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Finding Jobs as a Director


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#1 Michael Frymus

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Posted 20 September 2009 - 05:13 PM

So, I am going to film school, in July..

After I graduate, I will be looking for jobs as a Director. I believe that they will show me how to get some jobs, but I want to know how I would be able to find jobs now.

Im not looking to start filming or find a job, but I just want to know where to look.

So, after graduating film school, I will have a lot of contacts of other students and people. So, that is a good way to find jobs. But, lets not mention that.

What is a way to find jobs as a Director other than through other people?

And not through those site like:
Mandy
Craigslist
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#2 Michael Frymus

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Posted 22 September 2009 - 11:35 AM

??
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#3 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 22 September 2009 - 03:36 PM

Michael, I don't know how the majority of the industry does it or did it (back in the old days, Directors got the "three picture deal") but a common thing now is for the Director to also double as a screenwriter who writes a script (or adapts one) and then solicits studios with it either directly or through film festivals, from which they generally make some two-bit short that displays the skills of the Director and his ability to tell a story and follow through with something. Being a Director, in my knowledge, it's not something that you normally get hired for like a DP or grip. Directors usually have to put a lot of money out of their own pocket in some cases to even make a project that a studio will see. Some Directors actually finance their own feature and then look for distributors to pick up their film. It's a hard road man.
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#4 Richard Boddington

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Posted 22 September 2009 - 03:51 PM

Every thing Matthew says is correct. The chances of you being hired as a director out of film school are essentially zero to none. What type of stuff do you want to direct? Mainstream TV and features? Will you be a member of the DGC upon graduation? I doubt it.

It will take many years to get established, a decade or more.

Plus if you are graduating from a school in the Toronto area where do you expect to get these "directing" jobs? There is no Canadian film industry to speak of. The US features that shoot in TO won't be hiring you as a director, they come with their own US director. And every other department head will be from the USA as well.

I would not put down Mandy.com at this stage of the game my friend. I actually got a terrific directing job off Mandy.com that allowed me to direct five high budget commercials on 35mm for a major Canadian food company. I would not knock Mandy.com especially since as a new film school graduate you will find it next to impossible to get hired as a director.

Matthew is right, these days directors need to bring a lot to the table to get established. A script is a good thing, financing is even better, or a relationship with a famous actor is also not a bad thing to have.

Sorry to burst your balloon, but it's far better that you hear what you are about to get into BEFORE you start school. Hopefully this school you are going to in TO won't fill your head with crazy ideas.

90% of film school graduates are not even employed in the film industry five years after graduation. Most toss in the towel when they decide they need to eat.

R,
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#5 Paul Bruening

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Posted 22 September 2009 - 06:30 PM

A director is the highest risk person for the money people. They want as much proof that they won't lose on you as possible. Starting small and climbing up is reasonable (ads, music videos, etc.). Build a pile of proof getting deeper into money invested product. Sadly, so many of lo/no budget directors try to prove their worth on DV grade stuff. The problem is that these no/los suffer from substandard acting and scripts. So, you can end up proving how you can't get the kind of quality product that money men want to see. However, you have to cut your teeth on something. Lo/no DV features are an excellent way to learn. As Matthew so adeptly pointed out: You also have to prove you can be a finisher.
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#6 Thom Stitt

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Posted 22 September 2009 - 08:19 PM

If you want work - that is, WORK, paid work - as a director - And to confirm, this means directing things you may not be particularly passionate about, like shampoo commercials - Your best bet is probably to build up a reel of very professional-looking, slick work (music videos, spec ads) after graduating, and then using that reel to submit to talent agencies. Once you're represented, you might be able to pick up one or two rough gigs at the outset, and slowly build it from there. There are some production companies that build rosters of young filmmakers with "fresh" ideas, and they scout these guys and girls based on music videos and short films, and I imagine through agencies as well.

as everyone else has mentioned, it's insanely difficult to get this gig, as the amount of competition compared to the number of jobs is outrageously askew.
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#7 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 22 September 2009 - 08:27 PM

