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Industry input on daughters career path with a portfolio website question mixed in


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#21 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 04:42 AM

2.  My daughter has been making films for the past three years now (I hope you got a chance to look at some of them) and at the same time managing a grueling class schedule of AP classes.

I'd just like to address this part, because while I don't doubt your daughter could get straight A's for the rest of her life, it's important to not put too much weight into it. In my experience; high school academics are used to pat the backs of some and marginalize others.

 

If she's told "hey do this" and follows up, that's one piece of the pie. An arguably bigger piece is self-motivation or self-inspiration. High school doesn't want you to think outside the box, this industry requires it.


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#22 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 04:51 AM

I do wonder if she's eventually going to find this site and read all this!


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#23 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 05:46 AM

It'll be funny as hell


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#24 Perry Paolantonio

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 07:36 AM

Let her finish school. There is a good chance she'll change her mind and then she's left with no secondary education and her earning ability is immediately stunted. I went to art school, for filmmaking. For 10 years after college I worked in jobs peripherally related to film (in the software industry), until starting my own company, in the post production industry. I wouldn't have been hired at my first job in the software industry (QA, testing editing software) if I didn't have a degree -- even though it had almost nothing to do with the job. And that job set me on the path to owning my own company eventually. 

 

She's what, 18? 17? She likely has no idea what she really wants to do, and she may very well change her mind once she's in school and gets a taste of something else. I have to be honest, it feels like you're trying to control a situation that's not controllable.

 

If money is a factor, I'd just make it clear she can't go there, and to find another school. When I was in college, we fell into the income gap where my parents income disqualified us for all the good financial aid packages, but they didn't make enough to afford more expensive schools. We talked about it and I agreed to go to an inexpensive state school in Vermont (where we lived). I was there for a year and a half and then decided I wanted to do film, and found an inexpensive school in Boston to transfer to. I graduated without much debt, and was done paying off my loans within 8 years. 

 

As long as she's not going to a for-profit school, just about any college will be fine on a resume. Steer her towards schools that you can afford, and away from crushing student loans. The education is important because her salary level will automatically be higher out of the gate, but it's not worth it if you're $120k in debt when you leave school. So it's a balancing act - find a school that's affordable, in a place she wants to be, and is going to get her a good education. 

 

Just a suggestion: Film school is probably a waste of time and money. At least, the kind of film school that's designed to get you into the film industry. If she wants to be a cinematographer, learning photography (still photography) is huge. I know a lot of former and current film students and I can say pretty confidently that the ones who do the nicest work are not the ones in a formal film school - they're the ones at art schools, or with a photo background, because they're concentrating more on the images they're making than on the trappings of "the biz".

 

In an art school setting, even though I didn't really have a ton of interest in making experimental film, I saw films that I would *never* have seen in a traditional film school. Anyone can go out and rent or buy all the classic films you'd see in film school (we did). But you're never even going to know about the other stuff out there, which can have a huge effect on how you see the world and how you choose to frame an image. 

 

It's worth coming at this industry from the side, in my opinion - learn to make really stunning images. Learn the nuts and bolts of how film works (it'll instill a sense of discipline one doesn't always get starting in digital). Learn how lenses work, and how light affects an image. If you do this at an art school, or as a photographer, then learn how to use cinema equipment later or on your own in parallel (which isn't a huge leap if you understand photography), you have a built-in advantage when building a portfolio or reel. 


Edited by Perry Paolantonio, 28 August 2017 - 07:42 AM.

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#25 Glenn Batson

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 08:26 AM

I do wonder if she's eventually going to find this site and read all this!

Be pissed at here dad but she'll have to get over it.


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#26 Glenn Batson

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 09:00 AM

I'd just like to address this part, because while I don't doubt your daughter could get straight A's for the rest of her life, it's important to not put too much weight into it. In my experience; high school academics are used to pat the backs of some and marginalize others.

