Getting Hired in Indie Production
By Jack Connolly
No matter how many unexpected twists and turns in your career path, it’s still possible to land the gig or job you want. If you have focus and persevere.
Take Tiara Parker-Ragland and DeWaun Ragland, founders of Liberty Entertainment, LLC and film production company Ragland Reign. Their successful company – which produces most of MediaU’s initial courses – is the result of tons of effort despite a business that sometimes feels like a roller-coaster. Tiara and DeWaun recently shared the ups and downs of their personal careers, what inspires their business, and what they look for when crafting their team. As hiring managers in the competitive field of film and entertainment, they know just what to look for that makes candidates shine – and they’re sharing these insights here.
Ignite Your Flame
DeWaun knew from a very young age that he wanted to be in the film industry. As a child, he collected VHS tapes and fell in love with stories. As he got older, his curiosity grew about the way his favorite films were created. After attending the Los Angeles Film School, the Los Angeles Recording School, and Full Sail University for business, he stepped into the world of film. His ultimate dream was to become a director. He worked various jobs in the industry and fed his curiosity by asking crew members and above-the-line talent an abundance of questions, until one day someone suggested he start his own company.
Tiara, on the other hand, always had a small flame burning for acting but followed other interests as well. She was fascinated by murder mystery TV shows, which led her to major in criminology and criminal justice. She wanted to solve crimes, and even enrolled in a prep-police academy in high school. However, that longing for acting lingered under the surface. “I minored in theater because I knew that was truly what I wanted to do,” she explains. Tiara then went on to get a manager who convinced her to go to LA for a few months for pilot season. She ended up falling in love with the city, and moved there permanently after graduation.
Forming a Connection
The two met by chance at a diner in Los Angeles. Tiara and a friend went to Kitchen 24 to watch a basketball playoff game, and their party of two quickly turned into a party of four. “DeWaun and a friend came in also to see the playoffs and they moved their table next to our table because they wanted to see the screen better. That’s how we met,” says Tiara.
The two quickly discovered their shared interest in film and horror movies. The friendly relationship began with DeWaun sharing his insight into the behind-the-scenes of film and with Tiara helping him launch his production company. The two eventually got married and now work on the company together as a team, with Tiara serving as producer and DeWaun as director.
Developing the Dream
The production company started small by producing music videos with mostly rented equipment. DeWaun explains that “starting out, we had to do research because the industry is always changing. It’s playing hardball with a lot of heavy hitters in Hollywood. It’s challenging.” DeWaun and Tiara became well-coordinated collaborators, understanding each other’s needs and dreams. But they needed help in order to truly expand the vision they had for their business. So, Dewaun and Tiara also took on the role of hiring managers and began looking for people to collaborate with.
Who Stands Out in Interviews
These insights are especially important for us in the MediaU community, because your next gig depends on what we do now.
Some important things to keep in mind when in the process of hiring are the overall work dynamic, and who will mesh best with the group. It can be challenging to know whether you will fit what the company is looking for. DeWaun highlights the importance of being yourself and coming across as authentically as possible.
When interviewing a candidate, DeWaun asks himself “How knowledgeable is the person in their skill set and ability to perform?” For the duo, they are searching for authenticity and someone who feels genuinely themselves. “We are just looking for down-to-earth people who you feel like could almost be your friend,” Dewaun emphasizes.
For Tiara, it is not only being an authentic person, but doing your best in your work and creating projects you are proud of. “I’m all about how much pride you take in your work and what you do. I can tell that from a resume, I can tell that from a cover letter, I can tell that from a reel. A single typo on a resume shows that a person can be careless. The quality of their work and how they present themselves are big for me.”
DeWaun adds: “Impressing hirers is not only about the way you present yourself in an interview, but also encaptures all of your previous work experience and ultimately your work ethic. Keep in mind that your previous job is what will lead to your new job, so do not take that first job for granted.”
On Set: What Now?
Congratulations! You’ve landed the gig. But your effort does not stop here, because this is when the work truly begins.
Tiara and DeWaun emphasize taking initiative in your work, and going above and beyond to help those around you. “A pet peeve is we shouldn’t have to tell you to do your job. There’s always something to do,” Tiara emphasizes.
\When being trusted with a job, it is important to truly fulfill what was expected of you when given the position. This includes not only more practical tasks but also taking creative initiative as well. Employees that stand out to DeWaun are those who are constantly “coming up with ideas before we say them, because that’s how I can tell you are in tune with what we do and already hitting your mark with suggestions”.
Getting hired for a job is a test of your character, previous work experience, and creativity. If you are not currently in your dream job, DeWaun highlights that doing your best and the people you meet along the way can help you in your career journey. “When you’re doing any type of job just always be humble,” DeWaun explains. “Do the best you can do. This is a small town and you never know who you’ll be working with on the next job.”
Photo: DeWaun Ragland (l) and Tiara Parker-Ragland (r) discuss an upcoming production.