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#1 Dax McKeever

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 11:48 AM

I've heard many experts give the same advice: school is great for academic teachers, but "avoid film school and use the money to do your own". I understand this advice, when it comes from experienced wisemen who entered this [film] career 20years ago. I'm considering fine film schools overseas, because (1) I have limited camera experience; (2) I'm not fond of U.S. 3-4yr education; (3) I feel there's more to learn from a diverse, international atmosphere; esp while I'm young, under 30. I'm interested if you can share your own personal bio on how you found this career, and how you found entry-level opportunity? Thanks in advance for priceless expertise.

--Dax :rolleyes:

My story:
After an undergrad BA from Univ of Alabama-Birmingham, I found myself spending 5 years in Los Angeles. I quickly lost admiration for non-sense Hollywood actors [which are as bad as politicans], and my heart is seeking behind-camera film career. I am considering Documentary Filmmaking toward one-year MA graduate study overseas at UCCA in Farnham, England. And it will cost money but I have also heard I appraisals about NYU's Tisch School of Arts [in Singapore, Asia]. I would really love to spend more time overseas and Travel Channel, Discovery Channel, National Geographic would be heaven-on-earth; but difficult, I know.
And I also have time & study spent in London (UK), Gold Coast/Brisbane Australia, and 6mo in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
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#2 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 01:33 PM

There really isn't an easy answer to your question. The first place to begin is to sit down and figure out PRECISELY what job it is you want to do. Too many people skip that step and just want to work "behind the scenes" or want to be "filmmakers." What do those statements really mean?

The answer is "not a lot." See, established people in the industry want to help aspiring "filmmakers" but without a clear goal, it is difficult to help you (and others) take the correct road. In the same way, filmschool education can be very advantageous for those who know what it is they would like to actually do, but otherwise, it may seem like a waste of time and money.

To complicate matters further, there is no "one way" to get into the business. Unlike some other professions, that filmschool degree won't really directly help, meaning, not many people are going to ask to see your diploma. If you're attempting to build a career that involves any kind of craft or skill, those who can hire you want to know A) if you can really do that job, B ) if you have some kind of professional experience, and C) if you're a pleasant person to work with.

A and B have everything to do with those people choosing you because they believe that you can help them in their own careers because you are able to create something or provide the proper technical support to help the creative element. C exists because workdays are long and projects last several weeks to several months. Knowing what you're doing is definitely important, but nobody wants to work with a complete jerk for fourteen hours a day for twelve weeks.

So, step one is to figure out what it is you really want to do. If you want to be a Director, what is it you want to direct? Features? Episodics? Sit-coms? Documentaries? Gameshows? Live News? If it's narrative fiction you're after, you'll likely have a better shot at a career if you are also a great screenwriter. And if you want to direct on a professional level, you'll have to have work that shows that you can and have directed. That means going out and doing it, first on your own (likely for no money) then working your way up by directing low-budget productions that someone else is paying for.

If you want to be a Cameraman, Costume Designer, Stunt Coordinator, etc., the same kinds of questions apply. Once you are able to answer the question of goals for yourself, then you'll be able to tailor your own filmschool education to fit what you need to get out of it.

If you have trouble figuring out that first key question, read some books (like mine below) and others that are listed on my site (Resources) to find out what those jobs really are like. Something that seems cool at first glance may lose its luster after you find out what is really involved. Also, the worlds of narrative fiction (features, episodics, etc) are vastly different than working in the documentary realm. Work protocols are different. Expectations are different. How you get work and get to work is different.

There are so many variables involved in creating an actual viable career that discovering what it is you really want to do is the first most important thing you should think about.

Edited by Brian Dzyak, 21 April 2008 - 01:35 PM.

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#3 Dax McKeever

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 04:19 PM

If you have trouble figuring out that first key question, read some books (like mine below) and others that are listed on my site (Resources) to find out what those jobs really are like. Something that seems cool at first glance may lose its luster after you find out what is really involved. Also, the worlds of narrative fiction (features, episodics, etc) are vastly different than working in the documentary realm. Work protocols are different. Expectations are different. How you get work and get to work is different.

There are so many variables involved in creating an actual viable career that discovering what it is you really want to do is the first most important thing you should think about.



Thanks, Brian, for your advice. I'd like to discuss your words of wisdom, if I may.
I reviewed your website links to your book and while I am certain it will offer many ideas to unanswered
questions, I come from the school of "you learn by experience & work". It reminds me of the books I've
read by Bonnie Gillispie "10 Things to Know Before Going Hollywood"; Q & A with many industry elite and
others in Hollywood. Such books tend to offer general answers that offer no real solutions. I mean, if it
worked then everyone would be successful, right?
And if these books were suggested for young readers, which they should be, then they would be much,
much more helpful...and college universities might have less attendance in the academic arts taught by
artistic teachers, who were unable [or chose not to pursue] real, professional careers in LA, NYC, other.

