Finding a Job & Getting Hired


            The best source for finding out about job opportunities in physical production is people working in the industry.  This aspect of finding job opportunities is discussed in the next section on networking and building relationships.  There are also published sources for finding job opportunities.  Looking up these sources requires doing a bit of research.



            One of the first places to look for job opportunities is employer web sites.  In the present age of digital electronics and the Internet, most employers in the entertainment industry have their own web site.  Usually, they have a page where they post job openings.  Warner Bros. Studios, for example, has a job page where job seekers can search for openings in different regions of the country and for different job categories such as production or creative.


            Other privately operated non-employer web sites offer limited employment services to production crew such as listings of job openings, industry news and résumé posting.  These include (, ( and Film and TV and Commercial Employment Network (  Shoots for instance provides crew jobs and production listings organized alphabetically and geographically.  Resources on the Shoots web site include a currency converter, a job board, a list of national and international film commissions, a list of film festivals and international production information.  Crew Net is a fee-based job hotline updated daily with the latest job listings from around the country.  Each listing details the type of show that is hiring, the location, shooting dates and contact information.  It also provides a database of entertainment industry résumés and online reel hosting.  There is an extensive list of other useful web sites in the resource section of this guide.



            Trade magazines are an important resource for job seekers.  The Hollywood Reporter provides weekly production information in their print publication and on their web site.  There is an access fee for the web site edition.  They provide a listing of projects at different stages of production such as “in development” or “in production.”  Other publications particularly relevant to production crew include American Cinematographer, Entertainment Design Magazine, Lighting Dimensions and Shoot.  These publications cover the latest developments in the craft, very limited employment opportunities and production news.  Employment opportunities listed are generally limited to production assistants and office jobs.  These and other publications are listed in the resources section.



            Film schools and training providers do not provide placement services, but have employment related resources.  Bulletin boards usually have a space dedicated to job openings.  These boards are usually accessible in film schools like UCLA, but may not be accessible in private training provider institutions.  Film schools may have a career counselor to help you with career decisions.  Most schools may offer internships for academic credit.


            There are specialized training providers such as Streetlights that provides PA training and Hollywood Cinema Production Resources Center that provides prop design and construction training.  See Appendix B, Provider Profiles in “Reel Jobs” for more information on available specialized training.  There is also a training resource section on the SkillsNet website.



            Unions and guilds are important to film and television production.  Production companies may choose to sign with the IATSE Locals, or the Teamsters, or with one of the Guilds, or with all of them. Productions with union agreements hire only members for most crew jobs.  There are low budget and independent films that are not union projects.  As has been pointed out, these provide a chance to gain experience to newcomers.  For specific information on unions in the entertainment industry, including how to join and to get union benefits, see the overview section of this report.  A complete list of craft unions and guilds can be found in the resource section of this guide.  The best way to find out about unions and guilds is to call them directly with a question or ask someone you know who is a member of one of the unions or guilds.



“Take the first bona fide job offer you receive because you never know what other opportunities that job may create.”
- Tom Joyner, Senior Vice President, Production, Worldwide Film Completion. 



            Employers look for previous work experience, skills and knowledge and appropriate attitudes toward the job.  Employers will try to get as much information about these three areas by reviewing the résumé, interviewing the applicant and talking to previous employers.  In terms of previous work experience, an employer may ask you “how many shows have you done and who did you work with before?”  The answers to these questions really depend on how long you have been working in the industry and which area of the industry you have been working in.  An employer is assuming that more experience means that the applicant has a greater work competence than someone with less experience does.  Although this is a crude indicator, in an industry where “doing your job well” is key to getting positive recognition or a reputation, an employer may reasonably assume that if you have worked in numerous jobs, you have been doing a good job. 


            In terms of skills and knowledge about the job, an employer may ask, “how would you solve this type of problem on the set?”  Of course, the problem would be specific to a particular type of work.  For example, if an employer were looking for a grip, he/she may ask, “how would you rig this equipment?”  So, employers do often ask specific questions to test how the applicant would do on the actual job.  Therefore, be prepared to answer questions regarding your skills and knowledge about the job.  Refer to previous experiences to illustrate competence.


