10 Timely Tips for Sure Fire Success in the Film Industry

10 Timely Tips for Sure Fire Success in the Film Industry
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Success in the film industry isn’t always easily achieved.  It can be a brutal business, and that’s not counting all the difficult changes that have come about due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  However, there are certain traits that are valued and appreciated.  They make you stand out from the crowd.  You’ll find yourself fully booked, and even in the enviable position of having to turn down work.

Based my own experience of working more than 30 years in the industry, here are my 10 timely tips for success:

  1. Be persistent.

As the film industry is largely freelance, people move from job to job.  It’s easy to finish a job and relax, but if you want a career in this business, you have to hustle.  That means not being shy about calling or emailing people and asking for what you want.  This is especially true when you’re not yet at the point where you’re getting calls for jobs all the time.  Polite persistence will net rewards.

  1. Be reliable and punctual.

Cast and crew showing up at their designated call time is essential to making the day’s scheduled work.  In the film industry, we’re often driving in the dark to locations that are difficult to find.  Make it a permanent habit to leave plenty of time to get to set and be ready for the day’s work.

  1. Be patient.

In the film industry, as in life, things don’t always happen when we want them to.  Days on set can be painfully long and ‘easy’ days can suddenly become terribly difficult.  Jobs that were a sure thing can quickly disappear, which has happened to me more than once in my career.  Sometimes we just have to slog through it and do the best we can.  Be patient.  Things eventually fall into place.

  1. Network.

In a business of freelancers, there’s no such thing as too much networking.  Take every opportunity to keep up your contacts and make new ones.  As most of us go from job to job, it’s easy to forget about people we haven’t seen or heard from in a while.  Even during the pandemic, I’ve found there are plenty of opportunities to network.  From Zoom meetings to workshops, there’s still a lot going on.  And the best part is, you can now network from home.  For long term success, you’ll need to keep networking throughout your career.

  1. Always be learning and updating your skills.

This morning I took a Zoom workshop on post production.  There’s always something new and interesting to learn about in our industry.  Technology is advancing filmmaking in incredible ways.  Stay curious and keep learning new things.

  1. Have emotional control.

I’ve seen my share of drama on set, including screaming, crying and door slamming.  Creative personalities abound in our industry, and things can sometimes get a bit volatile.  Don’t get sucked into the drama.  Maintain your emotional balance and realize that other people’s drama isn’t about you.

  1. Have good manners.

Many of us on set wear earpieces all day to communicate by radio.  There’s nothing more annoying than hearing a rude, inconsiderate person shouting through the earpiece.  Good manners and mindful walkie etiquette go a long way.  Being known as a polite, pleasant person to work with is a definite advantage.

  1. Be prepared.

Read the script, look at the story boards and shooting schedule and be prepared for the day.  The production office usually emails all the essential paperwork the previous evening.  Read everything thoroughly and print out what you’ll need for the next day.  Paperwork you need may not be available on set right at crew call, especially on location.  Come prepared.

  1. Remain calm.

Many people are just not suited to working on a high pressure film set.  They panic easily, are quick to get angry or otherwise can’t deal with the pressure.  I’ve seen even experienced people become panicky when things aren’t going as planned.  No one likes working with people who panic under pressure.  Be someone who always remains calm on and off set.

  1. Have humility.

There's no shortage of people who lack humility.  Some people wrongly think that humility makes them look weak.  They're mistaken.  Humility will make you appear more secure, competent and intelligent.  Having humility shows that you understand there’s always room for improvement and growth.

Those are the 10 things that have guided me through my career and can help bring about your own success.  To establish a life-long career, practice these tips on a daily basis as you work towards your goal.  Success is all but guaranteed.

Here are some recommendations for your journey to career success:

Disclaimer:  I have an affiliate relationship with the products mentioned below.  That means that at no additional cost to you, I'll earn a small commission from any sales.  This helps cover the cost of running this blog.

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Miguel Ruiz has guided many readers on their journey to personal and professional success over the years.   I've read it several times and recommend it.  The Audio CD version of the book can be found HERE.

In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice From Over 100 Makers, Artists and Entrepreneurs by Grace Bonney offers inspiration from some exceptional women for your own journey to success.  The book can be found HERE.

The Artist's Way: 25th Anniversary Edition by Julia Cameron has become a classic for anyone pursuing a creative career.  I've had this book for over 25 years, read through it many times and highly recommend it.  The book can be found HERE.

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