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Ultimate Success with Film Job Listings and Set Etiquette

Kenna wrote, and directed several plays, taught acting for kids. She is a former talent scout and directs and produces.


Variety and Hollywood Reporter

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

No matter what part of the film business you are interested in as a career, you will most likely start as a production assistant. That is not a bad start because you can work your way up with a solid film business plan.

In all and 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. As a production assistant, you need to know what is going on now and in your future.

With the trades, you find out what the studios, producers, directors, production designers, art designers, and more are doing. This information is invaluable. You also need to know where the movies are in production.

If you don't know what is happening in the industry, you will not succeed in the film business.

So, face up to the fact that you should order both of the trades, Daily Variety and the Hollywood Reporter.

Keep reading the trades, learn the business, and you will find out more about the industry.

If you can't afford both, and they are expensive, subscribe to at least one of them because they're lifelines of the business. You learn the who, what, and where of the film industry at your fingertips.

Advantages of Reading the Trades

As in every industry, there are advantages to reading 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 prominent 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 everyone reads them, information published in the trades is frequently referred to, and when people talk, you want to know what to be in the know. 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 film business jobs are available.

While it's unnecessary to read the trades from cover to cover, you should certainly read the main articles and the popular columns and scan everything else. You never know when something you read in the trades will turn out to help build your career, and you never want to pass up an opportunity like that.

What Do You Think?

How the Trades Help Your Career

Let's take a look at being a production assistant who reads the trades.

When a producer comes on the set, they don't always wear a suit, and you don't recognize them sometimes. Reading the trades helps you identify influential people in the industry, which is to your benefit.

One time, a producer came on the set, and he looked like a regular Joe. Because I knew of him, Barry Levinson, I was on top of it and made sure the director and other crew members knew he was on the set. It helped the situation out, and the crew appreciated my due diligence.

Another example is that a friend worked on the same production that I did, directed by Joe Dante. My friend read the trades and was very familiar with Dante's work, which made the gig fun because Dante talked to him about his comic book career. He even autographed some of his comic books.

It would help if you acted like a professional before you were a professional. When directors and producers that quality in you, you gain a positive impression. They make a mental note and are likely to hire you again. Avoid being flattering or fawning at the director or producer, but work hard and do your job well.

The most relevant career advice I can give you is to study the trades. Trades help you learn the business of making a career in the film industry.

Trades on the Internet

Another cool thing about using the trades is looking for production notices that are hiring. The trade publications are now available on the Internet, allows you to subscribe to Variety or Hollywood Report, or both. Get to know them as an invaluable online source for future work.

Once you are familiar with each trade's website, you are more likely to get a job in production because you have more knowledge, and knowledge is power. You need to be persistent and never give up looking. Work is out there, and the trades will help you find it.

Production Assistant's Handbook

There is a book called Production Assistant's Handbook, and I recommend it for not only wannabes but PAs who worked on a couple of sets. I work in the business, read it, and learned about talking on two-way radios. I discovered significant viewpoints of working on the film set.

© 2007 Kenna McHugh

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