"Industry Spotlight" is our monthly series where we interview professionals from across the entertainment industry about their current jobs and career trajectories. Our hope is that you will learn more about the positions you're already interested in, discover new roles you may not have considered, and utilize the wisdom of those who've paved the way before you to forge your own path for success.
This month, we sat down with Casting Director/Producer Francine Dauw, Owner of Aberrant Creative, a boutique casting and production company that specializes in casting for unscripted and branded content. Recent credits include DOGS (Netflix), DR. PIMPLE POPPER (TLC), and SUPERNANNY (Lifetime).
HOLLYWOOD RESUMES: In one sentence, how would you define your job?
FRANCINE: I find really amazing stories for different types of projects, and sometimes I produce and direct them too!
HR: What is your day-to-day like?
FRANCINE: A lot of emails and a lot of phone calls! Honestly, every day is different, which is why I like that that I get to do many different things in this industry. I run a casting company and also produce and direct documentaries.
HR: What do you like most about your job?
FRANCINE: Talking to people and uncovering their stories, learning as much as I can about them, and then figuring out the best way to tell those stories.
HR: How did you get your current job?
FRANCINE: I worked very very hard for many different companies and then realized I wanted to do things differently. I took a very big chance and went out on my own...but this is where I will say my partner in the company, Matt Shelley, comes in. He was a big believer that we could make this company successful and do things differently, and he championed us. If he hadn't done that, I really don't think I would be doing what I am doing now. I would probably still be working for other people, not as happy.
HR: What was your first job in Hollywood?
FRANCINE: I interned for a documentary production company for 2 years. Started out as intern there, and by the very end, I was the production manager on a documentary called "Nursery University" for the company.
HR: What are key attributes someone would need to succeed in your position?
FRANCINE: Extremely self-motivated, a good listener -- both to your subjects and your clients -- and must be willing to work all hours of the day and night to get the job done right! Must never settle. Must expect big things from your colleagues but also treat everyone with respect and dignity.
HR: If you don't like ____________, you won't like my job.
FRANCINE: If you don't like working very long days and on the weekends and having nearly every holiday ruined, don't run your own production or casting company.
HR: What’s something you do in your job that an outsider wouldn’t expect (and maybe you didn’t expect before you took the job!)?
FRANCINE: When you are a producer or run a company, yes, you are the "top dog," but being the top dog often means you are still doing small tasks. If a client or cast member could really use a coffee, and you are the only one around, guess what? You go get that coffee!
HR: What’s a mistake you made early on in your career?
FRANCINE: Not admitting mistakes and being defensive when I didn't know all the answers or did make a misstep! Now that I have 16 years of experience under my belt, I am often admitting when I don't know something or when I have made a mistake.
HR: If you could give one piece of advice to someone trying to break in/move up in the industry, what would it be?
FRANCINE: Work hard. I really mean that. Always ask your boss at the end of the night, "What else can I do to help you?" Just that simple question gave me more responsibilities and had my bosses put more trust in me, and therefore pushed me ahead of other team members, got me bigger job titles and more money...climbing that ladder!
One of the questions we're asked most often is "My career trajectory doesn't match the jobs I'm interested in now -- how can I get potential employers to notice me?"
Well, it's a lot easier to make a transition if you can prove that you'd succeed in the role. To do this, there are three steps you'll need to take: identifying which of your skills matter, presenting them in your application materials, and letting your network know you're looking to make a move. Here's how you'll do it:
1. Identify your skills. Look at a few job postings in the field you're considering pursuing and rephrase the requirements and preferred qualifications as questions starting with "Can you...," as in: "Can you liaise with multiple parties to execute deliverables?" and "Can you develop strategic plans and negotiate with multiple stakeholders to meet goals?" and "Can you track projects and maintain an organized database of talent?" If you answer "yes" consistently, think about why. What have you done in your previous roles that makes you confident you'd be able to do what's required of you in this new capacity? Those are your transferable skills. Any other skills you have -- even if the majority of your job was devoted to employing them -- are irrelevant as you transition.
2. Present your skills. When you're transitioning to a new side of the industry or a new career entirely, you'll need to contextualize your resume more than usual so that hiring managers get a clear understanding of how you're qualified for a role. For example, if you've been a freelance field producer for years and are now looking for a full-time role in development at a network, you have to help the hiring manager look beyond your title -- recruiters and executives don't necessarily know what a field producer does. Return to the job posting, and for every skill you answered "yes" to, mimic the language the posting uses and craft your bullets accordingly. If the posting requires someone who can pitch original show ideas to networks, you should have a bullet that says something along the lines of "Pitch segments and storylines to EPs and network executives." Is it an exact match? No. Did the bulk of your time in the field actually involve directing cameras and wrangling talent, with the occasional pitch thrown in? Maybe. But it doesn't matter -- if you can pitch, you can pitch. If you can come up with storylines, that's development. You'll likely have to overhaul your resume to make it fit your new goals, but that's okay -- it's worth taking the time to get the job you really want.
3. Tell your network. Most jobs come from referrals, especially at mid or senior levels. But if the people in your network know you in one capacity, it would be weird for them to recommend you for jobs they don't think you'd be interested in! Tell everyone you know that you're looking to make a move, and be specific. People are more likely to help you when you connect the dots -- "I'd love to get into the ad sales or integrations department of a cable network" is a better trigger than "I want to move into marketing." If your existing network isn't ideal for your new career path, start making new connections! Use LinkedIn to connect with people for informational interviews and turn one informational into another to grow your network in a new field. When the right job opens up, and a recruiter gets your resume from a referral, they'll know you're actually interested in the job and that someone's willing to vouch for your ability to do it. It may seem exhausting to network, but it actually doesn't take much more time or energy than applying for 50 jobs a day and feeling sorry for yourself.
If you've gone through the posting and discovered that your skills are not transferable -- and let's be clear, most soft skills are -- then you probably need to learn something new! You can either decide to start at the bottom and take an entry-level job in the field or go back to school to earn a degree or certification. It's important to make sure you begin your new career well-informed, so we still recommend using your network (current contacts, alumni, community members, and LinkedIn) to schedule informational interviews with people in your field of interest. This way, you can see if their jobs really interest you and learn potential strategies for breaking in. Maybe someone will take a chance on you, but at the very least, you'll prepare yourself for how to accrue the skills you need.