How Long Does it Take to Find a Job in Hollywood?
A reader asks:
Last month there was an article in the LA Times by Ben Fritz about how the previous Hollywood model of aspiring assistants climbing the ranks to studio execs or movie producers is no longer valid. With recent staff cuts and fewer movies being made many 20 and 30 somethings are losing faith in the system and moving elsewhere because of vanishing opportunities. Given your expertise and first hand experience in this field is this something you are seeing as the trend or are perhaps the ones that leave the ones that lacked the motivation to be there in the first place?
Here’s the link to Ben Fritz’s article: In Hollywood, a tougher climb to studio executive ranks.
To answer your question: Yes, there are fewer assistant jobs than there were five years ago. I was hired as a PA just four days after I moved to LA, and I had no connections. I simply faxed my resume to every show that was in production and landed several interviews. At the time, every show I interviewed for had at least three PAs. When I started at According to Jim, we had two EP’s assistants, a line producer’s assistant, two production office PAs, a night PA, a writer’s PA, and three writer’s assistants. Today, it’s common for ALL the EPs to share an assistant and for the production office to have one office PA (who also functions as the writer’s PA), one night PA, and one writer’s assistant.
Unfortunately, it takes longer to break in than it used to. I have very qualified friends who lived in LA for a year before landing a PA job. My advice is to stick with it. Make as many connections as you can, build the best resume you can, and be patient.
Six months ago, my friend Jill interviewed for a PA job. While she didn’t get the job, the coordinator told her to keep in touch. About a month ago, Jill emailed the coordinator: “If you hear of any openings, I’d greatly appreciate a recommendation.” A few weeks later, the coordinator called: “One of our PAs is leaving. If you’re still available, we’d love to hire you.”
Jill is now a PA on an NBC drama. (Which is great for her and terrible for me. Friday night is date night! My husband works late, and Jill and I get crazy in Agoura Hills. Last Friday I had a date with Chinese takeout and One Life To Live. When does your show wrap, Jill?)
If someone tells you to stay in touch, they mean it. Coordinators can’t possibly remember everyone they’ve interviewed, so it’s important to stay in touch so that when a job opens up, you’re fresh in their minds. You can always email them and say, “I’m looking for assistant work and would greatly appreciate if you could pass my resume along.” And DON’T FORGET TO ATTACH YOUR RESUME. Don’t assume they kept a copy of it.
Happy job hunting!