“It’s all about who you know.”

We’ve all heard that about eight million times. Yeah, well, my résumé is pretty great, I smugly thought when I was in college. So little did I know. During senior year our professors would invite recent graduates and industry professionals to talk to us about getting jobs in the real world. They would preach the necessities of networking and the value of who you know. But surely, we thought, there must be at least some merit placed on our résumés, our experiences, our skills?

NOT A CHANCE. Fuggedaboutit. Shred your résumé. Screw your experiences. And your skills? Your skills will not be used. No one gives a rat’s ass about what you’ve done.

IT’S ALL ABOUT WHO YOU KNOW.

This is not a joke. This is not just 50% of the time. Or 90%. It is all the time. It is industry fact.

This August I worked as a production assistant on LOL: Laughing Out Loud, a drama-comedy about a high school girl’s experiences involving sex and drugs and her evolving relationships with her friends, boyfriend(s), and her just-divorced mother. Small by industry standards, the film’s budget – somewhere under $20 million – was comparable with that of a substantial indie production. The top billed cast, however, including Miley Cyrus, Demi Moore, and Ashley Greene (Twilight), affirms that LOL is a legit Hollywood flick complete with overpaid actors and nauseating marketing campaign.

How did I get on this movie? We know it wasn’t my stellar résumé or interviewing prowess. It was who I knew. When I was at MSU, I belonged to the student television group Telecasters. Specifically, I devoted myself to the magazine-style show called MSU & U. My VIP ticket to moviedom worked on the sketch comedy Sideshow. Her name was Ideene Dedashti, and still is. We made acquaintance with each other through monthly Telecaster meetings. That mild acquaintance alone wouldn’t have been enough for her to start handing me favors. About 100 students are involved in Telecasters. You can’t just work hard, make it on a movie, and then give every person who shared your affinity for production in college their big break. No, there has to be a bit more to it. Ideene and I ended up becoming good friends through a few fortunate events. One night she had a party at her house. I happened to attend. She danced on a few coffee tables, I cheered her on, and we might have imbibed a little. Now, this anecdote seems to propose that drinking can be your ticket to the silver screen. Not exactly, the real technique is bonding. If that means bonding through drinking, well, so be it.

Since that college party, Ideene and I took different paths. Following graduation I moved to Chicago, she, New York. Giving that a year or so, we each then took off traveling. Ideene went on a round the world blitz, I spent 5 weeks in Costa Rica and 5 months in Australia. Then, our courses converged and we both found ourselves back in Michigan.

This whole who you know business is about time and place too. You need to be both dear and near to the person who’s gonna get you in. So, it might be a bit of luck too that gives you the break. Don’t get me wrong though, this ‘break’ is hardly a break.  It’s not like you are officially stamped on the “IN” list or something. It takes lots of follow-up, tons of effort and persistence.

Who am I to be bible-thumping this stuff? I worked on a movie for two weeks. I probably know just enough to be dangerously ignorant.