Getting started in the entertainment industry often translates into low-paying or no-paying grunt work, but it can still be highly rewarding. If you're willing to accept the low pay and the often menial tasks you will be given for the first two to three years, chances are it will get you on the career path you've been dreaming of. Temping is a good way in, interning is also a smart choice as is volunteering on a shoot. Here are four entry-level jobs you can seek even if you don't have experience.
Taking Temporary Entertainment Positions
One of the fastest ways to get the experience you need to break in is to sign up with a temp agency. Temp agencies place you in a wide variety of positions within entertainment. Most of these positions are administrative in nature, such as working as an assistant for a few days or weeks. While the glamour may be missing, it's often the best route to get yourself onto a studio lot.
By signing with a temp agency, you'll not only meet a number of potentially influential people, but you'll also be in the prime position to find out what else might be available that matches more with your career goals. Make sure that when you reach out to a temp agency, you find out whether they place positions within the entertainment or media landscape. Or research those temp agencies on the internet. You can also find out which temp agencies each major studio or network uses by contacting their human resources departments and simply asking the first person who picks up the phone. There are many independent production companies in cities all around the country, so you can apply the same strategy wherever you may reside. These companies produce a wide variety of video productions, like commercials, which is a good start to gaining hands-on experience.
Most major networks and studios offer a wide variety of internship programs. The good news is you don't necessarily need to be in college to take advantage of them. These programs span a wide variety of fields from writing and directing to programming and development. If you hold minority status, look to see what minority-specific programs each company might offer. To find out about these programs, visit the various corporate websites and search under their "jobs" section for a list of available internship programs. You may have to consider relocating to pursue your dream job.
Volunteering to Gain a Foothold
One of the easiest ways to get experience is to offer to work for free. Almost everyone in the entertainment business could use an extra pair of hands, and if you can afford to forgo a paycheck for a short period, you'll receive hands-on experience and networking opportunities. For example, if you learn of a movie or TV shoot, through research or by chance that day, walk up to someone on the set and ask if there are any departments that they know of that might offer volunteer opportunities. From the camera department to the makeup department, most movie sets are often shorthanded and more than likely, you'll sign a waiver and be working the same day.
If you live outside of big entertainment cities, find out about films or television shows being produced in your area by contacting your local film commission. If your city doesn't have a film commission, check with the county clerk's office.
Becoming an Independent Producer
This veers from entry-level positions as mentioned above. Some of the greatest names in Hollywood started out by writing their own rules. They opted not to start out as a production assistant on the latest Spielberg film but chose to make their own film from the start. Although this is not a road that's easily traveled, there is certainly much to be said for individuals who take a chance and risk it all. If you feel that you have a project that you want to get off the ground right now, then go for it. Read every book you can get your hands on and educate yourself on the process. Find the money and talent that you need to get your project going. A good reference guide for new producers is "The Movie Business Book" by Jason E. Squire. Add this to your must-read list if becoming an independent producer sounds like the right choice for you.