The 10 Commandments of Production Resumes

Film and TV people seem to have a special way of doing everything.  It doesn’t always make sense, but when in Rome, do as the Romans.  One example is how resumes are formatted for film & TV jobs.  These are called production resumes.

When writing your production resume, throw out almost all of the conventional wisdom you’ve heard about traditional resumes.  Instead, put yourself in the shoes of a busy production coordinator who is flooded with the resumes of capable applicants.  Let’s call the production coordinator Marge.  How do you make your resume stand out from the crowd and get Marge’s attention?  You don’t need a snazzy layout or clever wording.  Your resume doesn’t have to be flashy to get noticed.  But it DOES have to be professional-looking and error-free.  When two equally qualified people apply for the same job, a simple typo can sway Marge towards the person who remembered to proofread.

Here are ten “commandments” to live by when writing your production resume.

Want an example?  Scroll to the bottom and download a free template!

1. Do Not Make It Longer Than 1 Page

Ain’t nobody got time for a 2-page resume, especially not Marge.  She’s got contracts to finish, expense reports to file, and she has to hire 3 PAs before tomorrow.  Keep your resume short, sweet, and to the point.  If you have more credits than will fit on one page, trim it down to your most relevant and most professional credits.  (You can monkey with the font size, but I wouldn’t recommend going below size 10.)

2. Put the Position You Want in the Upper Right-hand Corner

This makes it easy for Marge to know what job you’re applying for, in case she’s hiring people for multiple positions.  If you’re interested in more than one job, you can do a slash if the jobs are related or in the same department.

3. Include Your Phone, Email, and City

Including the city where you live is important.  Often, productions want to hire locals so they don’t have to pay for their lodging or per diem.  If you show that you’re a local, it helps put you ahead of the competition.

Regarding your email, it’s important to have an email address that sounds professional.  You don’t have to pay for your own domain or anything, but it’s good to have an email that contains your name.  You can create an email address that you just use for job applications.

4. Group Your Production Credits by Position

For your work experience section, create headings for the positions you’ve held, and then under those headings list the production name and company for each gig.  This allows Marge to scan down the page and see what positions you’ve held, and how experienced you are at each of those jobs.

5. Rank Your Past Positions Wisely

Start the list with the position that is both 1) the most relevant to the job you’re applying for, and 2) most professional or your highest level of responsibility.  If you are applying for a 1st AC gig, DO include other 1st AC gigs you’ve held, but also include your credits as a DP, even if those were on student films.  Put the DP credits at the top, because those outrank the 1st AC credits.

6. Include Relevant Skills and Equipment/Software Knowledge

Include a section towards the end of your resume for skills and related experience.  You can include skills that you’ve gained in other capacities outside of production too.  If you are applying for an art department job, and you have carpentry skills from working in home construction, you can totally include carpentry as a skill.  For software, it’s generally expected that you are proficient with Microsoft Office programs such as Word and Powerpoint.  But if you know Avid or Movie Magic or another industry-specific program, definitely include that if it’s relevant to the job.

7. Format Your Resume So It Can Be Easily Skimmed

Marge is skimming your resume to see if you make it to the short list.  She might not read all the details yet.  Make it easy to skim by using headings and spacing, so there is enough white space to make important things stand out.  Don’t use extraneous words or filler.

8. Proofread, Proofread, Proofread!

Need I say more?

 9. Include Your Name in the File Name

Since we’re dealing with digital files that Marge has likely downloaded from emails, she’s going to have a lot of files names that say ‘resume.doc’.  It’s hard and time-consuming for her to open all of them, looking for yours.  Make yours easy to find by putting your name right in the file name.  It’s a simple step, but it’s one that many people overlook.

 10. Save it as a PDF before sending it

If you send your resume as a Word document or Pages file, the formatting and font may not look the same when it’s opened on another computer.  Take the quick extra step of saving it as a PDF, which “locks” everything into place, almost like you’ve taken a picture of the resume.  It guarantees that Marge will see the resume exactly as it looks on your screen.

Free Production Resume Template!

Word Doc version

PDF version


2 thoughts on “The 10 Commandments of Production Resumes

  1. I agree with everything you said, except point 1. A resume should not be limited to a single page. A resume, whatever job you want, should be as many pages as you want, even if what you want is longer than necessary.

    Think of it. You are a hiring agent for some creative firm and come across a resume that’s 37 pages long. That can’t be ignored. Of course, this is an extreme example, but it’s one I hope illustrates my point.

    None of what I just said, however, should go without saying, the first page is one of the most (if not the most) important of pages in your resume document. Everyone should treat the first page of their resume the same respect, honor, and attention you hope to gain from it by others.


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