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Need Advice About Career In Film


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#1 Noah Fouch

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 05:14 PM

Hello, my name is Noah. I've always had an interest in horror movies and all sorts. I've been lurking on this site and decided to post for once.  I'm currently a junior in high school, and I'm going to be taking a film course off campus, like traveling away from school for a couple hours to learn about film. My dream job is to be a Camera Operator or a MoVi operator. I just wanted to know if anybody could give me the advice to further my dream career so I can make a living off it. I want to know if Film school is worth the money, etc. Thanks for taking the time out of your day to respond and give me advice with my life choice.


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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 05:54 PM

If there were any secret formula i surely haven't been let in on it. My best advice, though, is that work comes not from school but from other work you've done. That as the case, perhaps a wise idea is to use "college" as a way to get to a production city, such as LA, and be able to learn and try to work when you can--- in any job.

It's incredibly competitive. Keep your head up, work hard, stay always a student (as you are always learning). By the time you come into the profession the Movi may not even exist.

But if you want to work in film; you have to go where the film is and generally the sooner the better. God only knows how much further i'd be had I not been too nostalgic for the notion of home and picked up as soon as I could to LA.


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#3 Noah Fouch

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 06:04 PM

If there were any secret formula i surely haven't been let in on it. My best advice, though, is that work comes not from school but from other work you've done. That as the case, perhaps a wise idea is to use "college" as a way to get to a production city, such as LA, and be able to learn and try to work when you can--- in any job.

It's incredibly competitive. Keep your head up, work hard, stay always a student (as you are always learning). By the time you come into the profession the Movi may not even exist.

But if you want to work in film; you have to go where the film is and generally the sooner the better. God only knows how much further i'd be had I not been too nostalgic for the notion of home and picked up as soon as I could to LA.

Okay, that makes sense. Thanks a lot for the advice


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#4 Jon O'Brien

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 05:53 PM

One of the great side benefits of doing a course is meeting people who will also (hopefully) be entering the industry and making life-long friendships or at least associations with them. I found this in the arts degree I did (not in film). Regarding filmmaking, make as many films as you can. Improvise. I sometimes couldn't find actors, or just one actor, and wrote scripts that capitalized on the resources I had to hand. In my teens I made heaps of films, some as short as 2 minutes and some as long as 25. I had good work during school holidays so was able to afford film. Save up, too. It's a good discipline. I did film and tv in my last 2 years at high school, and got to direct and shoot a 25 minute Super 8 narrative film, along with shorter films. You can also go it alone, many artists have and will continue to do so. It's the nature of art. Hope some of that helps.


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#5 Jon O'Brien

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 06:19 PM

I'm not a pro by the way - I'm a student myself. Getting back into filmmaking now after years of doing other things for career.


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#6 Simon Wyss

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 03:36 AM

Noah, if there’s a way to pass on my advice, let me try it. Know that it’s work when you say to make a living off being a camera operator. Work means hours and days in the rain. You begin to hate all about it. Metal tripod cold as ice. Wet tape doesn’t stick. Lenses hazy. Or in snow, around the freezing-melting point. You wait for the right light. Then you have to wrap up, frustration from nothing gathered.

 

Or among a croud of mad people in a studio, you want to listen to what’s important for you but the going gets rougher, you feel lost. Think ahead of a check handed to you, or not. Total chaos. Another time you may find yourself in the premises of a gear renter. You have to check whether everything is there and in working order but the guy gets angry, who do you think you are to doubt our cameras do function?!

 

I can sit comfortably in my room, work at tables, take enough time to inspect every part and screw of a camera, clean, lube, and adjust the whole rattle. I can measure properly, remove tiniest burrs. You out in the wilderness want to rely on my work. Others want to rely on your work, they want spectacular images from you, sharp, on time. So be prepared for sweat, blisters, and deceit. On the other hand your name may appear on cinema screens. Mine won’t.


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#7 Jaron Berman

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 06:17 PM

Have diverse interests.  Film/TV/Media doesn't exist in a vacuum.  Tastes and trends and techniques and equipment all change, and not at the same pace in every corner of entertainment.  Having a deep curiosity helps keep things fresh - there is ALWAYS something to learn from someone or somewhere.