            Employers often regard having a positive attitude towards the job as an important quality in people who work for them.  More specifically, a positive attitude means enthusiasm, willingness to cooperate, motivation for learning, and ability to get along with others.  Most crew professionals are casual and friendly in terms of attitude and also in terms of dress.  Don't overdress for an interview.  Be presentable but in this industry coat and tie are not necessary.  A person's appearance can either convey “I am part of the team” or “I don't belong here.”  Since production work is done in cooperation with many people who do specific jobs, it is important that everyone know what and when to do his/her job.  All workers including laborers whose job is to clean up the production area have to be aware of what's going on so that production does not get interrupted.



            In the production crew area, hiring decisions are ultimately in the hands of the producer.  However, most producers would give discretionary authority to department heads and allow them to choose people they want to work with.  So, it is important to target job inquiries to these people. 


            Producers and department heads often seek recommendations from people they know.  Therefore, members of the crew can also influence hiring decisions.  For example, an assistant camera operator may recommend a camera loader or a production assistant to the DP or production manager. 



            Once a job opportunity has been identified, making the appropriate contact is one of the most important aspects of applying for a job.  When making “cold calls,” it is important to follow conventional wisdom.  For example, get the name and correct spelling of the contact person from the job announcement or from the person who referred you.  Be assertive but not too demanding.  A good way to approach someone on the phone is to state the purpose of the call briefly and clearly and to show interest in the position.  A follow-up call should be made a day or two later unless specified by the potential employer. 


Crew Résumés


            A professionally put together résumé is a good way to communicate to potential employers about skills and past work experiences.  Crew résumés are generally very simple.  A simple listing of the past projects, with the dates of the project and the names of department heads and their contact information, is usually sufficient for a crew résumé.  Information such as educational background, organizational affiliations and language skills that are normally included in a résumé are not always necessary in crew résumés. 


            In some occasions, you can use personal background information for your benefit.  For example, if you know that the production company plans to film in your home town in Arizona, you can note in your résumé that you are from there and that you know the place well.  You can even suggest that you have a place to stay while you are there working.  If you know that the production company is going to a foreign country and you can speak the language, it may be worthwhile to include that information.  


            The most important thing is to be honest about previous work experiences.  Most employers will check up on the list of credits by calling people they know who have worked on the same project or by checking other published sources of film credits.


“It’s not that big of an industry.  If I don’t know the crew member I usually know someone who has worked with them and can find out what they’re like.”
- Fran Wall, Head of Production, One Such Films.



            Someone with little actual work experience may include educational background, internships and other types of work.  Some people include a brief and succinct statement about their long-term career plan. 


            A résumé should be customized.  For example, when applying for a grip position on a commercial production, list commercial experiences only or emphasize them.  Commercial work tends to be shorter in terms of actual production days, so employers expect to see a full page of previous projects or about 10 projects a year.  Whereas in feature films, TV movies and shows that take longer in terms of production days, employers expect fewer projects.   Please see the résumé samples in the Resources Section.




            Interviews are often conducted informally in person or even by telephone.  The level of formality depends on the situation.  For example, if you are interviewing with a production company for a production assistant position, several key managers on the project may interview you.  But, if you are interviewing for a cable operator position with a gaffer, the interview may be much more like a friendly conversation than a formal corporate interview. 


            Sometimes when you have worked previously with a person who is doing the hiring, there is no interview.  In this case, hiring is based on an established professional relationship between the person hiring and the person being hired. The size and value of the project can also determine whether there will be an interview or a person will be hired based just on a referral.  A larger project means the employer will be more selective about who he/she hires because it involves greater financial investment and risk.


            Regardless of the level of formality, all interviews should be taken seriously and be seen as opportunities to demonstrate enthusiasm and skills for the job.  That means putting the best foot forward, but it also means being prepared to state one's goals clearly and to expand and explain each item on the résumé.  Finally, you might hold off on asking the potential employer about salaries and benefits until you are offered the position.  If you are curious, you might ask your friends about it.  Unions also provide standard rates for different production crew positions.  




            Achieving one's career objectives depends on many factors.  Some of these are within the individual's control and others are not.  Building a reputation is basic to moving from one job to another -- the platform for linking one job to the next.  This requires performing well on the job every day, on every job and getting along with people with whom you work.  Surviving between jobs and handling your financial affairs effectively is also an essential part of career management.