How to Create a Killer Film Production Resume
Updated: Jun 2, 2020
There are a million and one ways to create a resume, but not all of them will help you get an interview. In this blog post, you’ll learn what not to do with your resume and some helpful tips to shape your resume into a master interview booking tool.
Resumes Come in All Shapes and Sizes
I’ve seen resumes that are 2 and even 3 pages long. I’ve seen them with a handful of columns and rows, pictures, and graphs, and even some resumes that include hobbies and personal trivia. All of these different choices can seem unique and a fun way to stand out, but most of the time recruiters are turned away simply because they want to see specific components in your resume, and they aren’t interested in “unique” design choices - unless you’re a designer.
In a more straight-froward industry, it’s probably a lot easier to construct a resume with certainty, but in a field where experience, creativity, professionalism, and personality or all valued at different heights it can be confusing on what to emphasis, and how to design your resume.
From colleagues to career advisors, I’ve heard a swarm of different opinions on what a resume should look like and what it shouldn’t be. It’s no surprise that many people have contrary opinions and why there are so many different types of resumes. So if by the end of this blog post, you still want to have something quirky to make yourself “stand out”, just know some people will HATE it and some people will LOVE it, but It’s up to you!
Bots, Bots and Bots
Coming from an artistic and slight design background, I originally had a film resume that had columns, colors, a headshot, and icons all assembled in Adobe InDesign. But after realizing that most jobs I applied to used HR software that can’t decode a resume with columns and images, I had to create a simple resume in Word and start submitting a .docx or .pdf that was just the bare necessities.
Most companies use HR software that uses bots to siphon through your resume looking for keywords to determine if you are a good match for the job before any human actually lays eyes on your resume. If you don’t submit a .doc or .pdf then you’re not giving yourself a fair shot.
For me, and probably a lot of people, that can be a hard pill to swallow since I spent a lot of time designing a good looking resume. But, while it may not be intuitive, you can still design a resume that tells a story about you and makes you look like a great candidate using Word.
Cool Tool Alert!
Anyone submitting resumes through a site (where bots are likely scanning your resume) should consider using JobScan.com. Job Scan is a site that scans your resume and the job description you are submitting for to show you your match rate for the job by using the same algorithm the bots would use. It then gives you feedback on how to improve your keywords which improves your chances of landing your resume in front of an actual human.
I definitely recommend giving JobScan.com a try! It’s free to use and can definitely help you get an interview.
Now back to the design of your resume...
The Two Production Resumes
I’ve come across resumes from a variety of film professionals and they usually look one of two ways: a list of film and TV credits or a detailed bullet point resume.
The list of film and TV credits option is similar to that of an acting resume, where they include their contact info, and then list the name of the production, director, and their role.
It may breakdown to something like this:
Full House (2013) dir. Peter Parker - Production Manager
I know people that get jobs from resumes that look just like that, and I also know others that get jobs with the second option, a detailed bullet point resume.
The second option may breakdown to something like this:
Full House -ABC Studios - Production Manager | Jan - March 2012
Managed 5 production assistants during the pre-production phase in order to ensure filming began on-time and on-budget.
During production, created weekly budget reports to deliver to the EP.
Either option can show expertise and give the hiring manager enough context of your background to want to speak to you. I’ve personally have tried both options, and have found that either option gets you in the door, but the second option gives the employer more information to work off of when comparing to candidates side by side.
You want to make sure you include the essential who what where and why answers in your resume.
Header - Must include your name, phone number, email, and professional portfolio link or IMDB/LinkedIn profile. These items should always be at the top of your resume.
*Objective - A lot of people choose to include an objective and others believe it is unnecessary. I believe it can be useful if you want to include keywords for the bots or give a short personal introduction to yourself. But I don’t believe it makes a big difference to recruiters when reading your resume. So if you have space for it and want it, go for it.
This usually fits nicely right underneath your header.
