Getting Hired As A DIT – Part 1
If you’re interested in understanding the role, or would like to join the ranks of the International Cinematographers’ Guild (Local 600) as a DIT, here are some of the things that we do to secure projects, in three parts. These ideas are no different for any other role in the film business to be honest, so read on and don’t forget to give us a “Like”.
In Part 1 we will look at the ways people typically go about finding their jobs, whether they are brand new or seasoned. Actually, there is very little difference between the two as far as prospecting goes.
1. Generating Leads
There is a wealth of information out there about productions that are getting started. This information can provide you with a boon if you are looking to fill in your schedule or get going. Consider the following sources as great for lead generation: IMDB Pro, Local Film Commission in your area or state, local associations, call sheets and crew sheets (both of which can be obtained pretty easily).
On the subject of call sheets, one of our DITs decided that he wanted to get on a show when he was first getting into the business. So he got himself into a back lot and started going through the trash cans near the stages. He found a slew of call sheets and the resulting cold calls he made landed him a job on Transformers. No kidding; that happened. And that’s networking and lead generation at its most determined. Think outside the box, but never trespass or pester people. Just bring some energy and life to it.
2. Building Contacts
I get asked about this a lot by people starting off, but oddly never by people who are established. Remember that building a contacts list is not for rookies – it’s for the smart people who want to work. Never pass by an opportunity, but be careful. Handing out your business card or contact information to people who do not hire is a mistake, as it makes you look a bit silly. Veterans of the industry often vet potential contacts with a few well placed questions first. The questions vary according to how you meet them so give it some thought or ask in the comments. We’ll help you.
3. Cold Calls
This is the capital city of stigma, and you’ll feel like the mayor. There are ways you can handle it with grace and aplomb, and there are ways you can handle it that will see you burdened with a restraining order. The trick is to never be ice cold, do a little research (more on this in Part 2). See if you know someone they know or have anything in common. You’re looking for straws here people, so get clutching. The truth is that even a little thing can make life easier for you. For example, if they hired a friend of yours as a PA, then lead with that. “Hey Sarah, this is Daren – you just hired my friend Doug as a PA, he’s great. I’d love to chat to you about the DIT position.”
Do a little research. Do you have any ‘in’ at all? Anything?
Remember that they need to fill these positions, so a call might be fortuitous for them too.
Be calm but energetic, sound like you want the job. It helps.
4. Manage Your Time
It’s very easy to get sucked down a rabbit hole. You work hard to get the job, but then while you do the job, you don’t promote yourself. After the job you have to pick up momentum again, only to loose it the moment you get another job. Stay in the game, continue to reach out to people – goodness knows there are enough ways to do it.
5. Over Booking
Oh United Airlines, you plonkers, you kind of ruined a reality for all of us. In data management there is a saying, “If you have one copy, you have none. If you have two copies, you have one.” That’s almost as true about jobs too. Look, productions shift and move like tectonic plates at a disco. You can have two shows lined up and one stalls for a week. Now they overlap and you can’t do one. Or can you? Of course you can. You must. The effort you are putting in to getting your name out there cannot be undone because two shows overlap. Typically a seasoned DIT will call a friend to cover on whichever show moved it’s dates. As long as they are good, and you feel comfortable, this is quite ok. In turn, this builds relationships where you might benefit from someone else’s double-book. That’s good networking.
Don’t forget, the rising tide lifts all boats. That’s part of why we try to help. We learned in the school of hard knocks and bloody noses – you don’t need to. I wish we’d known this stuff when we started out.
In Part 2 we will look at the best ways to secure the job once you get the interview or meeting. I think you’ll be surprised by some of these.
That’s it for now. Stay tuned for Part 2 by clicking the “Like” button on Facebook.
Got any good stories or tips for how you drum up work? Leave a comment here or on Facebook.
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