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How easy is it to break into the film industry as one a female and two an Asian?

I am currently on the track of being a film student, and when I graduate I would like to get a job working for a film industry. However I would like to know hard much of a challenge it will be. #art #film #movies #cinematography #camera #business-art


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Jessica’s Answer

Hi Kamryn,


The answer depends, in a large part, on your dedication and persistence. While the film industry is still clearly male dominated, women have been increasingly gaining ground. It's certainly much, much better for females than it was when I started work as a still photographer in this industry. Then, it was not only very difficult to get a foot in the door, but there were no protective harassment laws and/or policies in place, as there now are, and thus, one had to develop a really thick skin to weather the obstacles.


The issue of being Asian is not, per se, an impediment- meaning that the larger issue is again, diversity - or the lack of thereof- in the industry. I was, for six years (until 2011), an elected representative on the National Executive Board of the International Cinematographers Guild (Local 600) and spent a lot of time focusing on this issue. We set up the first "Diversity Committee" to raise awareness of the problems for minorities on sets and to push the studios and production companies into diversifying their crews. Again, things are improving.


You didn’t mention your area of interest, which, to a large degree, makes a difference in the ease of getting a job in the industry. I don't know if you're interested, for example, in the production side or if you're interested, for example, in directing, cinematography, operating a camera, doing sound work, art direction or production design, etc. Traditionally, certain jobs have been easier for women to obtain. These include the script supervisors, the costume designers, the hair and makeup artists and the wardrobe departments. I did a book with Law & Order's creator entitled: Law & Order Crime Scenes. In it, we break down the various jobs done to fulfill a production, explaining the work of each department. You might want to take a look at it.


There are a number of ways that people get into the business. For many years, the film unions ran "closed shops," where, without having a family member already there, one did not have entre. It was colloquially known as the "father/son" system, which has slowly morphed into the "father/son/daughter" version. In some job categories, like the grips, the electricians and the Teamsters (the drivers), this still remains somewhat true. But, I suspect that you're not looking for one of those jobs, anyway. I'm simply noting it. These days, a lot of people come in by taking a job as a production assistant, which doesn't require union membership, but does require incredibly long hours for very little pay. These jobs are seized because it's a way to make contacts (which is key in this, as in most industries) and equally important, as a way to learn all the facets of filmmaking - to decide what one really wants to be doing down the line. Getting this job still requires some networking, but is easier than it was- especially in cities where there's a lot of production going on. I should also note that no matter what area one works in, all the jobs are essentially freelance, which is to say that once a film is completed, you're out of work until you get onto another film. Working in television is a little different, particularly if you're on a successful show. Here, for example, if one works for a television drama series, there’s guaranteed work for approximately 10 months, with two short hiatus's during production and one longer one at the end of each season. If you've done well, you're invited back for the next season. Hence, television offers a little more job security than does film work.


On the production end, I highly recommend that you look into the training program offered by the Director's Guild of America (the DGA). For application instructions, ‘google’ the DGA. When you complete the program, the DGA places you as an Assistant Director trainee on various films and television shows. And on every production, both in film and television, there's a DGA trainee. Here, though, is the rub: Admission to the program is highly competitive, so you really have to be extremely persistent. If you're, at first, rejected, just keep pushing to get in. It'll pay off.


My best advice, however, is to believe in yourself and never to give up on your goals. In the end, we all make our own luck.


I hope that this has helped.


Jessica


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Mark’s Answer

Hi Kamryn,
Because of the women explaining Trump's molesting of women quite often, you shouldn't be too surprised to see the women uniting online, voting for Hillary Clinton, protesting for justice and respect and equality, and desiring to share tender-loving care. What I anticipate will be politics and all industries, including entertainment like movies, will be considerably influenced then controlled by women. Your best opportunity that isn't based on sexy beauty could happen.
Best wishes.


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James’s Answer

More and more women have come into the film and television business over the last few decades. All you have to do is watch the credits like I do. Every project I am involved with has as many women employees as men, and often times more women. Myself and the people I work with have no reservations over sex or race. My suggestion is to learn all you can about the industry. Be an asset because of your skill and nothing else. I work with a women who is Chinese. She works for me because she is skilled and a benefit to each project, not for any other reason. James Hout Producer/Director


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