Why Your 2nd Job is More Important than Your First

Why Your 2nd Job is More Important than Your First

Getting your first job is huge. It's shoving your foot through the door and blazing onto the freelance scene. When you do that, you catch the attention of the room and you better have the goods to deliver. And while the first job is indeed important, it's really your 2nd job that you should be more worried about.

The inevitable question anybody starting out in film wants to know is how to get a job — their first job. The film industry seems to operate inside of a walled-garden: unwelcoming to those on the outside, and bearing fruits of labor to those on the inside.

Getting your first job is huge. It’s shoving your foot through the door and blazing onto the freelance scene. When you do that, you catch the attention of the room and you better have the goods to deliver. And while the first job is indeed important, it’s really your 2nd job that you should be more worried about.

The results of your first job will be directly represented by your ability to get another. In an industry heavy on networking and connections, making an impact on your first job is everything.

One of the reasons getting your second job is bigger than your first is because it shows you impressed somebody and that you’ve got the chops to make it.

Maybe it was the director of photography who saw you bust your butt, or maybe it was the first assistant director who thought you handled set etiquette better than any other PA.

Either way, keep in mind that crew are always watching and they want to surround themselves with hard workers. Crew members tend to recommend other crew because when films require strong teamwork, they want to be with the best.

I personally keep tabs on all the people I work with to perhaps work for me in the future or recommend them to others.

But you won’t always be recommended for your 2nd job — it may be your 3rd or 5th gig by the time you get called because so and so commended your work ethic.

That’s OK. Your second job will still be important.

It shows that nobody said anything bad about you, for one, and that your lone credit or experience was enough to warrant somebody hiring you again.

That 2nd time you step on set is big because it gets the ball rolling and once that ball is rolling, there’s nothing but yourself to stop it.

  • FB

    I agree for the most part: getting a 2nd gig means you somehow managed to do a good job the first time, and that’s the best second step into the industry. At the same time, if you REALLY screw up once (and I mean in a BIG way, so it’s kind of rare), no matter if it’s the 20th or 50th job, that could hurt you..a lot. You’re only as good as your last job.

    • FB

      actually….consistent tiny little screw-ups are more dangerous than a once-in-a-lifetime big one. If you work hard and you’re good at what you do, everyone will forgive a mistake. Once. Or maybe twice. But if you keep making small mistakes on every job, it kind of shows you’re not really good at what you do.

    • http://www.theblackandblue.com/ Evan

      You’re right… One HUGE screw up can hurt you a lot. Just as many small screw ups can hurt you as well.

      But I don’t think people should be upset about making mistakes. Even small mistakes are acceptable — as long as they’re different. It’s making mistakes and the inability to learn from them or not repeat them that will really cost you a job.

      Your underlying point is strong: don’t become complacent with your job. If you know you can improve at something, then improve it.

      • FB

        Yes, small mistakes are acceptable, and frankly I personally don’t know any good camera assistant who has made the same “big” mistake twice. Actually, I know a few camera assistants who have flashed a magazine once in their lives and went on with their careers just fine. One thing to remember, though, they all immediately told the cinematographer about it. Making a mistake is human, trying to hide it is just plain stupid (and the one thing that most likely will get you fired).

        I totally agree with what you say about improving, it is something that should be a daily routine, so to speak, and it’s a vital part of the job (one more reason this blog is so great, because it allows us to share experiences and learn from others, made even more interesting by the fact some of us readers don’t live in the US).

        • http://www.theblackandblue.com/ Evan

          Yes, yes yes. If you make a mistake, reveal it instantly. You only dig a deeper hole by keeping it a secret.

          Also, thank you! I love hearing about AC/film work from you and others over in other countries. It really is great that this blog brings together a global community

  • Jaysonwilko

    Really good things to think about here. I’m trying to get my 2nd feature and first camera PA job. And so far things look good. Thanks for all the great advice in the blog. I’d be lost without it.

    • http://www.theblackandblue.com/ Evan

      Hey Jayson,

      First of all, you’re welcome! And thank you! I’d be the one lost without such attentive readers.

      Glad to hear that things are looking good for your next job… it may take a bit longer than you want to lock it down, but as long as you can snag one, you’ll be in a good position.

      Although FB makes a good point above — you’re only as good as your last job.

  • Pingback: Getting Drinks with Crew: Hit the Bar or Hit the Sack? - The Black and Blue - A Blog for Camera Assistants

  • Pingback: Comment Corner: Week of March 14th - The Black and Blue - A Blog for Camera Assistants

  • Jamin

    recently i did solo G&E for a very established DP on a skeleton crew up here in alaska.  everything went fine till i blew two bulbs in the Joker Bug 800 in a series of about 15 minutes.   bluh.   hero to zero in moments.  fortunately I only knew two faces from my community and I’ll probably slip by under the radar on that one.

    • http://www.theblackandblue.com/ Evan

      Everyone makes mistakes, hopefully they were a bit forgiving. Still never fun to be on the end of that one. You’ll recover though, I’m sure.

  • Pingback: Put Down Your Slate and Quickly Walk Away | The Black and Blue

  • Pingback: The Secret to Success on Your First Film Job - NoFilmSchool

  • Pingback: 50 Things That Suck for Camera Assistants (and 50 Things That Don’t) | The Black and Blue

  • Pingback: I Worked for Free, Now Where’s My DVD? | The Black and Blue

  • Pingback: 10 Questions You Should Ask When Writing Your Resume | The Black and Blue

  • http://www.diyfilmschool.net/ DIYFilmSchool.net

    2nd job = tenacity, strong work ethic; if you were recommended, it also means people like you as a person, too.