What Does the Career Ladder Look Like in the Entertainment Industry…
Is there such a thing as a career ladder in the entertainment industry? If there is, what does it look like? These questions tend to unhinge people because they think that if they do A, B and C then it will lead to X, Y and Z. The truth it is, it doesn’t correlate like that. This fact frustrates many hard-working and talented creatives. But don’t worry, in this lesson, I (Phil Svitek) will highlight how to go after your goals in the best way, despite not having a roadmap. What you’ll end up learning, can be applied to life as well. If you like what you hear, be sure to subscribe for more lessons. And please comment below with your career goal and what steps you’re taking to get there. I’d love to know and help you however I can. As always, thank you.
SELECT LINK FROM EPISODE:
-Learn the Craft Episode: https://philsvitek.com/what-plagues-the-entertainment-industry-and-how-to-avoid-the-same-mistakes/
-A Very LA Birthday Short Film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9SHJaepE0c
-Adorama Affiliate Link: https://www.adorama.com/?utm_source=rflaid914115
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I’m Phil Svitek and it is my mission and simultaneous pleasure to help you master mental fortitude because it takes way more than just skills, talent and luck to succeed in the entertainment industry, otherwise you risk the wheels falling off the wagon so to speak.
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Let’s begin. One aspect of this industry that I see unhinge people is the fact that there really isn’t a so-called career ladder. We all would like to think that if we do A, B and C then it will lead to X, Y and Z. But it doesn’t correlate like that. I’m not saying it never does, but for the majority of this business it doesn’t. And the fact that there’s not a logical path messes with people. I know many hard-working people with talent that try to look at this business as logical and it frustrates them because they can’t wrap their heads around it. They then spend time focusing on figuring out why that is instead of worrying about getting better and creating content.
Look at it from this perspective – our industry changes constantly. When I was in college, podcasting was barely a concept let along a sector of entertainment. Today, it’s a full fledged business space. And there’s plenty of other examples I can point to that represent the same notion. Fields and jobs pop out of nowhere everyday and others go away daily.
And because of this observation, I have since stopped trying to think of how exactly things work or do not work in the entertainment space. And that is really the purpose of this lesson – to get you to stop doing the same. To embrace the idea that there’s not really a rhyme or reason as to why certain things happen and why certain things do not. It’s very much about applying stoicism and other philosophies that tell you to relinquish control of the world, because you’ll never be able to control it, and to instead control the single aspect of life that you are able to – which is yourself.
Many artists that I know wish to be at a certain point, whether it’s being an A-list actor or famous director or hosting for E! News. But they’re not at that point for one reason or another. By the way, I fell into this category often and sometimes still do. When you find yourself in those moments of reflection and frustration, your best bet is to identify what it is about that desire that is your actual want. This can be hard to do because you might find yourself listing surface reasons when instead you must look for the deeper compulsion. For example, I love movies and want to grow my career as a director/producer. Why? So I can have the freedom to tell the stories I’d like to share with audiences. No, I don’t mean spending money aimlessly to make whatever I want, but to not have to fret over the tightest of budgets trying to make movie magic. And it is this need to tell stories and share them with the world that propels me forward. So what is your motivation?
Once you figure that out, the next step is simple. Do the thing you love! You want to be a screenwriter then write. Want to make movies? Then make them. You want to create animation? So do it.
There’s really no excuse not to be able to do what you want to do. People may point at a lack of resources as the first and biggest excuse but there’s so many resources to tap into. Your smartphone serves as a fantastic piece of video gear. If you shoot in a quiet enough area, the sound quality is good. That’s just one of many examples of what you have at your disposal. You computer is another fantastic resource as are online communities where you can find like minded people. So look around you. You have more than you think. You just have to open your eyes.
In the past, I used to hold off on doing projects because I wanted to make sure I had the best equipment and so forth. That was a mistake. I could have been using what I had and been making stuff and gotten better so that by the time I was able to afford the resources I desired, I would have made an incredible project.
Working on the craft is the only career path. It won’t lead to X, Y and Z but it’ll lead somewhere. You just have to be open to the experience. A precursor to being open is being active. Work, work, work and create, create, create. That’s the path of an artist.
