Cold Calling/Approaching Production Companies For Job ?
I have recently graduated with a degree in film and TV production from a big university. I have 2-3 years work experience from when I was still in school from working both on and off campus doing production work. I have emailed the 5-6 production companies in my city introducing myself and expressing my interest in working for them. I have had zero responses. I never solicited my resume or demo real but said that they were available upon request.
I am considering moving to a bigger city and attempting to get a job working at a production company. To my knowledge, most production companies don't really advertise or post job openings like most other fields do.
Does anyone have any suggestions for how to best approach this situation in order to land an interview, or better yet a JOB ? My mistake last time I cold approached via email was that I did not call and follow up. It may have been a different outcome, but I have decided that moving to a bigger city would be better for me and just decided to not pursue the places I emailed in favor of moving and trying elsewhere. I really want a fresh start and bigger cities normally have more opportunities.
I do all aspects of production, from writing, to directing, editing, motion graphics, and post production. Ideally, I would like to be involved in all of these when I start working. Any suggestions on what I should put on the application for what position I'm applying for?
Also, I'd like to hear about how you or anyone you might know got a job working at a production company! I'd love to work with a company that has a variety of clients and does commercial, music video, creative work, etc. The smaller ones seem less exciting and normally work with local businesses and such. But, hey, I'd be happy to start anywhere right now. Any advice, recommendations, or guidance is welcome! I'd appreciate any help!!
I graduated in 2009, so my experience with this stuff is still fairly fresh and hopefully helpful to you. I think a lot of people might tell you to keep knocking on doors and cold calling and stuff, but the reality right now is that there are a lot of people like you out there -- like maybe more than ever -- and blind emails or even phone calls aren't nearly as effective as they used to be for soliciting entry level jobs.
What does work? Relationships. And that's always been true, and will continue to be true until you retire from video production (so, until the sun explodes.) I graduated in the middle of a recession, so I was looking for a job when the difficulty level for such a thing was on Expert. I emailed dozens and dozens of companies and individuals over a year period and got ZERO responses other than a few "lol no" emails. You may have a little more luck eventually, but if you don't count on it then you'll just be pleasantly surprised. (Like, following up from cold emails MAY land you something on the off chance you follow up right when they have a quick opening for the kind of job you can fill easily, but that's difficult timing and mostly up to luck. But it happens.)
Here's a few specific things that did work for me. For one thing, I did an internship while I was still in school. I got that internship from asking the company if I could do an "informational interview". That is, can I come in for an hour or half day or whatever and shadow the person whose job I really want and talk to them about it? People in this industry are really giving and will lend their time to a nice, young, curious person if they have the time to lend, so this is a great way to pry open the first door. I happened to do this at the right time, followed up with a thank you email that included my resume and desire to keep learning as an intern, and then I spent a semester there. From there, I became friends with the senior editor. On my last day, I took HIM out for coffee. I kept in touch a couple times a year, asked to meet up with him at his new spot after I graduated, and he sent me my first freelance work which helped solidify me as an real editor. In fact, when I went to visit him after I graduated and got one of those unexciting all-round corporate video jobs you mentioned (more on that in a moment), I told him I wanted to see how real editors worked. He just looked at me a little confused and said "but...YOU are a real editor." That was like 6 years ago, so you can see the impact of knowing established people in the industry, even if it's not directly job-related.
So the unexciting first corporate job sounds like the kind of thing you might want to aim for, actually. I knew I wanted to be an editor, but I got this shooting-and-editing-and-producing job through an instructor at school who knew someone who knew someone who recommended me. It was fine for a while, I learned a lot, and I spent that time developing more relationships. I wanted out quickly, but I was there for four years. During that time? Building up my skills to back up my personality, but spending a majority of my time networking locally and online, getting to conferences to get in front of people and start to know them face to face. That led me to my last gig and then to my current one. There was never a random email or phone call. Always an email or phone call to a friend or a mutual friend.
Because people like to work with people they like and know and trust, or vouched for by someone they like, know or trust. That's daunting when you start out, but we all start out that way. So start to develop a network, and get in the door by asking for the things you want from the people have can give them to you -- a tour, an interview, a job shadow. Treat people like people instead of job-havers. Land whatever you can get in between but continue cultivating relationships in between, and your professional life will be more rewarding to be surrounded by so many smart people.
