50+ Hollywood Job Interviews in 4 Months — How I Learned to Get Any Job Offer.

Learn what it takes to get an entry level job in the entertainment industry.

It’s rough trying to follow your dreams in an industry where you’re completely dispensable unless you have a very practical and in-demand skill. Looking back at my Google calendar, I counted well over 50 interviews in a 4 month period. To anyone who is an overachiever or works in a less competitive industry, this looks like I’m either too picky or just unemployable, but this is a common story for entry level job seekers in Hollywood.

At first, I thought it was my resume. I rearranged it, copied from friends who were recently employed, and even found online services that analyze resumes to have a look at mine. I kept on getting interviews but I wasn’t landing anything substantial so I assumed my resume was at least good enough to get in the door.

I read countless articles on interview questions and procedures, practiced in front of the mirror, and kept my suit impeccable. I felt, talked, and acted as confident and friendly as possible in every interview. Some were easy to tell I didn’t have the aggressive personality they were looking for but other interviews would give me a call back for 2nd rounds, 3rd rounds, or even 4th rounds. Still, everything fizzled out to further unemployment.

There was no one to tell me the magic of getting a job, all the books and articles I read were outdated, overly positive chicken soup, or were just good marketing wrapped around generic advice. Was it just luck? Did I have to trick someone? Was it the way I looked?

The answer was, and still is, apparent to everyone but to find it you really have to take a closer look at the basics.

The Resume

My resume now and when I first started doesn’t look too different because I was trained by temp agencies and my internship director how to make it presentable. I’ve changed it to reflect the transparent requirements most people won’t notice.

My resume is divided like the following:

Name/Address/Phone/Email
All of this should be at the top, your name on its own line in bold.
Your address should be in or around Los Angeles, you won’t get called otherwise.

Job Position/Company Name ~ City/Dates — Job Description
Immediately add your current or last job, NO section header, make sure your job title and company are styled different from each other using italics or bold or underline.
Make sure your job description has the most important and desired tasks in bullet form (i.e. Account for the writing department’s expense reports with EP Access while supervising the use of petty cash and create check reimbursement requests when needed.) Do not put skills here like “use a copy machine, get coffee.”
Only include relevant jobs, they won’t care about camp counselor or cashiers.

Education Section Subheader
University, degree, major, graduation year. (all on one line)

Skills or Proficiencies Section Subheader
Word — Outlook — Excel — PowerPoint — Google Calendar/Docs/Sheets — FileMaker Pro
This section should be at the bottom and mostly comprise of random skills you can offer this particular job. This is also where you stuff your keywords you found in the job description or application (i.e. handling mail, email corresponse, travel arrangements)

Why Does Your Resume Have To Look Like This?

This is carefully crafted so that it can be quickly and easily read, pass resume analyzing software, and it makes it easier for you to expand your conversation during the interview.

Many big companies and most studios have HR software that will analyze your resume for keywords. These keywords are in the job description. Copy them and add some to your skills section.

If you don’t know some of the skills but they’re relatively easy or easy to learn, add them anyway. It doesn’t take four years to learn to make coffee or learn to use a fax machine if you haven’t done it before so don’t worry about “lying” because you’ll learn on the first day when you say you haven’t used this brand or type before.

This resume will have a lot of white space, uses bullet points, and styles important information differently. This is to make it a quick and easy read. HR and potential employers hate searching for dates, your job title, company names, and reading bulky paragraphs. Analyzing software simply won’t read your compelling job duties or extra curricular activities and achievements.

The Interview

If you’re offered an interview, practice questions, get dressed, go early and offer more.

It’s stressful to try to memorize the hundreds of questions they could ask you but typically they’ll ask you the questions that are most asked by any HR or potential employer. These questions will ask about what you’ve done, you reply with how amazing you’ve done those things. They’ll ask what you can offer, you reply with how much more you can offer.

This is generally speaking because you can just Google “top 20 interview questions” and they’ll at least ask half of those. What they’re looking for are honest, direct, and confident answers. They want to not only hear you’re the candidate but feel it as well.

When it comes down to the last two choices, they’ll say, “He has a good resume, but I feel this other guy was more personable, friendly, etc.” They’ll say this because they want to hire someone they want to work with, not just the best person for the job.

Surprisingly one of the most numerous compliments I’ve received is that I dressed up in a suit for the interview. Many people show up in jeans which means to HR or that employer that you didn’t even care enough to get dressed for something that should be important. Don’t be jeans guy.

