How to break into the film idustry

Viktorious
Viktorious Website User Posts: 105
edited April 2012 in Practical Filmmaking
This is a loaded question with many answers. But for those of you that are actually making money off your video projects what would be your advice to people like me, who are just about to fly the coop, with an uncertain future and an enormous passion for films?
#1 I know it requires a lot of prayer.
#2 A lot of work and contacts.
Anyway please share anything. How you got some jobs or what you're doing to get to where you want to be. Another thing is college? Is it necessary? Does it help a lot in future job interviews? Or would having decent work you've done in the past be enough to get that job you want?

Right now I'm trying to just build contacts with fellow filmmakers, get ideas together for future films, trying to learn more and more about the industry and working my butt off to pay for my slightly growing equipment.
One author who comes to my church is currently trying to publish a book to a couple of fairly well know companies. But they want him to come up with sort of a trailer for the book and he asked if I could do it. So this could be somewhat of an opportunity. What do you guys think?

Comments

  • jax_rox
    jax_rox Website User Posts: 19
    edited April 2012
    Define: film industry.
    It seems there are a lot of different definitions of 'film industry'
    Some think it's doing low-budget corporates, some think it's doing wedding videos, some think it's shooting events on prosumer cameras, some think it's shooting shorts for YouTube on your DSLR.
    Personally, I think the film industry involves productions of a certain level, for some kind of film (whether it be short, feature or doco) or commercial. Generally consisting of a number of crew and everyone working professionally.
    I went to film school, and made heaps of contacts that way. I also shot some films that got submitted to film festivals and won awards at some of those festivals etc. I'm certainly not at the very top Hollywood level (yet ;)) but I do okay, make a decent living and do something I love (DoP/Camera Assistant).
    It really depends on what you want, where you want to go and what position yo uare chasing. The road to getting a position at a VFX firm is going to be different to the road to becoming a Director, or DP, or Sound Designer, or TV Floor Manager.
    I think film school is a good idea because there are always people that will end up working professionally in the industry and if you can get in good with them, it certainly doesn't hurt. It also teaches you the professionalism you need on a set, how to conduct yourself on a set, and the technical and logical knowledge you need depending on your position. And you learn all this in a safe environment where you won't get fired, or have your pay docked etc.
    That said, you don't need film school per se, but again it depends on what you want. If you want to be a VFX artist, you're better off with a great reel and a Bachelor in VFX over just a great reel. If you're looking for a set position, particularly a below-the-line position, a degree doesn't really matter, though as I say film school teaches you a whole lot of other things.
    You'll need to work for free for a while. Probably not what you want to hear, and some will disagree, but you'll need to work for free. I'm not saying sell yourself short - if someone approaches you for a corporate, charge them. But, in terms of working on a real set, you'll need to volunteer as a PA on big sets, and do the roles you're interested in on smaller sets. The more people who know you, the more likely you are to get paying gigs. In my graduate year at film school, I DPd three films, and ACd on 5-8. Plus, I assisted on a handful of shoots outside of uni. And these contacts come back when you need them. Even if it's a DP you ACd for once on a student set and you proved yourself to be good at it - if his current AC drops out, he's going to call you over someone he doesn't know. Even if he pulls you in as a day-player in the position of 2nd AC, that means you're now known to his 1st AC, and you prove yourself again, lodgin yourself back in his mind for the next gig. And you get known by the other crew on set. If the Producer sees you're hard working and doesn't have the budget on their next set for the DP you're currently working for, they may approach you. Likewise, if you AC as a favour to a certain DP, and 6 months down the track you're brought onto a low-paying gig, you may be able to call up that DP and ask for a return of the favour, in lending you his Red Epic for a weekend, or being your Gaffer for a weekend etc.
