I’ve received several emails asking how to apply for assistant positions using production listings. Below are my answers to your questions.
Where do I find production listings?
Here are the sites I recommend:
The Mercury Production Report ($52.00/mo.)
Same as above.
Production Bulletin ($39.95/mo.)
Same as above.
Who do I attention my resume and cover letter to?
If a listing provides phone and fax numbers for the production office, production companies and studio, which number do I apply to?
Send your application materials to the PRODUCTION OFFICE, not the production company, studio, or network. If the production office number isn’t listed, call one of the numbers that is listed and ask for the production office number.
Should I apply to shows that are listed as ‘active development’ or ‘preproduction?’
Production listings generally note a project’s start date or status. Apply to shows that are listed as Filming, Preproduction, and Pilot. DO NOT apply to shows listed as Wrapped, Hiatus, Hiatus-Picked Up, Active Development, Development, or Post.
When do shows begin hiring assistants?
Generally, five to six weeks prior to the start date.
Staffing will pick up in the next few weeks as networks begin picking up their pilots to series. While there is a staffing season for assistants (May – July) it’s important to remember that shows hire and fire year-round. And many cable networks are on a completely different schedule than the broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, AND CW). I encourage you to apply to every show in production. Even if you only get six weeks of work in before a show wraps, that’s six weeks of pay plus a lot of connections that could lead to your next job.
Should I apply to shows that are not currently staffing?
Yes. When you call a production office, you generally speak to an assistant. Often times, that assistant has no idea he or she (or a fellow assistant) is about to be fired and that the show IS actually staffing. Attention your cover letter and resume to the production coordinator and send it in. If the show is already staffed, they will keep your resume on file in case something comes up at a later date. Also, if your resume is good, the coordinator may pass it along to another show that is staffing. I applied to CSI a few years ago and their coordinator called me personally to say, “I received your resume; we’re not currently staffing but a friend of mine on another show is, and I’d like to send your resume to her.” How kind!
Last but not least, if you’re emailing your resume, ALWAYS ATTACH IT AS A PDF FILE!
For new readers who are curious as to how I broke in:
First, I bought a fax machine. Faxing at Kinkos cost $1 a page and I had to fax three pages to each show (cover sheet, cover letter, and resume). During my first job search, I applied to 68 shows. My fax machine cost $50 and paid for itself the first day.
Most shows now list email addresses. If you email your resume, follow up with a phone call to confirm they received it. You can also call the production office before applying; it’s possible they have an email addy that isn’t listed.
Armed with my resume and cover letter, I called production offices: “I’d like to submit my resume; can you give me the fax number or email I should send it to? Do you happen to know if you’re hiring assistants?” If the person was nice, I chatted with them for a moment. “Is there anyone specific I should attention it to?” If the person on the phone seemed busy or unhelpful, I simply got the fax number and hung up.
I had several call backs, four interviews, and landed a job at According to Jim just four days after arriving in L.A.
Happy job hunting!