Veterans are Marching in to Hollywood

Posted March 4, 2014

If you are a veteran of the U.S. armed forces who is interested in pursuing a career in the film and television industry, this could be one of the greatest times in the history of Hollywood to do just that. As with all industries, it’s important to learn about what opportunities are available and start building a network of peers who you can call on for support. The non profit Veterans in Film & Television (VFT) is here to help.

Hollywood has long had consistent success with war genre films and television military dramas. But, over the last couple years, Hollywood has decided to not just portray the stories and experiences of service members on screen, but they have grown to appreciate and value those experiences in their workforce as well.

Movie studios, television networks, talent agencies, production companies, and other various entertainment entities have launched initiatives to actively recruit, train, and hire veterans in various disciplines throughout the industry. With numerous veteran non profits and VSO’s out there, the challenge has been where to start in finding veterans that are interested in working in the industry and that is where Veterans in Film & Television has been most effective.

Based in Los Angeles, VFT is an educational and networking organization that unites current and former members of the military working in all areas of the film and television industry. It was founded in February 2012 by veterans who work in the industry and realized there was no organization for veterans that provided education, networking, and career opportunities in the film and television industry. Since it’s founding, VFT has grown organically to over 1,500 members and in 2013 VFT launched a second chapter in New York City, and developed a model for continued expansion.

VFT has monthly events for members in LA and NYC where they can meet their peers and be introduced to industry professionals, opportunities, and educational resources. Generating great energy and enthusiasm in the Hollywood community, VFT created the model to connect veterans with the film & television industry nationwide. The VFT website, complete with a veteran directory, allows veterans who work, or aspire to work, in the industry, to create a free professional profile they can market themselves with. Industry professionals can browse the directory at any time and customize search for veterans who work in specific disciplines. With the website, in addition to the events, VFT makes it simple and easy for the entertainment community to connect with the veteran community working it.

Studios, agencies, production companies, and more have partnered with VFT to regularly connect with veterans. These partnerships have resulted in veterans getting opportunities throughout Hollywood at places including DreamWorks Animation, ABC, HBO, Disney, CAA, Gersh, FOX, NBC Universal, and more. VFT has also forged relationships with various casting agencies and directors who look to cast actors with real military experience. VFT also works with the entertainment unions and guilds in the industry such as SAG-AFTRA, the Producer’s Guild, and others who have began hosting events supporting veterans. A great example of that is the annual Writer’s Guild Foundation’s Military Veterans Writing Workshop where veterans get paired with some of the industry’s top screenplay and script writer’s in film and television to be mentored.

Regardless of all the partnerships Hollywood has built with VFT, the greatest strength of the organization is the community and camaraderie VFT members give each other. Whether they connect at a VFT event, in the VFT social media groups, or off the VFT website, veterans who all have career pursuits in common in the industry are supporting and celebrating each other’s success like never before. They hire each other where they can as well as offer guidance, resources, and friendship. Outside of the entertainment industry, VFT members give back to the community by participating in community service projects. By participating in these projects together VFT members strengthen their relationships with each other as well as maintain the reputation veterans have as assets and civic leaders in the community.

VFT is honored to be part of Got Your 6 as many celebrities and entertainment partners have become more vocal and committed in their support of the veteran community thanks to the campaign’s efforts. The industry’s enthusiasm and sincere support, directly attributed to the campaign, has greatly helped VFT in harvesting relationships throughout the industry to create opportunities for veterans.

With all of these opportunities and commitments to hire veterans, there is now an overwhelmingly supportive environment welcoming veterans in to the Hollywood community.