7 Unrealistic Expectations of Film Industry Jobs

The Best Film Job You’ve Never Had

The best film jobs aren't easy to find. Like a hole-in-the-wall restaurant or your favorite local dive bar, you learn about the truly great filmmaking gigs through networking and keeping an ear to the ground.

There’s a small deli near my house that serves the best Italian cold cut sandwich you’ll ever have if you get the chance. Most people won’t, though, because those who live nearby don’t even realize the place exists. They’ve never been there and they most likely never will.

That’s because this deli is hidden. To get there, you must venture into a generic office park, walk through the lobby of a big, grey building, and look for the nameplates that simply read “DELI.”

Once inside, prepare to be disappointed. The menu is made up of printed Word documents taped to the counter and the white walls surrounding the confined space have almost no decoration.

But man is that sandwich good.

Unless you know someone who frequents this deli, you would have no idea it’s there. You’d never get to enjoy the taste of the world’s best Italian sub (for my money, at least). To discover it, you’d have to depend on a friend, an acquaintance, a co-worker — basically, your network.

It’s the same with jobs in the film industry.

When we’re desperate for food, we often default to restaurants that are easy and convenient like McDonald’s or Burger King. There’s nothing particularly wrong with these establishments, but there’s nothing exceptional either.

Too often when we’re hungry for film jobs, we check the obvious places: Craigslist, Mandy, local film commissions. These places are good to look into, but they very rarely turn up a gig — at least not a never-forget-it, look-who-I-met, pay-me-handsomely type of gig.

That’s because the best jobs aren’t easy to find.

The most awesome productions won’t ask for crew in obvious places online. They probably won’t send a massive crew call to the state’s film commission. Instead, they’ll ask their contacts who they know locally. That person will then spread the word to someone else, who will then ask another…

The best jobs, like the deli, don’t need to market themselves because the production is so tempting that those who are first to hear about it often jump on board.

What I’m trying to say is what everyone always says: networking is crucial to your career.

If you don’t network, you may never know what jobs are hidden and what you’re missing out on. It’s true that you can get by eating McDonald’s, but wouldn’t you rather have the best sandwich ever?

  • Brad Ferrell

    Evan, you’re making me hungry man.

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

      Had that sandwich yesterday. Sorry you missed out :(

  • Justin

    that picture is epic

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

      One of the few pictures on this blog that I’ve paid to license because I loved it so much

  • Charles Allen

    This may be a stupid question, but how do you get started with the right network?

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

      Not a stupid question, but one that I’ve been trying to answer for a long time on this blog. I’d suggest you download my free ebook which is all about that.

  • Ricky

    90% of all my jobs are word of mouth. And Im sure with people I know. I never look around for people as I can instantly call someone. Even if its another department and I barley know the guy, Ill find his info in an old call sheet and refer because I had a good experience with them on set.

    Be nice to everyone. That person you couldve yelled at but didnt might call you in 6 months for a well paid feature!

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

      Yep! I’ve done the same thing where I’ve recommended someone I wasn’t really friends with, but appreciated their work on a show we were on together.

  • http://twitter.com/stingers_cam Neil ‘Stingray’Irwin

    Best job I’ve had so far was when I got all expenses paid to Paris. It was to shoot a junket for the re-release of Cinderella on Blu-Ray. Apparently our hotel rooms were €400 per night in central Paris. Breakfast was already sorted and we had lunch out and we were told we had €75 PER NIGHT to spend in the hotel’s lovely restaurant. Had a steak pretty much every night along with dessert and a bottle of wine and still had half to spend! I’ve never heard of anything like that! Not only that but being the assistant – I drove to and from London and got plenty of overtime because of the long hours. I also had a lovely crew to work with. Saw most of the sights too – but only on a flying visit as we were too busy filming them, but that was a pretty cool job!

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

    The best jobs are when people come looking for you to make them sandwiches…I’m sorry, I was going to use your metaphor in my comment, but that’s just not going to work for me.

    The best jobs I’ve found (and the most surprising…but I’m a modest guy) have come by way of people I’ve never met finding me and coming to me for help. I’m not talking about word-of-mouth referrals, which are important as you say, but what I mean is doing exceptional work that seems to get the attention of people and companies in different countries and regions.

    So while networking is important, it’s also important to distinguish between having a good hustle and nothing to back it up with and doing great work and being willing to be a part of somebody’s project(s).

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

      If you combine both hustle with excellent work, you stand a very good chance of doing well in this industry :)