    It's really a matter of working hard, working lots and for little payment at first. But, if you really have the passion necessary to make it, it's rewarding not only emotionally but eventually financially.
  • Viktorious
    Viktorious Website User Posts: 105
    Yeah I had the same idea of the "film industry". Thanks a lot for that.
    My main focus for jobs is to be a director and eventually start my own company, or work for a company that shares the same values in life. God is a huge part of my passion for films. I know this will turn some people off but that is what I believe and I'm willing to be criticized for it.
    My second focus is acting. I love acting just as much as directing but I definitely need to work on it.
    If I don't attend film school how would you recommend getting contacts together? I found a place on line where they have a bunch of people around my area who are making films and need help so that could be a start. It will be volunteer work but hey it is something I love doing and if I do good people will remember me and know that I work hard.
    I've always had this vision to get together with a bunch of people who are like me and many others. Actors, writers, directors, camera men, makeup artists and make an independent film together to see what we could do. It would have to be a huge sacrifice and somewhat of a risk but it might work. What do you think?
  • jax_rox
    jax_rox Website User Posts: 19
    I'd suggest go for it. If you're not going to film school (or even if you are), you have to start networking somewhere. Start making things with friends or yourself, get together with other like-minded people.
    To get industry connections you need to go to things like trade shows and film festivals and talk to people.. Go to the parties and chat to people and get to know them. Even if they don't remember what you do or where you're from, if they remember your name or your face you're already a step in the right direction. Have (well designed - it's a creative industry) business cards.
  • mercianfilm
    mercianfilm Website User Posts: 161
    Definately start networking! We live in an age where it's easy to find like-minded people through the internet-whether it be social networking sites or actively searching for clubs and groups. In my city there are a few film makers clubs who regularly meet up (usually in a pub!) to showcase their own shorts and tips. Whilst they aren't in the film industry they have plenty of valuable experience, contacts and equipment and usually will be willing to help you for free- sometimes as additional cameramen or sound. Any help is invaluable when you're trying to do everything yourself! Would be something worth checking out!
    Another route is to look at your areas indie/arthouse cinema's. I have a place near me called the quad which recently opened- it's designed to show small production and foreign films in the city centre and supports young film makers with editing equipment and stuff. They also run Q and A nights with professionals- in the past they've had the actors John Hurt and David Morrisey and a few directors and script writers. Like Jax_rox said it'd be a great oppurtinity for you to have a chat with people that have first hand experience of the industry and possibly hand out some cards. Also the people that are attending these meetings will be a lot like you as well- you might meet people with similiar ambitions.
    All the best mate!
    Sam
  • Viktorious
    Viktorious Website User Posts: 105
    Yeah that is what I am trying to do at the moment. I'm finishing up my Junior year right now and next year I'll graduate. So it is coming fast for me. I'm planning on doing some commercial work hopefully this coming fall and will be creating a promo for someones book soon so he can get it published. It's somewhat of a start.
    What would you recommend I do when I graduate? Get a regular job and work with films on the side? What are you guys doing?
    Thanks a lot for your help.
  • Aculag
    Aculag Website User Posts: 708 Just Starting Out
    edited May 2012

