Forget about working at the latest tech start-ups — what about working for Pixar, Ubisoft or Another Planet Entertainment?
The last decade hasn’t seen any shortage of film, animation or game studios, especially in the Bay Area. Music, movie and game lovers will perpetually exist. All these industries need is a fresh generation of college graduates to employ the workforce. What does it take, then, to get a job in one of these companies?
In “Secrets of the Entertainment Industry,” an event held by SUPERB and Business Careers in Entertainment Club, eight speakers from various positions in the entertainment industry discussed how they entered their current careers as well as what they would look for in potential candidates. The careers from the video game, animation, television and music industries, all had similar stories and advice for an auditorium of college undergraduates looking to follow in their footsteps. Featuring representatives from Pixar, EA, Ubisoft, Another Planet and Humble Bundle, this event wasn’t for networking but rather a discussion of some fundamental lessons that everyone going into the industry should know.
Early off, the panelists clarified that jobs in these fields mostly fall under two categories: artistic or managerial. The artistic side usually handles creating the content while management usually handles marketing and oversees content production. While these two different facets of the entertainment industry seem like two wholly different things (and actually involve two totally different sides of the industry), getting your foot in the door to either side requires a similar path.
From the general discussion of the panel, if there was a piece of advice to take away from this event, it’s that to make it in the industry, you need dedication. But it’s not enough to go in with a bachelor’s degree, even if it is from a prestigious university like UC Berkeley; in an age where anyone can make a game or film, and anyone can learn to market an independent project, a slip of paper means nothing when multiple other applicants have already shown they can create or market a game or film without a college degree. Personal dedication and drive are vital to an industry about expression, and all the panelists agreed this is vital to see in applicant. At a time where creation is at everyone’s fingertips, the panelists agreed that applicants need to show that they have created something amazing and original to stand out from other applicants.
With the barrier of entry significantly lowered in terms of creating entertainment, employers expect the most out of new applicants and rightfully so. Learning how to use video-editing software now only requires a couple of YouTube tutorials and not a semester-long college course. Employers want to know their applicants are devoted to what they create, and to know if they are devoted, they need to see the side projects they have done before. Panelist Rena Ferrick, a supervising producer for Hoff Productions, summed up this process in a pre-panel interview, stating that, when looking at an applicant, “The more you know the better.” Working in the vast, amorphous entertainment industry requires learning the job before you actually get the job.
Ultimately, coasting through college won’t get you a job in the entertainment industry. According to the experts, the key to landing an internship at a hot game or animation studio isn’t just a degree from Berkeley: The key is creating or managing games, music or film way before you first get hired.
Contact Art Siriwatt at [email protected].