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How fast do you move?


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#1 SeeMeSoon

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Posted 29 January 2006 - 09:12 PM

I am just beginning my film school career, and am worrying about how fast I need to start hitting the ropes. I am just about to finish my GenEds for my BA and am transfering to California to go to a better film schoo. Is there any suggestions on how I should calm myself down and stop trying to plan the next couple years out? I am continually working on a script and am always looking for projects to work on, but no one is doing anything around me.
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#2 Thomas Tamura

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Posted 30 January 2006 - 02:15 AM

If you're always working on a script and about to go to a better school (better conections) then what are you worried about? So no one is doing anything -- you're about to leave them behind, right? best of luck to you.


I am just beginning my film school career, and am worrying about how fast I need to start hitting the ropes. I am just about to finish my GenEds for my BA and am transfering to California to go to a better film schoo. Is there any suggestions on how I should calm myself down and stop trying to plan the next couple years out? I am continually working on a script and am always looking for projects to work on, but no one is doing anything around me.


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#3 Will Novy

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Posted 30 January 2006 - 08:04 AM

If you're always working on a script and about to go to a better school (better conections) then what are you worried about? So no one is doing anything -- you're about to leave them behind, right? best of luck to you.

I am about to finish film school in california, and have lived here all my life. In the last year of my schooling (i go to brooks institute of photography for their BA system), i found out that the industry is VERY hard to get into in LA. If you can plan out your years here, you might be better off, because I didnt, and it took a few of my good friends to graduated to learn that if you dont sell yourself, it will take a great many years to get where you want to be. If you can, build a website (post your projects/reel) and make business cards. This will help you out greatly and having a business card as a student lets people know you are serious at what you want to be. Also, work on as many projects (without killing yourself) as you can so you can to build up your reel fast and have a strong one by the time you leave. Teachers as guides and mentors are always a good thing and (at least at my school) are more then welcome to answer and or help out on anything they can. Have fun and I hope you enjoy it! Keep working on scripts and ideas, the more strong scripts, the better/stronger the choosen project will be.
-Will

Edited by BilliamFilms, 30 January 2006 - 08:05 AM.

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#4 SeeMeSoon

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Posted 30 January 2006 - 05:55 PM

I am about to finish film school in california, and have lived here all my life. In the last year of my schooling (i go to brooks institute of photography for their BA system), i found out that the industry is VERY hard to get into in LA. If you can plan out your years here, you might be better off, because I didnt, and it took a few of my good friends to graduated to learn that if you dont sell yourself, it will take a great many years to get where you want to be. If you can, build a website (post your projects/reel) and make business cards. This will help you out greatly and having a business card as a student lets people know you are serious at what you want to be. Also, work on as many projects (without killing yourself) as you can so you can to build up your reel fast and have a strong one by the time you leave. Teachers as guides and mentors are always a good thing and (at least at my school) are more then welcome to answer and or help out on anything they can. Have fun and I hope you enjoy it! Keep working on scripts and ideas, the more strong scripts, the better/stronger the choosen project will be.
-Will

THanks man thats seems pretty smart to do. I actually am trying to plan out as much as I can, in regards to what I want to accomplish. I feel like organization in film is the hardest, but the best thing to do for succession.
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#5 Morgan Peline

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Posted 31 January 2006 - 08:40 AM

I would decide where you want to specialise and then start contacting production companies and offer to work for them for free (or very low salary) maybe a day a week - the logic behind this is hopefully by the time you finish your degree you can jump into paid work because you will know the bosses at the company you work for so well they offer you a job...well that's the theory anyway.
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#6 Annie Wengenroth

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 10:48 PM

This is a longer version of the Get Out There speech that I gave once to an unmotivated, uninspired friend of mine.

I myself have sort of a weird perception of how long it takes to learn this stuff, because I guess I had a bit of a growth spurt. Once upon a time I was running around with a Bolex and I was like "Circles of what? Depth of who? Huh?" A year later I was teaching workstudy students how to build, load, and thread the Moviecam Super America. 8 months later, I was showing a grad cinematography student how to build, load, and thread a Panaflex and I had many student projects under my belt as an AC. I never took Lighting and Field. I never took Cinematography. The school paid ME to learn! I put in as much hands-on time with the school's cameras as I possibly could, asked the professors tons of questions, talked to the other students, and started trying to figure all this stuff out.

In a very short amount of time, I went from not knowing anything about film equipment and making minimum wage as a workstudy student, to being a part-time staff member in the equipment checkout...and pretty soon, the people I used to ask for help, were coming to me. By "pretty soon" I mean within about 6 months. In two years I went from not knowing what I wanted to do and having a crappy GPA, to making the dean's list and working to become the best camera assistant that I knew how to be. I fell in love with the idea of being a 1st AC (I know, I'm crazy) and started to figure out a few possibilities for myself after school. I got on every set that I possibly could and I busted my ass and my life completely turned around. It was amazing. It continues to be amazing.

I graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design on November 22, 2005 with a BFA in sound design (not film...ooh! Guess what, it doesn't make a difference!) and a minor in animation. I stuck my resume up on mandy.com and started throwing out some emails to people I knew in the industry who were doing what I wanted to do. Earlier on that month, I'd had to turn down 3 job offers in the span of two weeks because of still being in school and thus, unable to get there. I left Savannah on December 10th and landed my first gig in New York on an HD feature as a 2nd AC 3 weeks later.

So on January 1st 2006, I went to New York, did the shoot, made some contacts, applied at a few rental houses, and lined up a few more freelance jobs in the meantime. I went back to Boston in the middle of last month for about 3 days and then decided, to hell with it, ain't nothing happening here. Packed up everything I could fit into one bag, grabbed my tool belt, laptop, camera books, and ditty bag, and came back to NYC waiting to jump at the next opportunity. Three days later I got a job. I now work as a floor tech at Arri CSC and have also gotten a few gigs as an AC (1st and 2nd) on weekends. I'm learning new cameras and new skills and gearing up to take the union test in November.

I'm not bragging. I'm just trying to illustrate how time can move for you if you are really, really driven about what you want to do. If people think that this story screams Newbie, so be it. If they find it inspiring, great. Don't freak out when 5 different people tell you 10 different things about this industry because you will find your own way, so you might as well just listen to them and file away the advice for later. Don't doubt yourself. Think about where the work is and go there. If you don't have the money to get there, find an easy way to make the money with a job that you don't give a rat's ass about so that when you quit to go work on set, it won't matter. Put in your time at a rental house if you think that's the best route for you. Give yourself a one-year plan and mark the calendar every day.

Don't let anyone tell you that it won't happen, and be prepared to make sacrifices, but rest assured that if you really care about this, the sacrifices will pay off. People will call you a rookie. You'll screw up and you'll hate yourself but it's okay because it too will pass. Don't tell stupid film school stories on professional sets and never reveal your age, just listen to what they have to say and drink lots of water. On the other hand, some people will hate you for your progress because it took them longer. It's okay though, just give them lots of water and listen to them anyway. You'll be hungry, tired, and broke and your feet will hurt. Granted I guess it is different if you want to be a DP instead of a camera-hauling, focus-pulling wacko with a tool belt like me... but initially, the only way you can go wrong is if you give up completely and buy a $300 camcorder at Best Buy to shoot amateur pornography, or if you decide to become a dentist instead. Nothing against dentists; it's just that it doesn't really have anything to do with cinematography.

That was really, really long and if any of you need to come back to the post and read it sentence by sentence for a few weeks, please feel free.
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#7 Josh Bass

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 11:08 PM

"t if you want to be a DP instead of a camera-hauling, focus-pulling wacko with a tool belt like me... but initially, the only way you can go wrong is if you give up completely and buy a $300 camcorder at Best Buy to shoot amateur pornography"

You should really use a 3 chip camera for porn. You'll get better color sampling on those closeups of ***** and ********************, and artifacts won't be as bad during ************. Don't even get me started on the artificial edge enhancement.
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#8 Morgan Peline

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 11:58 AM

I think the most difficult bit is figuring out what you want to do. Once you have a clear idea, the the rest is just a question of spending the time to learn it and never giving up. It might take a long time, it might take a short time, and usually it takes a lot of luck and being in the right place at the right time but at least you know where you're headed. There's nothing worse than not knowing what you want to do - that's where you can waste a lot of time...life is to short to do that.
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#9 Chien Huey

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 09:39 AM

One of the things I found important is to keep working to keep the juices flowing. The worst thing for you when you're starting out is to mull around doing nothing. I know some guys just graduating film school and they don't wanna work unless it's for pay. I realize the need to make a living but if the alternative is staying home and watching TV, then even working for free is better (plus maybe you'll get fed). You always learn something on a set even if it's one thing.

Also, you never know where things will lead. Last weekend, I got a call about a freebie one day shoot during a hellish luma-key shoot. To be honest, I did think about whether or not I wanted to work again on Monday after a crazy weekend that was preceded by preprod on two other projects. Long story short, I did the freebie. The guy was so impressed that he's trying to get me hooked up with an corporate video gig at his day job.

The advantage to your situation, SeeMeSoon, is that you're in film school and you have a huge pool of projects that you can volunteer on. If you're work continually through school, you'll be experienced and skilled from having shot your classmates' thesis/other projects.
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#10 Annie Wengenroth

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 11:11 PM

Absolutely. Take advantage of the short-term, smaller projects while you can (and free equipment rental if you have that sort of thing!). Don't let people give you a hard time about not finding paying work; I mean hey, it's still work, and it's a step. (You could always just lie: "Oh yeah, 500 a day" :P ) Also, if you're not getting paid, bring zip-lock bags to the craft services table. :D
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