From couch-surfing to working on sets like The Walking Dead and Quantico, it takes grit. It takes determination. It takes an unwavering, fierce passion for the film industry to stay on top of producer’s minds. And being a certified Apple Tech can’t hurt either. At least according to JC Conklin, whose recent credits included Film Runner/ PA on The Walking Dead and Director's Assistant on ABC’s Quantico.
Here are a few tips to bring your production career back from the dead:
Be a warrior. Stay focused, confident, and available, but not annoying. Don’t be afraid to talk to people.
Side gigs can help you “adult” in between gigs – don’t scoff at unrelated opportunities; you never know what will come of them.
You have to be in love with the concept of filmmaking and video production to stay in this field. The second your passion diminishes, so will your opportunities.
Look at the big picture and enjoy it. Realize where you are in the moment, savor it and remember most people would trade places with you in a heartbeat.
Stay humble. Don’t complain about sweating on long days in the heat, or sore arms from carrying equipment. Instead, stay late, ask what else you can do and strike up conversations at appropriate off-hours times.
You will never be content or 100% comfortable – you will always be looking for the next big break. Pick a different career field if that makes you sick. If I had wanted to stay on my profitable yet mundane career path, I would have stayed at HH Gregg as a manager.
Tragedies or unforeseen circumstances can cause you to uproot and move locations on a dime – if that happens, the proper way to exit is to give as much notice as possible to the POC or immediate supervisor. Then, make sure to stay in touch within 3 weeks to ensure communication stays open, and that they don’t completely forget about you when you need a recommendation or e-connect.
Get your Alfred Hitchcock on. Don’t just pick up the coolest camera or gadget and decided to become a filmmaker. Let your inspiration guide your desired field – whether that’s television, commercials, documentaries, etc. (Conklin’s icon, Hitchcock, made him realize how to portray emotion via visual storytelling – and that’s what he’s held on to on his path thus far.)
Have "a thing" and be the best at it. Conklin’s unique journey led him to be known as “The Apple Guy,” with everyone from the top line producers to office staff knowing he was the go-to-guy to assist them in quick tech problems, beyond his assigned duties. Another person we interviewed had the best goodies for long takes, always. Find your thing.
Keep networking, stay in contact, and help your connections constantly – or someone else will, and you will be quickly forgotten. You know how friends can spend years apart then get back together like nothing’s changed? The film/TV world is the opposite.
There are no jobs if you don’t know where to look. Find the niche resources like ProductionHUB, find the local film office, and find the strongest local organizations like Women in Film & Television to help connect you to the best opportunities in your market. LinkedIn is of course a super-cool tool to have as well to stay fresh in your connections’ minds.
If you show someone you are a hard worker, they will keep you. And rehire you. It’s that simple, but you will be surprised how many crew members feel entitled and then wonder why they didn’t get called back.
About JC Conklin
JC is an educated, passionate, professional, who meshes with needs of the business and strives to attain intended goals regardless of difficulty. He does not, and will not, shrink from responsibilities, nor be dismayed by setbacks. He looks for instruction, hands-on experience, and feedback from which to better his talents and grow as an individual.
He just finished working on the "Walking Dead" and prior to that was a Director's Assistant on the new ABC TV Show "Quantico". He also has 4 years Apple training experience, and is known in the industry as the apple guy to people from PA's all the way up to UPMs.