Jessica is an author, actress, filmmaker and coach. One of her greatest joys in life is reaching back to help pull someone else forward.
Friends in Film: Real or Scam?
Friends in Film. Janet Urban. FIF friends. Career on Fire training? Real or scam?
So here’s the skinny. Like me, you were probably scrolling through your feed on Facebook and came across Janet’s ad that asks if you want to enroll in her free “Career on Fire” two-week class. Free? Who does anything for free anymore? How awesome that I've stumbled upon this hidden gem!
That's probably how you felt (well, at least that's how I felt!). So, of course, you jump on board because what do you have to lose? For two weeks, you get to chat with this successful lady and other aspiring actors, actresses, directors, producers, and writers, in a “classroom-esque” setting in the Yammer program where you learn the secrets to set your career on fire.
Of course, nothing in life is free, so the entire time, you’re sitting there thinking when is the financial part of the situation going to arise and how much? Well, before we get to the price of the paid portion of the mentorship program, let me tell you some of what the program does for you and share my own FIF experience.
Basically, Janet Urban has a lot of years under her belt in the film industry, spanning from the news side of things all the way to working with famous stars in a slew of movies. Trust me, she has plenty of pictures to prove it.
She’s the sound engineer person and she gets paid big bucks to do what she does because she’s found a niche area that everyone isn’t talented, knowledgeable or experienced enough to do. She’s in hot demand. Everyone wants her on their film project. She even shows you legit checks that she’s received from doing what she does and just like me, you will be astounded with the amount of zeroes on that check. Is she legit? Yes, she’s legit. The woman knows her stuff. She wants to teach you how to become a hot commodity too, but at a much faster pace than the normal method that most actors and actresses use to make it to the top.
What she is teaching you is how to avoid the pitfalls and mistakes that she made in the film industry while trying to make it to the place where you’re trying to go--and to do it much quicker! Think about it this way: it’s like having someone take you by the hand and lead you step by step through the film industry with gentle admonishments that says, no, don’t go that way, go this way instead, and instead of doing it in 10 years, you do it in 2 (sorta kinda).
What is the holistic approach that she uses? She doesn’t just focus on the film industry but she focuses on you as a person. She’s like an Iyanla Vanzant of the film industry. She teaches her “Friends in Film” mentorees how to think differently, how to think like a winner, how to be confident, how to address your fears head-on and overcome them. It’s like spiritual enlightenment and positive glow beams shooting out of the computer screen. If you take it seriously, it will really make you a more confident individual who views the world and the challenges that it throws at you in a whole new light.
The Set-Up of the Class & Money Back Guarantee
The "Career on Fire" training is a free two-week program. Once you sign up for the paid mentorship class, you get access to two free modules that are basically “freebies” for those who aren’t going to stay with the program long anyway. The upside of this program is that Janet offers a short, 2-week trial period where you get your money back guaranteed. So after 14 days, if you decide it's not for you, break camp. Nothing lost.
Then once the people who are just testing the program are locked out, the modules with greater material are presented.
For me, a lot of the module material became repetitive. It started off strong, but after a while, I started seeing the same things presented in new modules, which bothered me. For the amount that I was paying, I was expecting something more. However, each module does reveal something that you hadn’t thought about concerning an approach that you can take in the film industry. These new tidbits of information were like gleaming diamonds in an ocean of mediocre. So I started thinking, considering the amount that I’m paying a month for this program, was that tiny gleaming diamond worth those hundreds of dollars? Hmm...I wasn’t too sure.
Update: You must note, however, that I only stayed with this program for two full months, so this is a limited perspective of what the program offers for you. It's an eight-month program, and I have not the slightest idea of the material and information that the modules in later months offer. So your experience may not be the same as mine.
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Yammer a.k.a The Bat Cave
Yammer is the Bat Cave and I must admit, this was my favorite part of joining Friends in Film. Yammer is just like it is when you’re in the free “Career on Fire” training class. However here, you have all the FIF Mentors posting, and they’re posting some pretty rad stuff. They’re talking about their successes, the amounts that they just got paid to do certain gigs, etc., etc. It is very inspiring and it gives you the feeling of, If they can do this, then I can do it too! For anyone who loves a challenge, such as myself, seeing people post their successes in Yammer all day motivates you to go even harder to create your own successes so you can post your own pictures and share your own financial earnings and/or film industry experiences.
|What Janet Does Not Do||What Janet Does|
put in a word for you to the “big dogs”
allow you to use her connects as a leg-up in the film industry
encourage you and inspire you
find work for you.