This is also one area I’ve failed.

I’ve been to interviews at talent agencies and with high profile companies and top notch producers but I realized, quite instantly, they didn’t like the way I looked. A suit wasn’t enough because you’re going to be the face of the company or that person and they didn’t want a shaggy nerdy looking assistant greeting slick, polished, and fashionable actors.

If you want one of those highly regarded agent assistant jobs, you’ll have to literally be as beautiful as your work ethic (which should be a “willing to work 24/7 for free” mentality because the agency will probably grind you with their work hours).

The whole Hollywood easy going mentality about being yourself and that it’s not about the way people look is a complete lie. Don’t be yourself, be better than everyone as the most professional confident candidate possible. It is about the way you look, period.

That advice mostly goes to top companies, agencies, and producers. It is more relax when you work for lower tier companies or individuals. You won’t know who is who until you actually meet them.

How Do You Get Any Job In Hollywood?

Simply this: Be better than everyone else.

That’s generic and impractical advice to give but it’s the truest. Your resume can mostly likely beat 99% of other people if you reword things, add keywords, make it more presentable, and “fudge” some facts about your abilities.

You can do well in interviews. It’s all about practice, preparation, and looks. Arrive early, well dressed (preferably fashionable in addition to professional), and talk confidently.

The key to confidence is practice and preparation. Apply to some jobs you DO NOT WANT but you can easily get. They don’t even have to be related to the entertainment industry. The reason is that you can see your behavior is probably more relaxed, more confident, and you get the sense of the feeling that you could actually get an offer.

Need Help Finding Jobs?

If you’re tired of bookmarking every job site and studio job list, I’ve developed a website that gathers the most useful and important websites for applying to the majority of Hollywood jobs. Check it out below!

If you think it’s missing some sites, feel free to message me on twitter:
https://twitter.com/nickrruck

The Great Wall is Greatly Misunderstood

Expecting an Oscar contender when it’s just another Hollywood blockbuster.

Changchun, China. North of the wall. There are no Taoties here but I did manage to trek through 15°F temperature weather to watch The Great Wall in 3D at an official Wanda Cinema during the Spring Festival. Walking into the theater you’ll notice an aroma of sweetened popcorn, ticket machines that integrate WeChat, and a couple of Jing Tian posters.

The theater experience was great with attentive, professional, and uniformed staff keeping the place immaculate. After picking up our ¥37 RMB ($5.38 USD) tickets, we skipped the bar and concession stand that sold sweet popcorn, Häagen-Dazs ice cream, Red Bull, and Jia Duo Bao. We were presented 3D glasses and found our seats amongst ten other people.

Ads played featuring a wide range of products but most noticeably was an advertisement for IQIYI. The American equivalent for a Netflix ad playing at an AMC during the previews.

Prior to starting I kept in mind that the film already had a reputation for “whitewashing,” devaluing Chinese culture, and poor CGI (even though no one has seen it yet…) I’m certain the critics are revving their engines to tear this movie “a new one” during the US release but they’re all missing the point entirely.

The Great Wall is a blockbuster film no different than Transformers, TMNT, or some superhero movie. The plot can be vague, the characters aren’t fully developed, and there’s a lot of CGI explosions.

SPOILERS BELOW!

Matt Damon and Oberyn Martell travel from the west evading bandits and other baddies in order to find a mystical weapon, black powder. Their journey takes them to China, or rather the Great Wall of China, where they’re taken prisoner and then forced to fight against monsters (taoties). The monster’s origins come from an ancient Chinese folktale but US audiences will assume they came from outer space. A queen commands the colony-minded monsters which have eyes on their shoulders, killer teeth & claws, and don’t really die unless you jab out those shoulder eye things.

Matt Damon and Oberyn meet Willem Dafoe who has a plan to escape with a bunch of black powder as the Chinese armies defend against the monsters but Matt Damon decides to stop being a selfish mercenary and start valuing honor, loyalty, and trust (the themes of this movie). It also seems like he has a thing for the new commander, Lin Mae, but unlike in open and liberal western society, you can’t just sleep with the general of the army for the sake of a romantic plotline.

When they finally capture a monster, they realize magnets stop the transmissions from the drones to the queen. After a series of mindless attacks, the monsters go under the wall and threaten to kill the emperor and eat all the people in the capital which would apparently allow the queen to duplicate enough drone monsters to take over the world.

