Hi there! I’m Blaine Butler, Associate Director for Employer Engagement and Marketing in Career Services. My team’s role in our office is to connect with employers around jobs, internships and professional development opportunities for our students. As we all know, networking is the number one way to find out about job opportunities and get your foot in the door. Nothing can beat your own personal connections, however we’re here to get you started in the right direction should you find yourself saying “but I don’t know anyone!”. Luckily for you, we do!
I went to Los Angeles recently to meet with a few of the major players in the entertainment industry. Though I barley scratched the surface of this enormous market, it was a great starting point. I hope you’ll take a few minutes read this article— in it you will find valuable information about getting your start in entertainment.
I was told by a chief executive at one of the world’s largest talent agencies that the lifeblood of the entertainment industry starts at the agency. This refrain was repeated by everyone I spoke with. I’d ask: “what advice can I tell our students looking to start their careers in Hollywood?”. The only answer received: “Tell them to get Desk experience”.
Putting in your two years on The Desk is not going to be easy. In fact, the vast majority of you who begin your careers here will ultimately decide Hollywood just isn’t for you. But for those tenacious few, you’re going look back and realize this was what launched you to success. Is your goal to get into the coveted “writer’s room”? Or do you dream of becoming a director? Maybe your passion is to create a story that gets turned into a feature film. This is your chance to make connections that are going to carry you through your career.
As an assistant to an agent you become their eyes and ears, and if you prove yourself, their trusted companion. You’re going to be reading scripts and hearing pitches and deciding if they’re worth putting in front of the agent. You’ll meet directors, producers, actors, and high level executives from all the major studios and distributors. Wherever you end up in Hollywood, you’ll have gotten there because you met someone here.
Most Desk Assistants start off in the infamous Mailroom before being paired with an agent. Your stint in the mailroom could last a few months, or in some cases, a few hours! Click here for information on how to prepare for your agency interview.
Page Programs, Administrative Support & Production Assistants
Like being a Desk Assistant at a talent agency, becoming a Page at a movie/television studio is a way to get your foot in the door in the entertainment world with the goal of making connections. These programs are designed for recent graduates looking to get into development, production, and technical aspects of making films and television. Being a page gives you access to the behind-the-scenes professionals that make television and movies happen. Many page programs are part-time, so people will often freelance as a Production Assistant (PA). This is another great way to get on set to meet the right people!
Another common starting point in Hollywood is providing administrative support to senior executives. You’ll notice most of these opportunities will require at least 1-year experience at a Talent Agency. Why? This means you already have some connections, demonstrates that you’re truly committed to the business and that you can deal with just about anything! These executives have no time to spare and need someone who can be one step ahead and have a thick skin. The payoff? If you prove yourself, they have the connections and the power to put you in touch with the right people to pursue your ultimate career goal.
Some administrative positions don’t require any previous experience other than media internships and a true passion for the industry. These positions are great for those of you that want to get into entertainment business, but not necessarily on the creative or production side. Many of these opportunities will set you up for careers in the corporate office: publicity, marketing, human resources, sales, account management, etc.
Career Services has connections at for Page Programs, Admin and entry level roles at the following companies:
• Paramount & Viacom
• Sony Pictures
Contact your career counselor at email@example.com to set up a phone or in-person appointment to talk about applying to roles at these companies.
If you’re looking for PA work, we recommend you post your resume on Production Beast. They’re a start up website that helps connect freelancers to opportunities all over the country. You also want to make sure you check Indeed, Craigslist, and EntertainmentCareers.Net on a regular basis.
Of course there are many other ways to get your start in Hollywood and the above information is just a starting point.
If you plan on applying to any of the companies mentioned in this article, we highly recommend making an appointment with one of our career counselors to get personalized advice and tips. If you have what it takes, we are happy to send your resume directly to our contacts at these companies.