tell you if she thinks an opportunity is legit or if you should pass on it
post different PA jobs that you should look into
tell you how to make a film industry resume
post different places that are holding casting calls and looking for actors/actresses
tell you how to write off film industry expenses on your taxes
look at your resume (unless you have the Premium package)
have weekly calls with her mentorees to keep the morale up b/c the film industry is a tough nut and if you don’t keep up the morale, people will break camp
look at your emails (unless you have the Premium package)
allow you out of the program if you so desire without a hassle
The Film Industry Guidance Janet Gives
Janet will also give you some clear directions you should take, such as you should make production assistant business cards, you should do PA jobs for free, you should do paid extra work on major shoots, you should pass your business cards to the PAs on the major shoots, you should establish authentic relationships with people who are in the film industry because they will remember you and how you made them feel, you should go to film festivals and any events that have anything to do with the film industry. And then use these relationships to vector, vector, vector toward the final destination where you want to find yourself. The key is the vectoring, but most people don't know how to vector successfully, and this is what Janet teaches you in her modules, while also helping to shape you into a more confident individual.
Okay so finally, what we've all been waiting for.
Finally, after the two weeks of free “Career on Fire” training, you are hit with two options that allows you to take Janet on as your film industry mentor for 8 months. At the time when I was in the program, it was $349 per month for 8 months for Gold; the other option was $499 per month for 8 months for Platinum. The $349 per month is high but attainable. Those who can afford $499 month, kudos to you! Believe it or not, some people actually do the $499/month plan because they want more direct access to Janet. I went with the $349 because it was more in my budget. After the 8 months, she will continue being your mentor for just $99/month--completely optional, not required.
Update: The price of the plans have increased now. This is what the program used to cost in 2016. I'm unsure of what it costs now.
Me on Set as an Extra in Fox's Shots Fired - FIF video
My Experience With Friends in Film
So after the “Career on Fire” training, I was pumped! I was so ready to go, as I'm clear you can tell from the above video :) . So I did the $349 and I was uber excited. I knew that my career was going to catapult to another level and here’s why. By the time I joined Janet Urban’s Friends in Film mentorship program, I had already been an extra in TNT’s Good Behavior, an extra in History’s Six, and an extra in Fox’s Shots Fired. So I felt like, I’m already doing this, I’m already “in” the film industry, but I’m on the “extra” side and I want to be on the “actor” side and Janet is about to show me how to get there.
Basically, Janet’s advice is to go through the backdoor, which is to use PA work as an entry level position into the film industry. I wasn’t too crazy about this. I didn’t want to PA. I wanted to act! But I realize that sometimes you have to crawl before you walk, so I started crawling.
The first thing I did was locate free local PA work to build a resume. It was simple. Within a week, I was doing my first PA job. See the video posted below to see how that went, which was a disaster, lol (get ready for a good laugh)! However, I appreciated the experience because it helped me to be more confident. Just like I told the guys in Yammer, I would much rather mess up doing PA work for free for a family-owned company than to mess up doing PA work for a major production company who will never hire me again.
About three weeks after my free PA work, I ended up with paid PA work on a professional set. It was my first major paid PA job ever. I got paid $155/day just to hold a walkie and direct extras around, pass out bottled waters, secure the location area, etc. It was for Cinemax’s Outcast filming in SC. But this was a “day player” role, meaning that they only call me to PA when they need me. So it’s more like an occasional gig than a job because they already have 20+ PAs on the roster. For that particular gig, I worked one day. That was it. One day.
Shortly after I landed that gig, my husband lost his job and Janet’s program was no longer affordable for me because I had to pay all the household bills. When I reached out to Janet to ask if I could take a hiatus from the program, I didn't receive a response from her, but my account was immediately deactivated. Just like that, I was kicked out of Friends in Film and kicked out of Yammer. The good news about it is that there was no hassle with leaving the program and no unauthorized charges were taken out of my account.
It's Cables Not Cords
Janet actually corrected me in Yammer and let me know that they're called cables, not cords. See, she is quite helpful! I learned something new.
Is It a Scam or Is It Legit?
Do I think it’s a scam? No. However, it’s not the type of program that I was expecting it to be, based off my full two months there. While I was a part of the program, the modules that I viewed were mostly confidence-building and facing your fears, which is a good thing. And in my opinion, her method shows you how to make great money in the film industry doing something that you don’t particularly desire to do, but it’s paying the bills while you’re “vectoring” toward what you really want to do, which for me is to be a leading role actress. Much of the film industry-related information that Janet gives (at least in the first couple of months of the program when I was there), you can find a lot of it on the internet, but it may take some hours of surfing and you might not know exactly where to look. But there's not much that you can't find on the internet these days, if we're being completely honest.
