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Opportunity Will Knock – If You Drag it to the Door Step

Guest Blog: There are plenty of opportunities in Hollywood — you just have to create them with hard work, persistence and countless hours 

If you are going about it the right way, pivotal junctures should sprout up throughout a career more readily than Lindsey Lohan gets sworn in, but without the side effect of a rap sheet.

On the front end of these moments come opportunities … opportunities that you must create for yourself. And on the back end are the decisions you make that will dictate the direction of your career path. All in, the outcome will produce the defining moments of your
career.

I’d like to focus on the opportunity portion of this equation, since without opportunity, you’ll have no decisions to make. Opportunities are not handed out in Hollywood like gold stars in fifth grade, they come as a direct result of hard work, countless hours and intense persistence. All too often people new to the industry start to figure out what they’re going to say on the DVD commentary before they even finish writing the script to the movie.

Let me clear something up … there is no such thing as "overnight success." That term is something the media created as a catchy tagline to turn heads. If they told the truth and wrote after five ears, 47 rejections and two false starts this TV Show is premiering Thursday night, people may not want to tune in, or maybe they would. Either way don’t be
misled — nothing comes without out hard work and sacrifice.

A few years back, I was hired by ReelzChannel to be part of an original programming think tank. Within a couple of months I was hired as an executive producer and helped launch the network. The timeframe of that single process was only 60 days, but the work I put in beforehand to create that opportunity took years.

While there is no magical, Willy-Wonka type recipe for carving out opportunities, there are some practical tips and advice I can share that may help:

1) Play to your personality and identify your inherent strengths. If you are pursuing becoming a 1st assistant director or a stage manager, but you get self-conscious when they call your name at Jamba Juice, you may want to rethink things. Like in any field, if you want to excel, there are certain personality profiles that you need to identify before you commit to a particular discipline.

2) Offer your services and work for free. This is called working on spec. You may not be getting paid but there are takeaways. You’ll gain experience, network with like-minded people and you will be owed by the person you are supporting, which could get you one step closer to paid work down the road. Choose wisely, as your time is valuable and there is no shortage of people looking for free help.

3) Realize what you are up against when it comes to your competition. What are they doing to market themselves? If most people in your desired field have a website that showcases their work, then suffice to say you better figure out a .com and get to it. You have to give yourself every chance for success and not being up to par with your competition isn’t helping anyone but your competitor.

4) Find a mentor or three. Align yourself with people you can learn from. Going at this alone without any help navigating or having a sounding board can be daunting. Think of the entertainment industry as a battlefield, and a mentor as someone who will increase your chances of survival. You may also want to carry a large stick — up to you!

5) Introduce yourself and make a connection with at least one new person via email or in person every week. Building your network is everything. Whether you’re in the entertainment business 10 minutes or 10 years, network-building is of equal importance and never ends.

6) Don’t stop believin,’ hold on to the feelin’… hold on, sorry, I just realized that’s not advice, those are just lyrics to a Journey song.

Of course there’s much more I could offer in the way of advice but there is nothing worse than an endless blog… it’s almost as annoying as a Journey song stuck in your head!