Eitan Loewenstein is a screenwriter living in Los Angeles. Prior to his writing career Eitan was an actor where he appeared on iCarly, Ghost Whisperer, a half dozen commercials and loads of other projects no one’s ever seen. Eitan is currently writing a comedy feature and hopes to sell it for a billion dollars.
So, you want to answer phones for the people who make movies happen? You dream about making copies for the guy who sold a TV show that ran for three seasons on CW a couple years back? Are you dying to be the guy who tells the extras where to eat their lunch? Let’s make that dream come true!
These are the jobs are on the “inside” where you can learn the true ins and outs of the business. It’s a learning education second to none.
As a rule industry office jobs and production jobs are not for busy actors who need to be free for frequent auditions. But if you’re not too busy during the day these jobs let you make some great connections and you can see how this business is really run while you build up your credits. You might end up befriending an insider who’s supportive of your career. If you ARE a busy actor (lucky you) I’ve thrown in a couple places where personal assistant jobs are posted. These can sometimes be flexible and depending on the client can lead to some good connections. They key to a happy working environment is to be honest when you’re hired.
I started out as an intern at a production company while I was acting and had a national commercial running. I figured I’d make a few connections and move on when I booked my next big job. A year and a half and one promotion later I hadn’t done anything else with my acting career and I was spending 9 hours a day behind a desk.
Most companies won’t allow you a 2 hour lunch break so you can run to Santa Monica for an audition. As one sadistic producer said to me, “In some places if a single incoming phone call goes to voicemail, you get fired.” There are some laid back people in this business but even they expect their underlings to be committed and focused. I got “asked to leave” my old job when I took off a few days to get married. I convinced them I wouldn’t do it again and they let me stay on until my auditions started picking up and I volunteered to go.
I did make some amazing connections while working at the production company which did film and some TV development. It wasn’t a central hub like working at an agency but I met some great producers who have been invaluable resources during my journey through this business. As an actor networking with film producers can be tricky because most of them can go years between times they’re casting something and even then it’s often the director’s call who gets hired. Still, they know people who know people. A good producer can be a good friend to an actor.
By some amazing luck I managed to get to my commercial agent through my job at the production company. For a few months we shared offices with a top tier management company. One of the Junior Managers and I were friendly and he introduced me to an agent he had just met at a party. She had only been at her current position for a month and was building up her client roster.
Some firms have a policy against hiring actors fearing the frequent schedule changes and the perceived flakiness. It might even be hard to get an unpaid internship if you’re an actor but it can’t hurt to ask as each company has their own policy. The most important thing is to be honest when you’re interviewing but you don’t have to pour your heart out while writing a cover letter or on your resume. Bring it up in the interview when you’ve already charmed them. But if you lie to them when you’re hired how are you going to parlay that into a connection later on? I know I said I wasn’t an actor but since you’re casting this TV show… kind of awkward.
Myself, I’ve stopped pursuing acting for writing. These kinds of jobs work well for writers because a film producer might only hire actors once every few months/years but they’re always looking for a new script. Actors have a harder time using these contacts to their advantage but they’re a lot more valuable as connections than a shift supervisor at Subway.
By far the best resource out there is with people you know. I’ve gotten introduced to a large number of amazing people just by asking for introductions. Don’t think just because someone’s not in the “business” that they don’t know anyone. My great-aunt who lived her whole life in Boston happened to know a Los Angeles based AD who was working for Bruckheimer, my wife has introduced me to a couple executive producers she’s met through her completely outside the industry job… ask everyone you know. This is not the time to be shy.
Another major point to make is that these listings only pick up a tiny percentage of the jobs out there. This will come as no surprise to anyone who has tried to be an actor but most job listings aren’t listed for the public to see. They’re e-mailed around between a few friends or someone simply calls up a couple people he knows and asks if they know someone who’s looking for work. Connections are gold. Job listings are green tinted bronze, at best.
