Friday, April 23, 2010

Jumpstart Your Film and Television Career: 5 powerful TIPS on how to land more tv film jobs than you can handle

This is a guest post by Ian Agard of Ian is a Toronto based writer/director/film producer who loves to entertain and inspire people through his movies and his filmmaking blog.

As you probably know, one of the most desirable yet challenging industries to make a living from is in the film and television industry.

By far, the most commonly asked question I receive from people throughout my six years working as actor, screenwriter, director and film producer do you get into the industry and make a living?

As a film producer; I have interviewed, hired and worked with several casts and crews while making my films. It becomes quite easy to notice the difference between individuals who struggle to find film/tv work and those who make a comfortable living.

Is it about luck?


Who you know?

I would like to share with you 5 POWERFUL TIPS that will help you jumpstart your film/tv career and get you on the road towards landing more paying industry work than you can handle.

TIP Number One: Be Willing To Work For Free

I know, you probably didn’t want to hear that but it’s imperative that you are willing to either work for free or very low pay. It’s a sacrifice that many in the entertainment industry must do when starting out, however, you’ll have the opportunity to meet others in the business as well as learn on the job. Taking “free” jobs quickly leads to full time careers.

TIP Number Two: Attitude Is Everything

This is one of the most important tips regarding developing a successful film/tv industry career. More important than your talent, your experience or your education; your attitude will determine how far you will rise within your career.
It will determine if people will refer job opportunities to you or hire you again for future projects. You must be a flexible, professional, team oriented person who is committed to “serving” the story/project to the best of your ability.

Production sets are full of egos, there’s no need for one more.

TIP Number Three: Recognize and seizure opportunity

You’ve probably heard the old saying luck is when preparation meets opportunity. I like to believe in a slightly different statement, luck = opportunity + willingness.
A certain film/tv industry work opportunity might present itself to you; you’re prepared...but are you willing to maybe work for free, work for low pay, work 12 hour days, be team-oriented, be flexible and agreeable or go the extra mile to help the project succeed.

TIP Number Four: Network and be visible

The reality of the film/TV industry is that most production jobs are never advertised. Those positions are usually filled through word of mouth and pre-established relationships. That’s why it is extremely important for you to always be committed to meeting new like-minded people.
The best places to meet and connect with people who share your zeal and passion are:

1) Onset while shooting a movie or television show
2) Through industry specific classes
3) At film festivals

TIP Number Five: Always be learning

As humans, we are learning machines. We are most alive and functioning closest to our potential when we are learning, adapting, adjusting and finding new ways, approaches and techniques to improve our lives (and our careers)in some way.

No matter how many years working experience you might have within the film/TV industry it would be hugely important for you to maintain a beginner’s mindset. A beginner looks constantly for one new tibit, one or more ways to expand on their current expertise.

To learn more valuable tips and in-depth advice, listen to my MP3 60 minute audio interview with film and television expert and veteran Stephen Dranitsaris at:


Sarthak K said...

Thanks Ian, its brilliant. Great to have your article on my blog :))

David W. Valentin said...

Ian, really good and insightful advice. Many years ago I landed an internship at a major vfx house. I spent the summer answering phones, picking up garbage left behind by extras and yes...getting java for the crews. I did this for 3.35 which was minimum at the time. Several years later I'm a producer with 9 major motion pics under my belt and more on the way. When I talk to the producers I worked with at the time they always say the same thing.."David you were simply unstoppable." So yes...I agree completely with all your tips. They are quite simply, tride, true and golden.

PJ said...

That's great advice. I recently was thinking of different ways to get independent and amateur TV shows and films seen by more people. I created a website to do so, It hasn't officially launched yet, but hopefully it's a way to get videos seen.

BTDJ said...

Another way into the biz these days is through creative collaboration websites like this:

This for example is a chance to make a music video that could also earn you money at the same time!

Filmmaking Stuff said...

I think this is some great advice. When I started out, my first job was fetching coffee. I saved for en entire summer to get my hands on an Arri BL. . . I am so happy to see that filmmaking is now open to the masses. The last obstacle - Distribution - has now shifted for the better. I'm super excited about the future of filmmaking.

Romuald Martin said...

Sound advice!

Given you have the talent and knowledge, the other part rest more in your personal attitude, social, and marketing skills.

I loved the part of the "beginners mind" because many experienced professionals tend to slow-down their learning process and began to live from past deeds. Eventually they end becoming useless (this is specially true in the technical area).