Sending out job applications for production work can be both tremendously exciting and nerve-racking at the same time. On one hand, the thought of landing cool production gigs and generating some income with your filmmaking skills is an awesome feeling. But what if your resume isn't up to snuff? What if you put too much information on there, or not enough? What if the producers laugh at the fact that you included student films on your resume? Well, worry no more, No Film Schoolers, because in a fantastic post for Production Hub, Robyn Coburn, who reviews production resumes and cover letters for a living, wrote up a list of the 7 most common mistakes that she sees from aspiring filmmakers on their resumes.
So without any further ado, here are just a few of the mistakes that we might all be making with our production resumes:
Lack of clarity about your position
Don’t have a one-size-fits-all résumé, and don’t try to be a jack-of-all-trades either. The rest of that saying is "master of none". UPM’s on real movies with real budgets, are looking for individuals to do specific jobs. Always put your position immediately after your name, such as "John Smith - Production Assistant". Don’t have "position sought" taking up space on the page.
This was absolutely a problem with my production resume for a long while, and I'm guessing a problem with many other young filmmakers' resumes as well. It's entirely too tempting to put down the fact that you're an experienced sound man when, in reality, you held a boom on a student short 7 years ago. Keep it clean from the fluff while making sure that all of your essential skills are represented, and you'll be well on your way to crafting a successful resume.
Keeping student and micro-budget projects on your résumé for too long
I know we all have a lot of affection for our early work. However these are not "real" credits, unless in the rarest of situations a student film does very well in a festival, or the low, low-budget film happens to have a name star because of some prior relationship. Most of the time, drop those projects "off the bottom" of your résumé as you get more real credits to include. It is better to have a few real, higher budget credits - regardless of how lowly the position - than to be listed as the Producer of an unknown student short.
Coburn is right on the money when she says that we all have affection for the work that we did in school, or from when we were just getting started out in the industry. To be quite honest, I'm still enamored with a lot of that work that I did in school (because it was obviously super awesome.) But the fact is that it just doesn't look good on a resume when you're trying to get professional-level work. Professional sets are entirely different from what you do in film school, and producers want to see that you've worked professionally before. It's that simple.
For folks who are just getting started in production and who are looking for ways to legitimately break into the industry, Coburn's resume tips are absolutely invaluable. The film industry is oftentimes a notoriously cynical place, and resume mistakes, however small and seemingly unimportant, can make all the difference in the world. Of course, an equally polished cover letter is also essential to landing the job, but that's an article for another day.
What do you guys think of these common production resume mishaps? Do you have any of your own? Let us know in the comments!