May 20, 2015 ItsJenniferFelton

How To Identify A Pretender In The Film Industry

If you’re fairly new to the acting industry looking to star in some indie films, or you’re a business owner who is finally taking the inevitable and exciting plunge into video marketing, this blog is for you.

Let’s start by taking a look at the definition of the word, pretender:

noun; a person who claims or aspires to a title or position.

Unfortunately, there are more than a handful of pretenders in the film production world; I’m going to list three fool-proof ways to identify them.

People find this industry fascinating and something they want to be a part of. There is a big difference between a “pretender” and a “newbie” and there is absolutely nothing wrong with being inexperienced or a beginner. In fact, I find it admirable to be so vulnerable as to say “I just don’t know what I’m doing yet, I’m still learning,” as long is one is up front about their level of experience – or lack thereof.

From major motion pictures, to national and regional commercials, to intimate corporate industrial videos, etc., I have easily been on over 100 film sets since 2011. I work as an actress when I’m lucky enough to be cast over all the ridiculously amazing talent out there. And, on a daily basis I work for our Atlanta video production company: AVA as Director of Business Development, and for particular clients, as Creative Coordinator/Production Assistant.

As a new actor, it is easy to be misguided, taken advantage of, and/or just be generally confused about which direction to take and who to work with. In the beginning, I think it’s perfectly fine to work with inexperienced filmmakers as long a they fully disclose their inexperience to you up front, and you have a clear understanding of the usage of the final product (poor work can come back to haunt you). Also keep in mind that you don’t want to build up a long resume and demo reel of poor quality work. If you are not sure yet how to identify good from poor quality work, ask someone you trust.

If you’re a business owner, it could detrimental to work with inexperienced filmmakers. A video of any sort is an incredibly valuable tool. The key concept here is perceived value. A poorly crafted video can actually reduce your perceived value and leadership status. Remember, any Tom, Dick, or Harry can claim to be a filmmaker. It’s up to you to do your due diligence.

It’s actually quite easy to determine the legitimacy of a production company and/or director. All it takes is a little bit of homework. Here are 3 simple ways to do just that:

1. Check Out Their Work!

Well, duh, right?! Work begets work, and every single legitimate company out there showcases their work either by demo reel, or by a portfolio of video production work – it is how they get business. It is right there for you to see on their website. And, if for some reason it isn’t (this is extremely rare for production or media companies) ask them to email you samples of their work. If they have nothing to show you, run like the wind.

2. Visit Their Website.

Another no-brainer. This is 2015, doesn’t everyone have a website? And by website I mean a current, actively maintained site. Again, this is the bread-and-butter of the production company – showcasing their work. If there is no work being displayed, you must question why. Websites are an excellent insight to a company’s professionalism, knowledge, capabilities, and service offerings.

3. Request a meeting.

Yet another one that seems like a given. If you’re having questions or something just doesn’t seem right, request an old-fashioned meeting, this can be by phone, but face-to-face is ideal. Do a little research on the industry ahead of time, ask them key questions about the production process, use industry terms if you can. Ask them about past experience. And, just get a general feel for their level of professionalism and knowledge. Red flags should start waving during a conversation if one doesn’t know what they’re doing.

I’m sure some of you may be thinking that I’ve just listed the most general and obvious ways to identify a pretender or want-to-be over a professional. But, let me assure you, I hear horror stories of people who’ve learned this lesson the hard way all too often. Just because someone claims to be something, doesn’t make it so. When it comes to your career or your business; a claim, logo, or social media page just doesn’t cut it. Ask for more.

Until next time, it’s Jennifer Felton, signing off.

Tagged: , , , , ,

Start A Conversation