UPDATE: Nearly a year later, Chris Tonick, AKA @Chris_Tonick, now works for us at Joke Productions after making the move to Hollywood. He’s currently working as an assistant editor on our new TV Show Commercial Kings. Stay tuned for an upcoming post about how Chris made all the right moves.
UPDATE to the Update: Nearly four years later, Chris is working on movies like Star Trek Into Darkness and Guardians of the Galaxy — couldn’t be more proud of you, Chris! Honored we got to have you first!
Got this question from @Chris_Tonick on Twitter, who’s been doing reality TV and corporate work in Dallas for the last four years.
…do y’all have any thoughts or tips as far as the editing/post side of things on transitioning out to LA?
As a matter of fact, we do. Here are some tips for anyone considering the move to Hollywood (something we both did ourselves.)
1. Be Awesome
Know your craft, whatever it is, inside and out. Be ready to prove it by having top notch samples of your work available on DVD and online.
The online clips are especially important…many companies weed out candidates by viewing a web link before setting up a meeting.
I admit, I’ve rejected a few editing submissions immediately because the clips posted on their sites were lousy. Crewing up a show happens at a break-neck pace, and there’s no time for us to see past a bad work sample. So have your A-Game material ready to go.
2. Be Proactive
When you move to L.A. no one knows you. Doors won’t magically open. You need to be persistent and creative when it comes to landing your first gig. Use every avenue…query letters to production companies, posting your resume on industry related websites, alumni associations, tapping family friends, and finding job postings at industry forums like realitystaff.com.
The truth is you get your first gig for one reason…the person they want to hire is not available. So when a company is scrambling to fill a last minute slot, you increase your odds by being as visible as possible. A great way to do that is to…
3. Be Helpful
Find ways to share you expertise with others for free, whether by blogging about it, tweeting about it, volunteering your services to indie filmmakers, or any other creative way you come up with to demonstrate how talented you are. If you’re good, people will notice, and they’ll call you for paying gigs.
Take Nate Orloff, our new lead AE and star of our How to Write a Screenplay on the iPad video. I found Nate on Twitter. He was answering Final Cut Pro questions (quite passionately!) So I called him in for an interview, and hired him.
4. Be Humble
It may not seem fair, but be ready to prove yourself by taking a lower-level position. For instance, you may be an incredible editor…but no one on the west coast knows that first hand. You can hold out forever trying to get a coveted editing gig. Or, you could take an assistant editing gig (much easier to come by) put in long hours, kick ass, and impress everyone so much they have no choice but to promote you.
5. Be Willing to Learn
Okay, you’re awesome (see #1 above.) Talent and passion are required, but not enough. Every network, studio, and production company has their own way of doing things. They’ll have workflows you’ll need to adapt to and follow. Some of these “rules” may seem silly to you.
This is NOT the time to be a rebel, hoping to prove that you “know better.” You’re the new kid in town, so when you get that first job, it’ll be their way or the highway.
Even we, at the executive producer level, must learn and adapt to every studio and network we work with. You must find a way to do your best work while following your new employer’s established methods.
What’s Your Advice?
What sites/groups/trade papers are you reading right now to find work? Any great first gig stories? Would love your comments!