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Entry Level Job Perfect for Starting a job in Hollywood

Updated on April 2, 2018
Kenna McHugh profile image

Kenna worked on many productions as PA, Craft Services, Talent Scout, Grip, and Producer. Credits include Bowling for Columbine, Wallace.

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Getting Your First Job

How do you get the "first job" that gets your foot inside the magical Hollywood door? You have the options of internships or volunteering.

In other words, you will demonstrate the ability to do whatever is needed and will do it well with no or low pay. Therefore, once you are in and do a professional job, the proverbial door is always open.

Most important to the process, however, is that you are willing -- in the beginning, at least -- to work on the cheap or even free. The idea is to accumulate a list of "credits" -- that is, a portfolio, a reputation.

Building Credits

Hollywood is big on reputation along with perseverance. Knowing who you know is another way to get your foot in the door.

Building a portfolio can only done by being willing to take on whatever work is being offered by the production at whatever pay is being offered, even if that's zilch.

An entry-level job, like a production assistant, can make on the average a flat rate of $100 a day, which could include meals. The best rate I have experienced as a production assistant is $150/8 hours, which means overtime is considered.

Nevertheless, don't get too excited because even if you offer your services free, you may still find it hard to attract any takers, as even an unpaid crew member needs to be covered by insurance, shown the ropes, fed - you get the idea.

Your best opportunity to build your portfolio is to work on smaller independent shoots where the production, most likely, can't afford to pay you or feed you well. On the upside, track these shoots down and volunteer! Once your resume begins to show the depth of your experience, you can start to aim for bigger crews on larger shoots and better pay.

It is best to start making contacts in your local area. You can contact your local film commission and see if they have a hotline number or a Web site. Most big city film commissions do. Check with your film commission once a week to find out if a production company is coming to town. Even take the time to visit the film commission office and make yourself known, hang around a bit, even help the office. Sometimes the production companies will leave a contact number with the film commission.

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Places to Look

Another idea, you can contact local casting directors and see if they know of any production companies coming to town. As you call these contacts, make sure you find out about other production coming up and their contact numbers - in other words - network.

Here are some general numbers and Web sites to contact for information on film work in the area. In my book, Breaking Into Film provides a comprehensive listing of key film employees.

California Film Commission -- 800-858-4749

San Francisco Film Commission Hotline -- (415) 554-6244

New York Film Commission -- 212-803-2330

New York City Film Commission -- 212-489-6710

Texas Film Commission -- 512-463-9200

Chicago Film Office -- 312-744-6415

Illinois Film Office - 312-814-3600

New Mexico Film Office - 800-545-9871

City of Seattle Film Office - 206-684-0903

© 2007 Kenna McHugh

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    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      6 months ago

      I wonder if the trend will be to replace extras with CGI for cost savings. In the olden days for epic battles and such they'd hire 1,000+ extras, now they use CGI. It might be practical at some point to do it on a smaller scale.

    • Kenna McHugh profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenna McHugh 

      6 months ago from Northern California

      You are probably right. I am not familiar with their incentives.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      6 months ago

      .NYC & SF good for extras and actors but rough for film making on a budget.

    • Kenna McHugh profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenna McHugh 

      6 months ago from Northern California

      DC might be good. NYC is a strong union town, which means perks and bonuses are enforced. One time, I was an extra on a movie being filmed in SF. The extras reached the golden hour (on set for 21 hours), which meant full day's wage each hour from then until sent home. It also meant we sat around a lot. My paycheck was nice!!!

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      6 months ago

      Yes, they do a lot of TV and movie work there. DC probably isn't a bad place for extra work. Since it's the capital there is always a certain number of movies being filmed there.

    • Kenna McHugh profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenna McHugh 

      6 months ago from Northern California

      NYC is a good city for extra work. It pays well.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      6 months ago

      New York City.

    • Kenna McHugh profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenna McHugh 

      6 months ago from Northern California

      Where does your brother live or go to school?

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      6 months ago

      No, my brother does extra work as a hobby. I also had a roommate years ago who wanted to break into acting. He and another man from the dormitory were extras in the Jackie Chan movie The Big Brawl. We saw my roommate in the movie 5 times. I don't know how far he got in his acting career.

    • Kenna McHugh profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenna McHugh 

      6 months ago from Northern California

      Thank you for visiting my article. Working as an extra is easier to break into the business because the task is not very hard or doesn't take much knowledge - just patience. Extras spend hours waiting and sometimes never get called to set. Large cities like San Francisco, Austin, Houston, Seattle have casting agencies that deal with herding extras on a movie set. Are you thinking of being an extra?

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      6 months ago

      Many good tips for getting in the film making door. What about working as an "extra"?

    • profile image

      Kenna 

      10 years ago

      You need to take a look at the article again and see if there is something in the article you don't understand -- like a word or words. Look those up in a dictionary and then re-read the article.

      You will find the beef and the jobs then. Good luck. Let me know how you do.

    • profile image

      f.g 

      10 years ago

      wheres the beef? the jobs?????????

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