Green Screen Cinema Filmmaking for the 21st century

Free Film School, Chapter 2

Saturday, May 03 2008 @ 05:07 PM UTC
Contributed by: Jimbo
Views: 2,471
Free Film School
Why would anyone want to work in the film industry? Or more importantly, why do you want to work in the film industry? I only ask because of the many misperceptions that are floating around. It might not be a good idea to embark on a lifelong career with data that is less than accurate. So let's start by covering some of the brutal realities that pock mark the film industry today:

1) You could make more money sewing shoes in Vietnam - This is something you need to know up front. At some point in your film career you will work without pay. At some point you will work long hours at a job that pays no money whatsoever. I will go into the reasons for this in a moment, but the first problem you face is that almost all the entry level jobs in the industry are "internships" that provide little or no pay. Take a look at the Studio Daily job board or the USC job board and you'll see the vast number of employers that think they can get away with paying you nothing. So at this point you must be asking yourself,"How does anyone make it in the film industry?" or more specifically,"How am I going to make a car payment?"

You might have to walk. The first thing you should know is that a lot of people don't make it. Busloads of people show up in Los Angeles and New York everyday with the idea that they will somehow be employed in the film industry. Most of these people will ultimately take a bus to their day job waiting tables. It's kind of ironic, if you think about it.

Paying jobs are scarce due to the fact that so many people will work for free. These desperate individuals screw it up for the rest of us that actually need to pay for things like food and health care. In some cases the free work does lead to paying work, but in most cases the free work leads to waiting tables. This is the first obstacle you must find a way to overcome.

You are lucky that you enrolled in Free Film School, because with a little bit of guidance you should be able to avoid this fate. One gem I'll give you now is that you have to build some kind of skill that people will pay for, and while you are getting paid for that skill do as much filmmaking as you can on the side. I hope your trip to the job boards made one thing clear: filmmaking itself is not a skill. No one will pay you to be a filmmaker. Catering is a skill. Editing is a skill. Set construction is a skill. You need to find a skill that comes easily and search for a paying job that develops that skill. Don't work for free in a production office in the hopes of becoming a well-paid filmmaker. That path ends in waitering and waitressing. If you must intern you should try to remember that I want Egg Beaters in my omlette and I like my wheat toast lightly browned.

2) You aren't going to get any awards - The Google employment application contains a big section that asks about the awards and honors that've been bestowed upon you. This section can actually make or break your chances of getting a job at Google. Apparently computer scientists run around giving each other awards. Good for them, they'll have something to put on their mantles. Your mantle is going to look a little more like this:

The moments in which someone pats you on the back and says,"Atta boy" are few and far between in the film industry. After a couple years of slaving away on a film you might get a showing at Sundance, but as a general rule you should not enter the film industry so that you can thank the Academy.

The important thing is that you care about the process of filmmaking. You need to enjoy planning your film, shooting your film, editing your film, screening your film, re-editing your film and then finally distributing your film. This process is much more important than the actual film that pops out at the other end. You need to enjoy the process and find reward in simply engaging in the process. If you truly enjoy the process you will be able to work as a filmmaker anywhere and you won't waste your life seeking the approval that is associated with a studio job or a credit on a summer blockbuster. It's so easy these days to produce content on your own why would you toil in that pursuit? Besides, no one stays for the credits.