Breaking into Hollywood: 3 Mistakes To Avoid

Breaking into Hollywood: 3 Mistakes to Avoid

I have a secret. I have the ability to tell, in the first five minutes after meeting someone who wants to break into Hollywood, whether or not they’re going to succeed. Occasionally I call it wrong, but much more of the time, I’m right on the money.

How did this intuition develop?

From a combination of my years of working in the entertainment industry and my passion for helping newcomers get their foot in the door. I started noticing what traits or habits separated those who succeeded from those who remained forever on the outside.

Here are the 3 mistakes I see that will derail your success.

1. Not being prepared for meetings & interviews.

It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t take the time to do this right. Don’t be one of them by…

  • …not researching like crazy. You need to know who you’re meeting with and what that person/company does. Have something specific and (genuinely) complimentary to say about it.
  • …not knowing exactly what you have to offer (that’s useful to them). You need for them to know why you are the one they need at that specific company or for that specific project.
  • ...not preparing/rehearsing your personal presentation. You need to come across as a passionate, interesting professional and that you take this opportunity seriously.

2. Not working hard enough.

It seems like everyone would do this, but you’d be surprised. I’ve seen people who felt they could coast because of who they think they are or where they went to school.

You can give yourself a huge advantage just by working harder than everyone around you. There are hungry people in this town. You need to be hungrier…

  • …at achieving your goal of breaking in.
  • …at reaching out to everyone you know and asking for advice/help. No person is “too small” or unimportant. Just ask my friend whose first “break” came from the mom of the woman who used to go to Madonna’s manicurist.
  • …at your first job – or internship. You need to work your ass off to make sure whatever you’re doing, you’re doing it 110% -- and with a smile (because the people you’re competing with are doing just that).

3. Not being memorable. 

Numbers 1 & 2 won’t matter if the people you meet don’t remember who you are when it comes time to give someone their first (or second) break. This is where most newcomers stumble. Don’t sabotage yourself by…

  • ...not developing your own Personal PR Strategy. You need to ask yourself what sets you apart from every other award-winning film student or web series creator hoping to break in?
  • ...not having a compelling personal story ready to tell. You know how you have that one story that always has people hanging on to every word? You don’t? You better get one.
  • ...not being able to pitch yourself in a minute. People are busy. You need to be able to clearly state who you are, what you’d like to do and why you should be the one to do it. All in a concise way that doesn’t make you sound like a robot.

Avoid these three mistakes and you’ll be on your way getting to do what you’ve dreamed of.

To help you get started, I created a free download of the 5 Things You Need to Break Into Hollywood. Click here to get access.

To dive deeper and learn exactly what you need to break in or move up, check out my Virtual Course:

Carole Kirschner’s Hollywood Bootcamp: How to Get Your First (or Next) Job in Entertainment.

Good luck! Tweet me @CaroleKirsch with your progress.

About Carole
Director of WGA's Showrunner Training Program, creator & Director of the CBS Diversity Writers Mentoring Program, international speaker and a leading expert on entertainment career strategies, Carole Kirschner teaches creative professionals how to navigate the often mystifying landscape of show business. Her book, Hollywood Game Plan: How to Land a Job in Film, TV and Digital Entertainment is a primer on how to break in and move up in the entertainment industry. Through her popular workshops, Carole teaches writers, producers, directors and executives the real world strategies that will help them not just succeed, but thrive.