6 Top Traits for a Successful Career in the Industry
Many traits make for a successful career in the film industry, and our skill at our jobs is just one of them.
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Working on set, we work with many other people in close quarters for long hours, so it helps to be well-suited for that type of work. Some people do better working alone.
Here are what I think are the top six traits you need for a successful career in the industry:
- You can get along with a broad range of personality types.
A film set is not your average office workplace. Our industry attracts unique personality types, some of whom can be highly challenging to work with daily.
We often witness behavior that would not be tolerated in most other workplaces. If you have the skill to navigate difficult situations with various personality types, you have a head start on most people.
Screaming directors, uncooperative crew members, and disappearing actors and extras can be daily occurrences. It makes me appreciate the wonderful, professional people we work with even more.
If you can calmly deal with all types of people, you’ve mastered a crucial element of a successful career in the business.
- You enjoy working in a stressful, high-pressure environment.
Some people thrive on pressure and enjoy the challenge of working in that type of setting. Those people are often drawn to our industry and flourish there.
It helps to be open to change, and new situations, too, as working on different shows in constantly changing locations requires a certain level of adaptability.
Our industry is always stressful, with long hours and constant time pressure. I’ve never been on a show that I’d consider laid back.
So anyone choosing a career in the industry should be able to handle pressure, as we never get to work at our own pace.
Take one look at a shooting schedule or call sheet for an episodic television show, and you’ll see what I mean. It would be great to have a few more shooting days per episode so everyone could slow down, but that never happens.
Be ready to work fast under pressure.
- You work well as part of a team.
It’s not about you; it’s about you as part of a team. It’s an asset if you’re the type of person who doesn’t get rattled and works well as part of a team.
When I was interviewing for the DGA training program, we were put into groups and given tasks to complete while psychologists evaluated us working as a team. Some of us worked well as part of a team, and the psychologists weeded out those who didn’t.
That’s how important they deemed teamwork to be for working on set. I’d have to agree, but I think most people are adaptable to the situation at hand.
If your teamwork skills are weak, improve them. Volunteer to serve on a committee or help out with an event.
We’re all capable of improving our skills.
- You can accept constructive criticism without getting defensive.
Some people can’t take criticism, and it holds them back. We’ve all worked with people like that, and it can be unpleasant.
We can’t learn and grow if we get defensive whenever we’re criticized. Yes, some criticism can seem petty, but we have to be open to learning from our mistakes.
Sometimes our small actions can have a more significant impact than we realize on other departments on set, and can affect the workday for everyone.
You don’t have to explain yourself and why you did what you did; just accept the criticism and move on.
Listen to what the person doing the criticizing is saying. Sometimes we’re so worried about how we’ll respond that we ignore what they’re saying.
If someone gives you constructive criticism, they’ve done you a favor. View it as an opportunity to learn and grow.
- You have physical stamina.
We’re on our feet a lot in our business, especially if you work on set. We spend a lot of time standing, walking, and occasionally running, so it helps to have stamina.
We need to have energy left after a long day on our feet.
It helps to have comfortable shoes. One thing I learned early on is not to skimp on footwear. I wore the least expensive sneakers I could find to work when I started, and consequently, I have foot problems today.
It can be challenging to eat well and get enough sleep in our business, but if we eat snacks from craft service all day and are sleep-deprived, we’ll be dragging by the end of the day.
We have to do everything we can to take care of ourselves and hopefully have some stamina for the following day.
- You have a growth mindset.
A growth mindset means that you thrive on challenges and see failure as an opportunity to improve, and you believe in your ability to become better through hard work and help from others.
Seeing failures as opportunities for growth and not beating yourself up about them is a sign of maturity. If there’s one thing we need in our industry, it’s persistence.
We all make mistakes and have bad experiences, but we can’t let them slow down our progress. Having a growth mindset serves us well in our business.
Recognizing we will have failures from which we can learn and grow will put us on track to long-term success.
We can all develop the traits we need for a successful career in the industry. We need to take the time to listen and learn and accept that we’ll make mistakes and have failures along the way.
Those who are adaptable and have the tenacity to persevere will succeed.