person interviewing them they’re eliminated from consideration. Imagine if you interviewed someone for your job and they admitted during the interview that they are gunning for you day one. Would you hire THEM?
Plus don’t like during the interview everyone can tell you’re lying, if you got hired before even when you lied it’s because they didn’t care.
Right off the bat, the fact that Casey calls himself a “recruiter” tells me he doesn’t work in production. There’s no recruitment or human resources on a show. It’s very different from the corporate world.
Everyone who works in production is more of an independent contractor than an employee (even though the majority of the crew are union). We’re hired based on relationships with department heads.
Of course, Casey is right that the person hiring you wants to know you can do the job they’re hiring for. But the thing about department hierarchies is this: everybody is basically doing the same job, but with a greater or lesser degree of responsibility.
The gaffer decides where the lights go and where the power comes from; his crew actually physically set the lights down. Which is not to say they’re not drones mindlessly following orders; they have to think creatively and practically, as well. And after doing the grunt work for long enough, and observing what their superiors do, they eventually become qualified to take that position.
The same is true in the production office; we’re all pretty much just pushing paper around all day. The APOC checks the production reports, the UPM signs off on them, and I, the lowly PA, copy and distribute them. But if I also check the PRs, and ask my boss questions about things I don’t understand, I’ll eventually be qualified to take her position.
I have had coordinators tell me, to my face, that they won’t hire someone who wants to be a writer. They want someone who wants to be in the production office, to be an APOC, and even coordinator, someday. They believe a wannabe writer will just jump ship the moment a spot opens in the writers’ office (which is true); the wannabe won’t try their hardest within the production office, because they just see it as a stepping stone.
The stepping stone part is true, but that doesn’t mean I, or others like me, won’t try our darnedest in the hear and now. After all, I need to keep paying the bills until my big break, so I need to keep my coordinator happy.
Not all coordinators see it that way (probably because not all wannabe writers see it that way). Hence, the lying.
As far as Casey’s second objection, that the interview might fear you’re gunning for their job? That’s not really a concern. If you’re lucky, you’re on a hit show for ten years, but that doesn’t happen often. Most shows are cancelled in the first season; most pilots don’t even get that. And, of course, if you’re talking about a feature, the shoot only lasts a definite, limited time period, anyway.
What I’m saying is, there’s so much turn over, there’s not really any chance for some subordinate to undermine you, get you fired, and then replace you over the course of a show. It’s just not a thing that happens.
Lastly, I’ve found a lot of people like to think of themselves as much mentors as “bosses.” They want to train little versions of themselves. They actually want a replacement. Telling them you want their job is a way of stoking their ego. And you can’t tell me a little sucking up isn’t going to help get you the job.