So last time we looked at the Pros and Cons on the Home Team (United Kingdom) this time around we’ll analyse what life is like for someone trying to start out in the Film/TV industry across the pond, with the Away Team.
As the United States is obviously way bigger than the UK, it means that there are a number of locations across the country that can help you get a foothold in the industry. Although some may argue that your options are between New York and Los Angeles many a starts have been made in Texas, Chicago and of course across the boarder in Canada.
2. Numerous Schemes
During my research I found that lot of the big companies (Disney, NBC, Fox, ABC, HBO etc) offer revolving internships. Year round there are at least three/four opportunities to join the company as a paid intern whilst earning college credit. As well as that a lot of these companies also have another programme geared towards those who have graduated in the past 18 months, and narrow down specifically based on your interest; i.e Warner Bros have their Writers Workshop.
3. Larger Company Pool.
There are so many channels and so many more independent production companies, therefore finding work experience is a lot easier. Heck, even I accidentally got Work Experience in LA after an understandably confusing email exchange with an international Music Video Production Company.
4. Longer Seasons
By which I mean many American TV series have on average 20 episodes per season, and as they are filmed throughout the year (as opposed to the bulk production process that the UK adopts) it means that your length of employment is significantly higher.
1. The Big Move.
It’s one thing to move from Edinburgh to London (7 hour drive, 5 hour train or a 1 hour and 15 minute plane) But From the East Coast to the West? (40 hour drive, 68 hour train or a 5 hour and 35 minute plane) That’s a lot of country to move across! And if you’re just starting out, it’s a journey you may not be so willing to make depending on what you gain in the long run.
2. Too Much Choice
I know I am going back on what I originally classified as a Pro; but with so much choice, how do you make the right decision? Where does quality control come into place? Your long term goal may be to work for NBC, but do they care about the 6 months you spent interning at a local production company they’ve never heard of?
With a larger country comes a lot more competition, especially for those entry level positions. This opens room for exploitation; long hours and unpaid and uncredited work, so be careful! As well as that, your competition doesn’t just come from other American citizens but from people all over the globe. People who have grown up watching American Television and aim to join the fold *Cough*
4. Being Stuck
I think when you start out it’s important to move a round and get the lay of the land as it were. If you immediately get a job in a top company, then you feel safe and secure and less likely to leave as you work your way up. Before you know it you’re 30 and you’ve been with the company for 10 years and even though a small part of you wants to move on, you can’t bring yourself to leave your comfort zone. I suppose this point isn’t specific to starting out in America, but it’s food for thought nonetheless.
So there your have it, my list of pros and cons. Do you agree or disagree based on your opinions and knowledge? I would be very interested to hear some facts from anyone in the USA who is starting out in Film and or TV.
Share your wisdom with the group – we rarely bite.