Experience - Whether you decide to go with option 1 or 2 from above, always make sure to include the position, the name of the project or company, and dates.
*Education - It’s not always necessary to include education on a film production resume but if you went to college and paid thousands of dollars for your degree, you might as well show it off. Make sure to include the school, degree, and dates.
*Affiliations or Organizations - Are you a member of a respected organization? Do you have a union affiliation? Are you a recent grad that has school leadership experience? Include it if you have you feel it’s relevant and don’t have enough work experience to fill up an entire page.
*Volunteering - Same as above.
Skills - This can be a crucial section on your resume to further show your qualifications. If the job description says they are looking for someone with specific experience using software or tools, list it in your skills section. You can list languages, licenses, and any programs you feel are relevant to the position.
*References- Many times people want to talk to your references, and it can be helpful to include them on your resume. You can also include them in your cover letter or provide them separately if you are asked to do so. If you want to include them on your resume, it’s normal to include 2 professional references and their email and/or phone number.
*Hobbies and Personal Likes/Dislikes - I’ve seen resumes with sections that include that they like to eat pizza and juggle and I personally dislike it and know a ton of people that do too, but I’ve seen resume courses where career counselors LOVE it and say it shows personality and makes you stand out. You do you boo.
*Headshots - I think this is completely up to you. I have resumes where I include a headshot and others where I don’t. Many people have the opinion that you shouldn’t have a headshot unless you are a TV personality or an actor, but I’ve gotten compliments on my resume solely because I had a headshot and it gave me a unique advantage. So again, you do you boo.
Recent Grads or Young Professionals
If you just graduated from college or have very little professional experience, it’s not a bad idea to fill in space on your resume by focusing on your academic accomplishments. Noting any awards or a high GPA during your academic career can be beneficial for you at this time.
It’s also important to add Internships or notable extracurricular activities if you can structure a story around them. If you were a member or leader in a student organization in film, then this is a great opportunity to mention it if you don’t have enough professional experience to fill in the page. It also shows leadership potential to employers.
If you worked a part-time job that is irrelevant to the film position you are applying for, it might still be useful for you to add it. Many times the tasks for entry-level jobs are similar across the board and can show the employer that you are a team player, trusted, and are willing to work hard to get a foot in the door.
If your brand spanking new, check out my video on being a PA (an entry-level production job).
Clarity and Readability are Important
Spacing, typefaces, and colors are all design choices that you should make with the reader in mind. There’s a ton of information that you must include in your resume, but you don’t want to overwhelm the reader with point 6 font and a huge block of text from the top to the bottom of the page. Just like writing an essay, you have to make sure it flows well and is readable.
Make sure that you allow the reader room to breath on the page by allowing your sections to have enough space, to assign font and boldness hierarchy to different sections, and selecting colors that are easy to navigate on a screen or a printed page.
The best way to check if your resume looks good to others is to share it with friends and colleagues and get their feedback.
Naming Your Resume
Resume file names don’t seem like a big deal but when a recruiter downloads 40 resumes, it can be frustrating for them when yours is named ResumeFinalFinal.pdf. and not LastName_FirstName.pdf or something similar.
Always keep your file name simple and easy to locate.
Sorry, Resumes Suck But You Don’t
I know that when I started out I wanted a true and tried way of making a film resume. But the reality is that there’s a ton of different ways and different recruiters and employers have their preferences. It can suck trying to build a resume that pleases everyone, including yourself.
While there isn’t one “right way” to create a resume, there are definitely wrong ways by not including crucial information, submitting a novel-length document, or sending a post-it note with your name on it.
While you should include specific information, you should also always keep your resume personal to you and allow your personality to shine through. No project is too small to include on your resume if it shows off what an awesome person you would be to have on set.
Take a look at my review on Staff Me Up and Mandy.com for your entertainment job searches!
Good luck with your job search! To keep up with me and more blogs/videos, subscribe to my channel, and sign up for email updates.