Not Really Ready For His Close-Up

Q: With an undergraduate degree in film and a concentration in film production, I haven’t found any work since graduating in May 2003. I want to work in a film studio or production company as a creative executive and then produce films. I have been cold contacting several entertainment companies and browsing several entertainment Websites. However, I find it very difficult to break in, especially with no real experience and/or contacts.

Financially, unpaid internships aren’t viable options, but I need to get my foot in the door. I am considering relocating to Los Angeles for more options. Can you offer me any advice?
— M. Roberts, New York

A: Few industries today are cold-contact oriented, the least of which is the film and entertainment industry. It’s all about who you know and who knows you—and the work you do. You can’t just read about this industry, you have to work it. In an area like film, you make contacts by getting involved in trade organizations and internships. Having newly graduated, finding a job that pays is important, but internships are how you get your foot in the door; it’s how you develop the relationships that will get you into other doors as you grow in the field. Make up in your mind that these are the years you make the sacrifices. You may have to intern during the day and work a night shift and on weekends.

Also, consider your alumni association. Those networks, particularly in creative fields, are often very strong and influential. It would be an ideal place to find a mentor. As for relocating, make a plan for how you will aggressively target this industry. Yes, Los Angeles is the film capital, but if you’re heading West without a strategy, you might as well stay put.