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Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by lmcintyre, Jul 26, 2008.
It depends on what you want to work on and where you want to do it. For example, directing a big-budget movie in Hollywood is next to impossible but directing the local newscast in small town Indiana isn't quite as big a mountain to climb. Speaking in generalities though it is a very tough industry to break into and to thrive in. The hours are long, the jobs are stressful, and you'll never make as much money as you think you should. With that being said, I couldn't see myself doing anything else. Everyone who sticks w/the entertainment industry is a masochist on some level, IMO.
W/o knowing a thing about you I'd say no you are not. The first step to doing something is believing you can do it, no matter how improbable it is.
Work/intern/volunteer as much as you possibly can on 'real' productions and/or at post/production facilities in your area. Getting real world experience and making real world contacts is one of the most important thing you can do in college. When you graduate interviewers won't ask you, "Where did you go to school and what was your GPA?" they'll ask you, "What have you worked on?" Be a knowledge sponge. Ask tons of questions and glean information and experience from everyone you work with. And, for the love of god, remember that you have two ears but only one mouth so do a lot more listening than talking. Few things are more irritating and off putting than a 20-something know-it-all trying to tell a 30yr vet of the industry what's what.
I assume that you're a member of StudentFilmMaker? Plenty of interesting stuff here. And if you've got the "goods" and passion, talent will out. Good luck!
Well i've gone through hell over the last few months trying to get into the industry!
I've finally gotten a possible runners position at a post-production firm but thats all i can wrangle. That said i'm still doing some of my own productions and projects in what little spare time i have. Keeps the cash flowing!
I suggest checking out www.mandy.com which is brilliant for finding anything from odd jobs/experience work or ever full time positions.
Work, work, work.
Intern, intern, intern.
Work for peanuts, or nothing at all.
Work, work, work.
Then work some more.
Very well said.
To the OP:
The first step in all of this is interning while you're in college (and a LOT of it). Most people seeking jobs as producers and directors start off as production assistants and these are very humbling jobs to say the least. You just have to stick with it and be a rock star on and off the set. The best advice I can give on this subject is that school is a great place to learn craft, but not the place to really learn the inner workings of the industry. Far too often, I see college kids that think they know everything just because they produced short films that won student festival awards, when in reality, nobody important (i.e. your potential employer) really cares. Do as many internships as you can: develop contacts and earn respect. Nobody becomes Steven Spielberg overnight.
As stated before, you have to get used to doing a lot of things for little or no pay as you work your way up the chain. Lots of 12+ hour days...
In short, the entertainment industry was designed by masochists, for masochists. But strangely, I love my job. I guess that makes me a masochist! It surely beats wearing a pressed shirt and tie and sitting in a cubicle every day...
Network. So often it's not what you know, but who you know. Early on, you'll be able to tell who you want to work with on projects with.
My brother went to the "Art Center College of Design" in California. He did really well, but it was not that work that landed him any jobs. Ya they wanted a college education, but that was where the schooling stopped and the "who you know" and "Previous experience" really paid off. During college, he produced a PSA, that got his feet wet, and got him the above 2 things required. Currently, he works for Disney (Imagination Studios I think) producing/creating online stuff. Before he got this job, he was working for some company that did QA for video games. It was all he could get until he got his foot in the door at Disney. Which I believe required him to know a few people, and definitely required experience first.
It seems like any other job I have worked though. Its more who you know and your previous experience that gets you the job, not necessarily your schooling. Though schooling is a factor too, and rarely will anything happen if you do not have at least some schooling. Though this is an opinion from someone on the outside looking in.
For most professions I would agree but a degree is pretty far down on the list of qualifications for working in the entertainment industry. A few years ago I was involved in hiring for an entry level position and, even for that, I looked at work experience, extracurricular projects, and the cover letter before I looked at the college. And I really only looked at the college in case is was my school, or the school of anyone I knew, so I could see if anyone might know the applicant.
Also put together a demo reel, outlining projects you've worked on or been a part of, if you haven't already begun doing so.
I said some schooling. Not Full MBA/Masters/PHD.
If the interviewee cannot carry on a higher level conversation, acts like a 2 year old, or throws the F bomb every other word, I doubt you would consider him. Most that have had some schooling, tend to act more adult like.
This sounds quite a bit like IT, schooling is not as important as experience. At least in my experience, which is quite a bit.
Going slightly off topic for a minute. I have always heard from my university advisor that IF we don't get a journalism degree (I am trying to be a TV journalist), we are good as dead in the industry, and we can never, EVER, break in. No other degree would do but theirs. My boss at the TV station I am working at said it was BS, but is it?
It's going to depend on who's hiring: as your own experience seems to demonstrate! Some news EPs (assuming you're after a broadcast news job) aren't going to give a monkey's about whether you've got a degree or not, while some will. For what it's worth I worked in broadcast television for a while in operations and post-production, and although I had degrees hardly anyone I worked with did. My degrees weren't even in broadcast-related subjects. In my opinion, whether you get on or not is down to experience and attitude. The most highly qualified person ain't gonna get the job if they're a know-it-all SOB with bugger-all experience and a can't-do mojo. Dime a dozen, them.
