Getting A Gig That Will Lead You To The Top!
Do you want to work on big Hollywood movies?
The thing with jobs on big budget productions is that they usually require vetted pros for their open positions. In other words, you need to be in a union. But how do you get into a union if gigs that can qualify you for union work require you to be in a union to work for them? It’s the ol’ catch 22 paradox.
Well, we’re here to help with that. Getting into a union can be like trying to jump through the moving blades on a fan, but we can help slow those blades down a bit.
First thing is to be committed to that goal. There are many ways onto a film production. If you want to go the union route, which is one we recommend if you want to work in LA, then you need to be prepared and ready to go for the long haul.
On any given production there’s a ton of work to be done and many people end up working on films by sheer force of need. When it comes to the story department, tons of storyboards are being done and re done, over and over again until the director or producer or both are satisfied with them. That means if the production’s story team is even at full capacity, they can still always use clean up service on their art to show, even though their work is coming off a story conveyor belt, it still looks good. You can get this work easily if you offer reduced rates with quality work.
Remember, at this point it’s not about the money. It’s about getting those union qualifying gigs under your belt. Not to mention invaluable experience. Make sure you contact a union artist in the story dept who can vouch for your apprenticeship for that gig. If you don’t know how to contact these guys, check out our Story Artist Networking guide here.
Here are the basic rules for qualifying for the Local 800 Art Director’s Guild in LA:
- You need 30 union days completed.
- You need to have worked within the past 365 days.
- If the project you are working is non-union they must at least have a union agreement.
- Any union project that wants to hire you is allowed one Producer/Director request for an Illustrator/Storyboard Artist which is a non-Union member.
If that last one is your case you would need the request from the Producer or
Director, and if they haven’t already used their request, then you would be able to be hired.
Those are pretty much the most common ways to qualify for membership.
Another way to help you get into the Local 800 is to have a portfolio with examples from production type jobs. Even though you don’t have the experience, it still shows you can do the work required. If your portfolio is good enough and no one else is available to do the work, you might end up getting hired.
Also keep in mind you don’t necessarily need to get into the union to work on these big Hollywood movies. In the end you just want to work and get paid right?
You can work for smaller companies that do concept or previz for these bigger productions. Studios like The Third Floor and Halon Entertainment hire story artist all the time to fill needs on the big productions they service.
Also you might want to go direct to apply at studios like Marvel films, or Warner Bros. If you are hired, you automatically qualify for the union. But at that point, who cares. You are already working on cool films!
Finally don’t let a job requirement like union status stop you.
Start small. Start anywhere, but start taking work even for small pay until you can command a better salary with your experience. It will all add up in the end.
Story never ends!
PS. Do you have a job experience you would like to share? Leave a comment below. We love to add your voice to our discussion!