"Industry Spotlight" is our newsletter 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 PGA member and EVOLVE mentor Jen Sall, who has produced features, web series, branded content, and more. Her recent film Me.N.A. is currently available on Hulu, and she was recently 1 of 8 participants selected to the Australian International Screen Forum's 2020 Women in Screen Workshop.
HOLLYWOOD RESUMES: As a scripted content producer, what is your day-to-day like?
JEN: No two days are the same, and it depends on the type of production. But some of the main things my job entails are: development (writing scripts, editing treatments, pitching, setting up meetings, deal memos, securing cast); budgeting (prepping for shooting and post, figuring out budgets for international shoots); production partnerships (creating agreements with co-creators, rights sharing, option agreements, and development deals); hiring crew (finding the best people to collaborate with while staying within the resources of each project budget); production (location scouting, managing resources, promotional partners, in-kind services, and talent); post-production (negotiating with post houses, getting rates and schedules, managing data and workflow); and distribution (PR, publicity, festivals).
HR: What are some of the main skills someone would need to succeed in your role?
JEN: Organization -- you have to keep track of many moving parts and make sure each department head is staying within budget and doing their job. You're steering the ship. You also need to be flexible, a problem solver, and resourceful -- expect that even with the best laid plans, changes will happen (the day is cloudy, there's an alarm going off for an hour and you can't find the owner to shut it off...and so on). You also have to be a team player. On smaller productions, I've taken care of scouting, casting, pickups, carrying equipment -- whatever help is needed! No job is too small if it means keeping on schedule. It's important to be proactive and think ahead. For instance, if the sun is setting, and you only have the location for one day, you can't wait until there's no light to make a plan. And have a thick skin and positive attitude! The producer is the person everyone seeks out when there is a problem, and you're not helping yourself or the project if you take things personally. Of course, creativity helps with all of the above and then some.
HR: What was your first job in Hollywood?
JEN: My very first job was in PR at Rogers and Cowan, and one of my earliest production jobs was as an office PA and then coordinator on a Beats commercial produced by Ridley Scott. My main transition into production was by producing a short for FunnyOrDie.com called "Cafe Attitude." To make that happen, I hustled, asked for A LOT of favors, created the concept, worked with a writer on the script, and then produced. The short was featured on over 30 outlets from HuffPo to the LA Times! It gave me something to show people and talk about.
HR: If you don't like ______________, you won't like my job.
JEN: Going with the flow and rolling with last minute changes.
HR: What's something you do in your job that an outsider wouldn't expect -- and maybe you didn't before you started!
JEN: You can't shoot wherever you want in LA. There's a permit process -- you have to apply, which takes days to process, and that makes shooting very challenging when it comes to last minute decisions or changes.
HR: What's a mistake you made early on in your career?
JEN: Taking things too seriously and personally. You'll hear your fair share of "No" or "Pass" when you're developing content or looking for financing.
HR: If you could give one piece of advice for someone trying to break in/move up in the industry, what would it be?
JEN: Be flexible, be positive, be kind to everyone. I don't forget that and have gone on to hire or refer people who were respectful to me back when I was a PA.
HR: Thanks, Jen!
We're all about holiday cheer at Hollywood Resumes, but we know that the job search can have you feeling down, especially if you haven't been getting many interviews lately. But we're here to remind you not to give up. Just because something is hard, doesn't mean you shouldn't try -- even during a pandemic, you are still worthy of a great job!
If you've been struggling to get interviews over the past few months, do your best to shift the blame from yourself to the situation. This is hard -- we know. But instead of getting distracted and questioning your self worth, you should focus on the task at hand. Here are four questions to ask yourself as you try to get the job search back on track:
1. Are you applying for jobs that are appropriate for your skill level? Hiring managers are not interested in hiring candidates who will be bored at the job, and if you're under-applying, you are not likely to get calls (and remember, that just means you're applying wrong, not that you're "so unqualified no one will even hire you to do X"). Are you applying for something totally out of reach? That's no good, either. Make sure you read the job posting carefully to make sure it's a fit.
2. Are you applying for jobs that interest you? Hiring managers can see through a generic cover letter pretty easily, and they can tell when you've fired off the same generic resume for 100 postings. They want to hire someone who wants the job, so you need to make it clear that that's you -- and not waste your time or theirs if it isn't.
3. Is your resume reflective of your experience? Make sure you're telling the appropriate resume story for the job. With an inundation of applications, it's more important than ever to keep your resume clear and concise -- that means one page, unless the position is super senior. Beyond that, think about what you can put on your resume that will set you apart from the crowd. What unique responsibilities, conflicts, or projects have you dealt with in past roles that other applicants might not share? Consider what would make you an asset to a team, and find a way to include it on your resume if possible. Feel free to think outside the box here, as more companies are placing value on diverse backgrounds and perspectives.
4. Are you making the best use of your network? Everyone knows someone who is looking for work, so it's vital that you try to get your resume into a hiring manager's hands via a referral. Spend a little extra time on LinkedIn to see who may have a connection to a company you're interested in -- and find a friend or two who would be willing to check their LinkedIn network and reach out to their 2nd degree connections on your behalf. People are feeling generous with their networks these days, so don't hesitate to ask.
Now, you may be doing all of the above and still getting no hits. That's terribly frustrating, but not unusual! We are living through a global crisis right now, and its impact is felt far and wide. But that's not on you. You are not less worthy, talented, qualified, or smart because you happen to be looking for work in 2020. You weren't laid off because you don't have value. You aren't dreaming too big or thinking too highly of yourself. You will find a job if you're persistent. And if you target your search to your skills and passions, you'll be more likely to connect with a hiring manager at a company that actually interests you. Looking for a job is a lot like dating -- you just need to find "The One," and you can't control when you do. Keep your head up, keep trying, and when you're feeling down, remember that we believe in you, and you're in really good company with other qualified people feeling the same way.
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan