I'm sorry if I'm beating a dead horse, I couldn't find any good posts about this, but if there are any I would be happy to read the links.
I just graduated college, have what I believe is a solid resume, and I am confident in my editing/filming abilities. In Milwaukee, where I currently reside, there are a surprising amount of video/ad agencies, but none that I have seen that post job openings. I would like to find out if any of them are open to hiring a new free lancer or even have a position that they have not posted. What would be the best way to approach these businesses that do not have job listings? Should I call them and ask? E-mail a resume? Drop off a resume? I know every business is a little different, but what do you think would work the most consistently?
I would start by calling the companies to find out who to send your resume to. In some cases the company may be very small like ours and you may get the person on the phone who does the hiring. In my case if I'm not busy at the moment I'll ask a few questions to get a sense of just how qualified you are. While we aren't hiring now we are always on the lookout for freelancers. I'll ask for a resume and a sample reel. A well written resume does matter. I just received one that looks like it was written in an hour the night before. It lacked detail and a sense of any attempt at professional design...strike one. I also have received reels that drag on, include full length videos and give me no sense of what the person actually did on the project...strike two. Keep your reel short and concise and be sure it's clear as to exactly what you did on that reel.
Before you even approach anyone have your references lined up.
After you've sent your resume, wait a day or two then call to be sure they received it. In my case even if I don't take the call it registers that you are someone who follows through.
You might get more luck posting this on the Business forum,
But here is my two cents. Network Network Network. Do exactly what Mark suggested. Call and try and talk to everyone in the area. Get your name out there. Call more than once (Now this is tricky because there is a fine line between persistence and annoying).
One of the most effective ways of getting a job right out of college is to do an internship. See if any of the agencies have room for an Intern, it may hurt and you may not be able to do it, but offer you intern services for free. After you get your foot in the door and prove you know what you are doing most decent companies will reward that. I’ve had a bunch of former students go this route. They get in with a company to intern the company says WOW this guy/girl fills a need we didn't know we had we need to get them on the payroll quick before some else finds out about this.
I want to add one more thing. A major stumbling block with most people coming out of college right now is the massive sense of entitlement they have. “The World owes me a job, because I went to school.” Remember nothing is beneath you, you are at the bottom if you are humble and teachable and don’t act like you know everything people are much more willing to go out on a limb and work with you. This is biggest reason most internships don’t pan out into jobs, the company feels like you not a good fit because your to prideful and not willing to change.
Now I don’t mean to insinuate that you are a prideful person so please don’t take that.
Thanks for your reply. I know that I need to start on the bottom so I'm not expecting any really good positions soon, but thanks for the reminder.
Thanks for your reply, I'll keep these things in mind.
Looks like you got lots of good tips from people. I would add that you should find something that not a lot of others in your market are doing, or doing well, and become known for it. For example, we've been hiring a young guy a lot who does excellent media management, but also does some light gripping and PA work. He's become very valuable, and I try to get him on as many shoots as we can with the budget. When there are no cards to download, he finds other things to do. When something on the set needs to be done, he just does it. If he doesn't know how, he either figures it out, or waits and asks when it won't slow down the production. The great things about that for him is that he is learning, and getting paid, and becoming more and more valuable. It helps that he has a great attitude.
There's another lady who we've been working with for years that calls herself the "Production Goddess" - and she truly is. We hire her mostly as a teleprompter operator, but she's a HUGE asset on the set because she fills in the cracks of whatever else needs to get done - from taking great script notes to wrapping stingers.
I would say take the attitude of "I am here to do whatever it takes to advance the cause of this shoot." When you are on a set, try to anticipate what is happening next, and find a way to help with it. The more you do it, the better you get. Also, get a sense of set etiquette - which is basically show up on time, know where not to stand, and know when not to talk. Also, try to stay off your cellphone where there are other things to be done (don't get me started!!)
And take that same attitude when you start calling people. Call camera guys, sound people, and production companies, tell them you are a Utility Grip - here to help with whatever they need. Tell them you'll do it for 250/day to start. Don't even tell them all the other skills you have yet. Just be a Grip, or Productions Assistant. Specialize in that. Then little by little, as various companies get comfortable with having you around, you can reveal your other skills.
On our last shoot, our media manager guy helped out with one of the cameras. I also learned he's a great editor. But I learned that by getting to know him, and trusting him with the basics of set etiquette first. Not from a phone call where he rattled off the 16 things he knows how to do.
By the way, if you need to learn any of the basic gripping skills, find someone with an Arri light kit. Ask them they will show you how to set up lights, work with Chimera soft boxes, wrap stingers, and open and close flex fills. If you want to learn how to work with larger lights, perhaps visit a grip/lighting house in town. See if you can help out there. But first, I would see if there is a DP who would take you under his or her wing. Believe me, good help is hard to find sometimes, and it's worth it for us to train people.
Lastly, how do you find these people? Visit the Cow or crewing sites such as production Hub that list crews by region. You can also check with your local production guide, or even a crewing agency like Crew Connection or Crews Control. Find the top 10 DPs in your area - the ones who own gear. Do the same for production houses. Call them with the pitch above, and then followup with a very personal and professional email with all of your contact info. The follow-up again - by email - every month or so.
Anyway, my two cents. Good luck!
Director of Photography
big Pictures Media, Inc.
Author of the Master Series DVD "Lighting and Shooting Gorgeous Interviews"
Thanks for the reply. This will be very helpful.
In Milwaukee, one of the best places to get in the same room as the guys you want to be hired by is by going to MCA-I meetings. They usually have a great turnout, never enough students or newcomers, and plenty of higher-end people and experienced production people who are always looking for someone to help out. Madison is close by and usually has a great turnout as well. I don't know where I'd be today if I hadn't jumped on board there while I was still a student.
http://www.mcai-milwaukee.com/ for more details.
Hey Randy, I have actually attended a few of those, including the last one at Logan Productions. I guess what I am nervous about when I am there is if I say that I am a recent graduate people will be turned off because they will just see me as begging for a job. Do you have any advice on how to approach people? Last time I just tried talking to everybody and not asking for work, but I need to strike at some point.
Thanks for the reply