    #1 I know it requires a lot of prayer.
    What gives you that idea? If you sit around not doing anything but praying about getting a job in the film industry, you're never going to get it. If you work hard, have the talent, and don't ever pray, you're far, far more likely to get a job.
    Your #2 is what you actually need.
  • Andrew
    Andrew Website User Posts: 379 Enthusiast
    edited May 2012
    I'm pretty sure divine intervention is about half of what gets the people in the industry into it, though, Aculag. The hardest workers still requires opportunity and luck at the right places and times above all else, truthfully, in order to be successful.
    I've worked all throughout college and beforehand to build skills, talent, a resume, portfolio, education, and contacts to prepare and better myself in breaking into the film industry- and yet it was a disposable parody about Inception and alcohol that got me noticed, funded, and has given me all of my current (and likely recent-future) success.
    Or, if not success, then at least opportunity and momentum to succeed.
    And who would'a thought that? Not me.
    You can call it chance, the grace of god, or just plain dumb luck- but there's definitely an element to success and exposure that is not grounded in how hard or well you work. At least, when strictly-speaking about the entertainment industry.
  • Aculag
    Aculag Website User Posts: 708 Just Starting Out
    edited May 2012

    You can call it chance, the grace of god, or just plain dumb luck- but there's definitely an element to success and exposure that is not grounded in how hard or well you work. At least, when strictly-speaking about the entertainment industry.
    Obviously that's true, but you're not going to ever get yourself in a position where dumb luck can help you unless you motivate yourself to do it, is all I'm saying. Just wishing hard for something never got anyone anywhere.
    Mostly I just say, take some credit for your own accomplishments.
  • jax_rox
    jax_rox Website User Posts: 19
    I believe sometimes luck has a part to play, and sometimes it doesn't. If you're an experienced filmmaker who lives in the middle of nowhere but has quirky original ideas, and you happen to put something up on YouTube that happens to get noticed by a Producer - that's luck. However, it's only luck in as much as the Producer finding it.
    If you work hard, build up the skills and contacts, move to the production hub of your country, go to networking events, put your films in major film festivals that will get you noticed, get work in lower-ranking positions and eventually move yourself up the ladder of film production - I'd hardly call that luck but that's how I'd say most top industry players have gotten into the industry. If you don't know someone's back story then you can easily say the way something happened was all about 'luck.' You might think Spielberg was lucky to get a gig at such a young age, but at the end of the day, Spielberg worked ridiculously hard. He was rejected from USC twice, went and got a job at Universal and worked tirelessly making films and eventually someone noticed his keen eye and his understanding of camera and pacing and he got to direct. I wouldn't call that luck, I'd call the hard work, knowledge, determination and passion. You can create your own 'luck' if you moves the pieces into the right place.
  • Viktorious
    Viktorious Website User Posts: 105
    edited May 2012
    Personally I don't believe in luck myself. I believe everything happens for a certain reason. When I said quote a lot of prayer I said it half sarcastically.
    I know getting to a top position requires a lot of hard work, patience and skill. But I do agree with Andrew sometimes sorta crazy things happen. For example the star of the show Growing Pains Kirk Cameron, pretty much got the roll because he was distantly related to a cast director or something like that. I don't believe it was luck but it didn't happen because he worked hard for that position.
    Sadly most of us do have to work very hard to get to something like that. I love the work so it doesn't matter whether I "make it" right away or not.
    Andrew, I was hoping that you would post on this topic. I've been watching your films pretty closely ever since I became part of the community four years ago. Is there anything that hasn't been said here that you could share? How did you get all of your actors? They have some talent.
    Thanks for your help
  • Aculag
    Aculag Website User Posts: 708 Just Starting Out
    For example the star of the show Growing Pains Kirk Cameron, pretty much got the roll because he was distantly related to a cast director or something like that. I don't believe it was luck but it didn't happen because he worked hard for that position.
    The term you're looking for is nepotism, and it's extraordinarily common in hollywood, and media (and life) in general. You're right that it wasn't luck, it was circumstance. But that's what the other half of your #2 is about. Knowing [people] is half the battle. ;)
    Kirk Cameron is a really awful example, though.
  • NullUnit
    NullUnit Website User Posts: 791 Just Starting Out
    Ever seen King of Comedy...?
  • DanielMorgan
    DanielMorgan Website User Posts: 324 Just Starting Out
    edited May 2012
    I'm a relatively new person working in this industry. I'm currently working on some short films that are being sent off around the world, with quite an established production company here in Wales. I've also worked on and edited projects with the bbc. There is a massive amount of luck involved in getting work, HOWEVER, you skills and talent will put you in a position to receive that luck. Due to work I had done on a T.V advert, a talent scout from the bbc picked me up and put me in contact with a producer. It was through this contact, that I received my first major job with the bbc.
    If I hadn't have pushed my self to do the best possible work I could do on that small little Welsh TV advert, then I wouldn't have got that chance. The luck was the talent producer being where he was, on that day.
    To answer your question,I would say, work work WORK. Learn the tools of the industry, make films (or what ever content your interested in), promote your self online, look for jobs. Make noise about your self. The main thing is, enjoy what your doing. You will not believe how critical an aspect that is for employers. People want to work with people who are enthusiastic and care about projects!!
  • Viktorious
    Viktorious Website User Posts: 105
    Wow, that's cool. Very happy for you. Thanks for sharing Daniel. Thanks everyone for you input. Wish you all the best.
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