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Film Jobs vs Film Careers

Updated on May 29, 2019
Kenna McHugh profile image

Kenna wrote and directed several plays, taught acting for kids. She is a former talent scout, and at times directs or performs.

District 9
District 9

Film Career Paths

Becoming a Makeup Artist

Deciding that she wanted to make this her career in films, Laura got in touch with some of the major studios. However, they wouldn't hire her because she wasn't a union member, and she needed to have a job to be in the union – the standard problem for most novices wanting film careers.

But, she did not give up. She got smart and contacted several independent movie companies. She did her homework and found out those who work on films for independents don't have to be union members. With some persistence, she managed to talk her way into a job as a makeup assistant on a biker movie, helping the makeup artist, do whatever needed to be done.

As these things happened, one thing led to another, and eventually, she got a job working on a horror film, helping to create and do the makeup for the monster in the movie. Although the work wasn’t easy, she enjoyed herself.

Today she’s still working for independent movie companies on horror, science fiction, and biking films. She still doesn't have a union card, but she is making a good living at doing what she does best -- creating monsters as a career in film.

Laura’s advice for those who want to do special effects makeup is to get a job selling cosmetics. “Once you learn the basics,” she says, “you can offer to do makeup for school and community theaters, or talk to your friends into letting you practice on them. The important thing,” she asserts, “is to practice your craft.”

Sound in Film
Sound in Film

Career for Film Production

ADR/Foley Sound Recordist

Mike came out to Hollywood from Chicago. He had no definite plans, yet knew he wanted to work in film. So he wandered around working in temporary jobs in the film business going to productions feeling awkward and confused with much hesitation and some embarrassing mistakes. He worked as a production assistant until someone offered him a job as a camera assistant.

Camera assistant suited Mike well. He was responsible for keeping track of camera shots. He also learned how to set up the "road map" for editors and other post-production people. This experience helps land the job he has now, an ADR/Foley sound recordist. He was fortunate to be trained in this position, and now it is his permanent job. He is a success story of making it happen in Hollywood.

When Mike started working as an ADR/Foley sound recordist, his company was non-union. Later, the local sound union stepped in to organize the company, and Mike was able to join. Joining the union opened the door to many opportunities for many different jobs. But, his love is ADR/Foley because you have to be patient and detailed-oriented.

What does ADR/Foley involve? The hours are very long. Mike sometimes works a 15-hour day. But, he is a union member and gets compensated by being paid overtime. He came a long way from being a confused and awkward production assistant.

It looks like ADR/Foley sound editors are part of the Motion Picture Sound Editors Guild. Being a part of the guild ensures proper wages and health care benefits while someone is watching your back.

To get into the union, you need a job on any production. Sometimes directors are looking for temp work. Like, they have a big production and are coming to town.

They need someone in the office at the desk, making thousands of calls to secure five hundred extras for a major shot in a couple of days.

It might not be what you want to be or do in the industry, but it gets your foot in the door.

Film Career Websites

Several film career websites offer details on how to get into the film industry. The information is so much more than the basics but invaluable. The sites even ask experts or non-experts feedback and any information they would like to share. I discovered not only information but terms and links to other sites to any profession in the film industry is helpful.

How to Do Special Effects

Learning Hollywood special effects is a way for you to work with animation and model building to film, television, and video and computer games. Every medium uses special effects today. Knowing how to learn about Hollywood special effects can open the door to a very magical, artistic career that influences millions of people yearly. Apply the following steps to gain knowledge about Hollywood special effects.

Wonderstruck's Director Working on Location

What Do You Think?

What career would you like to pursue in the film industry?

See results

Movie Special Effects

Become familiar with the Hollywood special effects field. Visit bookstores, look over and study the special effects magazines. Even subscribe to a couple of magazines that stands out with vital and informative articles about special effects. Take the time to visit special effects websites. Get to know the industry, so you know the direction of the field in Hollywood.

Locate some special effects vocational schools or colleges where you get hands-on training of subjects like Basic Motion Picture Techniques for Animators, Screenwriting Fundamentals, Introduction to Film, Video and Computer Animation, Contemporary Animation, Animation Production, Directed Studies in Animation, Case Studies in National Media and Film and Related Art.

How Relationships Work

Based on what you have learned at your vocational training, establish a relationship with special effects post-production house. Many times students take on internships through their schools and get in the door that way. If you are more of a maverick, you cold call, offering your knowledge and skills to independent film producers.

The nature of filmmaking tends to create instantly close relationships. You share the drama, the trauma, the madness, and the magic of creating images and stories that move people. It isn't hard to keep the relationships up once "that's a wrap," but it does take some effort. Projects change, companies move, people freelance around. You become forgotten if you don't keep yourself in touch.

Woody Allen Talks About Working Relationships in Film Production

Film and Gaming Careers

Working in game design crosses over to working in the film industry because there are similarities with movie franchises developing a game like Jurassic Park or a game becoming a movie like Tomb Raider.

A bachelor degree in Game Design prepares students for the competitive computer and video game industry where they can join game development teams in studios like LucasArts, Electronic Arts, Nintendo, and Sony; even work in the military, architectural and educational fields.

Even though designing games are not making special effects for a movie, they are both very similar and require computer engineering as well as a great imagination. You work in state-of-the-art hardware and software locations where you immersed in all aspects of computer and video game design from storyboards to the polished product.

The software game industry growth is not slowing down, and revenues are at a steady increase. According to DFC Intelligence Studios, they are looking for talented game designers to join their development teams.

Giganews reported computer and video game industry salaries vary quite a bit. Prominent designers have significantly larger salaries compared to average salaries designers hold that depend on differing job requirements. Research by placement companies suggests the average annual salaries for designers range from $35,000 to $75,000.

Hollywood Studios

Just by watching the latest Hollywood movies tells you Hollywood big players are putting a lot of time and money into special effects, which involves movies, Internet and video and computer games.

Other careers in the film industry are available such as makeup, hairstyle, costume, set painter, and more. Whatever you choose as your career path, your success depends on building lasting relationships with those you work with on each production.

© 2007 Kenna McHugh

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