Hollywood. Regardless of your gender or status, every child dreams at some point of a life in Hollywood. Walking down the red carpet in glamorous gowns, seeing your name in lights, or buying huge mansions and luxury cars are ideals that appeal to many. To achieve a career in film, however, one must narrow down his or her dreams.
When discussing a career in film, you should be aware of all the options. In most cases, you will start low on the ladder and work your way up. Expect to be a gopher in the early stages of your career.
In addition, there are a number of niche areas in film in which you can concentrate. These include:
- Camera Operation
- Press Agent
- Script reading
- Script writing
- Visual Effects
While each job requires the key traits of working well with others, critical thinking, and attention to details, your education must cover the important components of each career. For example, scriptwriters must have taken writing courses and have a firm knowledge of grammar and spelling. Visual effects technicians will need computer skills, especially with software used in the industry.
Not every career in film will appeal to a person. While some jobs sound exciting, the truth is that they can be incredibly dull to others. Take a script reader for instance. Doesn’t it sound glamorous to have a job reading scripts helping producers and filmmakers choose the next blockbuster? Now look at what a script reader really does:
- Keep in touch daily with the production companies or screenplay writers to discover if there are any scripts awaiting your attention.
- If there are scripts, they must be read quickly.
- Notes are taken throughout the reading process.
- You must type up three or four paragraph summary of what the screenplay is about.
- Come up with a critique of the script that covers what works, what doesn’t, and if the story keeps the reader riveted to the story from start to finish, then type up that critique.
- Discuss the summary and critique with the author or production company.
On average, a scriptwriter earns $100 per script. It may sound like excellent pay, but the work comes and goes. You may have plenty of work one day and nothing the next. This is not a beneficial situation, as script readers are often required to have a degree in screen writing. With college bills looming, you need a guarantee of constant work in order to pay the bills.
Acting is a career that tens of thousands desire, but only a few make it to film. Acting may look like a dreamy career, but it is cutthroat and filled with backstabbers. To reach the top, you must be prepared to work hard and expect the unexpected.
Actors often spend months on unemployment between roles. Those who do not collect unemployment work menial jobs to collect extra income between roles. Look at some of today’s top actors and actresses and how they started their careers:
- Martin Sheen started out at 19 by working as a stagehand. In 1960, he landed his first stage role for a meager $5 per show.
- Nicole Kidman dropped out of school after developing a strong love for stage acting. Her first role came in 1983, but four years would pass before she appeared in the film that led to her first acting award. Winning the Australian Film Institute Award for her role in the miniseries “Vietnam” helped launch her career.
- Natalie Portman holds a psychology degree from Harvard University. At the age of eleven, Natalie was discovered by an agent in a pizza joint. That agent wanted her to launch a career in modeling, but Natalie instead aimed for a career in acting.
- Chris O’Donnell started his career by modeling at the age of thirteen. Three years later, he was set to quit on achieving a film career, but his mother bribed him with a new car if he went to one more audition. He won the role and his film career began. Chris holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing.
- Renee Zellweger has a college degree in acting, but she felt she would never be noticed in Hollywood. Instead, Renee found acting jobs in Texas and worked as a cocktail waitress in a strip club to gain additional income.
- Angelina Jolie has a degree in acting, following her father’s example, but her childhood dream was to be a funeral director.
A career in film can be highly rewarding, but it is also not as glamorous as it may appear. You must be prepared to work hard and scratch your way to the top-if you ever get there.
Are you intersted in learning more about film? Check out our list of schools in California offering film programs.