I’m off to the Austin Film Festival next week, where the number one question asked is, “How do I break into the industry?” This week’s Procrastination is for you.
Dear Pamela Ribon,
Hi, my name is Taylor Moran and I am a huge fan of yours. I am a currently a junior at the University of Florida and am seeking advice. I basically want to be you post graduation. I really want to make my way into the television and film industries but I am interested in writing in other capacities as well. It’s been difficult to work toward this goal as I have no personal connections to anyone in these industries and UF isn’t very artistically inclined. Because I have no experience I have not been able to land a single job/internship in the industry, not even as a production assistant on student films, however, I can’t get experience if I can’t get a job. This goal is beginning to feel out of reach and I was just wondering if you had any advice on where to begin or how to break into this industry. I love to write and really want to pursue it professionally but don’t know where to begin. If you have any advice (or need an assistant this summer) I’d be so grateful.
Thank you for your time,
I’m in no need of an assistant just yet, but thanks for the offer, and I’m flattered you thought of me when designing your own goals for the future. I don’t know what you’re majoring in, so I don’t know how to help you inside of your college experience, but the good news is you don’t have to have college experience to try to get a job in the film/television industry. What you DO need is to live in Los Angeles. When you finish up school, if you move to Los Angeles with a good work ethic, some money saved (and maybe a roommate or two), you will find your way into this business the way we all did — paying our dues. I started with spec scripts (which you can write in Florida!), while being an assistant and applying for freelance writing jobs. Some go to work immediately as interns at agencies or management companies. Some get jobs on television shows as PAs (basically a gopher) so they can learn this business from the ground up. The best thing you have going for you right now is your youth. There are times I wish I’d moved to LA five years earlier than I did so I could be five years further in my career right now.
Your goal isn’t out of reach. Only the city where you want to do the work is. Finish school, do amazing things, write all you can while you’re in Florida. Write all kinds of things. Take some risks. If you can’t find a student production to work on, find some friends and make your own short film. Work on your voice. Figure out what kind of writer you are or want to be. Then, after you graduate, move out here with the confidence you need to survive a whole lot of hustle.
PS: It usually takes a few years before it doesn’t feel like the worst decision you’ve ever made.
Best of luck in everything.
[Have any advice for Taylor? It’s scary entering the world without report cards!]
If you have a question about writing or television or novels or screenplays or any of these places where I write words and other people read them, send an email to pamie at pamie dot com with the subject line: YOUR WEEKLY PROCRASTINATION.