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The mention of Hollywood usually brings with it thoughts of glitz and glamour, but it is not solely the actors and actresses you see on the screen that make it work. There are many people behind the lights and the cameras who contribute to make the Hollywood system run. From the production assistant who gets the coffee to the executives who decide what gets produced—these people are integral to making the business of Hollywood run.

If you dream of making it in Hollywood and becoming the next big thing, be realistic about it. For every quick success story, there are many others who struggle up the ladder, trying to bring their idea to the big (or TV) screen. The work is not easy and usually doesn’t involve hobnobbing with superstars.

The best way to learn about making movies and television is to attend a college (or take classes) that offers a communications program. Although most schools won’t teach you to make big budget Hollywood films, or how the system works (the best way to learn that is through first hand experience), you will be taught basics. At most schools, you will be able to show your creativity by producing video and/or film projects.

Many colleges offer the opportunity for students to stay in Los Angeles for a semester and participate in internships. There are also many excellent schools in and around the LA area. Virtually every TV show and film company use interns on their projects. This is because it is beneficial to both parties—the production gets free help while the intern experiences the process of making at TV program or film. If you are enthusiastic, it is not difficult to attain an internship in some Hollywood company—just remember that not everyone can get coveted spots on network sitcoms. Some companies offer the opportunity to be trained in a skill, while others use interns to do the "grunt" work (fetching coffee, filing, etc.). Either way, an internship is the time to take it all in by observing and doing as much as possible. It is also a great way to make connections, which is valuable in many ways.

It is true that connections do help in Hollywood—keep in touch with anyone who works in the business (especially starting out) whether it is a connection through friends, a producer you meet on an airplane or a company you interned with. Chances are, even if they can’t offer you a job, they will put you in touch or recommend you to others who may help. You’ll discover Hollywood is not big and you never know when a favor or word of mouth could help you. (You may even be able to reciprocate a favor later—and some people may count on that.)

There are two daily trade papers in Hollywood: "Variety" and "The Hollywood Reporter." These publish the news of the day, have job ads and list current films and TV programs in production (once a week). Most of the major production companies (NBC, Warner Brothers, Paramount, etc.) have websites, which often have job listings—some also have phone lines to call. The Hollywood Creative Director online also has a job board with internships and other jobs listed. The major agencies also have job lists with many entry-level jobs, but you usually need to know someone to attain this list.

As with any field, it is important to know about TV/film and share your enthusiasm. When you go into an interview, don’t try to sell a script, but do show that you’re interested in climbing the ladder to success. You never know—serving coffee with a smile to a producer might help you take the next step toward going from the bottom of the credit list, to the top.