What Resources Are Available to Get Work Noticed by Investors and Talent Agencies?
This question is growing more important as the internet is increasingly giving platform to content creators living outside of the LA and NYC bubble, so I want to try to address it thoroughly.
First, I want to talk about why living in LA or NYC is such an advantage to people who have built their careers here. It’s not impossible to create a piece of work for television/film outside of the bubble and have it be viable, but it’s very difficult, and the reason is simple. Most successful people in television and film moved to LA or NYC and started as assistants. They worked their way up in the industry, making friends with other people at or around their level, all across the industry. These networks of people supported each other, creating goodwill over a long period of years until eventually they began pushing each others’ work to the top of the industry.
The difficulty in trying to push work to the top of the industry if you live outside of LA or NYC is that you haven’t worked your way up, you haven’t supported other people in the industry, you haven’t created a network with a ton of goodwill. You haven’t given any value to the people you are trying to get value from. You haven’t given anyone a reason to take your phone call, read your e-mail, or give you a chance.
So… It’s difficult. But not impossible. At the end of the day, the entertainment industry depends on quality work to keep moving forward. It doesn’t matter if you live in Los Angeles, New York, or anywhere else in the US. If you are producing quality work you will be rewarded for it if you can manage to get it in front of the right people (and that’s a difficult task no matter what route you’ve taken).
The two greatest resources at your disposal if you are trying to bypass the traditional apprenticeship routes in LA or NYC are actually pretty straightforward.
- The Internet. Getting ahold of the Hollywood gatekeepers is easier now more than ever. If you want to get your work in front of agents or managers, use Google and the various social networks to compile a massive list of people, and start cold-calling. If you want to get your proposal in front of investors, use Google and the various social networks to compile a massive list of people, and start cold-calling. See what I’m getting at? They need your work, but they are not going to come to you. You need to get it in front of them. A simple Google or Twitter search will get you a massive list of agents, managers, producers, investors, etc. What you do with that list is up to you.
- Hustle. This is the real differentiator. If you don’t have access to the influencers you want to have access to by friend or family relation, you are going to have to hustle to get that access. Here’s a question for you that I hope challenges your assumptions. I’ve been public on social media and via e-mail for years now, totally accessible to people who do the “simple search” I mentioned above. In the past few years, how many people do you think have reached out to me for advice? For jobs? The answer is less than 10. And for people who aren’t as public as I am, yet who can still be found with a simple search, how many do you think have reached out to them? Zero? It’s important to really understand this point. Re-read it if you have to. The only thing stopping you from getting ahold of that key person in your life is the fact that you haven’t tried to get ahold of them yet. Now, I must clarify that not everyone you reach out to is going to reply. In fact, most will probably ignore you (unless you come up with a really good cold call or e-mail, preferably one that provides value to the person you are reaching out to). But how hard is it to call or send an e-mail? What’s stopping you from sending 100? 1,000? If you want it, you’ve gotta hustle for it!
One final thought may seem a little harsh, but it comes from a well-intentioned place. If you do reach out to 1,000 or, better yet, 10,000 people, and your project doesn’t seem to resonate with any of them, it’s probably because your project isn’t very good. Not all projects are created equal. I have produced a lot of bad work. Mostly bad work, if I am being honest with myself. In hindsight, I wouldn’t expect someone to take that bad work and try to invest in it or sell it. Yet that bad work helped hone my skills and taught me a lot of lessons that help me create good work (or less bad work, at least). The point is, if you are being ignored or rejected by a large number of people (and it better be a LOT of people!), don’t feel discouraged. Just make something better. Then make something better than that. Keep making better things until you make something so undeniably good that these people can’t possibly ignore you.
Then keep making better things.
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