While other sectors of the economy may be in for a bumpy ride, film and television production is booming — and no more so than in New York City.
“Each year, thousands of TV shows, films, commercials, and music videos are made in the city,” says Katherine Oliver, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting (MOFTB). “TV and film represent a $5 billion industry here, that employs 100,000 people and supports more than 4,000 ancillary businesses.”
MOFTB is a sponsor of “Working in Film, TV, Theatre and New Media: A Made in NY Conference & Career Fair,” which takes place at BMCC on May 9. Free to all CUNY media students and faculty, the day-long event will feature a varied agenda of panel discussions on topics ranging from media opportunities in business and finance to animation and special effects. In addition, student filmmakers are invited to enter a three-minute video reel in a “Video Slam.” Top prize: a 160 GB iPod.
An Expanding Industry
“After originating in New York 100 years ago, the film industry moved west to California,” Oliver says. “But over time, more and more films were made here on location, and the city has again become a major filmmaking and production center. So, now that we’ve invested the time and effort in making that happen, we want to ensure that New Yorkers have an opportunity to work in this industry, which continues to thrive and expand before our eyes.”
Every major news organization operates out of New York, which has also become a central hub for independent filmmaking and new media, Oliver says. For ambitious and talented newcomers, “there are any number of entry points to the industry, including internships, production assistant training programs, and volunteer opportunities.”
Among the industry leaders taking part in Career Fair will be Michelle Byrd, executive director of Independent Feature Project.
“I followed a somewhat non-traditional career trajectory,” she admits. “I majored in English and psychology in college and started working in publishing and fundraising.”
It was working as a production assistant, evenings and weekends, that she found her way into the industry 18 years ago.
From Byrd’s perspective, BMCC students can benefit from visiting the Made in NY Career Fair in three ways. “First, it’s an occasion to meet new people,” she says. “When you’re looking to break into a new industry, the more people you can meet, the better. If I were starting out today, I would go to every career fair I could find.”
The second draw is the incentive it provides for students to begin sharpening their resumes. “The job market is very competitive, so it’s important to be able to differentiate yourself to prospective employers,” Byrd says.
Finally, attending career fairs is a great way to network. “But networking isn’t only about meeting new people,” Byrd is quick to note. “The people you already know — including colleagues, classmates and friends — are really your best network. I always advise people interested in this field to keep their friends in the loop. Their perspective can be incredibly valuable.”
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