PSA To All Film Schools Students and Graduates

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  • PSA To All Film Schools Students and Graduates

    Do Not get a job in Hollywood, while waiting for a deal as a PA, Asst, Writer's PA, Writer's Asst. you will be treated like garbage and you will make Mcdonald's money

    You can make twice the money as a Copywriter, working as an Asst. will not advance your screenwriting or directing career


    you have the skills to be Copywriter because you know how to tell a story, you didn't go to college to be a secretary

  • #2
    Re: PSA To All Film Schools Students and Graduates

    I mean, there's definitely no clear path and you're right in that it's not absolutely necessary to take a low level job in film/tv.

    But as someone who currently works as an assistant (currently to a filmmaker, and before that as a TV writer's room assistant and a writer's PA), I'm beyond grateful for the experience I've gained working in the industry as an assistant.

    Do I wish I got paid more? Of course. But the trade off is that it's given me an invaluable understanding of how the industry works and has allowed me to network and meet people in ways I simply couldn't from the outside looking in.

    Being an assistant has benefited me greatly and has benefited dozens of others I know as well. So while I agree that it's not a necessity and definitely has its downsides, I respectfully (and based on my own experience and those of many personal friends) disagree with your blanket statement.

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    • #3
      Re: PSA To All Film Schools Students and Graduates

      This is spectacularly bad advice, listen to JS90.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: PSA To All Film Schools Students and Graduates

        I'll leave my response for now as +1 to JS90 and Northbank, though I will quickly note this: I have loved and continue to love my experiences working in the business and was paid more than any McDonald's worker -- and in some case more than their managers. Working as an assistant can absolutely help your career in many ways to becoming a producer, director and/or writer. I know people that have advanced to do all those things from assistant positions. It's not for everyone but it has helped plenty. Great way for someone to learn what the business is really like and most importantly, make connections which can last a life time.

        If anyone needs to hear more I can respond in full.
        Last edited by Done Deal Pro; 10-17-2019, 12:07 PM.
        Will
        Done Deal Pro
        www.donedealpro.com

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: PSA To All Film Schools Students and Graduates

          Originally posted by Done Deal Pro View Post
          I'll leave my response for now as +1 to JS90 and Northbank, though I will quickly note this: I have loved and continue to love my experiences working in the business and was paid more than any McDonald's worker -- and in some case more than their managers. Working as an assistant can absolutely help your career in many ways to becoming a producer, director and/or writer. I know people that have advanced to do all those things from assistant positions. It's not for everyone but it has helped plenty. Great way for someone to learn what the business is really like and most importantly, make connections which can last a life time.

          If anyone needs to hear more I can respond in full.
          Respond in full please.

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          • #6
            Re: PSA To All Film Schools Students and Graduates

            Asst make on average $500 a week, how many times have producers or executives that you worked for asked to see your work, this is the digital age, the old stereotype of you have to know someone to break in, i don't believe is true, with the internet creating more ways to get your content to the right people, there is a premium on talent and less of a premium on connections, you either have it or you don't

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            • #7
              Re: PSA To All Film Schools Students and Graduates

              You literally have no idea what you are talking about yet feel entitled to make absolute declarations of what people should and shouldn't do. You could have said "interesting, I would have thought in the digital age etc. Would love to hear from those with experience- but no...

              The digital age has simply made it easier to send queries, not to get read. Queries get deleted when they used to get thrown in the trash.

              When was the last time a producer asked to read your work? Well, if you are the writer's assistant on a show or assistant to an agent/producer/manager then you are 1000 times more likely to get read if you used the job to be more than a secretary. If you used the job to learn the business (given you have all the resources imaginable - information, scripts, and the network you build by talking to 20 other assistants every day). You will have given your script (which you improved by learning on the job - hearing good notes, bad notes, reading good and bad scripts, following and reading the evolution of a script from idea to episode or wide release or going into turnaround etc.) to your assistant friend at an agency/management co/production co/studio/network/streamer/wherever and they will read it because they have worked with you and the way they get promoted to agent/manager/exec is by showing a good eye for talent and bringing in a great script. At that point yes, you either have it or you don't but the same script as a query probably doesn't get read because that's the nature of queries.

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              • #8
                Re: PSA To All Film Schools Students and Graduates

                Originally posted by DDoc View Post
                Respond in full please.
                Okay....

                Right around the time I was finishing up film school I got hooked up with an Emmy winning TV director – an actor turned director. I worked for him for a season and we did about 6 hours’ worth of network TV. What was truly amazing about this job is that he liked to prep everyone weekend before the shoot by going to each location and laying out all the shots for the week. (He would improvise as need be.) It was 14 days on and then a short break before we were at it again. The first day, he told me I could wait by the car or stick with him. I stuck to him like glue. By around the second or third day, he had me break out my copy of the script. We’d read over the scene(s) and then we’d independently look at how we each would lay it out. After maybe five minutes each time, he’d turn to me and ask how I’d shoot & block the scene. I’d explain my shots and blocking. He’d then go over how he’d do it. Long story short, by the fifth episode we were in a restaurant on Wilshire by the bar. He said he knew pretty much how he was going to shoot a particularly scene, so he told me to go out and layout the next three scenes. He came out in a bit and I went through my all my shots. He liked them and shot it that way. (I also ended up in the entire 6th season’s opening credits because I played an extra for one scene.) It was probably the worst paying job I’ve ever had. Yet to this day, it’s still my favorite and I learned so much and gained quite a bit of confidence in directing.

