Celebrating 17 Years of Film.Biz.Fans.
by Barbara Freedman Doyle
April 4, 2012 12:48 PM
32 Comments
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The Six Things You Must Know to Make it in the Film Industry

ATTITUDE Your attitude is one of your most precious assets. Chances are given to young newcomers because they’re talented, bright, and have a great attitude. If you’re in a business where the tensions run high, you want to be able to count on “your” people to handle things well, efficiently, and with a lack of bad attitude. On a film set where the days are long and the working conditions often not ideal, the crew member with the bad attitude is the one who is complaining, finding fault with someone else’s work, laying blame, and nagging about how long until wrap. It doesn’t even matter if this person is correct in his judgments or if everyone else agrees that Yes, it sucks to be out all night in 20-degree weather in the mud and rain, and No, no one is making enough money for this. No one has to hear it. You must be agreeable, helpful, and in general happy that you’re on the set of a film (commercial, television show, music video). The whiners and troublemakers are noticed, and they are not invited back. Even if their complaints are justified, everyone is in the same boat—who needs to hear about it? Write it in your private diary or journal if you keep one. Tell your best friend. Do NOT blog or post about it!

Along with the whiners are the princes and princesses, the egos: “I could do it better”; “I saved their butts”; “They couldn’t have finished the movie without me.” I promise you, they can always finish the movie without you. You are expendable. There are lines of people behind you, waiting for you to leave or be told to leave.

In an office, the people with an attitude are the drama kings or queens. It’s all about them. They do everything. They work harder than anyone else. Everyone else is incompetent. Their ideas are the best. They don’t get the credit they deserve. And of course there is the gossip. The drama king or queen is the first with the bad news, the nasty comment, the information that may or may not be true but is certainly no one’s business. These people are a drain on the energy of the work environment. They are also the manipulators, the connivers, the liars who set their co-workers up for a fall. Succeeding in a hypercompetitive industry is hard. Stay away from the attitude-challenged. You’ll be stunned at how a bad attitude rubs off on you and how it effects other people’s perception of you. Keep your eye on the road ahead of you, SMILE, and be the first one anyone thinks of when they need someone they can count on to do the job with a minimum of fuss. You will do well.

What follows here are two cautionary tales. Both are entirely true, but the names are changed.

CAUTIONARY TALE #1: You’re at the Bottom of the Food Chain Until You Aren’t Will was volunteering on an independent film. Every day he was asked to run to a specific vegan cafe ́ to fetch lunch for the lead actress. He had to leave set and fight the L.A. traffic to do this, and he was quite put out about it. He felt that getting lunch for an actress he’d never heard of was demeaning, and that since he was working for free, he should at least be doing something worthwhile. 

On the third day of the shoot he was asked again to pick up the lunch. He rolled his eyes. The producer, who was himself doing the director a favor on this one and who usually made much more high-profile films, pulled Will aside. He told him, “No one should ever know you’re unhappy or that you think you’re better than this. You know why? Because when they started ALL these people, including me, had to do something we didn’t want to do. We were ALL better than that. Every job on a set is the same. It’s doing whatever has to be done to get the movie made. If getting the lunch helps, then that’s the most important contribution you can make, and you’d better hustle and do it gladly, until it’s not your job anymore. There are people waiting for you to get booted so they can snag your spot. Once you move up you’ll be telling the next guy what I’m telling you. You have to suck it up and look as if you’re having a good time.”

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32 Comments

  • kalendra | December 20, 2013 11:31 PMReply

    hi,
    I am kalendra . best goal of the my life is best actor in the film industry. and i got my dream so i will try and try and i got success for my dream it is my goal of the life. so plz giude me how to get into film industry? I make interest any part pz e-mail me.

