help me avoid cover letter pitfalls
August 30, 2013 2:37 PM   Subscribe

I'm writing a cover letter applying to film casting internships in NYC. When I explain why I want to work for specific companies how do I avoid sounding fanboyish? Also how do I broach the subject of my age?

I've targeted a few casting companies that I think fit my sensibility.

I feel that I should include something in my cover letter about why I want to work for these specific companies. I was thinking of including a few sentences about what appealed to me about their work but a friend of mine (who doesn't work in casting) advised me not to because he said it would sound too "fanboyish" or eager. Is this good advice?

Here's what I have now in reference to one company:

"I’d like to intern with (------ company) because I've noticed that many of the projects cast through your company contain actors with qualities I respond to. For example, in ------ and --------, even the supporting and minor roles are filled with actors who emote without needing words, which to me made the worlds they inhabited feel real."

Finally, my age is another sticky issue. I just turned 30 and finally graduated from college a year ago. My graduation was delayed because I took several years off from college due to depression and financial concerns. I ended up spending those years working at temp jobs and taking night classes figuring out what I wanted to do.

After I graduated last year I interned for 6 months at a Boston casting company and they wrote me a fabulous letter of recommendation, so that's good but I'm obviously starting out later than most interns. Right now I'm supporting myself as a barista/supervisor at cafe, saving up money to move to NY.

How can I explain this in the best way?

posted by timsneezed to Work & Money (6 answers total)
This is how I explain my late start (52 y/o) in my field.

This is a second career for me. I've always had an interest in ___ . I finally had the opportunity to apply myself full time to achieving my degree in_____. I am very excited to fulfill my desire to be a part of ____. The internship with _____ exceeded my expectations of what it means to be a _______.
posted by JujuB at 2:54 PM on August 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't mention the actors, unless you want to intern with a casting director, which you've already done. Widen your scope when you approach the production companies and tailor your letter to each company. You want to work at the production company because of the high quality of films and projects that they're known for. Being enthusiastic about their products is good, but gushing on about actors makes you sound like you want to meet them irl and that's never a good thing.
And my advice about your age still holds from your previous question.
posted by Ideefixe at 3:25 PM on August 30, 2013

> Finally, my age is another sticky issue. I just turned 30 and finally graduated from college a year ago

Why mention your age? Your resume doesn't have to list your age or what year you graduated.

Here's a Slate article about cover letters you might find helpful.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:37 PM on August 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't mention the actors, unless you want to intern with a casting director, which you've already done.

I'm actually trying to intern with a casting director in New York. I've interned with one in Boston but they weren't hiring and it's my understanding from talking to people in casting that you need a couple of internships in New York before you can be promoted to/hired as a casting assistant.

I thought it might be a good idea to mention something about my specific interest in the company because I made a cold call to one place and the casting director asked me "why do you want to work for me specifically?" Maybe that was a fluke?

So instead of focusing on "why I want to work for these specific companies," focus on "what will convince these specific companies that I have the attributes they are looking

I already spent a good chunk of the letter talking about my admin background which is pretty vast, so I have that covered. I feel like that's not enough, though, because there are plenty of people who are good at clerical tasks. I want to include something that conveys my creativity. A short film I wrote and directed won award at a juried show at my university but that seems sort of irrelevant and it's already on my resume.
posted by timsneezed at 3:59 PM on August 30, 2013

This is taken from the Slate article linked to above:

Show me that you read my site. It’s common for cover letter writers to say, “I love Slate,” but that doesn’t stand out to me. Be more specific. Who are your favorite writers? What are some recent articles you enjoyed? Detailed flattery will get you further, because it shows you’ve done your homework. Ninety percent of the cover letters I read for our news blog, the Slatest, mention nothing specific about that particular blog. Here’s what one applicant for a recent position wrote (spoiler: I hired him): “I'm particularly drawn to a dynamic news outlet like the Slatest. I appreciate its blend of politics and current affairs, as well as its ability to consistently sniff out the most compelling news pieces and narratives. I dig its sense of humor, too—I can't resist a news blog that picks up on the latest North Korean, pigeon–eating propaganda pieces.”
posted by timsneezed at 4:03 PM on August 30, 2013

Say something about the less glamorous parts of casting, or something about their reputation in the industry other than "your excellent reputation".

For instance, maybe the company cast thousands of extras for a production, and you want to learn about the logistics of large casting projects.
posted by yohko at 9:03 PM on August 31, 2013

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