Jump to content


Photo

You've finished film school


  • Please log in to reply
45 replies to this topic

#1 Ashley Barron

Ashley Barron
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 115 posts
  • Student

Posted 31 October 2007 - 12:50 AM

Hello,
So yes, now that you've finished film school where do you go from here? Anyone have any stories of how they got start in the biz? What's your advice for starting up?
Cheers.
  • 0

#2 Jonathan Bowerbank

Jonathan Bowerbank
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2815 posts
  • 1st Assistant Camera
  • San Francisco, CA

Posted 31 October 2007 - 01:08 AM

You should already start up before graduating. The better you can build up your resume, reputation and reel before graduating, the better chance you have after you get that degree.
  • 0

#3 Dan Salzmann

Dan Salzmann
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1143 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Paris, France

Posted 31 October 2007 - 07:19 AM

So what did you concentrate on in film school? Cinematography, direction, production, screenwriting?
What do you want to do? Director? DP? Editor? Producer? Etc., etc.?
What are your strong and weak points?
What kind of expenses do you have? Rent to pay? Kids? Etc.?
  • 0

#4 Lars Zemskih

Lars Zemskih
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 119 posts
  • Other

Posted 31 October 2007 - 08:05 AM

Well, hopefully you know the people that graduated with you and you guys all want and get a project to work together on soon. And hopefully you made contacts in the industry as well. Also, hopefully, you learned a lot and shot on film and know how everything works.

However, no school can guarantee any of this. It is your commitment and how much you are willing to learn and determined to succeed in one of the smallest job markets in the world. I think it is slowly growing though due to lower costs of filmmaking and quantity of films being made.

There are numerous success stories of famous directors or DP's who went to film school, but there are just as much for the ones that didn't.
  • 0

#5 Richard Boddington

Richard Boddington
  • Sustaining Members
  • 5482 posts
  • Director

Posted 31 October 2007 - 09:41 AM

This question was never discussed at your film school? If not then they really failed you.

R,
  • 0

#6 Jason Debus

Jason Debus
  • Sustaining Members
  • 311 posts
  • Student
  • Los Angeles, CA

Posted 31 October 2007 - 09:53 AM

Not to sound negative but Richard is right. If you're asking this question after completing film school then they didn't do a very good job. Part of what they do is helping you get a position in the industry, so you should at least have some sort of internship set up. There are quite a few students at my school that are working full time in the industry and going to school at the same time.
  • 0

#7 Ashley Barron

Ashley Barron
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 115 posts
  • Student

Posted 31 October 2007 - 08:44 PM

No, no I know where I'm going myself, but I wanted to hear people's stories of how they got to where they are etc.
I'm hoping to be a cinematographer and have worked on film (briefly) and have made short films and have networked etc. And I know that it is a difficult industry to get into.
Compiling a bit of research at the moment and seeing what other peoples' stories are, particularly those of other countries than Australia.
  • 0

#8 Robert Glenn

Robert Glenn
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 247 posts
  • Other

Posted 01 November 2007 - 09:04 AM

are you talking graduate studies film school or undergrad? If you finished graduate studies, then I would expect you to have an idea of what to do. If its undergrad, well you will have to move to an area that have studios or sizeable media markets.. basically LA, NY, Vancouver, Wilmington and probably a few others that I dont know about
  • 0

#9 Walter Graff

Walter Graff
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1334 posts
  • Other
  • New York City

Posted 01 November 2007 - 09:01 PM

At this point regardless of what you learned in school, you are simply an eager nobody interested in learning. Don't tell folks you are a director, or cinematographer or anything other than a college grad looking to see what you want to do but eager to do whatever you have to. Look to work for free if you have to to get started but make sure to lok for productions that are not home movie projects. Rather find pros in your town (production companies, agencies, equipment owners, cable stations) and ask them how you can find out about working, volunteering, interning, anything to get to know how the business works, how productions are made, what the positions are, what the ins and outs of productions are, and how you can fit into any of them. Expect at least 8 years of your life trying to do whatever you can before anyone rally recognizes you as any one position. Keep an open mind and expect it to be tough. But most important is to meet as many people as you can and do your best so they see this and also let them know you that you are available for any work. Have business cards made with your name number and the term "production person".
  • 0

#10 GeorgeSelinsky

GeorgeSelinsky
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 718 posts

Posted 02 November 2007 - 12:20 PM

I guess it all depends on what you want to do with yourself. I graduated from NYU in 1998, and I'm still not famous, lol.