Nothing is guaranteed an outcome in life. Nothing – not in business, the medical field, politics, etc. All you can do is tackle something wholeheartedly and wish for the best. And if it doesn’t work out, so be it. People term this a failure. It’s really not. It’s part of the learning process. I forget which guest said it on the Tim Ferriss Show, but he said that a true example of real failure in life is when you’re supposed to pick up your child from school but you don’t because you were on alcohol or drugs and forgot. I agree with that sentiment. That is failure. But making a misstep in terms of a creative project is not a failure. Not as long as you gave it your best shot and were kind to those around you.
That second part is as important because when we talk about progressing in this industry, building a good reputation is very important. If a project doesn’t succeed but people witness you at your best, working hard and making it enjoyable for others, then that will translate. I don’t know how or when, but it will.
I get texts today based on actions I’ve taken to help others from five, six years ago. Sometimes even more than that.
When you focus on the results or where you’re trying to get to, you lose sight of what it is that you like doing. So don’t let that be you.
Now, the other benefit of there not being a true career ladder in the entertainment industry is that it allows you to play and experiment. To try out different roles without being locked in or the fear that you’re too far off where you want to be. If you think you like being on set, try it. Become a production assistant on a few shoots and get the feel of it. If you like it, continue doing it and as opportunities present themselves, such as an associate producer or whatever, then take them. But if you decide that you instead want to be a screenwriter then you can make the transition. The good news is by being on set, you now know how productions work and can have that in the back of your mind when writing.
Because our life expectancy becomes longer and longer, we can have multiple careers in our lifetimes. That should be exciting. Doing one thing now doesn’t prohibit you from doing another in the future. In order to make something like this happen, you can’t look at it so linearly.
We all, myself included, like to have things be clear and laid out. But this business, and life really, doesn’t work like that. The more you can accept that, the more success I think you’ll find. Because you won’t be as anxious to get somewhere. You’ll instead be mindful of what you’re working on.
Now, people may have differing thoughts from me, or present you their journey of how they got somewhere. These too are useful, but should be used as guides and not as full blue-prints. If someone says they became an executive producer on a TV show because they worked as a writer’s assistant then that’s fantastic. You should look into that option but know it’s not the only path. Again, you can view that as scary or annoying or you can look at it as exciting. At the end of the day, what the executive producer is telling you is that he or she worked hard, learned the craft of writing by witnessing other writers do it daily and then their talents were recognized by someone else. As long as you work hard, be kind, practice and study the craft then someone will eventually recognize you. And you might be surprised where that recognition comes from.
That’s how you advance in this business. Do good work and on the side do what you’re passionate about. Keep creating. Keep working. Keep learning. You do that and you’ll see progress. I know that sounds easier said than done, especially when you’re faced with daily life struggles but no one expects you to be able to do it overnight. You may want it to happen overnight but that’s not realistic. What is realistic is you producing creative assets that will pay off for you. I can point to hundreds of artists for whom this is the case. Picaso. Joan Miro. Charles Bukowski. And so on.
So stop worrying about where you’re supposed to be or whether or not your current position will get you to where you want to do and start doing whatever it is that you want to do. Or at least do something adjacent to that and learn how that side of the industry affects aspects of your goal. If you’re working in post production on a film but want to be a cinematographer then begin to see how certain shots come together to tell the story. That way when you’re on set shooting, you can make the process as smooth, easy and fast as possible.
Okay, that’s a wrap. I hope this episode provided you with a better understanding of how to tackle your creative pursuits. But don’t click away to another lesson just yet because I’d love to hear from you! What is your career goal and what are the steps you’re taking to get there? If you’re having trouble thinking of an answer, you can review the transcript of this episode and access other free resources on my website. Links are provided below. Also, I invite you to check out my most recent short film called A Very LA Birthday. It’s 5 minutes and it would mean a lot if you checked it out. Lastly, a huge thank you to the people that helped make this episode possible. If you too would like to support this show, you can either head on over to my Patreon or sport some merch from my store. Thanks for tuning in. I’m @PhilSvitek on social media and I’ll see you next Wednesday with another lesson. Bye!