Oberyn is locked up after his getaway plan failed, Dafoe dies, and Matt Damon and Lin Mae ride giant sky lanterns to stop the monsters. All the wonderful side characters die in really sad ways and Matt and Lin stop the monsters just in time. I won’t tell you how because it’s actually fun to watch. I think Matt Damon gets some black powder in the end, but I stopped caring as I focused more on the whole monsters going to kill everyone stuff. He and Oberyn leave to travel back to the western being protected by official guards.

NO MORE SPOILERS!

Although it sounds like a terrible and crazy movie, it’s a lot of fun to watch. The monsters are pretty westernized looking (i.e. dumb and weird), but they have that World War Z zombie feel to them as they stack up on each other at the Great Wall which is a really cool visual to watch in 3D. The weapons were innovative and the different fighting styles were visually investing.

Being the most expensive film shot in China and most expensive co-production between the US and China, the visual budget worked out pretty well and the 3D effects were visually striking. The scenes inside of the Great Wall looked pretty cool, especially when they initiated some new weapon against the monsters.

Although the film doesn’t go far enough to portray more Chinese culture, it’s hard to ask that about a blockbuster film with monsters. The intention of this film, despite being in China with Chinese culture, isn’t to educate people about Chinese history but to show off ugly monsters getting killed in pretty cool ways in ancient China.

The plot and characters could use more common sense development but it’s easy to overlook the problems it has if only because it’s a rather neat film. It’s hard to say there are many like it, because they aren’t, so being overly picky only detracts your own personal experience of watching the film.

Go see The Great Wall if you’re looking for a visually appealing alternative historical blockbuster, don’t if you want to see something commenting about modern day politics or intricate plotlines and characters.

Are Screenplays Outdated?

Hollywood has a certain set of standards when it comes to screenplays that you’ll even hear stories of executives and agents tossing scripts just because they found a single spelling error or the writer was audacious enough to use an “oxford comma.”

Nowadays just about every screenplay looks exactly alike unless you’re famous enough to break all the rules, indie enough for no one to care, or foreign enough to realize money is more important than forcing standards on people who aren’t even in Hollywood.

And this is what a “visual” movie blueprint looks like!

If you think about it, this is kind of insane. Screenplays are supposed to represent a visual medium and if you’re writing about some crazy sci-fi adventure that transcends the very concept of knowledge itself, you’re going to have to be the world’s best wordsmith. But then again, those execs won’t read it because they felt the line spacing was off (even though it wasn’t).

Sometimes as a reader or intern or assistant you’ll receive “supplementary” materials along with a script that can include a cast list, designs, “set photos,” and other more visually appealing documents. These are almost always for Sci-fi or fantasy films from a director/writer/producer/actor/etc., and they paid some designer to put that packet together to make up for the subpar quality of the script. Other times it’s a film that is just looking for more companies to back its production.

“Please just recommend the script, it’ll be AMAZINNNNGGGG!”

In some ways, screenplays are outdated for the medium that it creates but in other ways it allows those who are actually better at writing to shine through those who are just good at appearances. Occasionally you’ll see some youtube link for some song which is fine and a very new change from the way scripts were written even ten years ago. If you read scripts from the 1980’s you’ll really notice how far the rules have lapsed since then.

Why Are Readers So Harsh?

A lot of people wonder why script readers are often “too harsh” and cynical towards the scripts they read. Whether it’s because they’ve read sooooooo many terrible scripts or because they’re not happy with their life, readers are the gatekeepers that keep you from the hands of producers, agents, and managers. So what makes them decide that all those months or years of work are not deserving of any praise, at least for effort?

Pretty much that.

I’ve been a reader for a couple years. Read for two major contests and a couple of independent producers, and only recently have I taken a serious try at writing. I started sending my script that I wrote with my co-writer to various contests desperately hoping that it’ll be chosen as, THE ONE!

What we imagine when we win.

If it gets chosen, we’ll have all our dreams come true! But the reality is this: it’s probably is not what you expect. The connections I have directly to producers will probably get me some kind of promising future rather than another file-in-the-pile contest but it’s worth a try for the media coverage alone, that is unless we actually option it without winning any contest whatsoever.