Filmschool just gives you the raw skills, it teaches you how to think in the right categories and it helps build some networks. As my cinematography teacher said after our camera class "This class does not make you a cinematographer"

It's funny but you never know who's going to make it in the film business. Some very promising classmates who've made the biggest prize winner short films end up going into law or some other field. Then some slackers who didn't really work hard or made atrocious films end up making that groundbreaking feature. It's a total crapshoot. It's very easy to burn out in filmmaking.

If you want to be a cinematographer, you just have to go out there and shoot, keep your chops sharp and challenge yourself. Work for free in the beginning, then you will be paid and land better assignments as you improve. If you have a reputation of being easy to work with, and on top of craftsmanship you find that fine balance of being a good worker without being a) a scandalous or pretentious jerk, or B) a total pushover, that will tremendously help.

If you want to be a writer-director or director, you have to go out and make films. That simple. When you get an assignment in filmschool, pour yourself into it. I was amazed at how hard my fellow classmates at NYU would work on simple "lighting exercises". They'd go all the way, get actors, locations, you name it. They took it very seriously.

So there really is no secret mystery here. While in filmschool you will make friends and build working relationships with people. Quite a few of them may never get anywhere, but working with them will inevitably benefit you and lead you to other relationships.

And of course, never expect that once you get your diploma you're going to be the big man. As my film professor said, "Think of your life in terms of decades, not months or even years". Everyone wants to hit the pavement running, but those who believe they're going to make it to an award winning Sundance flick straight from filmschool will be taught humility by life.

Edited by GeorgeSelinsky, 02 November 2007 - 12:24 PM.

  • 0

#11 Richard Boddington

Richard Boddington
  • Sustaining Members
  • 5482 posts
  • Director

Posted 02 November 2007 - 04:18 PM

"Everyone wants to hit the pavement running, but those who believe they're going to make it to an award winning Sundance flick straight from filmschool will be taught humility by life."

Except for those people that DO make an award winning Sundance flick straight from film school :D

As I look at IMDB pages for directors I'm often shocked at how young some of these guys are. They are directing multi-million dollar Hollywood features before age 35. I think, how on earth did they get so far so fast? Amazing.

R,
  • 0

#12 Michael LaVoie

Michael LaVoie
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 719 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 02 November 2007 - 05:12 PM

If you're in the US, the first step is establishing residency in either NY or LA. If you're already in either town you have a leg up. Next would be working at any job you can in order to save up enough money to not have to work for about 3 months. Then take whatever PA jobs you can on low no budget films and try to help out the set technicians. You won't have to work for free for very long before you start getting regular paying work.
Avoid PA'ing on Hollywood productions. It's a total waste of time. The set techs want nothing to do with you and you'll be treated with indifference if your lucky. Try and get onto smaller productions where they need help and you can actually learn some skills.

If you're good and you have a good attitude, set technicians will get you paying gigs as either a grip, electric or if your in camera as a loader or 2nd 2nd A.C. No matter what department you pick to try and break into, the people you see working have a very hard time finding good people with the right attitude so they'll notice you right away if you have both. I'd say that's 80% of it. The rest is showing up on time and staying focused on what your doing. You'd be amazed at how far you'll go and how quickly. Most of the crew I started with is too expensive for me to work with now. I started DP'ing immediately after school and that takes a lot longer to break in compared to the A.C.'s and grips that I started with who are all now in the union making more than me. It all depends on what you want. If you want to shoot, I'd be careful not to crew too much. Learn what you can from professional grips about how to safely handle C-stands and lights. Learn how to load cameras and magazines and then bail and start shooting. Directing is a totally different thing. But if I were you, I'd learn as much about cinematography as you can before trying to direct.
  • 0

#13 GeorgeSelinsky

GeorgeSelinsky
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 718 posts

Posted 02 November 2007 - 06:33 PM

Except for those people that DO make an award winning Sundance flick straight from film school :D


That's really a very, very, very small minority, to be honest. It happens rarely. And when it does happen, what ends up happening often is that these directors are flashes in the pan. So many are carried away by their apparent success, then they get eaten in development hell and find some other job to float the bills. They become writers or something else.