                I next went to work for an Oscar nominated director for four years and two studio features. One shot in and around LA as well as stages on the Fox lot, and the other up in Vancouver. I was in the latter for like 4 ½ months. Best time on a feature ever. The director was repped by top ICM agents and I did development work for him in between films and was on set every day while shooting. Great to watch him work and see how he handled the crew, actors and also any problems. I’m still friends to this day with that director and three other key people who worked there. (Other crew members too, of course.) Good pay. Lots of per diem while on location. And Christmas bonuses. Not too shabby at all. Oh, and one of the people I worked with and still keep in touch with and see to this day, became an Oscar nominated screenwriter. Also, an Oscar winner rewrote both scripts and I got to work with him quite a bit to get script changes.

                Though things slowed greatly for that director, the EP on those films brought me over to Paramount for a film he was working on there. The two-week job turned into five months. I learned and did tons. I also got to be friends with one of the other film's producer’s assistant on the lot. To this day we’re still good friends. (I’ll get back to him in a moment.)

                Next, I went on to do two summer, big budget studio movies working for an EP and we became part of the director/writer and producer/writer’s company. Four years there. The reason this site even exists is because I worked there as an assistant. No question about it. It started there along with another assistant. And good/decent pay with nice bonuses, especially after the first film there made over $800 million worldwide. My work there eventually wrapped and the company disbanded ultimately about a year & half later or so. TWO of the three final assistants standing there went with the producer/writer. to his new company where they still work today. Do you know what they are doing? One is producing feature films & TV shows for him. The other also produces both AND even directed some TV episodes for their series.

                During all my experiences, I again got to know various crew people some of whom even went on to direct features and produce/write TV shows. All were assistants in one way or another.

                Over the last 10 years, I have worked with three different DGA directors. Half assistant/half-associate. Continued to learn and granted this is an IF, I know, but I would have ended up with some type of producing credit on their films or projects at some point. They just didn’t quite land. But it was discussed with me. All good stuff to at least be a part of. (Mostly development work for these three.)

                As a quick side note, a friend from film school started working for a feature director as an assistant around the same time I first did. He learned a lot doing that. Met people. And he went on to direct features and is still do really well directing TV.

                So back to the assistant I got to know at Paramount. I’ve alluded to him before here, but he went on to make four indie features. All released on DVD and streaming. Nothing to brag about, but at least he’s done it. He also made his money back. I was an associate producer on his third film plus did some ghostwriting, which I continue to do for various things for him. And I’m a producer and helped develop the script – the best I could – for his fourth feature film which was recently released on DVD, etc.

                Granted, I’m not winning Oscars or making millions. Not even close. But in so many ways everything I’ve done, including three well-paying jobs for websites along the way, ALL came from being an assistant and getting to know people. And by the way, I’m a produced screenwriter due to my friend mentioned in the prior paragraph. Wrote a horror film for him so he could get his first producing credit. My script wasn’t amazing but it was a decent homage to the late 70s and early 80s slasher horror films and gave the other producers what they were looking for. I anticipated them blowing it, so I used a pen name. I’ve never watched the whole thing -- they changed so much and really botched things. But a movie I wrote got produced and I went through that process of doing some wacky rewrites and polishes for them. Made nothing, but an interesting experience. All because I'd worked as an assistant at one point.

                By the way, my wife has worked professionally as a copywriter/copy editor for many years. Pretty high level too. The only time she really has had the time to write was after she stopped one job of seven years having saved up a ton of money. She then wrote, for pay, two TV movies that aired on a cable network and continue to pop up now & then.

                Is any of this some wow or amazing stuff? Please. Not at all. I don’t kid myself about any of it. I’m still slogging away on various fronts and possibly will until I die.

                Is being an assistant for everyone? Not at all. I know working writers & filmmakers today that never did that. But can it be a solid learning experience unless you have some giant debt along with a mortgage and you’re trying to provide for the Walton family? Yes it can. And if you don’t believe me, then listen to some of the podcasts out there such as The Writers Panel and On the Page. Frequently guests note how they went from the showrunner’s assistant or writers' PA in the office to writer eventually. Not to mention all they learned by being part of and being around the process. Quite a few feature writers went from being an assistant to a producer, agent or manager to become working writers. Not all, but it can happen. And their bosses did ask to see their work and pushed to give them a chance.

