Working in the Film Industry

Want to Work in the Film Industry?

Alexa Vega as Kat in "Broken Hill"

As people tell me they want to work in film I always wonder about their particular work ethic.  For most people in the film industry it is a labor of love, they have a burning passion to do it and work very hard at building their various careers.  I always tell people that want to be actors to go be an extra in 4 or 5 movies to see if they can really do the work.  It’s fun to see yourself in a couple of 3 second shots but was it worth the three 12 hour days?  I’ve seen people just walk off a set after only one day because they can’t stand the tedium that is part of film making.  There are 10,000 things that have to be ready before the director yells action and it can take a long time to get them ready.  Most people aren’t cut out for the hard work on the set making movies.  There are thousands of jobs in the “film industry” though and maybe the jobs on the fringes are better suited for some (more on those jobs later).

Making Movies is Hard Work

Not too long ago I worked the theatrical test release of the independent film “Broken Hill” that we tested on 33 screens in five different States staring Alexa Vega (Spy Kids 1,2 & 3, Ruby & the Rockits) and Timothy Hutton (Leverage).  The film was also competing in a film festival in an adjoining State and Alexa Vega was at the festival promoting the film.  We found out that she had one free day off between two days of promoting the film at the festival, so we asked her if we could fly her over and do a promotion spree all day and get her back to the festival for the next morning’s promotions.  She agreed and we got to work setting things up.

Shane Kester & Alexa Vega

She arrived with her make up artist early in the morning and put on make up in the back of the van we had rented to haul everyone around in.  As make up was being applied from the air port to the local television studio she gave several radio interviews over the phone (one in Spanish).  When we arrived at the television studio she rushed on and gave such a splendid interview that she was invited to continue on the morning show into the cooking segment, which she did.  We rushed out of the studio to another radio station for an in studio radio interview and then drove to another city while eating lunch in the van.  And somewhere in all that she also gave a face to face interview to a newspaper reporter.  We then arrived at a school that held a special assembly for her where she promoted the movie, talked about what it took to work in film and answered questions from the awe struck students.  We then rushed her to a local mall where she signed autographs outside the theater and went on a shopping spree with a young lady who had won the privilege of having Alexa Vega as shopping buddy.  Then in the evening she went from theater to theater signing posters and giving interviews via telephone all the way back to the air port.  She even found time to accept a call from my son who told her that he was her biggest fan and answered his 8 year old questions about making the Spy Kids movies with engaged sincerity.

She started her day at about 3:30 a.m. and ended it at about 2:00 a.m. the next day only to get up with only a few hours sleep to start promoting the film at the festival.  We worked her to the last second and I must say, she was as pleasant and lovely at the end as she was at the beginning and her personality was as consistently charming in private as it was in public.

It’s important to realize that most people are not willing to do one tenth the amount of work it takes to make it in the film industry.  Do you have a work ethic to make it in show business?

Written by Shane Kester

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  1. great post and very engaging story! How is Spy Kids doing? Has it been released? (films don’t usually arrive here right away… takes time for the translation…)

    • Shane Kester says:

      The Spy Kids trillogy started in 2001 and ended in 2003. It’s funny you mention it though because there is going to be a Spy Kids 4 in theaters in 2011. Jessica Alba will be in it!

  2. Andrew says:

    So it’s not all glamor? :-)

    That’s a great view into how things really work in the industry! Thanks for sharing it with us!

  3. Tony says:

    What a day Shane! Who’d be a movie star? I say that tongue in cheek but it sounds a lot like the grind of a political campaign. All that was missing was a baby to kiss.

    Dad was an extra in movies and TV (my brothers got all the looks before you start..) and he actually liked it. Still, he was a truck driver and fertiliser factory maintenance man when he wasn’t at the movies, so maybe there wasn’t much to compare it with. Plus at the time it was big money. Nowadays Brenda says you don’t get a cracker as an extra.