I’ve known one contest winner. She won a very famous and well acknowledge contest but she ended up as the script coord or supervision on a show. Previous to that, she worked on a show she wrote the spec script on, I think. So how’d she win? There are no tricks, she was very smart and well trained by one of the big agencies so she was always business focused. She said that the contest she won guaranteed her a job, training, and the chance to be staffed on a show for that network along with the few other winners for that fellowship. The thing was that the shows from that network want nothing to do with that fellowship and genuinely find it burdensome to deal with. She ended up coming to our show as a scripty when she realized something well known in Hollywood, THERE ARE NO GUARANTEES.

Rather Accurate.

Another thing I realized after I hired a script consultant is: your script will be read subjectively.

That is correct. I realized that about myself as a reader and about other readers and consultants as well. The approval of your script ultimately depends on the personal taste of the readers. Let’s assume 70% of scripts are actually terrible. 20% are average and probably subpar stereotypes of whatever is popular. That leaves 10% for scripts that could be good. I guarantee that half of that will be good scripts that the reader doesn’t realize is good or have the same vision as the reader. That leaves 5% hypothetically being something that could possibly be recommended. It’s probably less than that cause most contests select finalists at about less than 1% (big contests have ~2000 entries, finalists are often top 50 or top 10).

I’ve had two consultations on my scripts. One script with a generic Bob’s Burgers ripoff, some kind of adult animation aimed for Adult Swim or Fox Animation. I could tell with the first coverage sent that the reader didn’t watch any adult animation, therefore found my script very confusing. He questioned basic tropes of the genre, jokes I’ve probably ripped from similar shows, and even stereotypical storylines that you would usually see in adult animation. This was not his fault, he just probably wasn’t familiar with the genre as I saw quite plainly from his comments.

The second consultant I thought was a sure thing. They gave detailed notes down to the punctuation but what my cowriter and I noticed was that they did not have the same vision for the show as we did. When a reader starts your script they may come with a mindset and expectations that really have nothing to do with your script. They may expect Breaking Bad when you were writing something closer to Weeds. This difference in expectations is what probably makes good scripts get bad reviews, and honestly, that is nobody’s fault.

THEIR FAULT!!!!

Script readers read your script blind. We pick up what we can from the title, the first few pages, and any logline we receive. If it sounds like a comedy when it’s really a tragedy, there’s going to be problems whether or not the script is actually good.

This is soooooo important to remember because it’s a lot easier to pitch and sell a script to a producer you’ve met, an agent’s assistant you know, or a meeting that was set up for you because you can take questions, guide the audience to the vision you’ve imagined, and respond to any inconsistencies that detract from the quality of the script.

You say your script is Big Bang Theory meets Mom, you’ve given your logline that it’s about single moms who are also nerds trying to raise kids in the inner city, and you’ve pitched the type of jokes you throw around at comedy clubs stand up hours. That’s a meeting, not a contest submission, and you can see where the opportunity lies and why so many scripts written in Hollywood are picked up in Hollywood.

TL;DR: So in sum, readers are not @$$holes, they just read your script blind.

Bloodline Review

Netflix Originals are synonymous with quality but why the hell does everyone like Bloodline?

Bad things....Happen...And Stuff...
Bad things….Happen…And Stuff…

The pilot episode reveals this well-to-do southern family and their Inn/hotel estate…thing… and we find out the family has quite the dynamic. Oh boy!

Everyone tries to please the Mom (how relatable hehehehe!) and the dad is tired of his kids (Just like our dads amirite?), one brother is a fuck up, the other is a sheriff (ooooh!) and the other brother is actually a sister and she’s a woman. Or I forgot there is another brother who doesn’t like the fuck up for fucking up and is vocal about it but that’s about all we’ll see from him.

That's the chick from Grandma's Boy. What are they looking at?
That’s the chick from Grandma’s Boy. What are they looking at?

The fuck up dies because he… yup… fucks up… and the sheriff drags his body around. But hey if you like long boring scenes of a family reunion and every reminding us that the fuck up is going to fuck up then this “slow burn” is perfect for you. They say it’s like Breaking Bad but if Breaking Bad had a more mild and predictable climax at the end and a slower boring chase to the mediocre ending, then yes this would be Breaking Bad.

And that’s the first episode. Good night.

Oh wait people complained about these complaints already. That we’re not “smart enough” to understand it. Well you’re wrong, the pilot has no real plot it just showcases a bunch of quirky rich people screwing around. A murder happens but we don’t see but we can sure guess it rather easily who the murderer is.

