For today, we have an article by filmmaker Lewis Khan. He covers the best methods to solidify a passion for filmmaking and turn it into a filmmaker career.
Take it away, Lewis!
Film is incredibly democratic and accessible, it’s probably the best option if you actually want to change the world, not just re-decorate it.
The Filmmaking Career Roadmap
Passion, patience and perseverance are the three qualities one needs to be a filmmaker. Being a filmmaker is easier said than done, but if you are passionate and have the knowledge on how to make films then you can surely take it up as a career.
Since it is a difficult career path, many people stick to making movies just to fulfil their passion and practise it as a hobby.
However, if you are one such person who practises filmmaking as a hobby and are used to listening to how good you are at it, then this is a clear indication that you are not only passionate, but also possess the art of filmmaking.
Now, we all understand how not everyone has the courage to pursue things they feel strongly about, especially in terms of careers. This is also one of the main reasons why many people feel disconnected from their job because they do not have the flair for it.
If you’ve been facing the same dilemma and are bored of working a job that does not meet your interests, then we suggest now is the right time you pay attention to your inner calling for filmmaking.
If you dream of making a name in the film industry just like Spielberg, Tarantino and Nolan, then you must read this article. This year, take a resolution to give time to your passion for filmmaking and turn it into reality.
There are more than one ways to get started so, play your cards right when road mapping your career in filmmaking.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get your projects off the ground.
Decide how much time you need to devote to your dream because dropping out of your current job would be a rash decision to take. Your goal in the beginning must be to give yourself enough time to hone your skills as a filmmaker along with your existing schedule and in the meanwhile get all the tools you require to give time to your project.
As we all know, learning the ropes of any new industry is no cakewalk; you need determination and dedication to ace this test. In all honesty, creative industries are downright hard and harsh. Choose not to worry about this right now because you will learn it along the way.
Be smart and learn from other people’s experience and success stories. Canadian philosopher Malcom Gladwell wrote a terrific book named “Outliers: The Story of Success” explaining the 10,000 hour rule.
It is not only a well written book, but can easily be considered as Felix Felicis (also known as “Liquid Luck”) for everyone looking for courage to pursue their dreams. In other words, the book talks about how anyone and everyone can achieve anything they want in their life.
In his book, Malcom states that, “The key to achieve anything is the willingness to put in the hours.” He also believes that by spending 10,000 hours on simply one thing can make you really good at it.
So, as you see, time is the key factor and managing it should be the very first step to take while pursuing your passion.
Here are some tips:
- Determine how much free time you have apart from the daily schedule.
- Next, decide whether or not you are willing to sacrifice it to invest in pursuit of your passion.
To help you decide how much time you must invest in a week, follow the hour rules given below.
- Spending two hours in a week would make you a hobbyist.
- But, if you are looking forward to spend around ten hours a week, then feel free to call yourself a talented amateur.
- Also, if you somehow manage to remove twenty hours a week, then it is guaranteed that a year from now you will be known as a semi-pro film maker.
- Eventually, over time, when you decide to invest your forty plus hours, we believe you’d be ready to be a pro filmmaker.
Determine The Scale Of Your Project
Money is a crucial factor when it comes to filmmaking, as movies are categorised mainly on the basis of their budget. Also, it is a given that as an aspiring filmmaker, you might not have the finances to invest in a multi–million dollar project.
Since movies are categorised on the basis of their budget, it is important to learn everything about all the major and minor investments that go into making a film. A low, or no-budget, film is easier to finance and it is usually suggested for beginners to take this avenue to help them avoid the mistake of losing the family inheritance!
We would like to present you with a time-tested scenario, so that the concept hits home. Once upon a time man named Noah wanted to build a boat but he had never made one before. Which is why he was mocked by his friends and neighbours.
They simply couldn’t get why Noah wanted to spend his time building a boat when they lived miles away from the sea.
Well, despite the opinions and concerns of others he made it and when the floods came, his boat is what saved them. Voila!
Another example is of the famous ship the RMS Titanic. It was a remarkable ship built by a Londoner, who went around the city and raised enough money to allow him to work with top maritime engineers at Belfast. But despite the many efforts and its majestic look, the Titanic now lies at the bottom of the sea.
Well, what we are trying to point out with these examples is, “Which boat do you want to float and how?” We would like you to know that the controls are in your own hands. Sometimes low-to-no budget filmmaking is a great way to launch a career, and meanwhile you could use this to dodge the hidden icebergs of the film industry.
Find Your Genre
Find movies that excite you!
As a beginner in the filmmaking world, it is suggested that you watch movies of your interest to you, as well as read their scripts. The process will give you a glimpse of how successful filmmakers have taken things in stride and how this can guide you in your quest to be a successful filmmaker and storyteller yourself.