  • vaibhav | October 17, 2013 11:24 AMReply

    i want to b a gud n successful actor n i vl definately do it

  • Harshil r patel | October 9, 2013 1:02 AMReply

    hi ,I am harshil patel . best goal of the my life is best actor in the film industry. and i got my dream so i will try& try and i got success for my dream it is my goal of the life. so plz giude me how to get into film industry?

  • Doug | September 30, 2013 11:38 AMReply

    Great article, and rings true. Something else to think about, if you're a "third coast" crew member as I am, the business can be very scary at times. I've gone months without work which means months without pay. Markets like Dallas are hot and cold. In my 14 years here, we've lost work to Austin, then to the Louisiana tax breaks, and then to the New Mexico tax breaks. Some crew members I know have followed the jobs around. I've chosen to stay in Dallas because my family is here, and I'm a bit of a homebody with four pets and a house I love. While I'm well compensated for my time, budgeting can be tricky without a constant income stream. It's a difficult but often rewarding lifestyle. More sweat, blood, and tears than the glamor of it's image, but would I trade my experiences for a law degree? Maybe. Depends on the day. ;)

  • suuny | September 12, 2013 1:46 PMReply

    i m want to be a actor .its my passion.

  • Anshul | July 27, 2013 2:49 AMReply

    Hi I'm Anshul, I want to join in film industry. this is my dream that i made a actor.
    So please help me.
    thank you

  • MOHAMAD HAMMOUD | May 6, 2013 5:18 PMReply

    Hi i got a dream i pray every day and night for ... need help & a guide please let me know that i found a way that can help my dreams come true

  • shubham mishra | April 20, 2013 7:03 AMReply

    i want to join in film indurstry

  • chandra prakash kedia | April 15, 2013 1:33 PMReply

    helloo...


    sir i want to be an actor.. its my passion to get into bollywood soo plz guide me how to get into film industry..

  • Michael Medeiros | January 3, 2013 5:10 PMReply

    Now that we're finishing post, I think I need to read this twice a day. Promo for Tiger Lily Road http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvxPy1ksQ-M

  • Andrew Kaplan - Accidental Actor | August 9, 2012 1:25 PMReply

    This advice is well taken. I fetched coffee for my bosses at a major entertainment company during my college internship. I remember actually using that time to meet others and observe. I would say the best advice for someone new is to use the ability to network and observe. On film sets I make it my job to learn about what all the different people do and build relationships. Just the simple task of saying thank you will get you far. The real advice is to be "appreciative" of the opportunity and remember you learn more from failure than success, so rather than criticize, use that time to learn. In the other part of my life I teach entrepreneurs about starting a business...the smart "owner" will want to surround himself with hardworking, supportive people, who are not afraid to get their hands dirty and can handle multiple tasks. . A film set is a startup.

  • Mike Akers | August 9, 2012 11:51 AMReply

    awesome article and 100% true!

  • CafeGirlsPress | August 7, 2012 3:49 PMReply

    I am making an effort to commit every word to memory, and to encourage the young people I mentor to do the same as well. Lovely article. Right on the money. Thank you.

  • Bradd Hopkins | April 16, 2012 8:44 AMReply

    If you're interested in filmmaking, read this article like gospel. There are too many other mistakes you can make to risk shooting yourself in the foot by violating its simple precepts. I have a few cautionary tales of my own, and learned from every one. They can make your phone not ring.

  • NADIM BADDOUR | April 9, 2012 4:40 PMReply

    a beautiful & true article ... very true

  • iain campbell | April 9, 2012 2:54 PMReply

    Thank you - "Truth well told" - even though its tough to swallow.. Too late to change career now..

  • Smiley | April 9, 2012 11:37 AMReply

    Articles like this should not bring out anyones defensive side... and if it does... a great book for you to read is "YOUR ATTITUDE IS SHOWING"...
    Anyone in the industry will tell you.... YOUR attitude will either get you fired or hired. Period end of story. Skills and experience will come when the attitude is aligned. ;-)

  • Lenry | April 8, 2012 10:11 PMReply

    Anything you say can be used against you. Give yourself the opportunity to turn down the next job by not losing the one you have. Do the best job you can and let the water roll of your back.

