Thursday, December 16, 2010

How To Get A Job On A Hollywood Award Show

Photo source: Fem 2.0

Glitz, glamour, smiling celebrities, red carpets, flashing lights from fans and paparazzi...that's the business of show concerning Hollywood's highly anticipated award shows. The business of award show production ain't quite as glamorous but it does have it perks. One of those perks being full time work for at least four months.

If you're a Hollywood newbie or convert the Oscars, Grammy, Golden Globe, Emmy, BET Awards, and the like are a great way to get your foot in the industry door. In fact, working awards shows is how I began my career anew here in La La land. And every year around award show season someone asks me how I did it. Here's how:

1. DO YOUR RESEARCH MONTHS IN ADVANCE: Most awards shows are produced by only a handful of production companies that generally produce them every year. Find out which production company is producing the show and its contact information. Google is your friend and so are show credits! Show credits are basically a directory of names as well as departments. Check IMDb!

Generally award shows began production at least three (3) months in advance. The sooner you contact the company the better. The early bird gets the work, but BE PERSISTANT if you're told the typical "just send your resume" and hear nothing back. Opportunities happen when you least expect it, especially as the show date nears.

2. ASK FOR THE PRODUCTION COORDINATOR: You'll reach the office assistants first so ALWAYS be nice to them. He or she can be your friend on the inside or shut you down in an instant. After the initial hello ask for the Production Coordinator (s) because they typically handle production assistants and related jobs. Right their name & contact info down because this person could potentially be your new boss. If not the coordinator then one of those names you saw in the credits on IMDb in the department you want to work in.

3. IF YOU HAVE NO PRODUCTION EXPERIENCE NOR SHOW CREDITS, SELL THOSE SKILLS THAT APPLY TO ANY WORK SITUATION: 1. Administrative skills; 2. Management experience. These two assets are quite useful in a production environment and could also push you to becoming a production coordinator, but you've got to crawl before you walk.

If you ARE NOT A COLLEGE STUDENT OR A YOUNGSTER, water down that glowing resume to the basics. Hollywood bosses don't generally hire people that APPEAR may question their authority or curse them the hell out if insulted or disrespected. References in this case are helpful and will be called.

REALIZE TOO MOST OF THESE COVETED GIGS ARE GENERALLY GIVEN TO FRIENDS AND FAMILIES FIRST like cell phone minutes. So yes, IT IS OFTEN ABOUT WHO KNOWS YOU, NOT WHO YOU KNOW. But as the show date nears, more positions and opportunities to "PA" will become available to those "outsiders" seeking the work.

4. BE WILLING TO DO THE GRUNT WORK. No you probably won't be offered the cushy job, like an office PA which is mostly administrative. And since the job of a Production Assistant DOESN'T HAVE A SET JOB DESCRIPTION, be prepared mentally to do everything from walking dogs, running errands, to cleaning refrigerators.

5. HAVE A RELIABLE CLEAN CAR, A CELL PHONE, AND A COMPUTER. If you're really lucky, the show may even pay YOU to use your computer and a portion of your cell phone bill but don't ask until your first official day of work. If you've got a decent looking car, especially an SUV, you'll be given priority simply because you'll be transporting everything from office furniture to the big boss's girlfriend or family member to and from.

6. ONLY OFFER TO VOLUNTEER/INTERN/WORK FOR FREE IF YOU REALLY WANT THE JOB: Remember, the competition is STEEP for these award show gigs. Working for free initially gets you inside the production and in front of the people you need to impress that make the real hiring decisions. The offer of free labor backed with a strong resume and a good attitude is hard to resist to an overworked, underpaid, ambitious production coordinator.

Lastly, you should know the pay SUCKS! When I began in Hollywood I made a mere $90/day. And my very first award show I worked for FREE! BUT THERE ARE MAJOR PERKS! Always remember, if hired, you've got an inside track to people and situations outsiders would give a limb and an organ to have. And day of show, you've got the best seat in the house--BACKSTAGE, RED CARPET, or both!

If the powers that be like you then you're "IN" and now you can really begin networking. Make some "Hollywood" friends and associates that will hire you for the next show and project. Remember work in this industry is usually based on referrals, not your glowing resume or degree. It's about WHO KNOWS YOU, not just who you know. Those WHO KNOW YOU GENERALLY HIRE YOU!

4 comments:

AdPhill said...

Thank you so much for sharing your tips, they were really helpful =)

Hollywoodlvwork said...

Thanks! Glad to know it helped someone. I get asked about it every year during award show season

Aritul said...

Very informative post. I figured there was always a high degree of nepotism associated with those jobs.

Hollywoodlvwork said...

Thanks for commenting Artiful. Honestly, there CAN be a high degree of nepotism. BUT there's still ample opportunity to work in the game of show despite the various challenges.

On one level it's no different than any other business industry. Get to know people, they know you, and hopefully like you enough to hire you.

The key is knowing how to navigate to the right people that will give a newbie or outside a chance.