How Do I Get a Job in the Film Industry?
Published on Apr 28, 2011 by Sean Kantrowitz
Hollywood can be a tough business to get into, and there's no one who's more aware of this fact than Full Sail Career Development Lead Film Advisor Jamey Hopper. As part of the school department dedicated to helping connect students with job opportunities in the entertainment industry, Jamey has seen what it takes to get a foot in the door – and sometimes that means figuring out which door is the right one.
"I think the biggest misconception students have is that they can leave Full Sail and instantly jump on the set of a $200 million film," says Jamey. "It can happen immediately, but the reality is that most of the time it takes a lot of time, effort, networking, and a little bit of luck."
If there's one consistent factor that Jamey has seen in film industry success stories, it's attitude. "It really helps to be open to everything and anything. Some people like to get selective about what they'll say yes to, and that can come with credits, time and experience, but sometimes being choosy too quickly can hurt you in the long run," he says. "You can miss opportunities that you'll wish you'd taken a year down the road. Of course, you should use your discretion about what you say yes to, but the more you do, the quicker your career can excel."
A sense of direction helps, too. The clearer your professional goals are, the easier it'll be for you to make the right career decisions – and it sends a strong message to employers as well. "Employers want to know that you have some sort of ambition to strive towards. And it doesn't have to be as clear-cut as 'I want to be an Assistant Director in a year,'" says Jamey. "It can be more general, like 'I just want to do big feature films,' or 'I just want to work in sports,' or 'I just want to continue to grow my skills.'"
And while major markets like New York or Los Angeles tend to be the first cities that come to mind when thinking about the film industry, they're definitely not the only options. "It all depends on what you want to do. Some people will build up in a smaller market and then make the jump to a bigger city, and some go right into the big leagues and hit the market running," Jamey says. "There is work everywhere. I've seen grads in South Dakota who are so busy that they brush away a ton of work."
Ultimately, Jamey points out that Full Sail students have the opportunity to get started on moving towards their film careers before they even graduate, with the sheer number of campus visits, organizations, and other events available to them while still in school. "From the recent campus visits we've had from companies like Warner Bros. and WWE to relationships like the one that Full Sail has with ESPN, there are so many high caliber things that students can tap into," he says. "I see students who are involved in stuff on campus, clubs, and doing things that some people wait till after they graduate to even start. And that's the kind of momentum that absolutely carries you towards a career."