Wednesday, July 29, 2009

SoSG Advice Column Takes on Hollywood

Welcome to the inaugural SoSG Advice Column! Today's subject is something that's been on everybody's minds: employment. Specifically, employment in this crazy town. And...action!


Awhile back I read the "About the Sons" section on your site. Whereupon I found the following:

  • Three Sons are associated with the entertainment/media industry, and have entries on

That is where my problem comes in. I also work in television production, though I am having a hard time finding my next project. Perhaps if those three Sons hear of anything they could pass my resume along. I understand the freelance television industry works largely off of recommendations, and while we've never worked together before (at least I've never seen any Steve Sax's, or Orel's, or EK's on the staff lists), how bad can a fellow Dodger fan/ Production Staffer really be? Thanks for your consideration.

—Hollywood Dodger Fan

"George Burns was right: Show business is a hideous bitch goddess."
—Bart Simpson, "Radioactive Man"

Dear HDF,

Although SoSG can't get you a job right now, perhaps our advice can help you land one in the future.

1. Save up. Freelancers have to live a little differently than folks with "regular" jobs. Medical coverage is always an issue and vacations are next to impossible to plan. But the thorniest issue is money management. A freelancer's cash flow can be as irregular as Artie Lange's dopamine level. If you can be a good saver while working and sock away six months to a year of living expenses, it will make surviving the dry spells much easier.

Also, don't forget: Unemployment insurance is your friend. And as your career evolves, consider incorporating to maximize your tax benefits.

2. Keep in touch. Maintain contact with people you've worked with in the past. As you've noted, the industry works largely off of recommendations, and you don't want to be known as the person who calls only because you need a rec.

However, there's an etiquette to keeping in touch. Sending "just checking in" e-mails is good, but don't do it more than once every three or four months. Keep it friendly and concise, and don't overload it with too many questions. Only attach your resume if it's been updated.

The trick is to politely stay in that person's mind while not taking up their time. That way, when the opportunity arises to contact them for a legitimate reason — a recommendation, or picking their brain for advice — you're not asking them out of the blue. And who knows, maybe they'll even put you up for a job.

(Oh yeah, if the person responds? RESPOND BACK, even if just to say thanks. If they ask a question, even a polite one? ANSWER IT. You'd be surprised how many people neglect this step.)

3. Groom those credits. Perhaps the only thing more vital to a freelancer's career than recommendations is screen credits. Producers do verify them, so make sure your resume is accurate. If you performed work but didn't receive screen credit, disclose it. If you shared screen credit, disclose it. If there's anything about a screen credit might be questionable, play it safe and disclose it (you can explain if they ask you during the interview).

Maintain your IMDb profile and make sure it's consistent with your resume. (And unless you're above-the-line talent, adding your own picture and/or detailed biography to your IMDb profile can come off as amateurish.) Also, keep tabs on other sources of professional information about you, such as InBaseline. Google around and see if others in your position have LinkedIn profiles.

Speaking of your resume, make different versions of it if you're applying for different positions. Believe it or not, certain screen credits can actually work against you, especially if you're trying to change job classifications.

4. Don't be a starfucker. These difficult times are forcing people to assess their careers. Why are you in the industry? Is it to meet famous people? Is it to win an Oscar? Those are fine aspirations, but they shouldn't your primary motivation. There may be glamorous moments in an industry job, but at the end of the day, it's still just a job. At the same time, with the things an industry job sometimes forces you to sacrifice — time, regular employment, dignity — you'd be remiss not to enjoy its cooler moments. Have fun with them but don't depend on them.

5. Learn the dance. Have a creative opinion? Of course you do. But watch how you express it. If you're in a non-creative position, that means waiting to be asked (which may be never). If you're in a creative position, say it in a way that's best for the project (i.e., don't make it personal).

And don't worry so much about getting credit for your ideas, because the director, a producer or a studio exec is going to claim it anyway. (Unless you’re the director, a producer or a studio exec, in which case go nuts.) Remember, there's no creative process that politics and infighting can't ruin.

Have a problem, be it personal, professional or otherwise? Write us!


NicJ said...

Cliff Lee to the phillies for 4 propects. Ugh.

Mr. LA Sports Czar said...

Maybe it will drive down Halladay's price.

...No? Okay, let's settle for Washburn.

Mr. LA Sports Czar said...

Listening to ESPN Radio. People are already resigned to trading Kemp to get Halladay.

Fred's Brim said...

and they kept both Drabek and Happ somehow

Neeebs (The Original) said...

Orel: The advice column forgot to add that it's good to have a trust fund and that you should not be ashamed to mention the trust fund in exchange for obtaining executive producer credit.

Delino DeShields, Sr said...

An old-time actress was asked the best way to get around Hollywood.

Her response - "Fountain Ave"

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Anonymous said...

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