But after five years in LA, I have developed a hardball, honest New York - State of Mind; which differs greatly
from my hospitable southern roots in Georgia, Alabama. SO I AM SENDING THIS REPLY BECAUSE I HOPE TO
SPEAK FURTHER WITH YOUR EXPERT ADVICE
; and you may offer additional guidance that will lead me to be-
lieve your book will be unique from the others: "How to make it in Hollywood", "How to become a millionare", etc.


PS
Behind-the-camera I am pursuing skills of cinematography, which I hope with time & experience will allow me to
become independent with my own company. I am more experienced with post-production EDITING, right now,
and I hope to find intern/assistance opportunity to gain additional experience; and industry contacts to find work
in Documentary film productions. As I said in my prior text, "National Geographic, Discovery & History Channel,
would be heaven-on-earth job applications." But without ties, a job in the White House is more possible.

If you have not found him already, there is a young man of 16 years with a topic entitle "Film School: yes or no".
He sounds like he seeks career advice on not knowing what he wants to do. I hope to speak further with you.
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#4 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 10:43 PM

Thanks, Brian, for your advice. I'd like to discuss your words of wisdom, if I may.
I reviewed your website links to your book and while I am certain it will offer many ideas to unanswered
questions, I come from the school of "you learn by experience & work". It reminds me of the books I've
read by Bonnie Gillispie "10 Things to Know Before Going Hollywood"; Q & A with many industry elite and
others in Hollywood. Such books tend to offer general answers that offer no real solutions. I mean, if it
worked then everyone would be successful, right?
And if these books were suggested for young readers, which they should be, then they would be much,
much more helpful...and college universities might have less attendance in the academic arts taught by
artistic teachers, who were unable [or chose not to pursue] real, professional careers in LA, NYC, other.

But after five years in LA, I have developed a hardball, honest New York - State of Mind; which differs greatly
from my hospitable southern roots in Georgia, Alabama. SO I AM SENDING THIS REPLY BECAUSE I HOPE TO
SPEAK FURTHER WITH YOUR EXPERT ADVICE
; and you may offer additional guidance that will lead me to be-
lieve your book will be unique from the others: "How to make it in Hollywood", "How to become a millionare", etc.


PS
Behind-the-camera I am pursuing skills of cinematography, which I hope with time & experience will allow me to
become independent with my own company. I am more experienced with post-production EDITING, right now,
and I hope to find intern/assistance opportunity to gain additional experience; and industry contacts to find work
in Documentary film productions. As I said in my prior text, "National Geographic, Discovery & History Channel,
would be heaven-on-earth job applications." But without ties, a job in the White House is more possible.

If you have not found him already, there is a young man of 16 years with a topic entitle "Film School: yes or no".
He sounds like he seeks career advice on not knowing what he wants to do. I hope to speak further with you.


You make me smile, Dax. :) Write or call anytime. My contact info is on either of my sites. (But I'll be on set all day Tuesday)

To address a fine point you made above, the sweeping generalities that you refer to which permeate the vast majority of "How to Get into Hollywood" books is precisely why I wrote the book that I did. Having come from "nowhere USA" and knowing "no one" and having attended filmschool, I learned "how to" the way just about everyone else has, by going out there and making mistakes. The "how to make a movie" books and the "this is what a _____ does" definition books are woefully unhelpful for anyone who wants to really create a career. Too many books feed into the fantasy created by the one-in-a-million success stories like Tarantino and Rodriguez. MOST people will never ever find that kind of success no matter how good they are or how hard they work. Yet those books keep coming.

I started writing mine, not as a book, but quite literally just like this, as a series of responses to email questions and phone calls from people just like you. Despite the books and the filmschools that exist right now, the people keep coming and the questions don't stop. I decided that instead of painstakingly responding to every inquiry individually (which I still try to do anyway when I have time), I'd compile all of the information that I wish I had known before I moved out to LA. Learning how the industry truly works goes far beyond making short films in school or reading brief job descriptions in a book. While nothing can replace actual hands-on experience, not everyone is able to do that so I've attempted to provide a taste of what LIFE is really like for everyone who works on a movie set. And by reading about what everyone there does every minute of every day, the aspiring "filmmaker" will be that much farther ahead when he/she does take the steps necessary to join the professional industry.

