Tuesday, February 19, 2008

So Josh, how can I get your job?

Lately I've been getting fan letters. How cool is that?

(Hi Kayvan, Ryan...and I feel like there was someone else, but my organization leaves a little something to be desired, so, sorry if I missed you.)

Okay, okay. Technically they're emails, not letters, and "fan" might be pushing it a bit...but this is Hollywood. Aren't I supposed to build myself up a little bit?

Anyway.

Generally the focus of these emails is (as the title implies): How can I get a writer's assistant job?

Here's my short answer. In order of importance:

1) Know someone.
2) Get lucky.
3) Keep trying.
4) Be a good writer.

Usually it involves several of these things converging at once.

Two examples for you:

1) I know one current assistant who kept calling production offices asking if they were hiring. Eventually he started talking to the writer's assistant at one of those offices and formed a relationship. They kept in contact, weird stuff happened and eventually his script OF THAT SHOW got into the hands of one of the writers. You know, that thing everyone says never happens. When the old assistant got promoted to staff writer on the show, my friend already knew lots of people on the show and had an in, so getting the job was a piece of cake. Or at least that's how I like to tell the story.

Perseverence+who he knew+a little bit of luck. Plus, from his work I've read so far, he's a damn good writer.

2) My path to this job involved more twists and turns. About two years ago, I was working at a subtitling company and just trying to find some job in the entertainment industry. I spent a good 6 months in a hardcore job search (interviewing at my current company three different times for three different jobs) before landing at a desk assisting a VP. I worked for her for a year and it was a great learning experience, but I was ready to move on.

A month or two into that job search, I got really lucky. The writer's assistant on our next production quit and they needed someone to fill his position quick. After getting permission from the VP, I applied, submitting the pilot Jul and I had written as a sample. The writers liked the pilot, interviewed me, and about a month later I was officially a writer's assistant.

Luck+who I knew+talent+perseverance. The writers might not have even read our script if I wasn't coming from a reliable source, and I certainly wouldn't have known about the position if I wasn't already working in the company. But (to toot my own horn which isn't dirty but sounds that way) I wouldn't have gotten the job if they didn't like the script. I know this because there was another person who they were set to offer the position, but after they read that person's script the offer never went out.

So, how do you get a writer's assistant job? Keep trying, and be ready when the rare opportunity arises.

1 comment:

Ryan said...

Hey, if I didn't believe in luck then I wouldn't play the lottery all the time. Good stuff to know.

At one point will the whole agency element come into play for you? Do you seek them out? Or will they find you?

Also, I think it'd be cool if you posted what you expect to happen after your work for this current film is finished. I know that's impossible to predict, but it would be interesting to compare your expectations and then the actual results later on.