 

If she's told "hey do this" and follows up, that's one piece of the pie. An arguably bigger piece is self-motivation or self-inspiration. High school doesn't want you to think outside the box, this industry requires it.

i know it sounds like I'm bragging on my daughter but that is not the intent.  AP classes are hard.  She was in a very competitive school.  My intent with the comment is that even though she was carrying a heavy load her passion was to hang out with her film buddies shooting, collaborating, etc.  Spending hours up at her film class (lab) editing.  Then she would have to work her butt off late hours for her academics that she could really care less about the AP classes but she kept up and ended up with good grades.  Also what I'm trying to get at is also you statement.  Yeah I'm dad.  Yeah I'm biased but I am a lot closer to the situation.  You are not wrong.  So in the end I think the motivation is there at least to consider her dropping school and trying to get some work.  Time will tell.  What no one has said is I looked at her reel and the films you posted and hey your kidding yourself.  Based on that alone she is going to get nowhere.  So in the end I'm good with your statements and everyone's statements.  It is a learning process and we'll have to make our decisions.

 

Yeah on her reading this, if she can't handle it then she shouldn't be going down career path she is choosing. :)  Honey your dad loves you :) 

 

Macks surely your creative enough to get content from this and working this crazyness into your youtube channel :)


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#27 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 11:10 AM

Yeah I'm dad.  Yeah I'm biased but I am a lot closer to the situation.

My statement wasn't so much in response to you directly as it was just tackling USA's secondary school system in general. These counselors are paid to get the universities paid.


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#28 AJ Young

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 11:06 PM

If I may, can I add a perspective on working as a DP?

 

The most important thing your daughter should remember is that being a cinematographer is running a business; very much like a dentist, hair stylist/colorist, therapist, etc. A manufacturing company doesn't have money always coming in, they constantly have to build relationships with new clients, develop new contracts, and so on. A cinematographer is self-employed and their success is dependent on location, the market, awareness of the market, networking abilities, their own motivation, and a great deal of luck.

 

You'll hear arguments for/against film school, but the most important skills she will need to learn are how to run her own business.

 

Self-employment is challenging in the beginning and the first ten years will most likely be the hardest. However, if you support her both financially and psychologically, she'll be set up for success. Every great business has had help throughout it's entire life; it's the same with self-employed family.


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#29 Glenn Batson

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Posted 29 August 2017 - 01:40 PM

If I may, can I add a perspective on working as a DP?

 

The most important thing your daughter should remember is that being a cinematographer is running a business; very much like a dentist, hair stylist/colorist, therapist, etc. A manufacturing company doesn't have money always coming in, they constantly have to build relationships with new clients, develop new contracts, and so on. A cinematographer is self-employed and their success is dependent on location, the market, awareness of the market, networking abilities, their own motivation, and a great deal of luck.

 

You'll hear arguments for/against film school, but the most important skills she will need to learn are how to run her own business.

 

Self-employment is challenging in the beginning and the first ten years will most likely be the hardest. However, if you support her both financially and psychologically, she'll be set up for success. Every great business has had help throughout it's entire life; it's the same with self-employed family.

 

Thanks AJ.  Yeah this is one of the things I worry the most about.  I've held a regular full-time job all my life (last one been for over 20 years) but have had discussions with my mom (though different era and type of market) about my dad's business (air conditioning/plumbing).  How their bank account was empty and they had some groceries but were waiting on that 8k payment from a a service they did to get through the next period.  Luckily they has some local business men who were dedicated to keep him on a contract type basis.  My mom eventually started teaching but that was after my dad decided to go work for someone else for the rest of his life.  I'm always amazed that those that strike out on their own and run their own business no matter what it may be.  I don't know that college itself, even a business degree sets you up exactly for being a freelancer but I could be wrong.  Along with her making her film contacts I think she really needs to make some contacts on running a business (workshops maybe) and have a mentor in that area along with film mentor.  All I can do with my experience is just give her the financial and moral support which we are willing to do when it makes sense.


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#30 AJ Young

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Posted 29 August 2017 - 03:33 PM

I completely agree, freelancer seminars or small business classes will definitely help her more than figuring it out on her own.

 

A straight out business degree won't really prepare her to be a working cinematographer because she won't be learning the technical and artistic trades of cinematography. It's a hard balance to find with a school; most film schools that I know of focus little attention on how a cinematographer runs their own business. Columbia College Chicago, my alma matter, did offer classes that taught students how to send/track invoices, run a business, network, etc. However, none of these classes were required and the school struggled to get those classes filled. Learning how to run a business is simply boring in the world of creative.