Become a DP, work for 30 years as a DP and then ask some of the friends you made in the industry to help you out.
Become a PA, work with the producers, stay with the producers, learn the money end of the business (which I don't understand-- where it comes from I mean) and go from there, then you can afford your own features.
Take out a lot of personal loans and hire a competent crew and actors and understand it's an investment in your career.
Become an Editor, edit for a long time, build up relationships with producers/directors and go from there.
That's 'bout all I can really think of, honestly :/. I lost my aspirations to direct after freshman year film school, but those ways put you in close relationships with directors/producers and also allow you to see how a lot of films come together (Production/Pre/Post respectively) and in reality, being a good director and really making it work well, I think it a lot about raw talent, and learning from the mistakes and triumphs of others. Every shoot will have those moments which just don't work, and those which work wonderfully. Seeing as many of these situations as possible will only help you when you man the reigns.
Or you could also just become a famous actor and then direct (Eastwood/Gibson etc)

That's my thoughts on it, take it with a pinch of salt, as I am not a director.
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#8 Michael Frymus

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 06:10 PM

thanks for the input.

I understand its a tough journey. As every single person says it is.
I want to head in the directing position, but as you mentioned, its not something I can get right away.

I am considering taking other positions and working on any project I can. I am really up for it. The more projects I've done, the better! no matter how hard/easy or what my position in the crew is. As long as I get to where I want to be eventually I am up for it.

And as for the film school. I was thinking of going to University for a degree. But, its 3-4 years and I see no point. Id rather pay a bit more, go to film school for 1 year and start working and getting at least something done. My 1st choice is Vancouver Film School as of now. I wish I went to NYU, USC, or any of those great places, but its pricey, far and too long.

And for the person who mentioned the shampoo commercial.. haha, I would see that as being exciting. Not as a negative thing.

Thanks again!

My other question is..
As someone mentioned, get a reel and send it to agents. Well, obviously don't have a reel yet. But I am already working on some ideas for my reel to make it professional looking. If this isn't professional, I should basically just walk away.
Anyways, onto my question... Agents.

Where do I find an agent?
I looked around on the internet, and some other resources, but I could not find any agents, or more specifically agents for film, directors, etc.

Where do I find one?
I don't want to chose a random agent, I want a good one!
But, I got no clue as to where to look or what to do after I find one.
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#9 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 07:44 PM

Where do I find an agent?
I looked around on the internet, and some other resources, but I could not find any agents, or more specifically agents for film, directors, etc.

Where do I find one?
I don't want to chose a random agent, I want a good one!
But, I got no clue as to where to look or what to do after I find one.


I don't think I would worry about an agent at this point, if I were you. Especially if you want to direct. I also don't necessarily think you should go into other fields if Directing is what you want to do. I believe I am right (and Adrian will correct me if I'm wrong) that what Adrian was trying to get across with the "be a DP for 30 years" comment is that this is the only way to GUARANTEE that you get a Directing opportunity. I don't agree with Adrian if he is actually recommending that you put 30 years of your life into something you don't have a passion for...it would be pointless anyway because the best DPs are those who do have a passion for it.

I still believe that the best thing you can do to achieve your goal is to maybe take a few PA freebie jobs to be around the set and see how it works until you get comfortable being on sets. Pay attention though when you're on set so you can start to develop ideas of how you would run your set in the future. Obviously keep these opinions to yourself and don't tell others on the set what you think. Then work on writing a good script or scripts. The world is changing and more and more director's are being expected to write scripts too. This is actually a good thing as it gives the Director a broader vision and more responsibility. You absolutely MUST make some shorts before you would ever be considered even to get an agent in Directing. This is the path I would recommend.

Also, like Thom and Richard said, take any Directing opportunities you can, be it from Craigs or Mandy.
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#10 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 07:57 PM

Hell I doubt one could be a DP for 30 years without a passion for it. I was suggestion, as Matt points out, that it's a way to assure you'll be in a position with the right connections and experience (in terms of how to shoot feature films) to have people take a risk on you. someone hiring you to direct is taking a huge risk.
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#11 Richard Boddington

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 10:11 PM

Where do I find an agent?


As Matthew pointed out, forget this for now. It's pointless to even think about it. It will be another 10-15 years before any agent will even look at you.

And then what? What do you expect this agent to do for you, find you work? Sorry, agents don't find work for any body, but they will take a percentage of your earnings.

An agent will stick you on their website along with all of the other directors and DOPs they rep. When a producer goes shopping they may look over your work on the website, but you'll be up against all of the other directors on the site plus all of the other directors all over the city.