But, that gets released in a couple of months, so in the meantime, I try to help out where I can just as others helped me when I started. It's a "pay it forward" kinda thing. :)
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#5 Dax McKeever

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Posted 22 April 2008 - 03:14 PM

You make me smile, Dax. :) Write or call anytime. My contact info is on either of my sites. (But I'll be on set all day Tuesday)

To address a fine point you made above, the sweeping generalities that you refer to which permeate the vast majority of "How to Get into Hollywood" books is precisely why I wrote the book that I did. Having come from "nowhere USA" and knowing "no one" and having attended filmschool, I learned "how to" the way just about everyone else has, by going out there and making mistakes. The "how to make a movie" books and the "this is what a _____ does" definition books are woefully unhelpful for anyone who wants to really create a career. Too many books feed into the fantasy created by the one-in-a-million success stories like Tarantino and Rodriguez. MOST people will never ever find that kind of success no matter how good they are or how hard they work. Yet those books keep coming.

I started writing mine, not as a book, but quite literally just like this, as a series of responses to email questions and phone calls from people just like you. Despite the books and the filmschools that exist right now, the people keep coming and the questions don't stop. I decided that instead of painstakingly responding to every inquiry individually (which I still try to do anyway when I have time), I'd compile all of the information that I wish I had known before I moved out to LA. Learning how the industry truly works goes far beyond making short films in school or reading brief job descriptions in a book. While nothing can replace actual hands-on experience, not everyone is able to do that so I've attempted to provide a taste of what LIFE is really like for everyone who works on a movie set. And by reading about what everyone there does every minute of every day, the aspiring "filmmaker" will be that much farther ahead when he/she does take the steps necessary to join the professional industry.

But, that gets released in a couple of months, so in the meantime, I try to help out where I can just as others helped me when I started. It's a "pay it forward" kinda thing. :)



YES, YOU KNOW WHAT I AM REFERRING TO THEN. WE WILL TALK MORE AND WHEN YOUR BOOK IS SOON TO COME OUT, MAYBE I WILL HAVE A CHANGE OF MINE; and mind. I DON'T KNOW IF YOU ARE A SPORTS ENTHUSIAST, and i was when i was younger, BUT NOW IT IS ALL STEROID DOMINATED. UNLIKE THE ARTS OF ENTERTAINMENT [OR OTHER CAREERS DEPENDENT ON WHO-YOU-KNOW], AN ATHLETE DOES NOT HAVE A PAYCHECK UNLESS HE HIS GOOD AT WHAT HE DOES. THIS IS WHAT SICKENED ME WHEN I ARRIVED HOLLYWOOD. EVEN THOUGH I HAD LITTLE RESPECT OF MODELS/ACTORS ALREADY, I HAD LESS OF A RESPECT WHEN I EXPERIENCED IN LOS ANGELES HOW MUCH poop CAME OUT OF THEIR MOUTHS [EVEN WHEN THEY WERE OFF-SET]; LIKE POLITICIANS WHO ARE DETERMINED TO WORK "FOR THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE, AND BLA BLA BLA". I MEAN, CINEMA TODAY IS 110% BULL BECAUSE OF THE ACTORS WHO ARE HIRED BY DADDY DIRECTOR or THE ACTORS WHO FIND WORK BECAUSE THEY FIND PUBLICITY WITH IMMATURE, IRRESPONSIBLE DRUG & SEX PROPAGANDA. IT'S AS BAD AS POLITICS.

ANYWAY, BACK TO MY SPORTS METAPHOR: I SHOOK HANDS ONE DAY WITH THE HALL-OF-FAME DAVE WINFIELD, MLB ANGELES BASEBALL. ALONG WITH LOOKING OUT OF SHAPE AT THE LA SPORTSCLUB ON SEPULVEDA BLVD., HE WAS TRYING TO 'SPREAD WORD' ABOUT HIS UPCOMING BOOK; WHICH WAS SIMILAR TO JOSE CANSECO'S MLB STEROID ABUSE CONTROVERSY. ABOUT SIX MONTHS LATER I REUNITED WITH DAVE WINFIELD AT LAX AIRPORT LUGGAGE AREA, AND WHEN I ASKED ABOUT HIS BOOK HE COMMENTED "NOT SO WELL".
WHAT A DIFFERENCE THE WORLD CAN MAKE ON PROPAGANDA, TIMING AND PUBLICITY, RIGHT? Tell me about your student perspective at film school? You studied at USC, NYC, or Arizona, which I've heard has a decent film program?
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Visual Products

Tai Audio

rebotnix Technologies

Glidecam

CineLab

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Rig Wheels Passport

Abel Cine

Technodolly

Broadcast Solutions Inc

CineTape

Paralinx LLC

Wooden Camera

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Opal

Ritter Battery

Metropolis Post

FJS International, LLC

Aerial Filmworks

Willys Widgets

The Slider