Is the “magic” in the boring moments on beach? The attitudes the characters reasonably have towards predictable actions? Or is it just lifted from other “rich people dramas” that plague showtime, HBO, TNT, Fox, AMC, and so on? This was boring and it’s made for an audience that like soapy boring dramas, there’s nothing genius about it and it doesn’t “break the rules” or “change the game” you’re just their target audience.

“Struggle” “Conflict” “Drama” “Drama” “Other Words”

Green Room Review

Green Room is the kind of movie written by those McHipsters you see in Trader Joe’s who used be into hardcore-straight-edge-punk-rock and also want to be Wes Anderson on a shoestring budget.

But maybe with a mohawk and thicker glasses.

Either they spent their entire $5M paying off gullible, tasteless critics or they marketed to people who like movies featuring sensitive raspy-voiced tree-hugging ex-baristas who regret shooting unfathomably moronic neo-nazis that just walk around doing busy work.

This movie is so overhyped I can’t believe it was at cannes and not some kid’s make-shift drive-in theater projecting onto the side of their parent’s house. The tension really comes from anticipating whether someone is going to apologize for doing nothing then get killed, or if the antagonists will suddenly gain more intelligence than the voice-recognition systems you have to deal with when you call customer service.

“I’m sorry, can you please repeat that?”

NEO-NAZIS

Why does Patrick Stewart’s character, leader of some neo-nazi warehouse music scene-gang thing (what is this place anyway?), keep changing orders about killing the punks once the police leave? His greatest threat, the police, have left. Why does it matter if the punks get bit by dogs or “not shot in the bone” or whatever weird ways he randomly decides they shouldn’t die? I can answer that. Because it actually doesn’t matter since they try to just shoot them later anyway by sending in his top “assassin” who finds out his girlfriend was cheating on him or trying leave the gang, or whatever unclear mess that was…

Maybe I’m just stupid but that whole plot sounds a bit forced…

If you own a compound on many acres of land in some forest in Oregon (or Washington?) and it takes the police of a rural area 30 minutes to get there, why are you worried about their bodies? You could just do the woodchipper thing from Fargo, melt them like in Breaking Bad, and now you got some mulch for your weed crops or whatever Neo-Nazis farm on their weird cult compounds. And how come a wounded group of pathetic, half starved hipsters are able to kill so many of these neo-nazis, who could literally blow up half the country side if they wanted? Oh right, they stood around and DID NOTHING. They sent one or two guys in at a time, who then also DID NOTHING. They did nothing but suck and die. Why not send in like 5 dudes, with guns, and just shoot the place up? I think they’re turkeys…

Turkeys supposedly drown in the rain.

Hipster Punks

I can’t comprehend why so many people like a movie where the protagonists are literally TOO STUPID TO LIVE. Yes, this movie has a lot of suspense but it’s the sort of suspense where someone mindlessly walks into a war zone and everything start blowing up around them and you’re wondering ‘when are they going to die?’ From the beginning they realize they’re short on cash and have to take this neo-nazi gig. Now if you’re an average person with common sense, you’d probably realize you shouldn’t tell nazi punks to “fuck off” as one of your songs, especially if you’re surrounded by them at their own compound. Forget not getting paid for being a moron, what about their reputation for things like… violence?

The smart thing to do here is to tell these gentlemen to fuck off. Right?

Honestly the movie becomes a blur of stupidity and unbelievable acts of divine intervention at that point. It aimlessly progresses until the director realized it needs an ending somehow and thought he’ll just do the scene from Inglorious Bastard where the Americans shoot the Nazis in the theater.

Like this but very, very, very boring
VERDICT: UNACCEPTABLE WASTE OF TIME

The only respectable parts of this movie are the acting, the cinematography, and the marketing. I don’t know why people are marveled at the gore effects, they’re pretty basic expectations, it’s not the 1980’s anymore and audiences should have higher expectations for this stuff… The whole cut up arm thing was predictable and somehow duct tape fixes cut arteries and cartilage, I’ll tell surgeons they can quit because I’m going to Home Depot for now on. I don’t see any justifying this movie. Some people say it’s a tribute to other horror films, others say you have to say it’s good because one of the actors died this year, but personally I think it’s because they just don’t like Nazis and they love thinking that a Barista hipster could totally kill a bunch of baddies. In sum, the characters were spectacularly inept, and the plot looked like a five year old’s crayon drawing of a complex highway system.

Yea that looks like plot! Much better than architectural designers.