Some people are content to just watch movies and TV to absorb the exciting storylines, fantastic acting and nimble camera work. Then, there are others who see a movie or TV show and think, “this is the job for me”.
If you count yourself in the latter category, you’ve probably daydreamed about a career in the entertainment industry. But where does one start? How do you go from watching movies to making them?
The process, it might surprise you, is both simpler and more straightforward than you’re imagining. While it’s not as simple as knocking on a producer’s door and saying, “job, please”, there are a few tried-and-true roadmaps for entering the industry, each of which is accessible and interesting.
Here they are – the three most popular ways to kick-start a career in show business, whether behind or in front of the camera.
The College Route
In the early days of motion pictures, you had to work your way up in the industry either by starting at the bottom, or moving from a similar medium, like radio or stage. Then came the “Film School Generation”. Directors like Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola were the first generation to come through university programs on filmmaking, and wielded a technical know-how, knowledge of canon and theory that elevated movies.
The college route is still a popular one. Film schools across the country offer degrees that are both informative and vocational, linking you with industry insiders and training you in the art of making content.
The Mentorship Route
Not everyone has the money or good fortune to attend film school, but that’s not a problem. The mentorship route is just as good, if not better. Through mentorship programs, including ones servicing underserved communities and marginalized youth, you can kick-start your entertainment career – whichever department you choose.
Learning from industry professionals, and partaking in hands-on filmmaking, you can learn a trade without ever having to sit in a classroom. Whether it’s directing, acting, cinematography or writing, there are mentors out there who can help you break through.
The Grassroots Route
Increasingly, the industry is seeing a plethora of actors, directors and writers who didn’t get their start in a college, didn’t get their start through a mentorship program or personal connections, but instead did so by making irresistible content on a shared platform.
Studios and productions will absolutely pluck a star – or a show idea – from YouTube if they think you’re talented. The grassroots route is alive and well, and all you need is a camera, an idea and a YouTube or Vimeo channel to make it happen. SNL cast members like Beck Bennett and Kyle Mooney got their start on YouTube. Actor, rapper and showrunner Donald Glover got his start with a sketch troupe on YouTube. And the HBO show High Maintenance originally got its start as a web series on Vimeo. It happens!
If you love TV and movies but believe that working in the industry is just a pipe dream, think again! These three, simple routes are accessible and available for any up-and-coming entertainer who wants to kick-start a career.