Whether you’re a grip hustling for your next job or a young actor with stars in your eyes, finding a job in the entertainment industry can seem daunting and intimidating. We gathered some of the best advice directly from industry professionals to help you not only find your first job, but also your next job in the industry.
“I’m often asked, ‘What are the things I need to do to be successful?’ And I always say, ‘Network.’ But if you're going out of your way to connect with someone, always offer them something of value before you ask something for yourself; their time is precious.”
Chris Thomes, Producer, PGA
IMDbPro has a number of ways to help you network as well as learn about a person you want to connect with, so you know how you can help.
First and foremost, IMDbPro has contact information for over 300,000 industry professionals. This means that you can reach out to people you want to work with. As Dacre Montgomery explains, he used IMDbPro to get one of his first roles.
You can explore the careers of professionals that you aspire to be. For instance, Rachel Brosnahan says, “I use IMDbPro to learn more about who the artists are that I admire, what kind of movies that they make, what their first projects were, and how their careers have evolved.”
IMDbPro has a Network tab that shows shared connections, both people you share a credit with as well as titles that you share with others. It’s a great way to see how you’re connected with other people in the industry, and you could use those connections to make new ones. As actor Kristen Henry King says, “IMDbPro connects you with industry professionals, and makes them more real and less distant when you realize you have a lot in common.”
Lists and Track
You can also create lists of professionals you want to work with or want to emulate. Because IMDb and IMDbPro are updated daily, you’ll always have the most recent and relevant information in your lists. You can also use the Track feature to get customized notifications when someone is attached to a new project, mentioned in the news, or gets nominated or wins an award.
“I would just suggest to actors that they keep their IMDb updated and honest, but also engaging. Have photos on there that represent your personality so that when people look you up, they’re interested in you and remember your face and your vibe.”
Maddie Phillips, Actor
IMDb is one of the best ways to showcase your work, and with IMDbPro, you can manage how people see your page. You can set your Known For credits, primary images, demo reels, primary video, and keep your contact information, including representation, up to date.
“First off, get some type of training. Then after you get your training, it’s about experience. It is a craft. So you might need to do some freebies, PSAs, or help someone out, but it’s about doing it over and over again.”
Dawn Gilliam, Script Supervisor
Not only are there hundreds of different jobs and roles within the entertainment industry, there are also hundreds of training opportunities. Training can help you get your foot in the door if you’re just starting out in the industry or if you’re looking to pivot into a different profession within the industry. You can always receive training to help transition to writing, producing, or any other position that you have set your mind on. Training courses can even help you expand your network.
We collected just a handful of training opportunities, but you can do a web search based on your particular interests, and don’t forget to check out unions and guilds for your desired profession as they often offer educational resources.
And then keep learning
“I would tell actors starting out in their careers to just focus on constantly learning and growing. So many acting classes are offered virtually now, and there are a bunch of amazing podcasts and YouTube round tables and interviews online, not to mention books and studying movies. It's important to just keep improving and once you get an agent, it's just about patience until the right roles come along!”
Jordan Claire Robbins, Actor
Training is just the beginning. As both Gilliam and Robbins explain, you can’t stop growing or learning in whichever industry profession you choose. Finding your next job and being successful is about repetition, experience, and improving.
Do your research
“IMDbPro is a great resource to use right before every meeting you have. It’s important to do your research, and if you’re not totally prepped—you’re always on the go like I am—between shows and auditions and writing and meeting people, it’s great to just refresh before a meeting.”
Stefanie Woodburn, Actor, Director, Producer, Writer
Knowledge is power, as they say, and that’s all the more true in the competitive entertainment industry. Going into meetings or auditions knowing who you’re meeting with, the projects they’ve worked on, what they’re working on in the future, and who they are connected to could be the difference between getting a job and not.
For aspiring actors, specifically, Tamela D’Amico
offers this advice, “IMDbPro is an amazing research tool and wealth of information. Before you go on any audition or meeting, you should research the casting director, the producers and director, as well as any of the main cast of the project you have interest in or will be working on. Actors should be utilizing IMDb to follow projects they have interest in, as well as people they want to work with in the future. It’s all a fantastic gauge for trends in the industry.”
For aspiring filmmakers, you can research everything from film comparables for marketing strategies, pitch decks, financing strategies, and more on IMDbPro.
For aspiring crew, you can research the filmmakers and in-development titles you want to work for and contact those involved.
For agents, publicists, managers, you can research what's being developed by producers and production companies—
ultimately, who has deals at different studios and then target meetings to match your clients with those projects. You can even see who reps potential prospects and get notified if representation changes.
For all professions, you can use IMDbPro Track to get notifications when someone is newly attached to a project, when they are mentioned in the news, or employment and filmography updates.
Find a mentor
“I was fortunate enough to have worked with Ann Dowd a few times, and she said to me once something I think about all the time. I can certainly say this piece of wisdom she passed along continues to guide me, ‘What is for me cannot pass me by; what is not, I cannot grasp.’ I also am very, very close with the great Reed Birney, who says it a little differently: 'If the train doesn't stop at your station, it's just not your train.'”
Marin Ireland, Actor, Director, Producer, Writer
Acting coaches and other career mentors can not only give you great advice, but also help you navigate the entertainment industry and advance your career.
There are many professional mentorship programs, such as the Entertainment Industry Professionals Mentoring Alliance
, the International Emerging Film Talent Association
, and Film Independent’s Project Involve
as well as profession-specific programs like the Writers Guild of America West new mentorship program
You can also use IMDbPro to research and reach out to people you admire for advice or mentoring as well as the List feature to keep track of your mentor wish list.
Find representation (or clients!)
"IMDbPro helped me connect to producers, casting directors, talent representatives, basically everyone I need to reach, my first stop is always IMDbPro. Particularly when I was looking for representation, it was very helpful to start by researching the actors I respected and whose careers I wished to emulate and seeing who their representatives were.”
Ryan Shrime, Actor, Producer, Writer
Representation is the first big step in finding a job in the entertainment industry, and it’s not just for actors. Writers, screenwriters, filmmakers, and directors can all use the aid of agents, reps, and managers to score their next big role and figure out how to best steer their careers.
With IMDbPro, you can see clients lists for agents and use the available contact information to reach out to the reps you think are right for you. You can also see who someone you’re trying to emulate is repped by and with Track, be notified if they change representation.
If you already have representation, but aren’t getting the roles you hope for, Jordan Claire Robbins
offers this advice, “I am a big proponent of communicating with your agent or manager if you do hear about a role or project you would love to go out for; obviously trust is hugely important and if you're constantly hearing about things that feel right but you aren't going out for, then there's a bigger conversation that needs to be had, but a well-placed check in when you feel strongly that you can do an awesome tape is a great way to be proactive.”
If you’re a rep and looking for clients, you can also use IMDbPro to see who is repped by whom, a list of up-and-coming directors and actors who've been nominated for film festival awards that might not have representation yet, and get notified when people change or lose representation.
Use job boards
It may seem counter intuitive in an industry known for “who you know,” but job boards, casting sites, and sites like Staff Me Up that post production jobs can all be useful in the job hunt.
IMDbPro has job listings for editors, art directors, costume designers, motion graphics designers, assistant directors, and lead and supporting actors. Check out the latest entertainment jobs now!
Follow your heart
“What we say yes and no to matters, but really it matters to us, to our hearts. It's literally what we spend the minutes and moments of our lives doing. So we have to find a way to be true to ourselves in that whenever we can. We owe it to ourselves. It's our lives we're giving to this.”
Marin Ireland, Actor
Above all, find the projects, jobs, and roles that speak to you.