The best way to get a job in L.A. is through your connections! But what if you don’t have any? Well, UVAELA is a good place to start. As we grow, more aspects of the entertainment industry will be represented by its members, which will make it easier down the road for recent graduates. Until then, if you are trying to break into television or film, try to get your hands on the elusive UTA Job List. Ask the people you do know. They might not have it, but someone they know might. In the meantime, you can check the following websites:
These have industry job listings, some postings are free but you may need to pay a monthly fee to have access to the “hot” job postings. This should be helpful until you get the UTA list.
This site is more costly, but it has great contact information for all of the tv shows, pilots and films in production. There are different subscription rates available.
To tie you over until you get your desired position – everyone’s got to pay the bills – try temping. There are a number of placement agencies that handle temp and permanent job placement for the big studios. Click on the link here to see the list of entertainment placement agencies. Temp jobs tend to pay better than P.A. jobs and the hours are better. Plus there’s a good chance you’ll get on one of the studio lots. As you get to know people either in the placement agency or in the offices where you may temp, you will not only get an idea of what you want to do, but you’ll be able to start establishing a network. You can let people know what you really want to do and if they like you, they will keep you in mind if such a position becomes open.
Want to Work in TV?
If you want to work on a TV show (where the show is actually filmed), but don’t have an easy in to your desired department, then a good job to start with is a production assistant (PA) position. If you want to work for a production company, which developing shows, then you want an entry-level or assistant position.
Note: Production companies have their own production assistants, but these positions are typically referred to as “Runners” because you spend your time running errands and getting food, much like a PA, except you’re in an office that develops shows versus a tv show production office which produces/films the show. Set PA’s actually work on the sound stage or set of the show, monitoring the doors to make sure people don’t enter and exit when the tape is rolling and doing any sort of miscellaneous things. Production Office PA’s are in the Production Office for a tv show and run errands for the production office – copying scripts, distributing call sheets, delivering scripts, buying groceries for the production office fridge, going to the post office, etc. Typically, you need to be a P.A. before you can get a Set PA job as there are things you need to know that you can only learn from experience as a PA.
Here is a standard production office hierarchy:
Associate Producer (AP)
Assistant Production Coordinator (APOC)
Production Assistant (PA)
If you’re able to get a job as a PA, but aren’t sure if it’s strategically the best thing for you, well, go with your gut. If you want to work in television, if you get that thrill when you walk on a lot and know that this is where you need to be, whether or not you have your dream job, then stick with it. If you work hard, smile, do what you’re told and do it efficiently, people will notice and will remember you when they are staffing up for next season. The hours are too long and stressful to work with irritating people, so Hollywood tends to hire people they know they like. If you want to be a writer, actor, prop master, work in casting, post production, wardrobe or make-up, you will make contacts who will help you get into those departments and positions. Regardless, you will learn invaluable information that only comes from experience.
If you land on a show you like you are lucky, because then you won’t mind the long hours and low pay as much. You will get to know lots of people (crew and staff) who will help you get your next job, either with that show or another and it will give you perspective and will help you determine the path you want to follow. Plus, production jobs don’t last forever, so if you don’t like it, you can always find something else the next season.