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#1 Nicholas J Roberto

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Posted 24 September 2008 - 06:39 PM

Hi all,

This is my first time posting and I really hope I can get some help. First though, a little background on my situation. I'm 22 and I live in Charleston, SC which is not exactly the film capitol of the US (though it's been getting better). I attended a small film school here that more or less specializes in turning out grips, electrics, and PA's. It wasn't much but it taught me a good deal and I have spent the last two years freelancing and getting to know crew around the area. My dream is to become a DP on feature films and as such I decided to apply to IATSE and was accepted as an electrician. I decided to do so to advance my knowledge of lighting in real professional settings in the hopes that it would make me a better DP. However, after being accepted about five months ago I began applying to every film in the listings my union sends out as well as contacting local crew I knew about possible positions in the area. The catch is that I have no feature film experience as an electrician and for this reason (i assume) not one of the films I applied to has even so much as given me a call back. This has left me wondering what my next step should be. If anyone has any advice please let me know. In the mean time I will keep applying and hope for the best.
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#2 Michele Peterson

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Posted 24 September 2008 - 06:57 PM

It's never easy to get started, but don't give up. Sometimes productions come into a town with crew already.

On your resume do you list the projects you worked on in school? Don't try to pass them off as something they aren't, but if you did work on them, list them. You can list a description of training and equipment you got hands on experience with in school. Is there a venue near you that you could get lighting experience with. Maybe a concert venue or theatre near you might be looking for another lighting tech.
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#3 Nicholas J Roberto

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Posted 25 September 2008 - 06:24 PM

It's never easy to get started, but don't give up. Sometimes productions come into a town with crew already.

On your resume do you list the projects you worked on in school? Don't try to pass them off as something they aren't, but if you did work on them, list them. You can list a description of training and equipment you got hands on experience with in school. Is there a venue near you that you could get lighting experience with. Maybe a concert venue or theatre near you might be looking for another lighting tech.



My resume does list school projects as well as training and equipment but I suppose there is always room for improvement on my resume. As far as venues for lighting, there are a few local theatres near by and one is hiring for a lighting tech right now so I will definitely apply to it. thanks for the input.
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#4 Serge Teulon

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Posted 26 September 2008 - 08:13 AM

Hey Nick,

If you haven't done this then I would advise you to try and get on some freebies. Doing school projects is absolutely fine but there is nothing like knowing that someone has been through the hard graft that is the low budget indie scene.
It puts hairs on your chest, if you know what I mean.

Good luck!

p.s just thought...if you can, go and visit the offices of the production that you are applying to. A face is always more rememberable than a piece of paper.

Edited by Serge Teulon, 26 September 2008 - 08:14 AM.

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#5 Josh Bass

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Posted 26 September 2008 - 09:50 PM

I don't mean to be rude, but he mentioned that in addition to school, he spent the last two years doing freelance work.
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#6 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 27 September 2008 - 08:50 AM

Hi all,

This is my first time posting and I really hope I can get some help. First though, a little background on my situation. I'm 22 and I live in Charleston, SC which is not exactly the film capitol of the US (though it's been getting better). I attended a small film school here that more or less specializes in turning out grips, electrics, and PA's. It wasn't much but it taught me a good deal and I have spent the last two years freelancing and getting to know crew around the area. My dream is to become a DP on feature films and as such I decided to apply to IATSE and was accepted as an electrician. I decided to do so to advance my knowledge of lighting in real professional settings in the hopes that it would make me a better DP. However, after being accepted about five months ago I began applying to every film in the listings my union sends out as well as contacting local crew I knew about possible positions in the area. The catch is that I have no feature film experience as an electrician and for this reason (i assume) not one of the films I applied to has even so much as given me a call back. This has left me wondering what my next step should be. If anyone has any advice please let me know. In the mean time I will keep applying and hope for the best.



As you've learned, the odds of getting a job from cold-calling is pretty slim. The business runs almost entirely on networking. People have to know you and know and trust what you can do. A resume detailing a rich work history is nice, but it is secondary to having others get to know you.

That said, location has something to do with it too. If there isn't enough work in your area to begin with and/or the kind of work that is happening isn't what you want, then you have to pack up your stuff and move to where those opportunities are. As mentioned, most features shot domestically (in the US) are crewed out of LA or NY. The Keys (those in charge of each department) will hire their favorite people and those people will hire people they know and trust and so on.

This doesn't mean that getting in is impossible. Sometimes, a project will NEED local hires because of budget or because there are extra camera days or, in the case of the Electric Department, there may be a few pre-rig days. If you can convince a production to hire you on a pre-rig crew (by getting in touch with the Gaffer or Pre-rig Gaffer or Best Boy Electric), then you'll get to be known that way. In time, when the time is right, they'll need someone else on the shooting set and you'll start working there.

It can be a slow and frustrating process to meet the right people who will help get you to where you want to go, particularly when you are trying to start at an entry-level position and move up through the ranks. The other very viable option is for you to just START your career by going out to be a DP. You'll have to start by shooting really small and low or no-pay projects like music videos, documentaries, and student films. And you also won't know everything you should know. BUT, if you have some experience then it's likely that you can "get by" as the DP. The more projects you shoot in different circumstances the more you'll learn. Find an experienced Gaffer, Key Grip, and Camera Assistant who will provide the technical support for the things you might not know yet. They'll be learning too. Don't expect to make much money at first, but if you can stick with it, then soon, you'll have a reel and a growing resume. More importantly, you'll be meeting more people (Directors and Producers) who may move up to bigger budgets themselves or may recommend you to bigger projects.

I've compiled a list of some job resources at the "Additional Resources" section at www.whatireallywanttodo.com that may help you.

Good luck!
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Abel Cine

Ritter Battery

Glidecam

rebotnix Technologies

Paralinx LLC

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Metropolis Post

CineLab

Rig Wheels Passport

FJS International, LLC

The Slider

Technodolly

Opal

Aerial Filmworks

Tai Audio

Wooden Camera

Willys Widgets

CineTape

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Broadcast Solutions Inc