 

Ask good questions, and also know where/how to find information.  This is one of those skills a lot of people credit to their college experiences.  A ton of technical information is now available online (including a lot of bad/inaccurate info as well) - so knowing where to look can help save time and provide endless threads to pick up.  And because so much technical stuff is online, it means you can do a lot of the deep-dive research on your own and make the best of peoples' time when you get it.  Let's say you have 2 minutes with Roger Deakins' undivided attention and interest.  What would you ask?  It's probably a waste of an opportunity to ask him a technical spec question you could answer online.

 

Learn to take criticism.  This is a lifelong process, and a VERY important one.  The "industry" is structured in a hierarchical way, and sometimes you have to take notes and adjust to criticism that feels wrong but you must take based on the ladder of seniority.  The ability to take constraints and criticism and turn them into better work is what separates those who continue to work from those who do not.  And good criticism can come from anywhere if you're willing to hear it.  You do not need to respect someone's work in order to respect his/her opinion, and this is a very very very important point.  If a critique is right (ego aside) then it's right, no matter who it comes from.  

 

Work with and for as many people as you possibly can.  I really enjoy asking people about their "origin story" because it's such an unpredictable result.  We come from all sorts of backgrounds and experiences and problem-solve differently based on those experiences.  In the beginning, everything is new and exciting.  But after a while it seems that there's a way things are done.  And people do things the way you'd expect...until they don't.  That difference or that trick is worth noting because it may help down the line - either as a great trick or a cautionary tale of something to avoid.

 

There are much easier ways to make a living than this - so make sure you love it!  No matter how good and how charismatic you are, you will hit setbacks and you will fail and you will have your feelings hurt.  You'll be in over your head and you won't know the answer and you'll struggle while people around you succeed - deservedly or not.  It comes back to loving what you do.

 

(almost) Everyone starts at the bottom.  Film school or not - you will start at the bottom which is a GOOD thing.  Be prepared to work hard and take pride in doing your job well, whatever it is.  Are you driving the van?  Do it well.  Are you getting coffee?  No joke - don't be a jerk about it.  A lot of peoples' opinions of you depend on snap judgements, so "handing out your business card" for the job you eventually want while not actually doing the job you're in won't lead to success.  Do good work, whatever it is at the moment.  That's not saying to have no ambition.  Not at all.  KNOW what you want to do, try to ask questions and be helpful in a way that leads you in that direction.  And if you do a great job, it's likely that the people around you will ask what you aspire to do - and they'll take you under their wing(s).

 

As for school... I personally went to engineering and art school - not film school.  I'd say the industry is pretty split between those who went and those who didn't go to a film program.  The advantage I've seen from my colleagues that went to film school is that they came out of school with a solid community of trusted peers with whom they could collaborate.  Finding people you like working with takes time - so school can help that process.  Why would you vouch for someone you haven't worked alongside?  And visa-versa.  Aside from the technical knowledge, school can help build your reputation and help you find collaborators.  

 

None of this has any specificity to the craft of camerawork.  It could apply to almost any creative endeavor - and that's an important point.  This is a creative field and also a business.  There's give and take between them, and being successful means trying to best balance creativity while making a living.


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#8 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 13 August 2017 - 01:09 AM

Film school is only worth it if you can get it for free. If you're going to spend your own money on it, I can think of a few betters way to spend $100,000... Like making a feature that will actually showcase your talent. The reality is, in the film industry, no one cares about your degree. It's one of those 'arty' communities that don't rely on education, rather showing what your capable of. The main reason to go to film school is to be around other potential filmmakers. It's the 'networking' thing. The problem with this, in my mind, is two-fold: First, you're main associating with other student filmmakers, which is probably not going to lead to any jobs after school, and second - if you really want to network, you can network without paying the tuition. Connect with these students through social media, meet up with them for coffee, etc. 


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#9 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 13 August 2017 - 02:12 AM

I'm currently a junior in high school, and I'm going to be taking a film course off campus, like traveling away from school for a couple hours to learn about film.


Good for you! I started shooting on super 8 at 10 years of age and in middle school, I was volunteering for the local community access TV station. I was also going to a creative arts camp in the summer for kids, that really helped a lot. It was wonderful being able to experiment and do awesome projects for fun.