Currently I’m unemployed (helping out those high unemployment numbers) and here’s a list of resources I use to look for work:
Free to You:
UTA List/Temp Diaries – This is the cream of the crop. The biggest agencies, the busiest production companies and network TV shows go through here if they write up a job listing at all. I get the list in a timely manner from friends sporadically but it’s posted online with a delay of a few days. I suggest you sign up for their mailing list as they e-mail you when the list comes out and they also forward on a few good job leads that aren’t on the official listing. On their website they also have a listing of temp agencies used by the business. Those guys are absolutely flooded with people who need work, but you should get listed with them anyway. Temps are the lowest of the low. If you’re a temp expect that no one will bother learning your name, but they can be a good way to get some experience and make some money.
Staci’s Job List: Once in a while there’s something good in there but it’s often a rehash of UTA list stuff a week late. She still has some unique stuff in there once in a while and it’s worth the sporadic e-mails.
The Grapevine Agency: They sometimes have assistant type jobs but mostly they have nanny/housekeeper work. If you’re looking for personal assistant work they’re not bad either.
The Help Company: They also have personal assistant work and once in a while have “office assistant” jobs. They’re a bit NY heavy and also have lots of nanny/housekeeper listings.
Reality Staff: This one has a few office positions but is mostly work in the field and in production of reality shows. Once in a while they have a non-reality gig as well. I’ve never used their pay service but it lets you attach a cover letter to your submission. Of course if you’re enterprising you can often find the hiring company and contact them directly without having to pay Reality Staff anything although they’re doing some good work, so it wouldn’t hurt to throw them some change.
Each of the studios has their own site for hiring. NBC has recently broken off from the GE site and now has their own, Fox has one, Time Warner has one and MTV has one. Disney’s is weird and is hard to figure out what jobs are new, but they have one too. Paramount I think uses Monster.com. The links to all of those can be found with a 10 second Google search, so I won’t bother to list them.
As an aggregate search tool I use is indeed.com which picks up A LOT of duplicate positions (I see 3 month old listings at NBC once in a while) but it can find jobs listed in odd places that you can’t search every 10 minutes. I have a bunch of searches saved on there. I still check as many sites as possible in case my search terms don’t pick something up and also to get past the delay in Indeed’s indexing but this is a great way to cast a wide net.
For Some Money:
I don’t spend money on any of these services and I certainly don’t get a dime from them. But here are a couple that I’ve heard are legit. They cover many of the same jobs that the free sites do. Don’t cry if you spent your 20 bucks and don’t find anything you haven’t seen before.
I know nothing about Media Biz Jobs except that a friend told me they’re good. Not a creepy friend either, but a nice one.
Production Notices used to have some free stuff and it was always high quality. They’ve since started charging but from what I’ve seen the quality hasn’t suffered at all. They often have PA jobs that you don’t see anywhere else.
Interning is a great way to get work, but you’re not going to get paid at first. These positions are in clear violation of labor law but no one seems to care much. You’ll be fetching coffee, making copies and doing other work that people get paid to do but you simply won’t get paid. If you’re working for a halfway legit company these positions can lead to work. Don’t fall for the “Intern Personal Assistant” jobs that are billed as something that could lead to paid work if the producer whose house you’ll be “interning” at sells a script. Work for a company or at least someone with a real office. While I was working as an intern I was offered several jobs within my company.
How to get these jobs? Just call up companies and ask for whoever hires their interns. Say you want to intern for them. If they don’t need anyone, call the next company. Some places are flooded with interns and some will let anyone come in and intern. Also if you intern at a place that passes around scripts you can read upcoming (possibly casting) projects to your hearts content.
I greatly dislike Hollywood Entertainment Jobs. They post fake job listings all over the Internet and when you respond to them (they’re often at something like firstname.lastname@example.org) they write back telling you to pay for this site if you want to be considered for the job. Who knows if the job even exists in the first place. Lame. If you want to spend money spend it on companies that don’t spam.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go find a job/sell a script…