When you graduate filmschool you're usually around 22 years old (if we're talking undergrad), a year after you got the legal right to buy a beer at a bar, and three years before you can rent a car in some states. It's still quite a young age to be directing films, really. One of my teachers said "It should be against the law for anyone to direct a feature under 40 years old". I see his point more and more as time goes by.

To me, the path of a director has to be determined. The most important thing is to have something to say. If you don't have something to say, you'll become more like a commercial director, selling sizzle but not substance. I think a lot of kids in film school who jump into feature films are so enamored with style and not concerned enough with the raw content of the story. They will attach themselves to and obsess with various crafts, i.e. they'll get very specific on the shots, on the music, on the editing, on the wardrobe, on the art direction, but the script and the acting comes last.

It's really a maturation process, and it takes experience and time for it to occur. You have to have things to say. You have to learn how to say them. You will change in the process. It's quite a journey, and it's a bad idea to rush it.
  • 0

#14 Richard Boddington

Richard Boddington
  • Sustaining Members
  • 5482 posts
  • Director

Posted 02 November 2007 - 08:35 PM

"That's really a very, very, very small minority, to be honest. It happens rarely."

Yes of course, hence the :D

But when it does happen it makes big news, and people begin to think it's a norm, especially kids entering film school. We old folk have been told on this forum a dozen times by teens that since none of us where rich and famous at 21. We are bitter and try and keep down the 17-18 year olds that will be rich and famous at 21.

All but a small handful of kids I've met in film school have two things going for them, huge attitude and expectations some where in the clouds.

Parents are actually part of the problem, they can't understand why their son, who just spent four years in university. Has a PA job on a film set making 12 bucks an hour. I mean he's university educated, he should be a director like Steven Spielberg, and what do you mean he has to move back home because he hasn't worked in five months. He has a university degree!!

R,
  • 0

#15 Ashley Barron

Ashley Barron
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 115 posts
  • Student

Posted 02 November 2007 - 09:28 PM

"Parents are actually part of the problem, they can't understand why their son, who just spent four years in university. Has a PA job on a film set making 12 bucks an hour. I mean he's university educated, he should be a director like Steven Spielberg, and what do you mean he has to move back home because he hasn't worked in five months. He has a university degree!!

R,


Haha very true!
Well here's another quesion..is it harder to break into the industry (particularly in the grip/lighting department) if you're a girl?
Any girls on the forum who have a story to tell on how they're going in the industry?
  • 0

#16 GeorgeSelinsky

GeorgeSelinsky
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 718 posts

Posted 03 November 2007 - 01:27 AM

We are bitter and try and keep down the 17-18 year olds that will be rich and famous at 21.


Yeah, reminds me of those 16 year olds who I've seen asking where to buy a cheap 35mm camera. When I was that age I was thrilled to have a Bolex in my hands, which I got as a 14 year old. I didn't really know how to use it properly for some time though, because I got a C mount adapter for a Minolta lens and it wouldn't do infinity focus, and I hadn't enough money for an optical viewfinder so I over-compensated manually - let's not go there, lots of wasted film, lol...

I think that some kids who are that age and get started risk burning themselves out. It's sort of like getting married at 16. Also, those who actually do make it at that age almost always have experienced people helping them out. Sort of like Haig Manoogian helped Scorsese with his first feature (if you look at Scorsese in that film, he looks like a boy he's so young!)
  • 0

#17 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19759 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 03 November 2007 - 11:54 AM

Parents are actually part of the problem, they can't understand why their son, who just spent four years in university. Has a PA job on a film set making 12 bucks an hour. I mean he's university educated, he should be a director like Steven Spielberg, and what do you mean he has to move back home because he hasn't worked in five months. He has a university degree!!


Hey, it wasn't until about three years ago, after I shot 25 features and got into the ASC, that my mom stopped pestering me to go back to school and get an Engineering degree and then a real job... Not that it wasn't good advice.
  • 0

#18 K Borowski

K Borowski
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 3905 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • I.A.T.S.E. Local # 600 Eastern Region

Posted 03 November 2007 - 01:08 PM

Hey, it wasn't until about three years ago, after I shot 25 features and got into the ASC, that my mom stopped pestering me to go back to school and get an Engineering degree and then a real job... Not that it wasn't good advice.


