One of my favorite parts of the movie “The Devil Wears Prada” is when Stanley Tucci’s character, Nigel, gives Anne Hathaway’s Andy, the talking-to that turns around her attitude. He tells her that it is HER attitude that is the problem. “This place where so many people would die to work, you only deign to work.” Andy changes her attitude, and her style, and her life improves somewhat. If this had actually been her dream career, she would have been set on a good path, and as it was she eventually saw the benefit of having a grateful attitude when Miranda writes her a fantastic recommendation.
The lesson for people coming in to the film business, is never consider the entry level tasks beneath you. Don’t merely deign to work as a PA, or consider yourself above the material, genre or milieu. It may be that Reality TV or Entertainment gossip shows are very lightweight fare for someone who aspires to directing a great American drama, or world changing documentaries. But they are a start. Your attitude in treating your beginning work seriously will be noticed, as would the opposite.
In HR lingo, it’s called “taking ownership” – accepting the responsibility for doing a task well. You will see this phrase or similar ones increasingly in job listings as part of the desired characteristics of the successful job candidates. Make sure you are willing, enthusiastic and responsible. That is the way to move up in the business.