How To Start (and keep) A Career In Film

If you’re looking for a career in film, you’re not alone. Each year, thousands of ambitious Hollywood hopefuls arrive in Los Angeles, eager to climb the entertainment ladder.

Unlike you, most of these people come unprepared to face the competitive landscape. Many never take time to create a plan. And many Hollywood hopefuls simply don’t understand the golden rule of Hollywood Success.

The Best Advice For A Career In Film

A few years back, I sat down with Nina Jacobson. She’s a well respected studio producer and a great person. During our meeting, she provided some essential advice that I’ve been rolling around in my mind ever since. She said that the most important asset you have is your reputation. And for this reason, your credibility is more important than money.

The reason for this is simple. Nobody makes movies alone. Having a successful career in film is dependent on how other people view you. In your quest to make a living making movies, people will either hinder you or help you. Relationships are everything.

This isn’t just true for the movie industry. It’s true for all aspects of your life.

Zig Ziglar - A career in film following Zig's advice

Zig Ziglar – Photo from Wikipedia.

“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”

Quote by Zig Ziglar

One easy way to build credibility is to help GOOD people reach their goals. Approach each new person with a caring intention. Ask yourself: “How can I help this filmmaker get closer to his or her goals?”

When you come up when an answer, do what you say you’re going to do. And do it fast. Nothing will help you gain success faster than delivering value to other people. Relationships are everything!

How To Start (and keep) A Career In Film

If you need some additional help with your networking, you might benefit from the Indie Producer’s Guide to film fiance. In it, there are major sections devoted to helping you build beneficial relationships with hard to reach, prospective investors and Hollywood heavy-weights. You can learn more about the guide here.

How NOT To Get Your Screenplay Read

Get Your Screenplay Read

Get Your Screenplay Read. Image via Wikipedia

A few years back I finished the first draft of my first screenplay ever. Like a lot of folks who dream of Hollywood success, I was eager to share my work with the world. Problem was, I had no idea what I was doing.

Through a friend of a friend, I was put in contact with an “entertainment attorney.” I put the words in quotes because while there are tons of people with a strong work ethic and great integrity, this particular guy was not one of them.

I remember getting off the phone. I was super excited because this guy had agreed to read my screenplay and offer me feedback. So like most writers, I sent off my screenplay – packaged with the appropriate cardstock cover and two brass brads… And a few weeks later I get a email:

“Jason. Thanks for sending me your screenplay. I read it. Because you want to produce your own movie, I think you will need a lawyer who understands how to put together a private placement memorandum. And also, while we did not talk about this prior, you owe me $250 dollars for the hour I spent reading your script. Please send me a check ASAP.”

These days I would tell him to go “F” himself. But back then, I had no idea what I was doing. So I sent him his money. And to make it even worse, $250 dollars represented an entire week’s salary.

The whole point of this is – if someone agrees to do you a “favor,” it’s best to get reciprocal expectations in writing.