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Trades You Gotta Read Them

Industry Trade Papers -- You've Got To Read Them

No matter what part of the film business you're trying to breaking into, most likely you will start out as a production assistant. No matter what, you must read the trade papers. If you don't, you are at a significant professional disadvantage because the trades tell you what is going on in the industry. Even as a production assistant you need to know what is going on for your future.

If you don't know what is going on in the industry, there is no way you can ever succeed in the film business. It is as simple as that. So face up to the fact that you will have to dish out the money and order both of the trades, Daily Variety and the Hollywood Reporter. If you can't afford both, and they're expensive, subscribe to at least one of them because they're lifelines of the business--the who, what and where of the film industry.

As in every industry, there are a number of advantages to reading the trade papers. First, as noted above, they enable you to keep up with what's going on in the industry in general. Second, by reading them you'll be able to identify the industry's most important people, the ones who are making the decisions. Third, they provide you with the latest news in your chosen area of the industry. Fourth, because every one reads them, information published in the trades is frequently referred to, and you'll want to know what people are talking about. Finally, although the best jobs usually don't show up in the "Help Wanted" sections of the trades, those sections, along with production listings, will provide you with a starting point for seeing what kinds of jobs are available.

While it's not necessary for you to read the trades from cover to cover, you should certainly read the main articles and the important columns and at least scan everything else. You never know when something your read in the trades will turn out to be useful in building your career, and you never want to pass up an opportunity to do that.

What Do You Think?

Do you think it is important to have sufficient preparation or experience before working of a film set?

  • No. I can wing it.
  • Yes. I need to at least know the very basics.
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Production Assistant Gig

Let’s take being a production assistant.

Say a producer comes on the set, and producers don’t always wear a suit. I remember one time a producer came on the set he looked like a regular Joe, but because I knew of him, Barry Levinson, I had my wits with me and help a situation out.

Another example, a friend worked on the set of a film directed by Joe Dante. He had read the trades and was very familiar with Dante’ work, which really made the gig a fun gig because Dante actually talked to him about his comic book career.

There are many aspects to being a production assistant. The key is to act like a professional before you are a professional. When directors and producers see this quality in you, they make a mental note. You don’t fawn, but you do produce.

Moreover, most important of all, you have to study the business. Trades are one way of getting to know the business of the film business.

There is a book called Production Assistant's Handbook, and I recommend it for not only newbies but fairly new PAs as well.

Trades on the Internet

Another really cool thing about using the trades looking for production notices is the fact that the trades are now available on the Internet. You can scribed Variety or Hollywood Report or both. Get to know them as an on-line resource.

Once you are familiar with each trade's website, you are more likely to get a job in a production. You need to be persistent and never give up looking. Work is out there.

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