You can download my e-book “Work In Production Part One: How to format your resume to start or upgrade your career in Film and Television production” on Thursday and Friday, December 22nd and 23rd, for reading on your Kindle, or the free Kindle app for your smart phone, tablet or computer. When you go there Click on BUY IT NOW, not the Read-for-free button (which is the Kindle Select paid service that allows you to borrow books.)
Expanding on the material on this blog, you will learn how to format your letterhead and credits properly, how to present yourself at interviews, and the kind of actions and steps you should take if you are serious about starting a career in entertainment. Bonus chapter includes how to optimize your resume for ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) to apply to listed jobs with Studios, Networks and Production Companies. The material is also great for anyone seeking college internships.
Here’s another taste:
The entry level job is always Production Assistant (PA). They are the people you get to “do anything”. Many departments have PAs, and currently, they are not a Union position. PAs may or may not get an actual line in the film’s end-credit crawl. In the UK PAs are called Runners, although in the US film business, that is a subset of PA, whose job is errands. There are levels and status to PAs too. A Set PA is involved in the shoot on the set, and so is often considered slightly higher in status than an Office PA. Any time a PA is assigned to interact with the talent (not extras a.k.a. background) that is a slightly higher status job.
But other than that, PAs are there to do all kinds of jobs from fetching and carrying, “locking up” (making sure everyone knows that the camera is rolling, so there is silence when the scenes are being shot), distributing sides (script pages of just that day’s work in half size), watching out for people wandering on to the set, cleaning up messes, and sometimes helping out various departments with non-specialized tasks. A PA might be tapped by the Grip Department to hold a flag, or by the Art Department On-set Dresser to help move some furniture. One way you can tell a very low budget picture is if a PA has been assigned to run Craft Service (the on-set refreshments table), instead of hiring a professional for that position. You’d think there would be no difference – it’s just snacks, right? But oh-my-goodness, there is. Good Craft Service professionals take just as much pride in doing a fantastic job as any other skilled pro on a movie set, or anywhere else.
PAs are generalists, but in terms of your film career, it is not good to be seen as such. Film production companies are made up of people who are specialists in their jobs. The higher the budget the more you can hire specialists. Note that when a Director does more than one thing, they get more than one credit. The goal of any PA is to never be a PA again.
The Right Format
The most important section of any production resume is your credits – the past films or TV projects on which you worked. Remember:
The fact that your resumes are based on Credits, rather than past Jobs and Duties, is the primary difference between a production crew resume and a resume for any other kind of job.
Sometimes this can be problematic when all you have done is student films. But if those are your only credits, so be it. One of main the purposes of interning is so that you might have some more pro credits to add to your resume – the other two purposes being starting your networking, and learning how things are done.
As far as student film credits go, many people want to show the breadth of their experience, all their technical accomplishments – especially if they feel like they were a successful one-man band. However, that can make for a pretty messy resume. No real production hires an entry level person to be their DP or even their focus puller (1st A.C.) – although a Camera Department PA might be in the cards. Choose one or at most two positions from each project to use on your credit list. In a moment, you will see a way to write out your credits that will help keep it all neat. [Note: If you download the book]
Credits should be organized by type of project. That is the way it is done on IMDbPro (as distinct from the public version of IMDb.) Doing them this way allows you to customize your resume to different gigs. For example, for a TV application, move the whole TV section to the top.
The usual sections are: Feature Films, Cable/TV, Shorts, Documentary, Industrials, Commercials, Student films. There are also Web Series, although there is some debate about whether these should have their own category or be under TV. I tend towards the latter along with Cable and streaming services.
Eventually you would leave student films off altogether, unless they happened to be an award winner of some kind, or were accepted into a film festival. Note: that is everyone’s student films, not just your own directorial efforts. Also, a UCLA Thesis counts as student, until someone buys it for distribution.
Within each section, most of the time you would organize your credits chronologically, by year of release. Sometimes it helps to put an especially notable production at the top.
When you are working in a specific department, I like to put that department head on the credit, along with the producer. The purpose is to highlight the members of your network – people who work in the same department often know each other.
If you do get the book, I’d appreciate a review. If you have any questions about it, please email me, at RobynLCoburn@gmail.com.