Hollywood has a hiring problem. Can a new crop of apps help?

Business for the TV industry is booming. This led to problems with the recruitment.

Usually when a show is cast, producers pull up a list of qualified professionals they’ve worked with recently and they hire the people they’ve seen working. The problem these days is that production schedules are so busy that the usual suspects are often unavailable.

It’s hard enough to find top-notch showrunners, editors, and cinematographers. But less obvious roles are just as difficult to fill. Do you need a good production accountant? Much luck.

There’s a reason we have this tradition of keeping lists of safe contacts. Department heads are often in a rush to find people who are available for short-term work, for jobs that might only last six to 12 months, so they go with people in their networks.

But the ongoing labor shortage has exposed flaws in the time-honored way Hollywood cultivates its workforce. It also keeps the talent pool small at a time when film and television are expected to diversify their workforces by opening doors to more people of color, women and LGBTQ people.

“Everyone just instinctively reaches out to the people they know they can count on, who are great, and who they’ve worked with recently,” Eli Holzman, CEO of Intellectual Property Corp. and President of Sony Pictures Television Nonfiction. “It’s a system we’ve relied on for a long time, but it has flaws.”

After years of working as an executive and producer in unscripted television, Heather Schuster (known as H. Schuster) has created an app that allows studios and production companies to expand their rosters.

Her Los Angeles-based company, Husslup (pronounced “hustle up”), works with a growing list of companies, including the Russo brothers’ AGBO, Blumhouse Productions, and Universal Pictures, to find new hires through their platform, which is a LinkedIn for his should entertainment.

The free, invitation-only app, which has 2,500 members in beta, allows hiring managers to search for candidates based on criteria that users choose to include in their profile, including their experience, role (writer, director), and Genre expertise (horror, action, romantic comedy) and diversity categories.

A media outlet like NBCUniversal may post a job listing for a production assistant for Access Hollywood. A voice studio can announce that it is looking for an office manager. Companies can contact potential candidates directly through the app.

Workers can set their availability dates, similar to how Facebook allowed users to set their relationship status as a signal to potential partners.

Creatives and professionals can post their work samples and search for collaborators for specific projects, for example if someone is looking for a Native American writer for a thriller film.

Some people simply use it to post about their latest achievements such as: For example, an actor being signed by a new manager or a director’s film being selected for an upcoming film festival. Users can also vouch for each other’s skills.

Schuster, who has worked on shows like Master Chef and has had roles at companies like Ryan Seacrest Productions, said she founded Husslup last year in part to help the industry solve its ongoing diversity problem, long plagued by a club culture and Culture perpetuates an informal contributory system, with young people getting a foot in the door by taking low-paying jobs.

“I got frustrated trying to find different members for my teams and certainly have been in situations where I was part of a team where there wasn’t much integration,” she said. “And so the real goal for me was to do something that could have a real impact on an industry that I love.”

Husslup is one of several companies trying to cure the entertainment industry of its clique hiring habits. Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, through their company Impact Creative Systems, launched their own app in 2020 to help executives find talented writers and writers to find work.

In 2021, director Ava DuVernay launched Array Crew, a database of below-the-line talent aimed at bridging the hiring gap for women and people of color in entertainment. Below-the-line usually refers to crew members such as cinematographers, set designers, makeup artists, and hairdressers.

And, of course, there are the mainstream, all-purpose social networking services that businesses use, like LinkedIn and Facebook groups.

“Having these types of tools helps level the playing field to some degree,” said Nicholas Anglewicz, AGBO’s chief operating officer. “It’s becoming increasingly important to ensure that the content you create for the world represents the world, and these tools help with that.”

But for companies that prioritize diversity, the apps aren’t a panacea; You are just a tool. Companies need to be proactive by meeting potential candidates at hookup and networking events several months before an opportunity presents itself to avoid getting mixed up at the last minute.

“Part of that process is building a list of people you want to work with,” Anglewicz said. “It’s not just about an application.”

Tiana Perez, 19, signed up with Husslup after reaching out through the nonprofit organization Women In Film Los Angeles. Perez, who grew up in Santa Clarita and will soon begin studying public relations and advertising at USC’s Annenberg School, wanted to work in entertainment but had no background or connections in the industry. She received an offer for an entry-level position as a production assistant at AGBO within a few months of joining.

“A key selling point was that it was a lot about networking and seeing what other people are doing in their careers in the industry,” Perez said.

Husslup graduated from the Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs accelerator program in November and launched his app in February. The company, which has a team of about eight people, is in the process of raising an undisclosed amount of funding. The app is free for businesses and job applicants, but will eventually make money by charging companies through tiered subscriptions, Schuster said.

“We want to keep it free for creative talent for as long as possible,” Schuster said. “We want to push the community forward and we want creative talent to feel like they have a place to come and really network.”

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/business/story/2022-07-28/hollywood-has-a-hiring-problem-can-a-new-crop-of-apps-help Hollywood has a hiring problem. Can a new crop of apps help?

Sarah Ridley

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