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Fresh out of college and trying to shoot a feature


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#1 pablogaviria

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 02:12 PM

I'm getting close to graduating film school with a concentration in cinematography and I decided that I wanted to shoot a very neatly done feature before I try to do anything else like moving to LA to AC or end up working at Starbucks (no offense to anyone in that position, just not my #1 choice).

First of all, I made a concentration in Cinematography because it seems like the directing program was not very good at my school, and Cinematography seemed to be the most important area of filmmaking at the time. What I really want to do is to make my own movies, like everyone else I suppose.

I am actually a Colombian citizen and moved to the US to attend film school before I knew anything about film. I've learned a lot in film school and shot a bunch of shorts in video, 16mm and 35mm. During my time at school I failed to work in enough shoots, so I never really made a lot of contacts. I got people to work in my movies more than I worked in other people's movies.

My plan is now to save some money for a year, apply for grants, maybe take a loan and do fundraisers to save (according to my first and very rough budget) $20k with a group of two other very good friends who are also graduating art school at the same time so that we can all move to Colombia and pay really cheap rent for a good house and get the freedom to shoot in HD at our own pace. I have a story idea that hasn't made it past a treatment yet because of lack of time to write so I'm not getting there completely empty handed, but I assume I'll spend some time in Colombia writting as well.
The idea is to make a very good film for very cheap without getting a lot of people involved. After being in a few, I realized that big sets and crews are not the best to get my creative juices flowing. I've had experience doing everything that involves the production of a basic film. For my films I do everything from writing to telecine and I'm pretty happy with working that way, I only wish I had more time because as you might imagine it's a lot more time consuming if you put extra responsability on yourself.

For this reason, Colombia seemed perfect. It's an enviroment where I feel comfortable, it's extremely cheap and I plan on taking my own video camera with me, I know a lot more people there (specially artists).

It all felt like a pretty good idea, but my parents have been telling me lately that maybe I should try to get a job on someone else's movie to save money, because according to Salary.com a camera operator makes around $50k a year, and after I have saved the money and gotten more experience I should think about shooting my own... but the truth is my parents don't know anything about filmmaking. They are engineers and find jobs looking in the classifieds of the local newspaper.
I personally find it hard to find an operator job that will pay me $50k a years... I mean, those jobs are not even salary based! In the other hand I feel ready and enthusiastic to shoot my own movie. I have no wife or children so I have no real responsabilities other than paying off my student loans which can actually be diferred up to 30 years, so right now feels like the best time to take these risks. In the worst of the cases, I'll come back to the US and move to LA and work on other people's shoots and it's not like I ruined my life by investing one year in a failed project.

I really want to hear from experienced filmmakers and filmworkers.
It feels like everyone I know of that takes the LA or NY route ends up either a gaffer 20 years with a secret wish of becoming a DP or some sad story like that. I think a lot of people don't get to shoot their own movies because they don't want to take big risks or because they have personal responsabilities they need to respond to, and it's only logical that I give myself a chance to be succesful and do exactly what I'd like to do.

Thank you for your input
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#2 Bob Hayes

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 09:57 PM

It?s pretty hard to get a feature film right out of film school unless one of the directors you went to school with hires you. Because you?ve shot some short projects and rock videos you may want to look at this arena to gain experience and money. You also might want to look into ?reality? television which is always looking for competent video operators. None of this moves you closer to your dream of shooting features but it might help you build a base of contacts that will.
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#3 Zack Zrull

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Posted 17 May 2006 - 02:40 PM

I'm not an experienced filmmaker or anything, still a college student pursuing a film and video degree...but your plan(s) sound well thought-out and actually encouraging to someone who might be following the same path in a few years. I say go for it, make a feature if you can get the necessary money and crew-and by all means do it cheaply if you can! live your dreams and work on the projects that YOU want to, write your own scripts, direct your own movies..whatever..I think my life will be somewhat wasted if I go through it and don't at least try to do everything I want, and it sounds like you might think similarly about yourself. DO IT!!!!!!
have fun
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