  • Joe Bessette | April 7, 2012 7:45 AMReply

    Great article thanks for posting it!!

  • Kevin Harty | April 6, 2012 7:58 PMReply

    Excellent stuff. Well structured common sense. Unfortunately that kind of sense isn't that common. I'm the oldest "new-kid-on-the-block" with no formal education in what I now do (I'm an actor and therefore on the other side of the camera) and I think the information applies right across the board. Good comments too.

  • star jonestown | April 5, 2012 7:43 PMReply

    Hate to break into the INFOMERCIAL here, but Barbara Freedman Doyle's credits are Dreck.

    I'm so sick of these f*cking books written by people who couldn't walk the walk. There they are, though, still talking that f*cking talk. It's all bullsh*t.

    HERE IS WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: 'Believe in yourself. Behave yourself. Practice Practice Practice and Never Give Up.' That is all.

  • Tsk... | August 14, 2013 2:38 PM

    The damage you've already done with your first comment cannot be erased by this second, 'tail-tucked' comment... Think first, respond after and always Edit yourself. It's better not to break a plate than to apologize after the fact. The plate remains broken, even if the owner forgives... Shalom.

    Regarding the piece, I am happy to read it as it is very timely and relates not just to the film industry, but truly any and every industry. I have copped plenty attitudes in my day and only now are my eyes truly open as to why I just couldn't seem to catch a break. Now I am truly convinced that 'Attitude determines Altitude', but I'm still stubborn in some areas because: I don't appreciate kissing Unnecessary ass and wasting my time on petty things when my time can be better applied elsewhere. If I'm going to do the dirty thing, I'm going to do it in my way, timely and efficiently. I prefer to work smart, not hard; some tasks are labour intensive and unavoidable, but the repetitious things (copying/scanning) are much easier and quicker now thanks to technology. As long as I am more knowledgeable than my superiors in the technology behind the task, then I do it my way despite what they say, once the thing gets done and they are satisfied at the end of the day.

    However, I've learned the hard way that sometimes, it pays to just do the damn thing, keep your mouth shut and keep the bloody peace, no matter how dirty and degrading the task may be. The only thing that truly irks me is when people expect me to be happy about doing the grunge work. My outlook is this, "I am happy to be here, the experience and knowledge gained is indispensable to me and though you won't say thanks or appreciate me at this moment, I'll do the f*cking thing! Just don't expect or tell me to smile as I do it, as there will be hell to pay in the long run!" (See, stubbornness abounds... the pride is strong in this one lol)

    But seriously, yes I know you had to kiss ass too, but if you didn't or couldn't smile through it when it was your time to suck up, why the hell do you expect me to be happy about it? I won't cuss or embarrass you, but don't fricking tell me to be happy about it!! End rant.

  • star jonestown | April 5, 2012 8:06 PM

    ... On second thought, I'd like to apologize to Barbara. This is why I've practically quit reading anything close to this sort of post... I'm sure she's a perfectly nice person, and the anecdotes & excerpts were well-written. I don't think that the business of teaching those who are interested in the biz is inherently awful. I once read a few of these myself. Do I think there are too many of these books? Sure. But knowledge has to be passed on from generation to generation. So mea culpa. I really don't like infomercials, but people gotta eat.

  • David | April 5, 2012 4:46 PMReply

    Don't ever work with people you don't know for free. If someone who is not your friend needs you to do something, that something has value; and as you make clear in this piece, nobody's your friend, right?

  • Tsk... | August 14, 2013 2:42 PM

    I'm Sorry, David. This comment wasn't meant for you, but STAR JONESTOWN.

    Kind regards,

    P.S to add to Your comment, I agree with you as that often allows the 'boss' to take grave advantage of the 'free' employee...

