In the fifteen years I have worked in the film business, many have overheard, “The film business is high school with money”. Like high school, the cliques are divided by gender, race, social economics and talent. How do you fit into this creative world filled with former jocks, cheerleaders, nerds and hipsters? First step is knowledge. You must understand who you are dealing with in order to successfully compete. Here are the cliques I have stomached at Film High School:
These are the hardcore, aggressive, savvy take no prisoners film professionals. It’s ON ANY GIVEN SUNDAY on a combo of steroids and ecstasy. With laser jet focus, they relentlessly go after a goal. They range from agents, producers, studio executives, directors to first ADs and location managers. They don’t care what you think about them….as long as you think about them first.
Years ago, the majority of this group was female, however, as the film business has evolved it is now more gender balanced. For the most part, these professionals have started off as assistants and remain in “supportive” roles. They are quick thinkers with kinetic multi-tasking capabilities. Think Anne Hathaway in DEVIL WEARS PRADA or Debi Mazur or Constance Zimmer in ENTOURAGE. You will see them in the roles of publicists, glam squads (hair/makeup), human resources or development executives. The other key members of this group are actors. Though they don’t normally start off as assistants, many have been extras which can be as equally as horrendous. All feel unappreciated. They quietly want you to look pass their Prada sunglasses to see they are smart.
Want to know the director/leading actor/sound mixer/DP/whatever of an obscure French movie from the 1950s? Trying to decide which has more emphasis to “rack focus” or “reverse angle” a scene? This group can give you the answer in less than 30 seconds. Imagine an industrious, hardworking, nose to the grindstone version of Lena Dunham in GIRLS. They are often directors, editors, production accountants, sound editors or script supervisors. For many they are tired of being labeled “smart” and long to be “cool”. Others who have important yet seemingly invisible positions want to be “seen”.
This clique is normally closest to the talent or the power players. They are trend setters, talent spotters or in charge of making the overall project look great. Much like Cameron Calderon in HOW TO MAKE IN AMERICA, they have swag, skill with a pinch of hustler to boot. Talent loves hanging out with them (because they are cool) and corporate knows their creativity is essential. They are writers, casting directors, music supervisors, production designers and costumers. They always seeking “critical recognition” i.e. the coveted golden boy, Oscar or his cool cousin, Grammy.
Each group requires its own unique strategy to effectively compete and excel. Look out for next installment of Film High School to learn how to deal with these eccentric groups.