People come to Hollywood to fulfill their dreams, to be the next big star or great artist. And while on the road to success, they ask the same questions of the people who have come before them: “How do I break into the business? How do I find my dream job? How do I get noticed?”
For the panel of industry professionals who spoke at TheWrap’s latest “Breaking Into the Business” event at the Studio School in Los Angeles, their advice wasn’t to set aside your dreams, but to recognize that the journey to your dream job might take you down unexpected paths. It may even involve places you wouldn’t normally be willing to go.
“You have to be willing to do everything you can to do the best job possible — even if it’s a small task — and hopefully people notice,” Winnie Kemp, Senior Vice President of Television Development at Super Deluxe, told TheWrap’s Alonso Duralde Thursday.
Kemp, along with Amanda Marshall of Cold Iron Pictures, Carrie Franklin of Awestruck and Alexandra Davis of Blue Ribbon Content, each worked their share of odd jobs before they got to where they are today. Kemp nearly crashed her first boss’s car; Marshall picked up medication for one employee’s dog; and Franklin found herself writing for a feature film that clearly would never go anywhere.
They agreed to do the jobs that no one else wanted to do, to never say no or feel above a job, and to not limit themselves to only the loftiest of expectations.
“You’re 22 years old. Do you really want to be the next Spielberg just this second, or are you going to take the time to learn how to do that and do the work and, to their point, do the jobs you don’t necessarily want to do?” Franklin asked.
All the panelists admitted they’ve interviewed their share of aspiring directors, and they admire their motivation and entrepreneurial spirit. But you have to show you share the same goals as your boss and coworkers.
“I’ve found the most valuable people for the team are the people who are willing to find their path and aren’t so sure, because if you’re sure, sometimes you don’t want to do all the things that require you to get to that step,” Marshall said. “You can have a path in mind, but also be open to the idea you’re going to take a detour slightly first.”
“There’s a balance of elevating and giving yourself managerial and top position of everything on your resume, which might sound impressive but really just says I’m not willing to work for someone else,” Marshall added, saying it’s important to show that you’re a part of a team.
Davis stressed that the entertainment industry is a collaborative effort. You can aim to be an auteur with your own vision, but you have to know how to work with people who can help get you there.
“You’re going to need to communicate and collaborate, and that is this business,” Davis said. It’s about being open to other ideas, other paths and, if need be, taking a role on a crew that isn’t your end goal.
“Go run sound for a day on someone else’s film,” Davis added. “Figure out what it takes to do someone else’s job. And you’ll better understand how to work with them in the future.”
Adding little things on your resume like saying you know Photoshop shows you’re self-motivated and willing to educate yourself about making your own material. And listing odd jobs and skills as far ranging as “underwater basket weaving” and knowing how to play the keytar can give a hint at your personality. Anything helps when it comes to standing out on a piece of paper.
“No matter how much rejection and disappointment you experience, if you know this is what you want to do and you put in the effort and the work, you’re just going to have to start taking that stuff in stride,” Franklin said. “As much rejection and disappointment as there is, I’d rather experience that in the industry I want to be in than go and be a professor and be miserable.”
Watch the full video from the event above.