  • Tsk... | August 14, 2013 2:36 PM

    The damage you've already done with your first comment cannot be erased by this second, 'tail-tucked' comment... Think first, respond after and always Edit yourself. It's better not to break a plate than to apologize after the fact. The plate remains broken, even if the owner forgives... Shalom.

    Regarding the piece, I am happy to read it as it is very timely and relates not just to the film industry, but truly any and every industry. I have copped plenty attitudes in my day and only now are my eyes truly open as to why I just couldn't seem to catch a break. Now I am truly convinced that 'Attitude determines Altitude', but I'm still stubborn in some areas because: I don't appreciate kissing Unnecessary ass and wasting my time on petty things when my time can be better applied elsewhere. If I'm going to do the dirty thing, I'm going to do it in my way, timely and efficiently. I prefer to work smart, not hard; some tasks are labour intensive and unavoidable, but the repetitious things (copying/scanning) are much easier and quicker now thanks to technology. As long as I am more knowledgeable than my superiors in the technology behind the task, then I do it my way despite what they say, once the thing gets done and they are satisfied at the end of the day.

    However, I've learned the hard way that sometimes, it pays to just do the damn thing, keep your mouth shut and keep the bloody peace, no matter how dirty and degrading the task may be. The only thing that truly irks me is when people expect me to be happy about doing the grunge work. My outlook is this, "I am happy to be here, the experience and knowledge gained is indispensable to me and though you won't say thanks or appreciate me at this moment, I'll do the f*cking thing! Just don't expect or tell me to smile as I do it, as there will be hell to pay in the long run!" (See, stubbornness abounds... the pride is strong in this one lol)

    But seriously, yes I know you had to kiss ass too, but if you didn't or couldn't smile through it when it was your time to suck up, why the hell do you expect me to be happy about it? I won't cuss or embarrass you, but don't fricking tell me to be happy about it!! End rant.

  • Amanda | April 5, 2012 3:25 PMReply

    Well written, tight, concise, and incredibly TRUE article, but if it reads as anything other than common sense to someone who wants "in" on the industry, it's time to rethink the industry you're best suited for.

  • Jason Smith | April 4, 2012 9:30 PMReply

    Just so happens I have 3 family members I will be getting this for! Thanks to cameraman Christopher Lockett and high recommendation of this book!

  • cf | April 4, 2012 5:15 PMReply

    ...MOST professions actually. My highly qualified fiancé started in science doing cancer research in a horrible lab that made him do the shitty jobs–measuring tumors on mice. He was better qualified than a bunch in the lab, but he had to suck it up until he got did enough to get med school. Problem with film is it really doesn't appreciate qualifications at all- the industry HATES film grads because they have ideals above their 'expresso whore' stations. It sucks. It's not nice. You have to suck c••k basically, especially if you don't have any prior contacts in the industry.

  • Jay | April 4, 2012 3:41 PMReply

    Applied to any procession? No it can't. With all due respect, I don't think someone in the fields of product design, cancer research or quantitative analysis sucks it up and smiles gleefully to be a chief scientist or innovator's coffee whore, because, frankly, those industries actually rely on formal pedigree and intellect -- i.e., brain power if you will. Neither does someone who works for NSA or clerks for a judge on the court of appeals.

    But of course, entertainment trumps all that because it's the only industry that thinks of itself way higher than it should. And why shouldn't it. It's a factory of delusion-inducing dreams.

  • Nathania | April 12, 2012 1:52 PM

    A product designer was once an assistant in a design office. A cancer researcher or qualitative analyst was once a graduate assistant. A clerk for a judge was once an intern at a law office. Everyone starts at the bottom. Office politics exist in every industry. But the term office politics is a cynical one. Having a good attitude and doing what it takes to get the job done - that's a positive way to think about it, and this article does a good job of it. Took me a long time to learn this, but better late than never.

  • Roger | April 4, 2012 1:39 PMReply

    I learned a lot from this article that can be applied to any profession.