Trailer/Post House 411
I'm the promotions director for KUSM-TV (MontanaPBS) based out of Bozeman, MT. My current contract with the station runs through June 2009. After it expires my plan is to seek employment in a larger market. I figured now (before I'm unemployed) would be the time to start researching post production employment in NY or LA.
Trouble is, this is sort of difficult to do from afar. I've found a few useful websites (notably: newyork411.com & la411.com) that provide extensive listings of post houses in both cities. However, what I'm specifically looking for are (movie) trailer houses, of which I can't seem to find any. Could anyone here point me toward a few reputable ones? Better yet, could anyone point me to a "Trailer House 411" that lists a number of trailer houses?
P.S. While I've got you reading: I know this is just about the most common topic of conversation around these boards, but does anyone have a few good (specific even?) tips for finding employment at one of these post houses? I've got a number of things going for me: I'm experienced for my age (4+ years professional experience & 23 years old), I've got a B.A. in film production from Montana State University, and I'm a pretty good editor/motion graphics designer. I was thinking I'd just send out a LOT of resumes & reels to various places and see if I got any responses. How does one find out if a post house is even hiring? The websites by-and-large aren't much help in regards to prospective editors.
How to get to work? You have to know someone to get work, and you have to work to know someone.
How's that for good news?
Seriously, you can do better than sending out DVDs for unsolicited jobs. If you like a particular style (movie trailers??), find someone who does this for a living, and ask her/him for a meeting. Post your good stuff on your website, and have business cards with web address ready.
Join TVJOBS.com to see job offerings. Yeah, it costs some coin, but it's worth it. My wife almost got a directing job for Good Day LA from a listing.
Chaos creates cash.
I just ate breakfast at a restaurant that had a TV with a redeye media video loop on it. They must have an After Effects hack that puts their stuff up, so maybe you can try them or another small media outlet to help pad your resume.
If you're not good at meeting people, learn how -- Toastmasters would be a great way to help you speak in front of crowds, small and large.
Arguably the best way to get work is to meet and get to know industry insiders. You might get work off the street in video production, but I never learned how.
These are a couple of places I know if in LA that do trailers. Like TJ said, it's difficult to just get work cold and it's even more difficult if you aren't local. There is an absolute glut of people in LA and NY so it's unusual for companies to need to go out of state to hire people. Unless you have a mega-kick@ss, top shelf reel that is exactly what a company is looking for I wouldn't count on lining up a job prior to moving. I have one friend who moved out to LA w/a gig lined up, but he had a contact at the company, years of experience doing exactly what the company was looking for, A-list talent/brands on his reel and he is dead quick cutting spots.
I know some talented editors that moved to LA from other places (even good sized markets like Atlanta) and they had to spend a year or so building up their 'LA reel' before they started gaining traction here.
Thanks for the links and the advise. Found out there actually are listings for Trailer Houses on newyork411.com & la411.com - I was just looking in the wrong place.
I expect it'll be a little slow gaining traction at first. I shouldn't have made it seem as though I'm dead set on editing movie trailers either. My rationale is that I come from a promotional background, and that the transition to the city might be eased somewhat if I can find a job related to what I'm already doing. But what I'm after is getting my foot in the door. However, it seems to me there are better and more appropriate doors to stick one's foot in than others. Even if I was just some grunt at a trailer house/post house, I'd be getting to know people.
You're probably both right though - sending out resumes from afar probably isn't going to land me many responses. At very least, doing a lot of this preliminary research - finding out where the trailer houses are, who the editors are, etc - is bound to be orienting me along the right track. Maybe I could call up a few post production facilities; chat with someone about my specific goals and circumstances; see what they have to say. Couldn't hurt, right?
In the meantime, I'll have to get a website up and running...
Since you come from a promotional background, don't forget about TV Promo. There are far more TV promos than movie trailers and many small companies doing them in addition to the networks themselves. Even though you don't have movie trailers on your reel at this point, you probably do have promos so that is a good place to start. Here are a few more places to look up-
Ant Farm (trailers)
Cimarron Group (trailers)
Craig Murray Productions
New Wave Entertainment
Hopefully the economy will be turning around a bit before you come out here. Last month Trailer Park let go of 50 editors and gave pay cuts to the remaining ones. I don't have any advice I can give you for getting into a place. The most important things I found were a couch to live on for free for a few months, some savings, and a producer that I had worked with in Kansas City that moved out a year before and found work.
Since networking is so important, and you can't network very well remotely, one option is to try and begin where you are. I was able to find work thanks to someone I knew who had moved out here. He found work because one of his local clients moved to LA before him. That guy found work the same way. At one time there were a half dozen of us from Kansas City working in the promo department at the WB Network because of this "pipeline", and in fact there is an informal organization called the "Kansas City Connection" in LA dedicated to helping out people moving from KC to LA to work in the entertainment industry. Another place I worked seemed to have a lot of people who happened to go to Emerson College in Boston. I'm sure that wasn't a coincidence either.
Find out if anyone in your market ever moved to LA and found work. Even if they don't know you, they might be willing to help out another local who is trying to make the same move they did. Find out if anyone from your alma mater within a couple years of your class moved to LA after graduating. Is anyone else thinking of doing the same who can go with you and pool resources?
Start looking on craigslist for roommate wanted ads to see what that market is like, since that will be your next best option after a free couch. You will need to make your savings go as long as possible. Can you do motion graphics work on the side to earn extra money before you go? That is how I saved a few thousand dollars to make the move, and then once I was in LA I continued to do some projects for those clients until I had a steady income from editing.
The following is not meant to discourage: If you actually get a gig in either LA or NYC before you move there, slog it out, inject yourself into the flow, it would be a miracle... Seriously.
In addition to creating content for shows, I also teach at CalArts. One of the fundamental things I try to impart in the general strategy for making a living department is, you have to be IN the game to PLAY it. The only way to break into the scene in these places is to go there. Join the local users groups. Make lists of the local post houses, find out WHO is doing the killer work, and then go IN PERSON and make sure they know you... I have never, ever, in my whole life heard of anybody getting a high line gig from a reel sent cold, in the mail, unsolicited.
The people who make it at that level in this business never give up; they want it really bad; they work relentlessly to sharpen their skills; to plug into the scene; to know the players; and to be able to anticipate where something might open up. You need to find out not just which post house is making stuff you want to do, you also need to know everything they've done, who the principals are, and who among them does the hiring... Then you have to launch imaginative, persistent, and persuasive campaigns to get yourself noticed by those people. You should be looking at Production Assistant or Edit Assistant slots... Get the coffee for a bit. Show that you're funny... that you are cool when the chips are down... that you are a team player... a total cinephile... an artist... a geek... that you have 'it'... that intangible thing that separates people who understand three point editing, from those who can reach out and make you cry exactly when they want to by shaving those three frames off...
My advice. Pick a coast, pick a town... Save as much cash as you can, and GO... You'll never know if you've got it, until you try...
Contributing Editor, Entertainment Design Magazine
Art of the Edit Forum Leader
Live & Stage Event Forum Leader
HD Forum Leader