Why was this good advice? When I was going to school for engineering, and trying to do photography and filmmaking on the side, it was hell. Engineering isn't a 4-year degree, and it doesn't pay particularly well either. You're talking about $8,000 per year minimum for at least 6 years to get a job that pays you $50,000/yr, or as low as $35,000 per year if you're in Civil Engineering. A lot of engineering fields are so specialized that there are only four or five cities in the nation where you can even find work anymore after you graduate, unless of course you go back and get a PhD and teach to other people. Honestly, engineering is not all that it is cracked up to be. I'd recommend a business degree for someone that wants to do filmmaking just as a hobby. You'll need this knowledge almost as much as you need film education if you want a career in filmmaking anyway, and it gives you so much versatility and job opportunity just about anywhere you go. The notion that engineering, doctoring and lawyering are all good jobs is only partially true, and it overlooks the excessive amounts of difficulty involved in getting certified and placed in these jobs. People here bitch about not shooting features until they are 35. There are Pre-Meds that don't even get into medical school until their mid-30s.

I don't know what I think about film school. From my still photography education, you honestly need to know what you're going before you even take the class, because there's just too much to teach, honestly. There are a lot of programs that fly through the basics, leaving a lot of people that honestly don't know what the hell they are doing half the time. There were people getting entire rolls of film blank shooting in my first B&W photography class. I'd get maybe one or two frames on a whole roll. I'm sure it's no different in film school. "WHy'd this roll not come out?" is a far-too-common question, that, frankly shouldn't even be asked. The students that have to ask their professors this question don't even have the drive to go and try to figure their question out for themselves. I know a girl that is taking a lighting class I wanted to take but couldn't get into this semester. She comes up to me and asks me the other day what a key and fill light were, and didn't even know waht a lighting ratio was. What do they teach her in this class if she doesn't know the basics half way through the semester, I wonder?
  • 0

#19 K Borowski

K Borowski
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 3905 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • I.A.T.S.E. Local # 600 Eastern Region

Posted 03 November 2007 - 01:15 PM

What this post has really got me wondering about now is location. Until I saw this post, I was heart-set on starting out in New York working on film projects. However, I see that Toronto is also a big film hub. It has the advantage of being 200 miles closer than NYC and I'd assume it isn't quite as competitive or anywhere near as pricey as the Big Apple, althought there's probably not as much work there as either NYC or Hollywood. Besides these rubs and that pesky metric system up there ;-) , has anyone worked in Toronto on this board? Can you provide advice as to how to break in here as opposed to in California or New York?

I'm not to the point where I consider myself polished enough to be a 1st AC or a DoP, but definitely feel up to the task of clapper/loading. How does one go about breaking in to this sort of thing? I have become very compotent as a still photographer and was thinking that maybe becoming a set photographer might be an avenue to getting on the sets and then meeting the right people. Also, are there any unions in Canada?

Edited by Karl Borowski, 03 November 2007 - 01:16 PM.

  • 0

#20 Richard Boddington

Richard Boddington
  • Sustaining Members
  • 5482 posts
  • Director

Posted 03 November 2007 - 01:18 PM

Hey, it wasn't until about three years ago, after I shot 25 features and got into the ASC, that my mom stopped pestering me to go back to school and get an Engineering degree and then a real job... Not that it wasn't good advice.


Yes, but David you're Asian, your mother won't be happy until you are the head of the studio :D

R,
  • 0


CineTape

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Wooden Camera

Metropolis Post

Abel Cine

Paralinx LLC

rebotnix Technologies

Ritter Battery

Technodolly

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Tai Audio

Broadcast Solutions Inc

The Slider

Aerial Filmworks

CineLab

Opal

Glidecam

FJS International, LLC

Visual Products

Willys Widgets

Rig Wheels Passport

Paralinx LLC

Glidecam

Metropolis Post

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Tai Audio

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Abel Cine

FJS International, LLC

rebotnix Technologies

Opal

CineLab

Willys Widgets

Rig Wheels Passport

Visual Products

Ritter Battery

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

The Slider

Aerial Filmworks

CineTape

Wooden Camera

Technodolly