Agents do not want to rep any one they will have difficulty "selling". They want to rep the super stars that will be cash cows for them and require zero effort on their part to market to clients.

To even consider trying to find an agent before you have even entered film school is putting the cart before the horse, to put it mildly.

R,
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#12 Richard Boddington

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 10:18 PM

Hell I doubt one could be a DP for 30 years without a passion for it. I was suggestion, as Matt points out, that it's a way to assure you'll be in a position with the right connections and experience (in terms of how to shoot feature films) to have people take a risk on you. someone hiring you to direct is taking a huge risk.


But Adrian how many DOPs make a successful transition to directing? Not a whole lot really.

The positions really are quite different. While a director must at least have a basic knowledge of camera blocking and shot composition to direct a movie. A DOP can do just fine without ever having directed a single actor in their entire lives. While a director is the only one on set responsible for directing the performance of the actors.

A DOP manages at most three departments. The director manages all of them! Department heads have dozens of questions through out the shoot day that the director must answer on top of directing the talent.

But you are right a DOP with 30 years experience will certainly know a whole lot about how to make a movie, that is for sure. ;)

R,
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#13 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 10:41 PM

Quite true Richard ;) I never said you'd be a successful director, just after 30 years of Dping or so, you'd be in a position to give it a crack.
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#14 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 11:11 PM

And then what? What do you expect this agent to do for you, find you work? Sorry, agents don't find work for any body, but they will take a percentage of your earnings.

Richard nailed this right on the head. Agents are often thought by people to help their career but they do no such thing. Agents exist basically to 1) take your money if you're already successful and 2) when you're really successful, they deal with filtering out all the bogus offers you'll receive so you can enjoy your 18 holes on the golf course.

Agents are like having an entourage...they might increase your status a bit too ;)
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#15 Michael Frymus

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Posted 25 September 2009 - 11:51 AM

Thank you very much for clearing things up. Although its not exactly the answers I was looking for, but I understand. Meaning in a good way not like ya ya, whatever...

So, getting an agent is not something I should consider until I start working out there and have proper experience.
OK. Understood.

But, working in other positions of the crew as some people mentioned would not be the best as it doesn't focus on being a director. But, wouldn't it be better to have some knowledge and experience working in different positions that just directing? Well, I would want to do just directing, but getting just directing positions are impossible now, so I cant consider it.

Like working as a DP, or 1st/2nd AD, or other positions.
What would you say about working these positions, for experience and eventually head on the path to director.
I see it much better that way.

Thanks for the info.


So, another thing, what should I do then;
How do I actually look for a job when I am just starting out?

I will have some experience working as a director and some parts of the crew when I so to film school. But, its not going to be much. And after finishing, what then?
Where exactly do I look for jobs(Excluding contact with those I worked with in school), and what positions would be best to position, that is not only somewhat targeted towards the director, but is actually possible to find and get the job?

Thank you guys again. Its actually a lot of great tips and info coming in. Lets continue. I love it!!
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#16 Richard Boddington

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Posted 25 September 2009 - 12:44 PM

How do I actually look for a job when I am just starting out?


Ah now you are asking the right questions!

Unfortunately there is no clear answer to this question, it's one of the great mysteries of the film world that even people with 30 years experience are trying to figure out.

If there was a universal answer every one would use it.

R,
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#17 Justin Hayward

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Posted 25 September 2009 - 01:18 PM

I can't speak from my own personal experience, but I can give you a few examples of some of my friend's directing career paths. This dude I went to film school with made a short film a couple years ago that played in Sundance. From there he got an agent and a manager and meetings with studio heads all over LA, but because he didn't have a script he wanted to make the meetings didn't amount to much. As of now, he still has the same representation and has directed a couple music videos (along with some experimental shorts and spec spots), but no features. A couple came close to fruition, but fell through before anything was shot.

Another dude I know managed to gather like a hundred grand for a small romantic dramedy. It took him a year to finish from shoot to final sound mix (which is really fast for a small budget feature) and it went nowhere. I think it got into a small festival and won an award, but it's been like six years and the movie has yet to be sold.

