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Giving good advice


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#1 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 16 May 2015 - 12:29 PM

Hi folks,

 

For some reason, I occasionally - well, once every couple of weeks, probably - get enquiries about how to "get in" from people who don't consider themselves "in". I hasten to add that I don't intend to rehash my feelings about job prospects in the UK film industry in this post; I've done that enough, and I get contacts from people all over the world and I don't have any idea what the prospects for these people are.

 

Now, even if I considered myself "in", which I really don't in the sense that most of these people are probably thinking of, or in any way qualified to give advice, I have to ask: is there a limit to how useful any specific advice whatsoever can be in such a flaky field?

 

People seem to obsess over the employment history of prominent people with the idea that closely emulating a person's choices is a worthwhile route to emulating his or her success. Conversely, in discussion with almost everyone I know who does anything approaching film and TV work, and regardless of their abilities, I discover that there is a certain amount of luck involved.

 

Many people dislike this assertion, considering it an attempt to write off genuine exceptionalism, but I don't think someone's unique-snowflake brilliance, or lack thereof, is really the point at issue. Naturally, professional ability is involved, but many people report career choices based on almost moment-to-moment happenstance which will, of course, not be valid for anyone else. This isn't about writing off effort as luck, it's about reacting to the changeability of real life in the right way. Specific advice based on any one person's circumstances is almost never going to be valid for anyone else, unless they're in a very prescribed career path such as medicine, the military, or law. By comparison, advancement in filmmaking is absolute bloody chaos, and the idea that it's practical to try and emulate someone else's success by analysing their behaviour is crazy.

 

So, no, finding out where Robert Rodriguez went to film school will not help you.

 

Does this make sense to anyone?

 

P


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#2 Gregory Irwin

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Posted 16 May 2015 - 12:51 PM

I'd rather be lucky than good, any day!

G
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#3 JD Hartman

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Posted 16 May 2015 - 01:01 PM

So, no, finding out where Robert Rodriguez went to film school will not help you.

 

Does this make sense to anyone?

 

P

 

Yes.  The path to success is: there is no single path, whatever works for you isn't going to work for someone else.  If.....if the studio "system" of the past still existed, then maybe there would be route you could take.  Maybe you could rise from being the lowly counter of C-47's all the way to Producer if and only if you had skills.

   I used to hear, "Did you read Rebel without a Crew?", all the time.  Finally someone pressed a copy into my hands as a must read.  Read it, an interesting story of Robert Rodriguez's film career, but could anyone take that path today or even ten years ago?  I believe that if I went to the Police in my town and told them I want to film a running gun battle on the street of Edison and would any of the officers like to appear in it (for free) and perhaps fire their full-auto weapons, I'd be locked up.


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#4 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 16 May 2015 - 06:19 PM

To be fair, Rodriguez was operating mainly in Mexico, but I was surprised at the lax attitude even so. The book is nonetheless quite entertaining, but again, yes, I read it as a story of what happened, not as inspiration.

 

P


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#5 JD Hartman

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Posted 16 May 2015 - 06:28 PM

To be fair, Rodriguez was operating mainly in Mexico, but I was surprised at the lax attitude even so. The book is nonetheless quite entertaining, but again, yes, I read it as a story of what happened, not as inspiration.

 

P

 

Yes, I remember that, that's a key point in his success.  But it gives an unrealistic impression of what's possible.  Entertaining yes, educational no.  A road map for aspiring film makers?  Certainly not.


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#6 John E Clark

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Posted 18 May 2015 - 02:41 PM

To be fair, Rodriguez was operating mainly in Mexico, but I was surprised at the lax attitude even so. The book is nonetheless quite entertaining, but again, yes, I read it as a story of what happened, not as inspiration.

 

P

 

I don't recall the details but I think Rodriguez had 'family' in the vicinity of the shooting location. So it wasn't like he just walked into town carrying a camera and a guitar case, and the locals rolled out the welcome mat...

 

To be sure in Mexico one can 'get away' with some set of things that perhaps a local police officer would ignore... but then... a local police officer may hit you up for a traffic violation and you have to pay a 'fine' for it right there on the spot (whether the 'fine' actually ends up being placed in the police station's bank account... is a different matter)...

 

As for 'guns' in Mexico... Mexico has far stricter gun laws for ordinary citizens than the US. Whether they are enforced, and to what degree... is all over the map... but they are there just for the taking when an officer wants something...

 

Also there are many 'reserve' or 'volunteer' traffic cops which adds to the problem of who is really an official of the law...

 

The net advice is... don't shoot in Mexico unless you are on well defined private property, with a property owner who is also 'well defined'... and no guns... etc. that would look like criminal activity is taking place without a guaranteed set of permit documents.

 

I've thought about shooting in Mexico, but since my father died, most of the 'in-law' type family relations that I could have availed myself of via his wife, have disappeared...


Edited by John E Clark, 18 May 2015 - 02:42 PM.

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#7 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 18 May 2015 - 03:46 PM

A road map for aspiring film makers?  Certainly not.

 

And that is one arrogant dude. 

 

Phil - most of what you shouldn't tell people is right here...

 

https://www.youtube....h?v=W-YpfievjSk


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#8 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 19 May 2015 - 09:50 AM

Good advice on how to "break in"?   It's a challenge.    I asked the producer of Starry Eyes how they managed to get the film so far as it was the filmmakers first feature and without name actors.  The producer said it's all about talent and track record.

 

Meaning that you can have talent but with no track record, you will not be greenlit or given any kind of presale contract or package on your film.

 

You need someone in your corner who has a proven track record and the ear of people in financing and acquisitions.  Without that, getting a real feature off the ground or out into the world is damn near impossible.

 

I'm shooting a trailer in a few weeks for my first feature.  I have a few distributors and producers waiting to see it.  But pitching them on the feature was impossible because it's my first film and the actors are unknown.   Everyone wanted to see something first.

 

I could shoot the whole feature off credit cards El Mariachi style with no one on my team or I could do this right and try to get the proper funding in place and probably a foreign presale contract.    The latter definitely seems way more appealing.

 

My advice is to be patient, do your homework and proceed with caution.   Filmmaking is expensive and cutting corners doesn't always mean a film that's "creative and inventive".  It often just means it looks and sounds terrible.


Edited by Michael LaVoie, 19 May 2015 - 09:52 AM.

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