Dream job: Independent film producer

Published: Mar 10, 2009

Topics: Job Search       
Age: 31
Education: BA, English, Smith College

"After finishing college, I used my college's alumni network through the career services center and moved to Los Angeles. I did a ton of informational interviews and started as a PA for The Tonight Show, which seems to be a landing point for lots of new arrivals to LaLa Land. I kept on interviewing and eventually landed a position at ABC as an assistant in sitcom development, which was the group that was looking for new sitcoms to air on the network. My boss was a nightmare and I didn't really like her, but it was a coveted job and she always reminded me of how many other applicants there were waiting for my position, so I stuck it out, and made as many contacts as I could -- especially at other networks and in talent agencies. I'd meet for late night drinks three or four nights a week to schmooze and maintain contacts with people. I initially tried going to lunch a couple of times, but my boss invariably called when I was out and I got in trouble.

"I stayed 18 months at ABC when I'd heard of a position open at a production company in the Disney Studio lot -- they were set to make the next Tom Cruise movie, so I put my name in the hat, interviewed and got the job. It sounds easy, but it was a lot tougher than that. I worked every angle I had -- I dressed nicely, took the guy I knew at the company to fancy drinks and dinner (this on my assistant salary!), I offered to set him up with single girlfriends, I called other people and asked them to call on my behalf. Everything I could think of to make myself the coolest person in consideration.

"I stayed at the job for several years, moving from director of development as one of the notorious D-girls, (young executive women working in television and film development) and then moved on to be a VP of development. I split off a few months ago with my Rolodex when one of the movies I really liked was passed over. I'm still committed to it, so I left, met with some financiers of smaller, independent production companies, get a B-list star attached and got the movie made. The work paid off because we're screening it at Cannes in the coming spring! I hope this will set me up to find more scripts and produce more movies on my own."