My old roommate in film school made a fantastic documentary that took about four years of his life and played in a bunch of festivals and won a handful of awards. It hasn't sold yet, but I'm confident it will eventually. Though, I have no idea how it will effect his career. He now manages a restaurant.

I met these two guys at Sundance '06 that made a feature premiering there with a big name star in the lead. The movie took almost THREE YEARS to sell and neither of them have had a directing gig since. One was a hired script doctor or something, though. I'm not sure.

I have a good friend that shot a superhero feature over five years ago and just finished it recently. It played in comic-con this year and it's light and fun nature attracted a good rep, so I wouldn't be surprised if it turns up on the video shelves shortly. It's easily marketed toward kids, which seems to be a rep's dream.

The most "successful" of these guys is this dude I know that shot a horror/adventure for a few thousand dollars. The movie was totally full of energy, got into some great festivals, and won a bunch of awards before hitting the video stores where it actually made some money. He got a deal with a small studio to direct a zombie movie and it did fantastic. Lots of awards, excellent reviews and good sales. Now he's working with the same studio to produce some sort of action/adventure flick. His energy is through the roof and it spills out all over his movies. It's very inspiring. And I don't like horror movies.

From this website, Richard Boddington and Max Jacoby both have very inspiring stories.

What I gather from it all is this; make a genre movie with high energy for a few thousand dollars and if it doesn't hit, make another one ;) . Of course I didn't follow my own advice, but that's another story. Whatever you do, just keep making stuff. Write and shoot whatever you can. Just keep going and going and going. Forget about agents and managers and whatever people think "success" is and just make stuff cause you like it. With the technology where it is, there's no excuses.
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#18 Michael Frymus

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Posted 27 September 2009 - 08:05 PM

so, um..
any additional information as to where to find jobs?


and, what would you guys recommend.
go to film school for 1 full year (only 2 weeks off + weekends)
and get a diploma.
OR
go to University such as Ryerson in Toronto for film studies for 4 years and get a BFA. Or maybe it was a BA, don't remember.

I see pros and cons with both.

For film school, its 1 year which is good since I can go out and start looking for work and get more experience.
for Univ. its 4 years so, that might seem too long. By the time I finish, I will have to face more competition as I don't have much experience as other in my age group.

Film school I'm focused on film.
In Univ. my main course is film studies, but I also have general. Which is actually a good thing, as I am mainly focused on film, but yet I am skeptic as finding jobs and continuing film after grad. is something I am very worried about. So, having other classes could be a backup as I might find a backup interest.

If I at least had some knowledge as to WHERE find jobs after graduation, I would be better off. Although pay might not be high or not a common job, but as long as I know WHERE/HOW to search for jobs and at least have a few decent jobs and not like having one job a year.
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#19 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 27 September 2009 - 08:19 PM

and, what would you guys recommend.
go to film school for 1 full year (only 2 weeks off + weekends)
and get a diploma.
OR
go to University such as Ryerson in Toronto for film studies for 4 years and get a BFA. Or maybe it was a BA, don't remember.

I see pros and cons with both.


This is an interesting question but I need more info to help you. Here is the breakdown:

If you just want skills, do the 1 year. If you want to be a well balanced, educated individual, get the Bachelor's degree. I'm currently working on finally finishing my Bechelor's degree (not in film) and I'm happy to say that I'm a well rounded person because of it. However, the degree doesn't make you anymore equipped technically than just getting the hard fast skills you need.

So if you just want skills in film and experience, do the 1 year. If you want the whole college experience and a LOT of General Education (not related to film), go for the BA.

OR, if you only want experience, skip college altogether and just go do freebie work as a PA or something and start asking a lot of questions and get familiar with the film set. Hey, it worked for Spielberg.
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#20 Richard Boddington

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Posted 27 September 2009 - 08:24 PM

but yet I am skeptic as finding jobs and continuing film after grad. is something I am very worried about.


If you are really worried about that have you considered a different career path? Some other line of work?

I know lots of Ryerson grads from their film dept, they all struggle and NONE of them are getting "directing jobs."

If you're worried about finding work in film you really should look into a different field. There are no, 9-5 M-F jobs that will allow you to have a "normal life." It's all freelance, and finding one job after the next is VERY difficult. These "directing jobs" you keep asking about don't really exist. The vast majority of directors get their own shows up and then they direct the project.

R,
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