The key for me at the time was to just shoot everything I could, even if nobody was gonna see it. I loved having access to not only Super 8 film equipment, but also still cameras and a plethora of commercial/industrial broadcast video cameras. It was that access that drove me to shoot stuff because at the time, home video cameras were expensive. Today you can easily buy a camera, like a DSLR so you can shoot some video and stills. The key is to expose manually and understand lighting based on exposure and how to create the image, rather then "capture" what you see. That's really the trick to becoming good at this.

Once you're in Junior in High school, you can start to make some decisions about your career path. By that point in time, things will libel to be different then they are today, it's not like your going to college tomorrow, it's a long away off. The industry already has millions of people in it, so you've gotta define yourself pretty well to be part of it. Unfortunately, it's not just about how good you are as a worker, but it's also who you know, that's the hardest part. You have to learn how to hustle and you've gotta be really good at social events and network your way into work. This is why a lot of people who go to school for filmmaking, try to work on the skills they lack in other areas outside of the actual art of filmmaking itself. Many get business degree's, which is what I'd do as a backup career, just incase your filmmaking dreams don't happen.

For the time being, just get experience and have fun. I teach high school and I always tell my kids, you never get to become a kid again... so this is your only chance to do JUST THAT. Once you graduate from High School, life changes, no longer do you have the opportunity to just waste time if you want. Life creeps up fast and until you've "made it" you will be hustling no matter what profession you wind up with. So just go have fun and make cool shit consequence free until you're ready for the big league.
 

My dream job is to be a Camera Operator or a MoVi operator.


Nice! Well, in a few years, there will be a new gadget. If you wanna be a gadget oriented guy, then you've gotta find someone who has one of those gadgets and learn it. Then you've gotta be good at it to the point of people hiring you, which is hard when it's easy to learn like a MoVi. If you keep learning new gadgets and new toys, you'll have a niche that has some value. The only problem is that there are 754 other people who wanna do the same thing. So new fads and gadgets are always a troublesome thing. This is why I rely heavily on old school techniques, then the newest hottest toy.

Camera operator is a job that will always be around of course, but it's harder because so many DP's shoot their own stuff these days on the smaller shows you'd be starting on. So getting the operating experience generally comes from your own shooting, maybe a 2nd camera on a show. I mean most of the time I operate, it's 2nd camera because the 1st is gobbled up by too many people. Nothing wrong with that, still need to be good at it.
 

I just wanted to know if anybody could give me the advice to further my dream career so I can make a living off it.


Noted above. :)
 

I want to know if Film school is worth the money, etc.


Yes and No...

If you walk into film school with little to no experience, you aren't gonna graduate working in the industry anyway. It's a profession that's impossible to learn in 4 years in a closed environment. Very few people who attend film school because they had little experience, ever use those skills out of school.

If you enter film school with a lot of experience, film school doesn't "hurt" really. It will only fine tune your skills and teach you things that you absolutely didn't know before about the business of the industry. Obviously it depends on the school, but all of the big film schools in the US generally HELP get you work. So unless you've got a great hookup in a media city for work right out of high school, I would go to college.

The big catch with film school and the reason so many people who DIDN'T GO put it down, is that people just assume if you start as a high school graduate, you'll have more time to work your way up the ladder, instead of "wasting" 4 years. I disagree with this advice because frankly, if you go to a good school, you will make long-lasting connections that will help you get jobs in the future when one of your "mates" scores it big time through their cousin or something. You never know who you'll meet at school and neighsayers don't take that into account. I can personally attest to film school networking, giving me my first two jobs here in Los Angeles. I can also attest to randomly getting invites to events and even job offers BECAUSE I went to a certain school. Now, they haven't led me to a career of wealth and prosparity, but that's of my own doing and a different story.

To sum it up, I think film school has it's benefits and should be looked into. If you can live at home, get a scholarship and have your parents pay for the rest (like I did) then go for it. If you're going to leave film school with $120k worth of debt... don't do it. Film school should be one of the those educations that's cheap enough that it doesn't bog you down with financial burdon for your entire life. So just think of that as your making your decisions.
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#10 Noah Fouch

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Posted 13 August 2017 - 03:50 PM

Good for you! I started shooting on super 8 at 10 years of age and in middle school, I was volunteering for the local community access TV station. I was also going to a creative arts camp in the summer for kids, that really helped a lot. It was wonderful being able to experiment and do awesome projects for fun.

