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?