                If you already have job that pays the bills or something else you prefer doing that allows you to write, then stick with it. But don’t “write” off working as an assistant as some dead-end situation. Work hard. Do a good job. Make connections. It can pay off. It’s not just about the money it’s about who you meet too.
                Last edited by Done Deal Pro; 10-25-2019, 10:02 AM. Reason: Grammar
                Will
                Done Deal Pro
                www.donedealpro.com

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: PSA To All Film Schools Students and Graduates

                  Originally posted by kdmccaskill View Post
                  Asst make on average $500 a week, how many times have producers or executives that you worked for asked to see your work, this is the digital age, the old stereotype of you have to know someone to break in, i don't believe is true, with the internet creating more ways to get your content to the right people, there is a premium on talent and less of a premium on connections, you either have it or you don't
                  One thing which might help folks to know is, what producers, directors and/or writers have you worked for here in LA? Did you work on features? Did you work on TV shows? For how long each time? What did you feel didn't work for you, so all can be fair in looking at your comments? You don't have to name names or titles of projects, but whatever details you can provide would be enlightening I'm sure.
                  Will
                  Done Deal Pro
                  www.donedealpro.com

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: PSA To All Film Schools Students and Graduates

                    Originally posted by Done Deal Pro View Post
                    One thing which might help folks is to know, what producers, directors and/or writers have you worked for here in LA? Did you work on features? Did you work on TV shows? For how long each time? What did you feel didn't work for you, so all can be fair in looking at your comments? You don't have to name names or titles of projects, but whatever details you can provide would be enlightening I'm sure.
                    I have not worked in Hollywood, but I have friends in the industry, who tell me the are living in hell, you spend 4 years learning how to write or direct, and you get out and don't write or direct because you have to eat

                    I blame film studios for not having programs for recruiting kids straight out of college

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: PSA To All Film Schools Students and Graduates

                      Thank you for that post, Will.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: PSA To All Film Schools Students and Graduates

                        Originally posted by kdmccaskill View Post
                        I have not worked in Hollywood, but I have friends in the industry, who tell me the are living in hell, you spend 4 years learning how to write or direct, and you get out and don't write or direct because you have to eat

                        I blame film studios for not having programs for recruiting kids straight out of college
                        Ah. So via friends who tell you about what their life out here is like, you are making these blanket comments. Okay. Well, I don't know what they are doing or who they are working for, but it's a shame to hear they feel like they are living in hell. Truly. The fellow assistants I've worked with in various capacities and in various situations did well, ultimately enjoyed their jobs and learned a great deal & advanced themselves in various cases. Not every day was perfect for any us but many more were than were not. Don't know what to say.

                        On the other hand, friends of mine from USC got out of school and were sure they would be directing, writing and/or producing. My roommate and I decided we needed to work & eat, yes, but also wanted to be a part of it all regardless. He's now a high level, amazingly paid cable network executive who has been thanked a few times on TV at the Golden Globes. His shows have won GGs. And though again, I'm far from any big success, I still don't regret any of my work nor do others I know. Sure some folks have bad experiences and again that's terrible to hear. But not all do, is all I would like to fairly note from first hand experience being out here for 30 plus years. It depends on who you talk to and how many you ask, ultimately. Where are (quite a few of) my film school classmates who didn't just get working, as assistant? I don't know.

                        But as always, up to "you," how you want to approach it all. Do what makes the most sense to & for you.
                        Last edited by Done Deal Pro; 10-19-2019, 07:59 AM. Reason: Polish of text.
                        Will
                        Done Deal Pro
                        www.donedealpro.com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: PSA To All Film Schools Students and Graduates

                          Originally posted by kdmccaskill View Post
                          you spend 4 years learning how to write or direct, and you get out and don't write or direct because you have to eat

                          I blame film studios for not having programs for recruiting kids straight out of college
                          Honestly, this gets worse. So because your friends went to film school they are entitled to a career writing or directing? What are studios supposed to pay these kids to do? There's no guarantee of writing or directing just because you went to film school. wtf.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: PSA To All Film Schools Students and Graduates

                            Originally posted by kdmccaskill View Post
                            I have not worked in Hollywood, but I have friends in the industry, who tell me the are living in hell, you spend 4 years learning how to write or direct, and you get out and don't write or direct because you have to eat

                            I blame film studios for not having programs for recruiting kids straight out of college
                            Oh please. Gimme. Gimme. The studios have no responsibility to do anything for anyone. Assistant jobs are the corporate mailroom jobs of the film industry. They are starting at the bottom. It's tough. The pay is crap. The hours are long. You work your way up. You network the right way, you do a great job, you can move up. You can get read.

                            You get roommates. You eat Raman. If you want this bad enough, you live through it. It takes time. It takes effort. It takes being smart. It takes listening more that speaking. Writing for a living is a long game.

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                            • #15
                              Re: PSA To All Film Schools Students and Graduates

                              Originally posted by EdFury View Post
                              Oh please. Gimme. Gimme. The studios have no responsibility to do anything for anyone. Assistant jobs are the corporate mailroom jobs of the film industry. They are starting at the bottom. It's tough. The pay is crap. The hours are long. You work your way up. You network the right way, you do a great job, you can move up. You can get read.

                              You get roommates. You eat Raman. If you want this bad enough, you live through it. It takes time. It takes effort. It takes being smart. It takes listening more that speaking. Writing for a living is a long game.
                              Entry level Asst. on Wall Street straight out of U. Penn make 70 Grand a year, Entry level Asst. in Hollywood straight out of USC, make 30 Grand a year, you don't see a problem with this

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