There is no question the internet has changed the way job applicants apply for media jobs. However, there are some things you should be aware of when applying for jobs online, especially non paying volunteer jobs. Here is what you need to know.
Let’s start by looking at an ad that was recently advertised on multiple media job boards.
“Wanted, bright creative individuals to work on a pilot for a TV series – I need camera operators, editors, PA’s wardrobe and props and crew personnel. No pay, but I am well connected in the industry and have received interest from several broadcasters. When the series is picked up, you will be hired to work on the series”.
So what is wrong with this job? On the positive side, you will get experience working on a pilot. And, if the project is picked up, you will be hired to work on the rest of the series. As most job seekers discover, it is almost impossible to get a paying job without professional experience. This would seem at the very least, to be a path path towards paying work in the future. So, should you take the leap?
Before we answer the question, let’s look at the negatives. Depending on whether it is a ½ hour show or an hour show, you will work for at least a week on the project or probably more. There will be virtually no food served to the crew, except the bare minimum of craft services. This means you will have to pay for your own meals. Then there is the cost of getting to and from the locations: if you drive, you will be on the hook for your gas. In other words you will be using your money to fund the project!
This is not the main problem with working on this type of project. I was once told by a very experienced industry veteran that the chance of having your idea picked up by a broadcaster or studio is about 300 to one. And, he was talking about experienced producers who have a record of developing TV shows for broadcast!
So what are the odds that an inexperienced producer would get his or her idea on air? The odds are somewhere between slim and nonexistent. In other words, your chance of getting hired to work on the series for pay is almost zero.
But there is something else you should be aware of. Suppose, by some miracle, the pilot does get picked up. Does that mean you will automatically be hired to work on it? Despite the assurances of the person who ran the ad, he or she will have no control over who is hired to work on the series: the broadcaster or production company that picks up the project will have 100% control over the crew.
In other words, your chance of actually working on the series is nearly nonexistent.
So what should you do? The negatives far out way the chance you will get a paying job from your efforts. Instead of fuelling someone else’s dream, you are probably better off spending your time and money looking for paying work. This is particularly true if the pilot ends up being shelved in the producer’s office, with no hope of ever being broadcast! In other words, you may not be able to even use the project as a professional credit.
Want to more about finding work in TV, film or media? By clicking on the link below you will receive for free Chapter 1 of Making It: How To Succeed In Film TV and Media.