In the Friends in Film program, you do all the work. Janet doesn’t do any of the work for you. She tells you what you should do, and then you go out in the world, hustle and grind, and figure out how to do it. Simple as that. But that's life. You can't pay your way up; you have to work your way up. So if you're not willing to grind to make it happen for you, then you're wasting your time with the film industry anyway--whether you decide to go with Friends in Film or not. So no, I don’t think Career on Fire is a scam, but it might not be exactly what you’re looking for either.
While some might see it as paying a car payment per month to Mrs. Urban, others might see it as making an investment in him/herself. No matter the perspective, one thing remains unarguably true: What’s right for the goose isn’t necessarily good for the gander. So even though it didn't work out for me, it might be perfect for you. Just guard yourself with knowledge and jump for your dreams, knowing that turbulence is the price you pay for flying high.
Reader's, Share Your Opinion
Would I Join the Program Again?
Knowing what I know now, would I go back and join the program again after the free “Career on Fire” training? Yeah, I would because Janet showed me a direction that I can take to make it to the top that I had never considered before. And for that, I’m forever thankful. Would I do the whole 8 months? Err...I’ll pass on that. Here’s why.
In the Yammer group, there was this one guy who had come to the end of his 8 months there. He discussed all the great things that he had done over the course of the 8 months. But by the end of the program, his gigs had dried up, his connects weren’t coming through the way he had expected, and to cut a long story short, he was at a low point--which Janet teaches you, low points will come and low points are expected. However, I looked at his situation and realized that while Janet’s program will open your eyes and give you the confidence that you need to tackle the film industry by the horns, there are still no guarantees, even after sticking it out to the very end.
So yeah, I would do the first two months, maybe first three months of the program, and that’s enough for me. I will continue my film industry career using the experiences that I’ve garnered so far. And for now gals and girls, in the words of the director: “That’s a wrap!”
If you are/were a mentoree of Janet Urban, feel free to drop a comment below and share your experience! This article isn't to bash the program; it's to share our honest reviews so that we all can be well-informed to make the decision that's best for us.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: What I’m confused about is how do you get that first PA job? If she’s not giving her connections or referring you to people. I don’t get how it works. Are there job postings on the website? Does someone set you up with an interview?
Answer: You will not find a listing where they're looking for production assistants (PAs), at least not in the same manner that you would find a "normal" job. The easiest way to become a production assistant is to start on a student film or indie film. You find these opportunities by doing internet searches for your state like this "new york student film crew call." Once you find a crew call, you submit to it with a simple email to whatever email address is available to you. Most likely, this gig will be unpaid, but that's fine. You're initially not doing it to get paid but to get experience. Once you become a production assistant on a major set, that's when the money comes in.
Question: I'm new to the film industry and I don't know how to enter the industry. Will "Friends in Film" help get me in there?
Answer: "Friends in Film" will point you in some awesome directions to help you enter the industry. But you don't necessarily have to pay loads of money to get that information. The easiest way to get into the film industry is to start as an extra on a major set. I would recommend that every individual (actor, camera operator, production assistant, etc.) begin by starting as an extra on a major set. The experience alone is invaluable and it opens your eyes to so much! It gives you the real-deal and you get to network with other aspiring artists and you get to rub elbows with major celebrities. Other options for entry-level film enthusiasts are to collaborate with students who are doing student films and collaborate with independent filmmakers who are doing their own work with their own equipment. Look up film festivals in your area. Go and mingle. There's a really big competition that goes on every year called 48 Hour Film. Look it up in your area and go be a part. Also, film industry enthusiasts forget that social networking is not just for personal socializing. There are countless online groups on Facebook that you can join that makes you aware of so many opportunities that are going on around you that you're not privy to. What Janet does is point you in directions of how you can A) make connections (which I've already just shared a LOAD of them), and B) strengthen your connections so that you can use them to scale yourself up to the top.
Question: Are the "Friends in Film" and "Career On Fire" trainings mostly about making connections?
Answer: Yes, connections have a lot to do with the success of your career. Janet does not give you her connections. However, she does point you in the direction of how you can begin to make those connections or how you can better d activate the connections you already have.
Eusé Perez on July 25, 2020:
Like many people, I found Janet’s ad on my Facebook and decided to give the free courses a go. What really stood out to me was the vibrancy of the energy, and that we were talking with a REAL person in a REAL group. Most free webinars you get access to thru a Facebook ad, is a prerecorded spliff that’s 3 hours long that drags you thru the motions until they slam you with how much it would be to get the REAL information(I know, from way too many experiences!) In a three day program, not only did I get to ask questions to a real Emmy winner in her craft, but I also got to associate with people who had the same aspirations as me. This was my first green flag. After doing my own fair share of research, I realized she was legit, the results were real, that I just had to dedicate myself. For some people, staying committed is difficult, so safe to say if you’re one of these people, this program may not be for you. If you like to be the master of your own destiny, and want to take your own personal power in your hands with the assistance of an experienced mentor, this is for you.
