Even though I’m only a little over two years out of film school, a lot of younger students whom I knew at Loyola Marymount University ask me for advice on getting a job in the film industry. Even members of the Video School Online audience have asked for tips on getting their first video gig. As someone who has consistently found work over the past two and a half years, I believe there is one practical tip that is the reason for most of my jobs. In fact, a lot of work tends to ‘find me’ because of one piece of advice that I received as a young film student.
And just so you have a better idea of the types of jobs I’ve done over the past two years, here is small sample of them:
- Video Editor for www.TakePart.com; this was a full time job
- Producer, director, editor of awards package for College Summit non-profit
- Motion Graphics artist for a variety of projects including work for Ghirardelli Chocolate, Online Video Series, and a feature length documentary
- Lead Videographer for Stanbridge College
- Wedding Videographer; over the past two years I’ve launched a successful wedding videography business on the side
While I have had much success in my short filmmaking career, I also have worked hard to get consistent work. It’s not easy. I sometimes worry about having enough work. Sometimes I wonder how it would be if I picked a more stable career path. That being said, I love what I do for a living. I truly believe videos can change the world. I hope to use the skills I have to make the world a better place. That’s my spiel about my video career so far. Let’s get to the one piece of advice that I truly believe will get you the furthest in your career.
My Number One Tip: GET YOUR VIDEOS OUT THERE
What do I mean by this? I mean, you need to get your work out in the world available for other people to see. Not only does this mean you need to actually make videos (whatever type that may be: narratives, documentary, commercial, music videos, etc), it also entails working to get eyeballs on your projects.
- Put them on YouTube & Vimeo.
- Share them with friends and family.
- Post them on Vimeo’s wonderful channels and groups.
- Start a blog/website to showcase your work.
These are just a few of the basic ways to get more eyeballs on your work. How will these ideas turn into paid work for you? Well, the more people that know you do what you do, the better. These people, these connections of yours, work for companies that need videos created. They each have a group of acquaintances that may need video work done. And if they have seen your work and know what you do, they might just come knocking on your door asking for a quote.
It amazed me to go through film school with other students who didn’t have a Vimeo profile, or even a basic website with information about who they are and what they do. Come on people! This is the twenty first century – where the first thing people do when they want to find more about you is type your name into Google. If you say you’re a video creator, you need to have videos online that people can see. Would a painter call themself an artist if they didn’t have any finished pieces to show anyone? I know I’m being a little up front here, and I hope you’re not taking my advice lightly.
The videos you post online don’t have to be Oscar-worthy. They can even just be samples of your cinematography, or a short 15-second motion graphics clips if that’s your thing. But you need to have something to show… and hopefully more than just a few. Right now I have over 100 videos on my personal Vimeo that I’ve created that people can see. Not all of the videos are great. If you watched them from the oldest to most recent, you’d see a dramatic progression in my skills. I have my own personal website www.PhilEbiner.com, which contains a blurb about myself and a portfolio of my favorite work.
Having this presence online has led to many of my jobs. Let me give you a few examples of how this presence turned into paid jobs:[checklist]
- I showed my video reel at a job interview for Stanbridge College’s Lead Videography position. My future boss and co-workers were floored with the diversity of my work, and I got the job that day.
- The producers of a feature length documentary saw my motion graphics work I did for www.TakePart.com on a series of videos about the Occupy movement. They asked me to do a sample for them. They hired me to do all of the motion graphics for this project headed by Matthew Marsden. Unfortunately the project got cancelled after I put many hours into it. I still had a lot of fun creating the graphics for this political documentary.
- Many of the couples who hire me to shoot their weddings have seen samples of my work on my website. There is a clear connection between seeing my work and hiring me.
Lastly, I want to tell you my favorite story about landing a job because of my online portfolio. I was heading into my senior year at Loyola Marymount University and was looking for an internship. Participant Media, a major documentary and film producer in Beverly Hills, had open positions for video editing interns. I’d seen some of their work before, and even had a chance to meet with executives at an LMU networking event. I knew I wanted this internship. So I sent in my resume and cover letter with a link to my Vimeo profile. Back then, I didn’t have many videos on it, just some student films and little montages from my daily travels. I did have two experimental videos focusing on my friend Bobcatt. Yes his name is Bobcat (first name Robert, last name Catt). See the video below:
When the lead video editor called to ask me if I would want the editing internship, I jumped for joy. I couldn’t believe it! When explaining why they thought I’d be a good fit, he said he saw the short Bobcatt videos I did and thought they were unique and well executed. After my internship, they gave me a one-year contract. This led to the documentary motion graphics job, producing an awards ceremony video package for a non-profit, and launched me into my video career.
Sometimes I wonder to myself if I didn’t make that short and silly video, if I would have landed that first internship. And if I hadn’t have landed that internship, where would I be today?
So get your stuff out there. Put it online for people to see. And see what happens. It can only help!