First Person: Jason Hellerman on Breaking In
The following post was written in response to this post on Entertainment Career Benchmarks. We here at YII think it perfectly captures the excitement and anxiety that inevitably intermingle when one embarks on an entertainment career path, especially in dealing with family and friends in more traditional fields.
I can personally testify that a lot of what I stress about is whether or not similar deadlines exist in the entertainment industry. One of the hardest things to do trying to break into the field is explain it to people on the outskirts. “No, Dad, I can’t tell people on Monster.com I’m a screenwriter. No, Mom, Steven Spielberg doesn’t hire people by looking at their Dord document resumes.” The list and quotes go on.
Still, even with personal knowledge that it takes years to break in, longer to get noticed, and if by some grace of God you make it to the Oscars list of deaths that year, people will definitely say “I wish he/she were around longer.” So how do you keep from sweating the small stuff? Don’t say breathing exercises because I don’t buy they work for anyone outside of a Lamaze class.
For me it’s empowering myself with the knowledge that I’m doing everything I can to find the door. It’s not comparing my career path to doctors or lawyers or anything where the ladder is made of similar rungs. What’s awesome about involving oneself in the creative arts is that we don’t get a foot in the door. We BREAK IN.
No two ladders look the same, no paths work out for different people, and no matter how much advice you get you control your own destiny by actively participating in the world you want to be a part of and expressing how “good” you are not by words but with actions. We are a performance-based area because we all have decided that no matter the stresses, menial tasks, or agendas we MUST perform our jobs to get movies and television made.
So when the battle to hedge myself into where my peers from other places are I just have to dig into my gut to know that I’m doing (mostly trying to do) what I love, telling the stories I believe in, and people climbing ladders and steps may think they have the advantage but the rest of us are figuring out how to fly to the top.
Jason Hellerman is southeastern Pennsylvania native who did his undergraduate work at Penn State University majoring in Film and Television Production with a Minor in English and then followed his passion for the written word to Boston University where he recently finished his MFA in Screenwriting. In an ideal world Jason would be writing and producing feature films or working on a television drama. It’s hard to describe the tones of themes of what Jason writes so he usually calls everything he does a dramedy: “You’ll laugh cry, and keep the pages turning.”
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