Getting your foot in the door in Hollywood is all about who you know, rather than what you know. There are a lot of opportunities for the would-be assistant with television, film and live performance crews. The basic entry level job is guaranteed to require long hours with minimal pay, but the benefits from the contacts you will make can be the launch pad into your next job.
The Hollywood assistant will be screened by the current person closest to the producer or director. However, the final decision to hire will come from the film or TV personnel in need of assistance. Although your skill level and experience is important, not to be overlooked is your personality and how it clicks with the producers.
Being an assistant brings with it many pressures and obligations, and a daily task list ranging from the normal to outrageous. There is no official job description that you may expect to adhere to, as your services may be needed for unforeseen emergencies, dealing with difficult crew members, or you may be asked to do the dirty work and fire someone.
The hours are typically from the crack of dawn until you're done. And "done" will be determined by how well you execute a task and when the director and producer call it a day. The Hollywood assistant schedule may be grueling at times, but to put your long hours into perspective, you must realize that each job has a finite time limit and will come to a close when the project is done. So, if you are contracted for 16 weeks and you're feeling the pressure at 10 weeks, you know there are only 6 more to go and then you can rest.
To get your foot in the door, with no prior contacts under your belt, look for open interviews from qualified entertainment sources, such as entertainmentjobs.com, entertainment careers.net and filmstaff.com. The worst mistake you can make is to answer an ad that is posted in non-entertainment venues, where you just might be conned into working for free by unscrupulous companies offering internships.
Taking an internship is a great way to get in the Hollywood arena, but not every establishment who offers an internship is qualified to do so. Only the major players are recognized by universities to trade work hours for college credit, so stay clear of those shifty companies who offer you work in exchange for the honor of being there. Nonsense. If you work for a real media outlet, they will give you valuable credits towards your degree, not the privilege of their presence or the promise of a recommendation on your resume.
If you are having difficulties finding a Hollywood assistant job or have not won over the producers at the interviews, you may opt for added exposure by taking a job as an acting extra. These cast members are normally not required to speak on camera, paid a decent salary, and the jobs are easy to secure when working with a casting agency for extras. No skill or experience is necessary, and your foot is in the door and on the set, ready to show your professionalism and dependability to the producer and director. When you have shown yourself to be useful and likable, the best resource is networking and making contacts to ensure you are hired for one project after another.