The key for me at the time was to just shoot everything I could, even if nobody was gonna see it. I loved having access to not only Super 8 film equipment, but also still cameras and a plethora of commercial/industrial broadcast video cameras. It was that access that drove me to shoot stuff because at the time, home video cameras were expensive. Today you can easily buy a camera, like a DSLR so you can shoot some video and stills. The key is to expose manually and understand lighting based on exposure and how to create the image, rather then "capture" what you see. That's really the trick to becoming good at this.

Once you're in Junior in High school, you can start to make some decisions about your career path. By that point in time, things will libel to be different then they are today, it's not like your going to college tomorrow, it's a long away off. The industry already has millions of people in it, so you've gotta define yourself pretty well to be part of it. Unfortunately, it's not just about how good you are as a worker, but it's also who you know, that's the hardest part. You have to learn how to hustle and you've gotta be really good at social events and network your way into work. This is why a lot of people who go to school for filmmaking, try to work on the skills they lack in other areas outside of the actual art of filmmaking itself. Many get business degree's, which is what I'd do as a backup career, just incase your filmmaking dreams don't happen.

For the time being, just get experience and have fun. I teach high school and I always tell my kids, you never get to become a kid again... so this is your only chance to do JUST THAT. Once you graduate from High School, life changes, no longer do you have the opportunity to just waste time if you want. Life creeps up fast and until you've "made it" you will be hustling no matter what profession you wind up with. So just go have fun and make cool poop consequence free until you're ready for the big league.
 

Nice! Well, in a few years, there will be a new gadget. If you wanna be a gadget oriented guy, then you've gotta find someone who has one of those gadgets and learn it. Then you've gotta be good at it to the point of people hiring you, which is hard when it's easy to learn like a MoVi. If you keep learning new gadgets and new toys, you'll have a niche that has some value. The only problem is that there are 754 other people who wanna do the same thing. So new fads and gadgets are always a troublesome thing. This is why I rely heavily on old school techniques, then the newest hottest toy.

Camera operator is a job that will always be around of course, but it's harder because so many DP's shoot their own stuff these days on the smaller shows you'd be starting on. So getting the operating experience generally comes from your own shooting, maybe a 2nd camera on a show. I mean most of the time I operate, it's 2nd camera because the 1st is gobbled up by too many people. Nothing wrong with that, still need to be good at it.
 

Noted above. :)
 

Yes and No...

If you walk into film school with little to no experience, you aren't gonna graduate working in the industry anyway. It's a profession that's impossible to learn in 4 years in a closed environment. Very few people who attend film school because they had little experience, ever use those skills out of school.

If you enter film school with a lot of experience, film school doesn't "hurt" really. It will only fine tune your skills and teach you things that you absolutely didn't know before about the business of the industry. Obviously it depends on the school, but all of the big film schools in the US generally HELP get you work. So unless you've got a great hookup in a media city for work right out of high school, I would go to college.

The big catch with film school and the reason so many people who DIDN'T GO put it down, is that people just assume if you start as a high school graduate, you'll have more time to work your way up the ladder, instead of "wasting" 4 years. I disagree with this advice because frankly, if you go to a good school, you will make long-lasting connections that will help you get jobs in the future when one of your "mates" scores it big time through their cousin or something. You never know who you'll meet at school and neighsayers don't take that into account. I can personally attest to film school networking, giving me my first two jobs here in Los Angeles. I can also attest to randomly getting invites to events and even job offers BECAUSE I went to a certain school. Now, they haven't led me to a career of wealth and prosparity, but that's of my own doing and a different story.

To sum it up, I think film school has it's benefits and should be looked into. If you can live at home, get a scholarship and have your parents pay for the rest (like I did) then go for it. If you're going to leave film school with $120k worth of debt... don't do it. Film school should be one of the those educations that's cheap enough that it doesn't bog you down with financial burdon for your entire life. So just think of that as your making your decisions.

Wow man, that was really helpful advice, thank you so much


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Visual Products

Ritter Battery

Abel Cine

Glidecam

rebotnix Technologies

Aerial Filmworks

Willys Widgets

Paralinx LLC

Metropolis Post

CineLab

Tai Audio

Rig Wheels Passport

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Technodolly

Broadcast Solutions Inc

CineTape