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Production work in DC?


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#1 Emily

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Posted 13 December 2005 - 01:18 PM

Hi, guys. This is my first post, bear with me.

I'm graduating from school in May and I want to move to the DC area, just because I love it there. I have extremely limited experience, so I'll be begging for working and working for free wherever I go. My question is, is DC a good area to settle? Is there a lot of production work there? Is there room to grow into maybe a gaffer or DP someday? I'm coming from Pittsburgh, so DC is a bigger city, but should I really be moving to a place like NYC or Chicago?

I'm trying to feel out what I'm up against before I make a big move. Thanks! :)
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#2 Tim J Durham

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Posted 13 December 2005 - 04:02 PM

Hi, guys. This is my first post, bear with me.

I'm graduating from school in May and I want to move to the DC area, just because I love it there. I have extremely limited experience, so I'll be begging for working and working for free wherever I go. My question is, is DC a good area to settle? Is there a lot of production work there? Is there room to grow into maybe a gaffer or DP someday? I'm coming from Pittsburgh, so DC is a bigger city, but should I really be moving to a place like NYC or Chicago?

I'm trying to feel out what I'm up against before I make a big move. Thanks! :)

Hi Emily,
If you're talking about film production, DC is about your worst choice. There are many people chasing few jobs so making a living in film production in DC is not possible. If you want to work in TV news, DC looks better, but that is no path to film work. Add to the lack of jobs the fact that DC has one of the highest housing and living costs in the US so it's a double whammy.

Discovery Networks is headquartered in Silver Spring, MD but they do little in house production and what they DO do is mostly promotional. I spent 18 years doing TV news in Washington and made a good living.
However, it is amazingly stressful and there is little job satisfaction to show for it.

There are groups of people, such as grads of the Univ of Maryland film program, who get together and try to make things happen but these are all no-pay gigs and perusing the user group boards they set up for "networking" is both funny and sad. You can witness the dreams being broken in real time.

At some point the ones with real ambition and talent will no doubt make their way to LA and (to quote Seinfeld) eventually be spit out the bottom of the porn industry. Maybe a little harsh? I'm starting to sound like Phil!

Your best bet is to pick a couple of BUSY production companies, in an area where you can afford to live off of your night-time waitress wages, and try to get an internship. There is no substitute for connections. None what-so-ever.
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#3 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 13 December 2005 - 06:47 PM

The truth is Los Angeles or New York are probably your best bets. You can certainly get work in other markets (I started in Orlando for example), but you'll be able to move into the department you really want to be in quicker in LA or NY. There's just more work to go around.
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#4 Mike Panczenko

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 09:05 AM

I work out of Baltimore/DC, and while it has been getting busier the past few years and does work, it is very hard to get in as an outsider. It is a very tight-knit community, and if you get in, you are set for life, but the struggle is getting in. (This, by the way, is referring to Baltimore. DC is completely dead when it comes to film.) As the old cliche goes, its not what you know, but who you know, and this area embodies that and exaggerates it. It does have its busy moments, but unless you are or know one of the maybe 10 big camera people in this area (speaking about film camera people), it will be very difficult to get in. I would probably recommend NY or LA, where there seems to be more luck in being successful.

*Hey Tim, how you been? Finally we cross paths on the boards here!
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#5 Tim J Durham

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 10:56 AM

*Hey Tim, how you been? Finally we cross paths on the boards here!

Hi Mike.
I'm in Los Angeles. This nice weather is relentless, I don't know how people stand it? I've been here for two weeks editing and thankfully going home today, back to some REAL weather. 6" of snow followed by 3" of rain- then the deep freeze. Not this computer-generated sh**. 70ยบ and sunny AGAIN today. Thank G@d I'm leaving.

One thing, though: I was at the Grove eating lunch with my bud and the trolley came by loaded with this troop of Sexy Santas?. They stopped the trolley and jumped out right in front of us. Did a couple production numbers, a few blasts of genuine 100% simulated snow, then the big finish. I could tell a couple of them liked me, you just don't get that in the malls out east!

So I swear I'm staying away from here for.. atleast.. 2, 3 weeks.
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#6 Shaw H. Burrows

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Posted 20 December 2005 - 09:48 PM

I work out of Baltimore/DC, and while it has been getting busier the past few years and does work, it is very hard to get in as an outsider. It is a very tight-knit community, and if you get in, you are set for life, but the struggle is getting in. (This, by the way, is referring to Baltimore. DC is completely dead when it comes to film.) As the old cliche goes, its not what you know, but who you know, and this area embodies that and exaggerates it. It does have its busy moments, but unless you are or know one of the maybe 10 big camera people in this area (speaking about film camera people), it will be very difficult to get in. I would probably recommend NY or LA, where there seems to be more luck in being successful.

*Hey Tim, how you been? Finally we cross paths on the boards here!


even as a member of IA for 19 years ,after my transfer to 487 I had a great summer eraser, first kid and shadow conspieracy. then it seem to dry up. ive been in WPB FL for 8 years now and with 477, 500 & 600. Since leaving Toronto in 89 Ive never been busyier. BUT for just starting out chicago is a great place to start that is often over looked

good luck and be hungry
Ps Tims right

Edited by Shaw H. Burrows, 20 December 2005 - 09:55 PM.

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