I can understand your perspective, for everyone’s experiences are bound to be different! I have only been in the program two months now myself, and TODAY actually was my first paid PA gig! I had the opportunity to not only be an assistant but shoot behind the scenes for a documentary.
I can agree a majority of the content is self development, but when you think about the types of people who typically want to be in the film industry, they need it! Being a part of this program saves lots of time and energy when it comes to research and knowledge, if you take heed to the opinions of those who have worked it already, get on the calls, and actually DO the “homework” you are given, you’ll succeed.
Before FIF I had built very valuable connections in photography, since I have been a photographer for ten years. There was a lot of trial and error because even tho I went to school to learn the technicalities, a lot of things are learned in the field. With the FIF program, I’ve learned how to, not only organize, but utilize those connections, a skill I never really had. I have boxes and boxes of business cards I’ve been given at fashion shows(my niche) and other networking opportunities that I now know how to use properly. There are tips on how to find jobs within your local market, which I’m thankful for. Let’s think about it for a second tho, for those who think it is unfair that they have to find their own work; if Janet sat and wrote up job opportunities for every single person in the program, from every city, in both major and minor markets depending on experience, she’d have absolutely no time for her own work! You can’t have things spoon fed to you, it loses its value that way. But what she DOES do is tell you how to FIND those jobs yourself, giving essential tools and tips along the way. Even though I have ample experience as a photographer, I only have two years experience of video, mainly as second shooter or promo videos. The types of things I’d need to know within the film industry are different, and I wouldn’t have been able to get my foot in the door if it weren’t for the program. Currently, I have two video shoots coming up(thanks to tactics I used that I learned thru the program) as well as a few jobs I’m first-call for once the pandemic is over.
The biggest thing is be easy on yourself, really take in what the program can give, if something seems repetitive, it’s most likely because it’s important(although I haven’t run in to the same modules repetitively like mentioned in this post). Actually DO the work and don’t “rest on it” meaning, don’t watch a module then save all the work for last. You have to do it as you go through it for results. Looking forward to what future lessons are in store with the program. May give another review in a few months!
Brian on July 25, 2020:
I have seen friends that were the top of their classes in the best film schools struggle to find a job or make a living in film.
I have been a production assistant before and did not know how to get paid to be a production assistant.
Yes, there is a lot of free opinions on the internet. I could spend several lifetimes trying to figure out what is the right combination of those millions of opinions to get me a good-paying career in film.
So I shelved my plans for a career in film.
It was way too much risk to try it if I had no plan or support for success.
Then I found and joined Friends in Film because Janet has an action plan to get a career in film that could be executed quickly, unlike the 2 years of film school with their debt.
If I had seen job postings, I would not have joined. I did not want my life to be dependent on someone else's whim. I want my own network with my own opportunity that I control because I know that I can focus, work hard, and not give up. I want a career, not just a job. I can get a job somewhere else. I also wanted a career wherever I go. If I want to live somewhere else, I wanted my good-paying career to go wherever I go and my network to continue to support me.
So I studied the program just as hard as a university course. I started connecting dots and seeing opportunity that I could have never seen before - an advantage of having successful alumni and Janet refining her course over years.
From 1 extra job, I was able to get a production assistant job on that same project. From my experience as a production assistant, I was able to get an assistant director job.
And I still am in the studying phase of Friends in Film. I have not been actively looking for jobs. I cannot wait where I go full out on getting gigs 24/7. Can you imagine? :-)
Yes, you need the whole program. The program is built to take you from nothing to the point of getting a career in film, so that you focus on where you are now so that you do not shoot yourself in the foot by rushing ahead.
Is Friends in Film rocket science? No, of course not, but I can tell you this: just because something is simple, it does not mean it is easy.
Can you pay for the program and not take it seriously? Of course! I can see how other people would rush through it and not get anything out of it. But why would you do that? There is no teacher, grades, or final exam in the program. It is just your life. You can do what you like.
Is your time worth something? Do you value it? Are you going to take this seriously? Are you going to commit to studying the program like it is med school or law school? Are you going to do everything that the program recommends you to do and keep doing and learning from you mistakes until you are successful? If you said yes to these questions, then Friends in Film is for you. Because that is what it takes to be the best at anything in life.
Kitty on July 21, 2020:
OP is way to generous with her Review. Took this course recently and got up to Module 3 before dropping out. So just like OP, I cannot comment on what happened after I left. But I had to drop out due to so