For aspiring industry professionals:
-- Observe. You are never going to really enjoy an internship. Although every company is different, for the most part as an intern you aren't allowed to contribute in any big way. This is your chance to observe. Sit back, watch, and learn through osmosis - this is probably the only chance in your life you will be able to do this, enjoy it. They do not except anything but a hard working attitude and an ability to soak up information, so relax, if you work hard and demonstrate that you are listening you'll be fine.
-- Job Hunting. Look for jobs while attending your internship. I searched for jobs from day one of my internship and was able to land a job that will begin the day after my internship ends. This means I will not be unemployed! If you live in New York, being unemployed is NOT an opinion. However, I looked for 3 months before finding a job in my field so don't wait. Here are the best sources I've found for finding jobs in the entertainment industry:
- imdb pro
-- Never burn bridges. There are going to be people that you work with that make you want to punch a baby. It is going to be extremely hard to hold back at times but burning bridges is one of the absolute worst things you can do in the entertainment industry. Unless the law would take your side in the case against them, such as sexual harassment, take the high road. Not everyone is a good manager and in the entertainment industry you are going to work with a lot of egos that want to use their interns as a stool to look taller. I'm not saying you shouldn't report it to HR (I did) but just be careful about destroying any business relationship. When people look back they tend to remember the positive things, this includes you. After your internship your employer will probably remember all the things you did right and keep you in a high regard. If you were to burn that bridge while working there you may have destroyed that potential as well as building relationships with ANYONE in your employer's network. If your employer is a powerful person, it would be unwise to offend them (even if they deserve it) because you are not just messing with your employer, you are messing with all of his/her connections as well.
-- Cultivate relationships. If you can, try to bond with your employer/colleagues. In this industry people look out for one another. If they like you, they will help you. And in turn one day you may be able to help them.
--Do Small Favors. With the law of large numbers eventually you will need something from someone, and if you have done a small favor for them without any incentive other than being there for a colleague, you will receive help.
--Read. Knowledge is power. You should know what is happening at all times within the entertainment industry. Read Deadline, and reviews in Variety and New York Times every day. You will be amazed at how easy this is, it takes about 20 minutes total to get up to speed. I cannot stress enough how much of an edge this will give you. Success is when preparation and opportunity meets. This is your preparation. Your resume may be impressive but in the interview it will be your knowledge of the entertainment world that sets you apart and demonstrates your understanding of the business. Also, throw in some plays, and nonfiction in there to round out your conversations. It is impressive when you are able to use a different source of academia to help illustrate your understanding of a niche.
-- Be on time. Always.
--Be a Reader. Volunteer to read in the audition rooms for casting directors. This is an unpaid masterclass in auditioning. It is actually priceless and you will see with your own eyes how to position yourself in order to stand out in a positive way.
--Always Play Positive. Humans remember and enjoy positive experiences The most dramatic and wonderful piece will disappear as soon as something fun and upbeat comes a long. Casting directors see the same pieces over and over again, be sure to make yours a positive one. That includes your headshot - play up the BEST parts about you. I should WANT to meet you. If you are reading for a dramatic part, make sure to be positive and upbeat in the room. Humility is key - if there is something really cool about you phrase it like, " I am really proud to have been part of The Mentalist. It was an honor to work with such talented actors and I only hope I get a chance like that again." This allows you to name drop and keep your ego in check all in one. You're audition is important but remember that you are also selling yourself, you are a brand, make sure to make it a positive one.
-- Postcards are a waste of time. Write Business letters instead. In a business letter you have to comment (sincerely) on the recipient's work and explain why you are reaching out to them...put it in theirs of their achievements and that it would be an honor to work in any capacity for them. This a chance to build a relationship - do not ask for parts, ask for a meeting or to be a reader. You want to build a relationship before you ask for favors, right?
-- Be one time. Always.
I hope this recap has been helpful to some of you. Of course when I learn more I will share it to the best of my ability. This industry relies on confidentiality. I cannot share projects, notes, or any thoughts or specifics that go on in my office, but I can pass on any general words of the wise.
For anyone interested my new job is personal assistant to both of the founders of Perception. You can view it at: www.perceptionnyc.com.