Career Insights

6 Things to Know for an Entertainment Industry Career

Break into Entertainment

Film Scoring at UCLA Extension

The entertainment industry is a notoriously difficult business to break into. It’s full of extremely talented, competitive, and hardworking individuals, making distinguishing yourself a challenge. Here are six tips for building a career in Entertainment:

1. It’s going to be challenging, but you will love your job.

UK-born director Kate Rees Davies studied her craft at UCLA Extension, in the Directing Certificate program. Thinking about her experience breaking into the entertainment industry, she recalls one particularly challenging job that involved directing a small-budget feature film in just five days: “I overcame it by planning all my shots and knowing exactly what I wanted before I set foot on set,” she explains. “Having an amazing first AD also helped.”

But at the end of the day, Davies loves her job. “I get to create worlds that can affect my audience on many different levels,” Davies says. “I also get to play with the latest technology and work with some amazing, talented people.”

There’s also good news for people considering jobs as producers and directors—they can expect to see 13% job growth in Los Angeles and 9% nationally over the next ten years.* 

2. You have to believe in yourself, even when no one else does.

“I have gotten to be where I am in my field through belief in myself, sheer passion for my craft, and hard work,” Davies explains. She also says that “networking like mad” has helped.

3. Your connections are everything.

UCLA Extension is a great way to build connections in the industry. 92% of Entertainment graduates say they have made valuable connections with a classmate or peer from their certificate program. In addition, 74% of Entertainment graduates say they valued the relationships with their instructors.**

“Having UCLA Extension on my resume has opened doors for me,” Davies says. “I scored an exclusive interview with Academy Award-winning writer Eric Roth at the Academy because I was a UCLA Alumni. Eric is a former student at the school.”

4. You need to cultivate your talent with a solid education.

Jeff Broadbent has spent his career composing music for video games, television programs, trailers, and films. Broadbent attributes his success as a composer in part to a natural affinity for music and to his education, including time he spent at UCLA Extension in the Film Scoring Certificate program.

“At UCLA Extension I had several great teachers that were of help,” Broadbend says. “In particular, Lennie Moore, the teacher for the video game course, got me very interested in video game scoring, and taught essential techniques that I use almost every day in composing. The courses in film scoring were also very helpful, in that the students learn to compose for live musicians, prepare the sheet music correctly, and learn the overview of the film scoring process.”

5. If you are going to be a freelancer, you need to have a business-oriented mindset.

If you are going to work as a freelancer in the entertainment industry, you have to approach your career with a goal-oriented, business-driven mindset.

Broadbent explains his experience working as a freelancer this way, “First off, understand that this is a freelance business. This means the composer must find new clients, market himself, look for work, have the needed equipment to do a quality job, etc. It is literally building your own business. I read many books on freelance business, which were of great help. I’ve found that many aspiring musicians will have the musical skills, yet lack in the sense of business and understanding exactly what they need to do to build a career. An aspiring film scoring student would be wise to read up on business practices and implement them.”

6. You’re going to have to hustle.

“It can be daunting when you are recently graduated and have to build a sustainable freelance business,” Broadbent explains. “I overcame this with education, being very specific about what my goals were, and then making sure every day I only spent time in the activities that would lead to these goals. Learning to be very diligent in reaching out to as many potential companies as possible to offer composing services, attending trade shows to meet people, constantly following up with people you’ve met, and marketing yourself to as many companies as possible are all a part of this.

* U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, EMSI data.
** UCLA Extension Graduate Research Study, 2018.
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