As far as how to market yourself, I think it depends on what you want to eventually do and where you are now geographically. If you're in a city like LA or NY, my instinct is that generalists aren't so appreciated. But when I was in Indianapolis, it was helpful for me to build my resume with a lot of these skills because corporate jobs tend to want one person that can do everything fairly well instead of eight people that can all do one thing exceptionally well. I think that's a thing you need to figure out over time. And if you aren't sure, you can look at the job being offered (if you're applying) and tailor your resume to build yourself up in those areas. If you're trying to talk about yourself in a networking situation and you'd really like to focus on being an editor but you mostly want experience, talk about that: "I'm a new graduate and I'd like to be come an editor, but I have all kinds of experience and I'd like to spend my time working in the field and learning more about everything I can." Or something like that. People like young people who are committed to learning a lot and show up on time. You can take over tasks we don't want to do OR go pick up coffee and we don't feel too bad about telling to do either.
So figure out where you're going to live and what you want to do, and work toward that by meeting people at events and online.
A number of years ago because of family reasons, I moved from where I had my contacts to a different location where I new nobody.
Getting contacts in that situation is a long and hard job. I approached it thus:
I made a list of all the possible companies in the area. Every day I phoned a few of them to talk to the receptionist (or as some of them were called, the first contact executive), to ask them to advise me as to who the best person to talk to is, take the name, see if I could be put through to them. If that was possible I would ask if I may send them a CV, to a specific name at a company, never 'firstname.lastname@example.org' and follow that up, a few days later, with trying to set up a meeting, to ask their advice, pick their brains, as to the state of the industry locally, and possibilities and ways of getting a job.If that happens, and it does in a small percentage of places you origonally call, you have to go in fully prepared with all the information you can get about that company, what they produce, how they work etc. And then listen to their advice. They probably won't have anything at the moment, but may know someone else who may be able to help. (contacting someone because of someone's recommendation is also much more productive).
The other advice I would have is to be totally honest about your experience, never to bullshit because you will be found out.
To my mind it is the hardest job of all, I could only call a few companies every day, making careful notes as to who I've spoken with, what has been said, who I've sent CVs to, when I should follow up.
The important thing I think was to always ask people's advice, because people feel good about giving advice and help, and are more likely to remember you because of it.
As I said, very hard work, but in the end it could pay off.
And good luck.
I know this is an old post but I thought I'd give you a quick perspective from someone in a production company who gets a million resumes and does a lot of hiring. Here are some tips:
1. Always send your samples. I look at samples before I even look at your name. I look at your resume only if I like your samples.
2. Scrap the "To whom it may concern." Nobody reads cover letters. Know why? Because they're cover letters. You're a creative emailing another creative. Be creative. Get rid of the cover letter and address me as if I'm not just being spammed by the same dull form letter that everyone else is getting. My favorite emails start with, "Hi Dan," and contain less than 4 sentences – one of which is personalized to us (think "Congratulations on the new office!").
3. Check your grammar. Not knowing the difference between "your" and "you're" shows me that you don't pay attention to details and that I'll be embarrassed if you ever need to communicate with one of our clients.
4. Use snail mail (in addition to email). We get a lot of resumes here. A lot. Email yours (with sample links) to get it "into the pile," and snail mail a demo disk in a box to stand out.
5. Please don't send demos as attachments or DropBox downloads. it's annoying. I want a YouTube link that I can watch on my iPhone from my living room couch at night after the kids go to bed. If I like it, I'll bring it into the staff meeting in the morning and show everyone else.
6. Unless you're sending me a job-specific reel, be sure to tell me exactly what your role was on set. If you're a newbie sending me a highly-produced Nike commercial without a job role, I'm going to assume you sent me the wrong link. Even if you were just a PA, it'll at least tell me you've been on a large set – and that does help.
7. Be persistent but not annoying. What? Be constantly available but easy to ignore. Most of the guys and girls I've hired were at the right place at the right time. The industry moves so quickly that we don't keep resumes on file. Typically, we ignore resumes we receive when we're not hiring. Connect with someone in the company who is not the direct head and send them monthly updates.
Hope this helps!