  4. I’ve always been amazed and impressed with how hard actors, directors, techicians, publicists, promoters, makeup artists etc. etc. etc have to work to create and promote motion pictures. It seems like such a glamorous industry and life…but I’m not sure I could put in the hours and focus that each project requires. Your life gets so out of balance during that period of time. Thanks for a fascinating look inside an industry that intrigues us all!

    Karen Van Ness

  5. dale bell says:

    The grass always looks greener on the other side. Thanks for the look at the other side. I spend alot of hours at what I do and I love it. It sounds like the people in the film industy must love it to or like you said they wash out.

  6. G.E. Moon II says:

    I’ve always thought the best job in the entertainment industry is that of either being an agent or a manger. They always seem to get their 15% cut no matter what and it seems that they don’t work nearly as hard as the talent.

    Yours In Health!

    G.E. Moon II

  7. Alec Grebis says:

    I think my willingness to work would end after putting in the DVD and pulling the popcorn out of the microwave. What an intense day–it has to be something you love to survive days like that.

  8. Eva says:

    From outside it seems such and interesting and fun job, ah? I see there’s A LOT of work behinf the smiles…

  9. Really enjoyed the breakdown of what the day in the life of an actress is like.

    The Success Secrets

  10. H RIGBY says:

    So true! So true! Work ethic is really the key. I don’t think most people truly know how much work goes on behind the scenes in Film industry. Love your post and your blog!

  11. Hi Shane, not only are you BOTH good looking but you purport discipline and a professional work ethic and approach to your careers. This will be your legacies and serve you well in the industry!

    Happy Dating and Relationships,

    April Braswell
    Single Baby Boomer Dating Expert

  12. I have often heard what hard work being an actor is. After reading this not only do I not have the talent, I certainly would not have the patience.

    Sabrina Peterson, NASM CPT, CES
    Corrective Exercise for Every Body

  13. Dennis Perry says:

    That is an incredibly full day! It sounds like a lot of fun for a day but I suspect these actors have to do this many days in a row. Don’t quite see how they do it.

    I must admit, it would be kind of fun to be a star for at least a few days and get a taste of the Hollywood lifestyle. Ahh…we can dream right?

    Create The Life of Your Dreams

  14. Don Hill says:

    Now thats what I call life in the fast lane…


  15. Shane,

    You’re right on target with this article. Too many people focus on the fame and fortune and not on the hard work…because to be truly successful it is a lot of work, luck and networking.

    I know several people who walked off the set of their “big break” because of the tedium. I myself have walked out from several tapings (as a spectator) because of the boredom.


  16. Great post and insight into what really goes on behind the scenes. I figure once a star realizes they are a product then they get shuffled around like one.
    On the other hand, I have trouble when I hear Brad Pitt complain about the heat in the dessert during his shoot…awwww, poor guy.

    Jen Battaglino
    Conquer Your Fear Here

  17. kevin hogan says:

    fantastic article.
    the reason that long term success is not as diffifcult as it could be is because most people give up….your point is taken and well heeded.
    work ethic? work ethic?
    what’s that?!?!

  18. Rae & Mark says:


    That’s a fascinating look at the behind-the-scenes effort that’s required to make it in the entertainment industry.

    Rae & Mark
    Pet Gazebo

  19. alam ghafoor says:

    Bloody heck Shane hope your not going to work me that hard…lol

    • Shane Kester says:

      Alam, I am willing to put you through what ever it takes. It’s a chance I’m willing to take.


  20. Ellen Egan says:


    Thanks for the insight into all the work that goes on behind the scenes to make a movie happen. you’re right, I’m not sure if those that see it as all glamour really have what it takes to make it in the industry.
    You hit the nail on the head when you said that for those in the industry its a labor of love. I think that’s true with a lot of successful people. When something is truly a passion, they’re not punching a time clock.
    Ellen Egan

  21. Shane, all of those thousands of hours of work for 3 hours of film do not always get explained. Thanks for giving me an \in\.
    Scott Sylvan Bell
    Now go implement!