A Hollywood veteran dispenses advice on how to find a job in the film industry.
Onken (Other Worlds, 2017), who worked on the crews of such movies as Planet of the Apes and Men in Black II, has created a manual filled with tips on how to enter his field. The book outlines “how to find work in the movie business” and “how to stay working.” The author’s tone throughout is one of positivity. He reassures hopefuls that “there are tons of people employed in the film business that showed up out of nowhere and flourished having started their careers with no strategy at all.” Onken explains that although the “business is not fair,” in his experience it’s the people who have “more determination than others” that make it in the movie industry (“It’s about mental and physical endurance. It’s about living in an extended family and playing well with others”). Among his memorable suggestions are to remember to network even if you’re shy, show up early and always solicit recommendations, and “pile up as much cash as you can” while busy in case the jobs suddenly dry up. But Onken feels that even those who go into the business “initially having no connections and not much of a plan” will find success as long as they’ve resolved to “live the dream while making friends and working hard.” Peppered in with the author’s useful advice are his colorful and entertaining personal stories, from meeting Arnold Schwarzenegger during a Gold’s Gym commercial to filming with Madonna on a “beautiful yacht” and serving as the lighting director of an Oscar nomination party at a Wolfgang Puck restaurant. During his many Hollywood adventures, Onken recalls remaining a cheerful presence on the set—once, after finally eating breakfast at 5 in the afternoon, he told a fellow crew member he was just “happy to be here with wonderful people like you.” The author turns out to be an endearing and encouraging narrator who seeks to help readers find their paths in the filmmaking world.
This look at working on movie sets features plenty of worthy tips gleaned from the author’s personal experiences, making it a valuable read for anyone hoping to thrive in Hollywood.