You get your first job in Hollywood because the person they want to hire is not available. Period.
No one cares that you are an undiscovered genius. No one cares that you really are just as good if not better than people already working in showbiz.
Even if you take our advice to H.O.P. to it and transform yourself into a Hands On Producer, no one in their right mind wants to hire a producer without actual producing experience…
You get your first job in Hollywood because the person they want to hire is not available.
…meaning you’ve made a real movie or TV show.
That people have actually heard of.
That someone other than you, your mom, or uncle paid for.
How it Happened for Us
Our career really began when we became Co-Executive Producers and Show Runners on the pilot for Foody Call at Style Network. This happened for a few very simple reasons:
- 1. The producers that Style Network wanted weren’t available.
- 2. Because we had no track record as Co-Executive Producers, Style Network could pay us a ridiculously small amount of money.
- 3. Having no show-running experience, the network was able to put another clause in our contract: if the pilot went to series, they could remove us and give the job to the producers they wanted.
How did that Make Us Feel?
Overjoyed! Happy to be screwed out of every single penny. Not at all worried about getting replaced if the show went to series. Why?
Because for us, it was the opportunity we’d been begging for. The chance to step it up and prove we could do the job. It was time to show them, not just tell them, that we would be worth every penny on the next job.
Wasn’t that a Risk?
Taking crap pay is always a gamble. So is doing a job you can easily be fired from. Guess what? Sometimes, you gotta put your money where your mouth is.
Hone your skills to the point you believe in yourself enough to bet on yourself.
After all, why should the network have taken a chance on us if we weren’t willing to take a chance on ourselves? In their eyes, we were a huge risk. We knew that. But we also knew we had the chops to make a great show. So living extra-broke for a while in exchange for the chance to prove ourselves made perfect sense.
It was time for us to put up or shut up.
That Move Launched Us to the Next Level
We worked our asses off. Around the clock. When the editors left at night, we kept editing. Together, we created extra graphics that weren’t in the budget. We personally soundmixed and color-corrected the show, and wrote (and re-wrote and re-wrote) the voice over.
This all lead to a pilot we were proud of, and Style Network decided to keep us on for the television series (with the small pay we were promised.) However, because they liked our work so much (and maybe felt guilty about the paltry pay) they gave us a company card at the end of each episode…a huge milestone for us.
On our next show, our budding reputation as Hands On Producers followed us, and we were paid far more than we made on Foody Call. (Although much less than you probably think, but more on that another time… be sure to subscribe…)
What this Means for You
You have to be ready when opportunity knocks. Hone your skills to the point you believe in yourself enough to bet on yourself. Don’t be afraid to get “screwed” on your first big job. Just make sure to give it your all. Obsess over every frame of footage. Over-deliver.
Do that, and a real career will follow.