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Three Never-Fail Secrets to a Career In Entertainment

I wanted to be in Entertainment, but somehow, in the last several years, I wound up working in Financial Services.

Determined to get back on the right path while at my last horrible job–working for a banking corporation–I decided to update my skills by buying new equipment and software. I also have been taking opportunities in my chosen industry. I’ve been an actor in a feature film and currently am a Production Assistant.

Do you have any suggestions about what more I can do to make this career change from the utterly uncreative world of financial services to the place I’ve always wanted to be?

–John Thiel

It took me a while to get to this question, John. Hopefully you are not yet head of a studio.  But if not, have no fear!  Because I have exactly the answers you’re looking for.  Here– at long last– are the three ultimate secrets to a Career in Entertainment.

The secrets are basic, simple, and if followed, will always lead to success.  But like “diet and exercise” to lose weight, they take a lot of focus and hard work.  As you know, people will do anything to get out of focus and hard work– which is why there are so many books written about how to eat bacon to get thin and meditate on “The Secret” to get careers in entertainment.

Ready to save hundreds of dollars on books?  Here you go:

1) Commit
2) Do the work
3) Build a network

Easy, right?  Or at least, straightforward.  Now to the difficult details:

1)  Commit: Consider this:  The entertainment industry will be worth over $2 TRILLION dollars by 2016.  It’s a real industry, with hundreds of thousands of jobs worldwide.  Somebody has to do it– why not you?  But it can be tough sledding sometimes. If you want a career in entertainment, you have to believe, deep down, that you can do it no matter what.  Because if you think you need an accounting degree as a fallback to becoming a director, you will end up an accountant.

2) Do the work:  Entertainment is a portfolio business.  This means you will be judged by what you have made.  So make things.  Shoot films and post them on Vimeo.  Join others who are shooting film to learn on set and accrue credits– for free if you must. Write that short or long film burning in your brain and hustle it into existence.  Take a job as a production assistant and learn the craft.

3)  Build a network:  As you do the work, notice the people who enjoy working with you, and with whom you enjoy working.  The people who get you.  The people with whom you do your best work.  Get to know them.  Try to work with them more.  Stay in touch with them.  This is how you build your personal network. As you get better, they get better. As you inspire them, they inspire you.  You grow together.

Note that this is not the same as “networking,” which people seem to believe involves industry cocktail parties wherein you spot and suck up to successful people and through some magic cause them to do business with you.  It is not the same in that my kind of “building a network” actually works.

From your description, John, you’ve made great progress on starting to do the work.  Make sure you’re committed and building a network.  You have to do all three to win a career in entertainment.

If you have a question you’re willing to share with the world, please ask it here. 

4 thoughts on “Three Never-Fail Secrets to a Career In Entertainment

  1. I think I submitted that question in April or May, and I have quite a story to tell you now.

    I was being a bit sheepish when I wrote that I wanted to work in Entertainment. Specifically, I wanted to work in Film & Television but thought that, at best, I could get an office job in Entertainment and Media doing something similar to the miserable career I had been doing for several years.

    It's amazing how a person can find reasons why they're not 'qualified' to do what they really want to do, so they'll keep on doing what makes them miserable because they have so much experience at it. My problem was exactly what your three points addressed.

    So here is the good news since I submitted my question to you.

    After the unpaid Production Assistant job for Marvel which I did to gain experience and have something relevent on my resume, I did one more unpaid film gig as a background actor in a feature film. Then I auditioned for a reality science show and got the part–my first paid acting gig. (While in Holding, I shot a short video called Background Actors Speak and posted it on Vimeo by the way.)

    One of the other actors at the audition mentioned Central Casting, which is a casting agency that finds background actors mainly for television shows. It's completely free of charge, and you literally can't lose by doing if your goal is to give acting a try or start a new career at it. I also opened a Casting Networks account and created a professional headshot for starters.

    In just the past two months, I've been in about a dozen television shows and films, working as a professional actor four or five days a week, and am registered with several casting agencies. Acting is now my full time job.

    Recently, I was cast in an Untitled DreamWorks film starring Tom Hanks and directed by Steven Spielberg. This role makes me eligible to join the Screen Actor's Guild (SAG), which means I can make a living as an Actor. Normally, and actor could work for years without becoming SAG eligible.

    Yesterday I was in a scene with the Principles and asked to do stand-in work for one of them–which is a huge break because it pays more and typically it's impossible to get stand-in work without that experience, which I now have.

    Bottom Line: I am now working, full-time in Film & Television. It is my dream come true. I absolutely love my new career.

    Thank you so much Mr. Stockman for your book and ongoing, excellent guidance.

  2. I definitely agree, networking really is one of the most important aspects of getting a career in the entertainment industry. After all, you could be the most talented person on the planet, but it doesn't matter if no one knows who you are. You need to spend as much time building up your contacts within the industry as you do practicing your acting, comedy, writing, or what have you.

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