 

On another note, related but wholly different:

 

The secret to success for the industry is to maintain a low overhead. I have no problem with film school education, I have a problem with college costs in general. Graduates of any field leave school with a large amount of debt that can not be erased via bankruptcy. AFI, Chapman, and UCLA students pay upwards of $125k for a masters degree. They leave school and suddenly are hit with a minimum monthly payment the size of their monthly expenses. That is the career killer, not bad luck, bad attitude, poor work. As a point of perspective, I have colleagues shooting major TV shows who are still paying off their student debt.

 

I truly believe everyone should get a college degree; non-film industry jobs almost always requiring one. The deciding factor on which college is the one you and her can afford. A quality film education that teaches her art, business, technology, and management will set her up for success, but only if her debt from school is either manageable or non-existent.

 

Community colleges are an excellent way for to bang out general education classes. Hell, there are some great community college film schools, like Scottsdale Community College in Arizona. They can be a great starting point that transfer over to universities where she can finish her degree for half the cost.


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#31 David Mawson

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Posted 30 August 2017 - 05:49 AM

I'm not in the film industry, but people sometimes pay me to analyse business plans for risk. This is what I see -

 

- Film school degrees are expensive 

 

- Most programs seem to be of low quality and relevance

 

- Perhaps ten or twenty times too many graduates are produced

 

- A big % of the small number of jobs available in the mainstream movie industry will go to people with insider connections in the industry - family members of people already there

 

- You can buck the odds if you're hyper-talented... But if you're that talented, you don't need to go to film school. 

 

Conclusion: going to film school means you get to pursue a hobby for several years and call it a degree. The degree will be of little value and you'll have incurred a lot of debt.

 

Here's an alternative - it may well be completely wrong -

 

- Get business insurance, sound gear and a camera. Then start shooting weddings, videos for local businesses and bands. Shoot showreel pieces for local actors - learn how to take stills head shots too, actors always need them. And shoot short films for yourself.  You'll have to start at the bottom for price and work your way up as you build credibility

 

- Take courses part-time or via distance learning that will count towards a degree. As you're running a business and shooting, you'll be in an excellent position to choose the right courses.

 

- Volunteer to crew for selected low-budget movies, then as you get experience be more selective - take jobs that pay or which teach you what you need to know next

 

After several years of this you should have an excellent showreel, great camera and editing skills, experience of managing budgets, contacts in the state film industry, and lots of clients who are willing to swear you are rock solid. You can finish off with a year of full-time school if necessary. You won't be in debt and you'll have a good idea what you should do next - maybe you are hyper-talented and should go to LA or try to raise the money to shoot a cheap feature, maybe you like shooting weddings and want to aim to be the world's top wedding shooter and shoot 20 or so 5-10K weddings a year with some corporate work on weekdays, maybe you're great at shootings videos for bands and clients are asking you to fly around the country. Or maybe it hasn't suited you as well as you hoped, in which case you're glad you're not in debt and can use those book keeping and computer skills so you don't have to work at McDonalds.


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#32 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 30 August 2017 - 06:25 AM

I tend to agree.
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#33 Glenn Batson

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Posted 30 August 2017 - 12:46 PM

Here's an alternative - it may well be completely wrong -

 

Thanks David.  In a way part of this is what her High School teacher said.  When I first had the revelation about the industry I turned to him with the questions more along the lines, if Anna quit school would she have the skills to work on crews now and try to make a go of it.  I didn't ask him the film school question directly because he is an educator and I didn't want to put him in that position.  He basically said Anna has the skills now and that the only thing she is lacking is working with a real film crew and lingo and set dynamics that go with that.  Those things are different per crew to a degree and she would just learn those quiclly on the job.  He mentioned she could easily start doing the wedding gigs and local commercial shooting both of which she already has experience in.  She shot her first wedding with her teacher and another of her film buddies and she did all the editing (linked below).  She has shot two commercials, one with SPCA and one for a local hotel.  He said she could get these jobs and then work her way into the gigs she wants.  He said he had a friend who went to film school started shooting weddings and local commercials on the side and then was making enough he just decided to quit and do it full time. So when I talk about her quitting school these are all the things she'll have to consider to help pay the bills and move her career forward.  The reason I just didn't say ok that is it we are good and I why I posted to this forum is I wanted to hear some more evidence to help make a decision one way or another.

