Rich's Rules for the Entertainment Industry

Hot Tips for the Entertainment Industry

Presenter:  Rich Ross, CAS '83
Former President, Disney Channel
Former Chariman, Walt Disney Studios

Jobs in the Entertainment Industry
Places to Work
Rich's Basic Rules

Finding a Job in the Entertainment Industry Basic jobs in TV:

  1. Programming
  2. Scheduling: Every show, every commercial, every commercial break. Unglamorous, but provides excellent exposure.
  3. Development: Uses script readers, often free-lance. Also lots of entry-level positions. Read fiction and nonfiction scripts.
  4. Production: The entry-level position is production assistant, basically an "industrial schlepper". On soap operas, production assistants can make as much as $40K+.
  5. On-air promotion (commercials) both from advertising agency and at network. The entry-level position is production asst.; path goes to writer or assoc. producer to producer to senior producer. Short-form commercials are 10 seconds; long-form are 2 minutes. Also do "interstitial" programming 5 to 10 minute spots promoting upcoming or regularly scheduled programs.

Administrative Departments in Entertainment Industry

  1. Licensing can be very lucrative. Good for people with business background and creativity.
  2. Research -testing programs, movies, etc. Schedulers and programmers come from this area.
  3. Marketing "everything is marketing". Special events, ad sales: contests and promotions; affiliate sales.  Note: networks pay affiliates for their programming you want the best stations to carry your stuff, so this area is really important.
  4. Press relations huge area for entry-level jobs to "get the word out."  Reports to the marketing dept.
  5. Ad sales and affiliate sales lots of jobs in selling as sales assts.
  6. General Comments:  Entry-level jobs are generally "assistant" titles. You need to be able to type, talk on the phone and take good messages.

Places to Work

  • Movie industry LA
  • TV - news = NY; otherwise, more and more is based in LA
  • Music - NY, particularly "a and r" (=artists and repertory--"who is on a popular label.")
  • Sports - lots of different places. Sports represents the best minority hirers in the entertainment business. All the types of jobs listed above exist in all sports teams, since sports = entertainment.

Rich's Basic Rules

  • Do your homework. Know the lingo and *read* the trades. If your interest is: music - read Billboard (and Rolling Stone as backup); movies - Premiere; TV - Weekly Variety, Hollywood Reporter, and TV Guide (gives info on tv execs.). Keep a log of the "players". READ CREDITS.
  • Send your resume to everyone, not just the human resource department. Send it often. Follow up with phone calls; call early, call late.
  • Make an ally of the "assistant". S/he answers the phone, and knows what's going on. If you alienate the assistant, you're through.
  • Talk to everyone. Make a large network for yourself.
  • Choose a city and make a commitment to it. Go there. Don't try to look for a job "anywhere".
  • You need to be available to start instantly. No one will hold a job for you.
  • Take a job when you get a job. If an offer is reasonable, take it. Don't hold out for "the perfect offer". A position can lead you know not where. Do a great job of whatever job it is you take. Good people move a lot, and quickly.
  • Temp jobs/freelance work can be a great way in. Temp work: good way to get in the door, and to look for work and make $ while job hunting. Much better than unpaid internships for graduating seniors. Lots of free-lance opportunities--take them. Hiring happens all the time, not at specific times in the year.
  • Summer internships are essential. They are ways to get to know people, and become an insider. (Note: For post-graduate internships--only take unpaid work if it will definitely lead to a job.)
  • Have some focus to your search. "I'll take anything" doesn't work well. Know whether you want production, promotions, programming, etc. DO YOUR HOMEWORK...Have some idea of what you want, but don't be totally rigid. "In this field, we often fall into jobs." When Rich Ross took his job in children's television, he had no particular interest in it--but "it's been very good to me."
  • Be tenacious.
  • Hone your skills.
  • If anyone offers to help you, or can be of help, *take it*. Otherwise, "you're an idiot."