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The Importance of Correspondence

Contributed By Kenna McHugh

I have written a lot about creating a resume and about using letters to find work in the industry. I must say that written communication in the film industry is very, very important in establishing yourself solid in the business. Because of that, it is important that you follow these general rules in regard to everything you put in writing.
  1. Make it look professional. The film industry is full of professionals who pay attention to details and expect others to as well. Make sure that all your written communications are printed neatly and clearly on good-quality paper without typographical or grammatical errors. Proofread the written communication yourself, and have a friend proofread it as well. Try to avoid form letters. Make each letter personnel. If you do write a form letter, make sure that the mail merge is correct. So many times I have heard about well-intended letters' salutations not matching the address on the letter. That can be very embarrassing.
  2. Make it readable. Be clear and concise in writing your resume and letters. If you have any questions about how clear your writing is, have a friend or friends read it, and listen to them if they have suggestions for changes.
  3. Always tell the truth. The film industry is ultimately like a small town -- eventually everyone meets everyone else. If you exaggerate your experience or suggest something that isn't true, you will eventually get caught. Believe me, I have heard of people getting caught, which is a real embarrassment.
  4. Be creative. Remember that the film industry is full of creative people who appreciate other creative people. Within limits, it's a good idea to apply that creativity to your letterhead and resume.
  5. Remember who your reader is. Different letters serve different purposes. For example, if you're writing a letter requesting a networking interview, be sure not to suggest that you're expecting the recipient to hire you.
  6. It's always better to have referrals. People have succeeded without them, but it's always preferable to contact people on the basis of someone else's recommendation. Succeeding in the film business is all about making and keeping contacts, and people are generally happy to share their contacts with you.
  7. Always follow up. If you say in a letter that you'll call the recipient next week, make sure you do it. It would even be a good idea to devise some system to keep track of the letters you've written and the follow-up calls you have to make.
  8. Write thank-you letters whenever appropriate. Most people don't bother writing thank-you letters even when they should. If you write them both when they are expected and, even more important, when they're not, people will remember you kindly. And remembering you is exactly what you want people to do.
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