 

Wedding

https://vimeo.com/224585092

 

Thanks again.

 

Dad


Edited by Glenn Batson, 30 August 2017 - 12:51 PM.

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#34 David Mawson

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Posted 30 August 2017 - 12:55 PM

 

Thanks David.  In a way part of this is what her High School teacher said.  When I first had the revelation about the industry I turned to him with the questions more along the lines, if Anna quit school would she have the skills to work on crews now and try to make a go of it.  I didn't ask him the film school question directly because he is an educator and I didn't want to put him in that position.  He basically said Anna has the skills now and that the only thing she is lacking is working with a real film crew and lingo and set dynamics that go with that.  Those things are different per crew to a degree and she would just learn those quiclly on the job.  He mentioned she could easily start doing the wedding gigs and local commercial shooting both of which she already has experience in.  She shot her first wedding with her teacher and another of her film buddies and she did all the editing (linked below).  She has shot two commercials, one with SPCA and one for a local hotel.  He said she could get these jobs and then work her way into the gigs she wants.  He said he had a friend who went to film school started shooting weddings and local commercials on the side and then was making enough he just decided to quit and do it full time. So when I talk about her quitting school these are all the things she'll have to consider to help pay the bills and move her career forward.  The reason I just didn't say ok that is it we are good and I why I posted to this forum is I wanted to hear some more evidence to help make a decision one way or another.

 

Thanks again.

 

Dad

 

Then my big advice - GET BUSINESS INSURANCE! I'd shoot for free rather than charge without it, and I'm in the much less litigious UK. 

 

And second to that, don't think of this as quitting school - she should take part time courses, either by distance learning or attending a local school. Put some serious effort into finding the best value courses available that will help a small business owner. 

 

Also, consider reliability and service carefully when making major investments in hardware - eg Sony have a very poor rep for both compared to Nikon and Canon in stills world.


Edited by David Mawson, 30 August 2017 - 01:02 PM.

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#35 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 30 August 2017 - 06:48 PM

Liability insurance is a must if you are shooting anything, anywhere. Even short film projects. Most places won't issue a permit without it, and it doesn't have to be expensive. You can get a short term production insurance package for liability and property damage for less than a few hundred dollars. I have generally found that the more 'film centric' insurance companies tend to overcharge, but then again the insurance is often tailored for the industry and you have the option of adding other types of insurance, like E&O. I have been saying this for a long time. It doesn't matter if it's just you and your friends shooting something - that won't stop you from being sued, and certainly won't stop a judgement against you or your friends.

 

I use The Event Helper for my liability and property damage insurance. They are quick, have great rates, and are easy to work with.


Edited by Landon D. Parks, 30 August 2017 - 06:49 PM.

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#36 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 30 August 2017 - 06:51 PM

GET BUSINESS INSURANCE

 

Never heard of it...


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#37 AJ Young

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Posted 30 August 2017 - 08:01 PM

I still believe, in the US at least, that your daughter should get a bachelor's degree. It can be in cinematography, business, or whatever. But, she should get a bachelor's; they've become the new high school diploma.

 

The film industry doesn't particularly care if you have a bachelor's degree, but most other industries do. My wife is a project manager in manufacturing, but she has a bachelor's degree in film production. A film degree isn't entirely useless, it's better than no degree at all.


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#38 Richard Boddington

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Posted 30 August 2017 - 10:07 PM

I make a living in the film industry, producer/director.

 

BOTH of my sons are BANNED from pursuing a career in film, full stop.

 

R,


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#39 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 30 August 2017 - 10:34 PM

BOTH of my sons are BANNED from pursuing a career in film, full stop.

 

R,

That could be a film in itself if they had any desire to.


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#40 Jon O'Brien

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Posted 30 August 2017 - 11:34 PM

Filmmakers are like musos. WHY would you do it? The answer is a simple one.


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