Transitioning From the Military to TV Production
Posted on: Nov 09, 2023
When I departed the National Guard and embarked on my career in the entertainment industry, I had no inkling how similar the skills, lifestyles and practices would prove to be. I enlisted in the National Guard during my senior year of high school and served for six years before leaving to chase my dream career of working in TV and film.
I’m convinced that my military experience equipped me with many valuable skills and practices for success in the entertainment industry. With Veteran’s Day on the horizon, I thought it would be fitting to reflect on all that I learned during my service and how it has shaped my new career.
In the military, certain skills become second nature to you, guiding you throughout your service. The skills I acquired in the military have prepared me perfectly for my career in entertainment.
Adherence to a schedule and completing tasks on time are critical in both the military and on-set. Both professions demand long, hard days, with an expectation to follow a schedule to ensure everything is done by day’s end. In the military, I was taught “If you are on time you are early.” I’ve carried that lesson forward, striving to stay ahead. If my tasks as an APOC (Assistant Production Office Coordinator) are done promptly, it ensures everyone else’s job runs smoothly.
In the military, effective communication is crucial. Poor communication between ranks can lead to improperly executed tasks, potentially with fatal consequences. While TV production isn’t a matter of life and death, good communication remains key. I’ve worked on sets where interdepartmental communication was poor. I make it my mission to ensure everyone receives the necessary information to do their job.
The ability to operate as a team is a skill honed during basic training. Teamwork can be challenging to master because you need to cooperate with a diverse range of people and set aside personal egos to complete the job efficiently. This skill is invaluable on-set, too. Every department must collaborate and maintain harmonious relations to produce the best possible TV show or movie.
Lead from Within
In the National Guard, I learned that leadership is important for success, regardless of your rank or position. Not being a team lead or department head doesn’t mean you can’t lead from within. Taking on responsibility, assisting team members and simply showing up to work with a positive attitude and strong work ethic are ways I’ve learned to lead within my team.
Strong Work Ethic
A strong work ethic proved beneficial in both the National Guard and TV production. From the first day of basic training, I learned to work hard and take pride in my tasks. This mindset stayed with me during my transition and has been invaluable. My strong work ethic has accelerated my career progression, and I attribute that to the values instilled in me during my service.
I cherished my time in the National Guard. It taught me so much about myself and the world, and it unquestionably prepared me for my new career. I firmly believe that without the skills I gained in the military, I wouldn’t have progressed as quickly in my TV career. I learned to work hard, respect the hierarchy and lead from within, all of which have been incredibly beneficial in TV production.
This Veteran’s Day I want to extend my gratitude to all the veterans who fought tirelessly for our country. My military service may have only lasted six years, but I learned so much. I owe my freedom to pursue a career in TV production to the brave men and women who served.
Benjamin Hickson is an aspiring producer and production coordinator who has 4+ years experience working on various Film and TV projects. He has a background in Public Relations and served for six years in the military. He also has passion for travel and aims to increase LGBTQ+ representation in the entertainment industry.
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