Going Hollywood: Careers in Film and Video

As the home base of Hollywood, Los Angeles is known as the "Entertainment Capital of the World", leading the world in the creation of motion pictures, television production, video games, and recorded music. This has drawn not only actors, but also writers, composers, artists, and other creative individuals to the area.

In Los Angeles, there are many potential careers to choose from when considering a career in the "industry". Let's face it, it can take many years and a lot of ambition, luck, and talent to become a famous producer, director or actor. However, that should not be discouraging. Fortunately, there are a large number of jobs that fall "below the radar" -- from multimedia artists, sound and visual effects technicians, to editors. Los Angeles is often also billed as the "Creative Capital of the World", due to the fact that one in every six of its residents works in a creative industry.

According to the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation, "there are more artists, writers, filmmakers, actors, dancers and musicians living and working in Los Angeles than any other city at any time in the history of civilization." A student's specialty in film school, on-the-job training, and further education opportunities will largely shape his or her career and overall success.


Some of the major entertainment companies headquartered in the cities of Los Angeles county are Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Beverly Hills), DIC Entertainment (Burbank), The Walt Disney Company (Fortune 500 – Burbank), Warner Bros. (Burbank), Sony Pictures Entertainment (parent of Columbia Pictures, located in Culver City), DreamWorks (Glendale), 20th Century Fox, The Jim Henson Company, and Paramount Pictures just to name a few. Most employees work for the six major studios in the U.S., although studios also contract out employees. Many workers are self-employed.

Directors and producers, although very coveted positions, often work under stress. Their jobs demand that they aim to meet schedules, stay within budget, and are able to resolve personnel and production problems. Editors, writers, and technicians usually work in offices on studio lots or in other types of production facilities. The stage and sound crews follow the film wherever it's being shot (whether it be a soundstage or on location), and can be physically and mentally demanding as well. .

Part-time and variable schedules are more the norm in film and video than in other industries. In fact, 22 percent of workers have part-time schedules and 14 percent have variable schedules. The average work week is 30 hours.

Although film production in Los Angeles remains the most important center in the US for the medium, Hollywood has become more international, thus it faces increasing competition from other parts of the United States (Louisiana, North Carolina, Arizona, New York, and Orlando) and from Vancouver and Toronto that provide Hollywood production companies with lower production costs. This phenomenon of entertainment companies running away to other locales in search of lower labor and production costs has been dubbed "runaway production" although the trend shows signs of reversing.

For more information on specific careers, see the specialties page.

Education & Training

Before you can direct the next Hollywood blockbuster, produce a film, or become a major star, it is essential to obtain a basic understanding of how the film and television industry works. You should also have an idea of the type of career you would like to pursue, as well as some type of vision of how to get there.

A variety of schools in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas offer diploma, certificate, associate, bachelor, and advanced degrees in film and television production and associated careers.

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