The VIP Rule of the Film Industry

What you learn in film production classes in college won’t even begin to prepare you for how to truly deal in the film industry. That’s because like in any industry, there are certain traditions and etiquette. And you don’t get a feel for those traditions until you’ve experienced it first hand. Just like my article on Film Diplomacy, this is a rule that is learned through experience:


I finally get this rule now, but it took some serious getting used to. This is the rule where you do not contact people in the higher end of the film industry unless they contact you first. My friends and I call it “The VIP rule.”

I wrote an account for a film on Twitter. From there, I got to speak to several filmmakers involved on the project, including the films producer and director. While it wasn’t my intention to speak with them, it happened. And ultimately, from my creative efforts, the producer was even kind enough to speak to me afterwards for a period of time. Now, I don’t speak with any of them, at least very rarely to the producer, and only if he contacts me first. I liked talking especially to the films producer, because of common interests and the great respect I have for that individual. But today, if I were to reply to their tweet or send them a message, it would not be acknowledged.

And it all comes back to the VIP rule, they have to contact you first. I didn’t get this rule until I realized it wasn’t just me this was happening to (and it likely happened to them starting out as well).

My friend has worked in film for over a decade, and it happens to her too. She has maintained not only contact, but friendship with a handful of producers and actors. Periodically, they will contact her, and she will have a nice conversation with them. But even she sometimes violates the VIP rule…

“I just don’t get it” she said to me one day over drinks, “I know he read my message, he could at least reply, even just to be polite and acknowledge he read it.” I just gave her my sarcastic stare. She quickly regained composure, “but of course that’s not how it works” she said of an individual she was friendly with on set. She went on to say how much it hurt getting comfortable talking to someone and even making a friendship only to be ignored because of industry etiquette.

Her and I both know it’s not personal. Even so, it’s hard not to take it personally, to feel so unimportant as to not qualify for a response. I’ll admit it hurts to feel rejected. But in the end, just hold to the VIP rule, and you won’t be disappointed.

One day, I hope that maybe I’ll hear from the producer again, but I don’t know. In the end, I am just happy for the advice and input I’ve gotten from him and will always cherish that advice and how kind he was to offer me feedback on my work despite lacking an agent. While I wish I could just talk to him about Led Zeppelin, music, politics, technology or Futurism, I know that I cannot.

Projects come and go, and with those projects growing more distant, so too do relationships made during their production. My friend has learned this over a decade as well. And even after a decade, my friend still violates this rule. And I do as well. Again, it’s human nature to want to belong, to bond with someone you have things in common with. Someone tweets something that piques your interest. You reply as you would to anyone else. You realize you violated the VIP rule — you delete the tweet and proceed to feel like an ass and hope they didn’t see it (I totally did this last week 😛 tho I think I was busted).

I choose to just see all these rules (film diplomacy, VIP rule, understanding lingo, taking orders ‘indirectly’) as a measure of personal growth. It challenges your character and makes for great personal development. Most people struggle with this concept, because it is so contrary to normal social interaction, some so much they give up in frustration. But I don’t give up. And I look forward to continue to learn about the industry, its traditions, and better improving myself in the process.


2 thoughts on “The VIP Rule of the Film Industry

  1. That is an odd etiquette, kind of leaves people hanging, waiting and hoping to be called from an ex or something like that! I know you saw my message but you ignored me!!! Brutal haha!

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