Learn from other people’s stories and meanwhile develop and find your own distinctive voice.
Find Out Your Unique Role
(Take a quick glance at the infographic below to find out your unique role as a fresher in the film industry.)
Figure out what kind of role fits your skill set in the film industry. There are various roles available in the realm of filmmaking, which is why you need to be aware of every single role to find out what is best for you.
Be honest with yourself when it comes to choosing the right role. Choose to walk in a direction only after you have taken a thorough look at the job pages from the film production companies you are interested in.
For everyone wanting a break in the industry, listed below are some options:
Intern / Apprentice
Various media students and film enthusiasts have started off working as an intern or take up an apprenticeship with directors. In fact, a lot of successful filmmakers have started off as interns. For example, Martin Scorsese started off interning with Roger Corman and Edgar Wright with Raindance.
Just prove yourself worthy of a chance and get an internship because this is your free pass to learn from the experts themselves. Internship does not come easily, so you have to be persistent to get one. Good Luck!
A good thing about the film industry is that it offers many fun parts to play and volunteering is one such thing. With consecutive film festivals taking place, film organisations are always looking for volunteers. Now, you might not want to be a volunteer, but the experience does count.
Volunteering can lead to a full time job and many years worth of experience, which you can implement in your projects. It has also been noted how nearly every intern and apprentice did start off as a volunteer in a film organisation.
Thus, find a festival or organisation you admire and secure a volunteer or intern position. Your filmmaker career future also depends upon how much you have impressed people with your passion and hard work.
Why not try your hands at an entry level film industry role? If this interests you even a bit, then surely give it a try as it’s a great opportunity to learn the fundamentals of development and production. You will love this job, especially if you are someone who is persistent, loves talking to people and reading.
Well, this might not seem as attractive an option as some of the others, but it surely is one of the ways to get a break. If you have a driving license that allows you to drive a commercial vehicle, like a van or limo, you can easily get work here. Drivers are always in huge demand by these festival organisations, plus you will be making cash from it.
A runner is an on-the-job training program. Simply put, you will be earning a bit of cash while training. Usually, people work as runners to get a feel of what it’s like to work with people from different companies in the industry.
Since, as a runner you will be working with multiple people, over a period of time you are bound to make some really good connections. The chances of these connections resulting in future collaborations with fellow runners are quite high.
If being organised is one of your personality traits, then this is the opportunity that you must consider no matter what.
If you are someone who possesses great organisational skills, then managing projects, researching for details and contacting people can easily become a part of your routine. If you love to engage with people and are able to think laterally, then you are good to go.
Be a part of film organisations because working for them can give you a sneak peak into different parts of the business.
In case you are someone who finds it difficult to adapt to different schedules you might want to rethink on this one. Being a part of film organisation requires possession of sheer will and capability to adapt to a new role every few months.
Learn About Film Companies & Brush Up Your Networking Skills
Social networking sites have made it possible to have easy access over information. Major companies today have loads of information on their website, blog, Facebook page, and LinkedIn page.
So, take your time to dive into these resources and gain useful insight about the company. Remember, a company would like to hire an employee who is well versed with what the company does. This is why you must take time out to dig deep and make yourself a strong candidate.
The insight you gain will help you understand if the company or organisation is actually a good fit for you and your filmmaking pursuit. As you learn about them, you will start identifying the decision makers for your areas of interest.
For example, if you want to work on sets or build props and wardrobe, then you need to find an art director, as he/she is the one who hires people in the art department.
As a budding filmmaker, you will need as many contacts as possible and for that your networking game must be strong. The contacts you acquire will help you in your filmmaking venture. This might as well be declared as the most difficult part of your journey.
Networking is a skill set which you must acquire if you wish to reach the summit of this very competitive industry. Consider networking as the last stage of any game, where you have to successfully establish connections with key decision makers and engage with hiring managers. For that matter LinkedIn and Twitter are the best tools to connect with them.
Build A Portfolio No One Can Say “NO” To
The last thing you want to do is turn up as a knucklehead who is unable to answer basic questions at the interview. Be prepared with excellent answers to the questions mentioned below, but make sure that it does not sound rehearsed.
Here are some ideas:
- Can you describe what our company or organisation does?
- Why does our company interest you?
- What could be the ideal role for you?
- What are your strong points?
- What gets you really excited?
- What are your two most important accomplishments?
With some quality training in the industry you will certainly come up with good strategy. Also, taking out time for a specific film training program will prepare you for your life as a screenwriter or filmmaker. We wish you the very best hoping this article has successfully helped you map out your career in filmmaking.
“God speed. Do well. Break a leg!”
Filmmaker Career — In Conclusion
We hope you’ve found this article on building your filmmaker career helpful. Where are you in your journey towards a filmmaking career? Are you already living your dream? Let us know in the comments below.