I always remember the Woody Allen line from his movie Crimes and Misdemeanors: “Show business is… worse than dog-eat-dog. It’s dog-doesn’t-return-other-dog’s-phone-calls… It doesn’t matter where you are in your career, looking for work is one of the not-so-fun aspects of being an editor. A year ago I interviewed fifteen LA-area editors for the second edition of my book Cut by Cut: Editing Your Film or Video, due out in spring or summer 2012. Here’s what they said along with a lot of comments of my own.
Be pleasantly persistent.
Editor Kathleen Korth, Fly Girls, IMAX films, E.T. (assistant editor) and others.
Be clear about what job you want to pursue and what you can do. Keep a file or notebook with your stated goal, the contact info of people and companies to call on, and a record of when you emailed, called, and visited them. Get in touch with everyone you know, contact everyone they know, follow every lead, climb every stairway. Every time you call someone and they don’t have anything, inquire when you can phone them again. Mark down the date and dial! Persistency pays!
Get around. Get on the radar of people who make the shows you like. It doesn’t matter if you’re technically good: Show them you’re in their world.
Steve Rasch, A.C.E., Important Things with Demetri Martin, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Spin City.
Follow every path you know and then some. Knock on doors, make cold calls — get out there! Put yourself in the employer’s position: What are they looking for? Roam studios, cutting rooms, post houses. Roam with respect and friendliness, don’t stalk! Use the excuse that you’re dropping off your resume. Then say “Oh, if Chris (the person you spoke to on the phone and the one who could hire you) happens to be free, I’d love to say “hi” and put a name and resume with a face.”
Drop off your resume instead of emailing, mailing, or faxing it. This way you can check out the place. You never know who you may run into — a helpful stranger or an old friend who’s aware of a job. Yours truly got her first Hollywood job as a result of roaming the Twentieth Century Fox lot and approaching someone she’d never met or received a referral to.
Many editing systems have users groups that meet monthly. FCP has quarterly Supermeets around the country; Avid often has big shindigs when introducing new products and software versions. These are great places to meet people, learn, and maybe win a raffle! Be prepared with your card, what you plan to tell and ask people, and get out there. No matter how depressed or pessimistic you feel, put yourself out and you’ll be surprised at what you learn and whom you connect with: Old friends and associates as well as new. Act like you’re ready to start tomorrow and it will happen.
Websites and social network site
Frequent the internet for jobs: Craig’s List, www.Mandy.com, www.Media-Watch.com and other sites list film jobs.. Use Facebook and Twitter to get connected and put the word out. If you’ve made or participated in a professional video that’s on the ‘Net, let people know. Create a website for your projects if that will help you and your work shine.
Learn the latest version of a system’s software, brush-=up on software you haven’t learned in awhile, or take on a new tool. You will need to do this whether or not you’re employed so take advantage of your down time. Go out to lunch with your classmates and keep up with them. You never know when someone will respond with a gig for you.
Guides, magazines, and directories
There are plenty for big film towns like Chicago, LA, and NYC which list post companies, ancillary companies, production companies, and shows starting production.
Informational interviews, mentors, and professional societies
To find out more about the type of job you’re interested and how to get it, take someone to lunch or out for coffee who’s doing it or done it. In this situation, be clear that you’re not going to hit them up for a job but simply interview them about their professional life: How they got to where they are, what they do and like about it, and how a person should go about getting a job.
If the situation is right, or you there’s a program near you, you may find a mentor who can give you advice. And of course sometimes these situations lead to work, but your approach should be eager and informational. And before you meet the person (and this goes for any company you’re interested in) find out as much as you can about them. IMDb will have their professional credits: It’s always a good ice breaker if you loved a project they worked on. Lastly, there are groups like Women in Film that help their members and offer internships, mentors, and other entry-level assistance.
Two more tips: Show up on time and properly dressed for these meet-ups. And continue them once you land a job. Lunching with people is a way to have friends in the biz and land future jobs.
Every college film department — named something different at every school — will have a board with jobs listed. It doesn’t always matter if you’re a student at that the school or anywhere else. The job may be menial and unpaid but it can lead to experience, knowledge, and future contacts.
How do you find work? Joy and other readers would like to know your tips and secrets so send ‘em in.