It depends on which part of the field you're going into. There are some people that would expect a journalism degree in a new hire if you're going to be a TV reporter, but that's less common than it used to be. It used to be required, but no longer. (If you've seen the state of TV news lately, you already know that journalism often isn't involved.) But if you're looking to be a TV journo and you don't have a similar degree (English, literature, maybe), then you'd better have a lot of work experience already. You'd better have a demo reel showing you in the field, on camera, poised, informative and engaging. Unless you're really good-looking and can read a teleprompter, in which case you may not need any of those things.
Working in the media is really about what your talent can do for someone else. There are some places that get enough applicants that they might decide to only consider hiring someone with a degree, but I think that's pretty rare. Most places are on the lookout for good workers because turnover tends to be high.
It took about nine months after graduation before I got a regular gig in the business, with lots of interviews, ad-hunting, and phone calls that went nowhere. Even the job I finally got was part-time and it took over a year to become full-time. And how did I get that job? Someone who knew someone passed my resume on to someone hiring for a job that I didn't even know about. It can be very random. And that full time job came about because I finally shamed my boss into promoting me after passing me over twice. It can be a mean business to be in sometimes.
I'm just saying that employers in this field largely don't care where you went to school, or even if you finished school, they care about the quality of your work, the amount of work you've done, and your attitude (how well
you play w/others). If you were going to hire a wedding photographer would you want to see is diploma or his portfolio?
If someone can't act professional it doesn't matter if they have a college degree or not. The opportunities college presents (access to equipment, access to potential internships and job leads, networking, etc.,) are more important, IMO, than the classes the college offers. All of those same opportunities are available outside the college setting but it requires a bit more effort because you have to be more self-motivated to keep on top of it all as opposed to just utilizing an already prepared framework at a college. If someone doesn't get a college degree because they are lazy that's one thing. If someone doesn't get a college degree because they chose to enter the work force and learn by doing that's quite another. The entertainment industry is still largely a master/apprentice type industry, even though that is changing, so that's one reason why I think college degrees (even degrees from big schools like USC or FSU) don't mean much as they do in other industries. There is a lot of knowledge you need in this industry that you only learn in a work environment so it makes since that work experience ranks higher than formal education. I'm the only person in my family in this industry and it took a while for me to convince my family that things are different in this field than in the "normal" working world. I mean, I don't know how many times I had to politely tell my parents, "No, I don't need a suit to wear to job interviews, and having a ponytail is not a strike against me." Of course now the ponytail is a thing of the past, but the short, black and red/purple/blue/green hair that replaced it is still tame by Hollywood standards. Personal vibe is, in some cases, more important than work experience because of how collaborative and stressful this field is. You can be talented, but if you're a royal PITA to work with people won't tolerate it and word will get around fast.
IMO there are a number of good reasons to go to college, but getting a degree in hopes that the diploma will open doors for you in this industry isn't one of them.
As aloofman said there are variables, but generally speaking I'd pay more attention to the working pros, especially those that can get you a job, than the guy who needs kids to stay in college to have a job.
One of the best pieces of advice I was ever told was that hollywood thrives on money and there is money to be made with talented people. So, if you've got the talent the right people will find you.. studio execs are kind of like sharks with blood in the water. So, yes school is important to learn the craft and internships are very important. But, above all else just make your stuff. Then show it to anyone who is willing to watch it, and just keep going. If you are good enough to where people believe you can make them money they will find you. So just get your stuff made under any circumstance! And remember the easiest way into the industry is through writing... find that story that everyone wants to hear.
No, they will not find you. They don't look for you... You have to find them and put yourself and your work in front of them.
To the OP, just work on as many productions as you possible can. You want to be a director or a producer? Then go direct and produce. And then do it again, and then some more. You get to be a director by just being a director and you get jobs by people liking your work.
I'm sorry to say sir, but you aren't correct in this statement. Studios are CONSTANTLY looking... they are watching festivals, looking at scripts, listening to buzz, reading the trades, etc. just like everybody else in this business. Sitting and waiting for talent to just walk into your door does not work.. and if you really think you can put your work in front of them you are sadly mistaken. 90% of hollywood are dreamers hoping for their big break and trying to get in to see the big guns to pitch "this really great idea i have." So, if it was made possible to get your work in front of someone in a studio there would be a clog to no end. That's why studios will only accept work that comes from certain places.. namely talent agencies that they have good relations with.. and even talent agencies will not accept a nobody who walks in the front door script. They have to hear about what you've done, thenthey will come find you However i do admire the dream you have about just walking into the Weinstein's office throwing down 90 pages "that's guaranteed to make a profit" and having them toss a check at you.
Anyway i completely agree with you on your second statement that i also said in my original post... produce your projects and get them to anyone who will watch.. if it's good enough it will make its way into someone's hands that can do something about it.. word of mouth is key in this industry. also for any student filmmaker a great way to get your stuff out there is to make a simple (or more advanced if you can) website that highlights your work. that way when you get the inevitable "let me see some of what you've done!" you can point them to your website... since this is a mac forum iweb is your friend for the less html inclined.
That is not what I was saying about getting one's work out to the decision makers of the industry. I'm saying that even if you make a bunch of great shorts and post 'em up on a website, you're not going to get a studio calling and saying "hey great site, want a job?".
My point was that they don't look for you in the way that student filmmakers might think.
After you make a film you need to push screenings, push the website, go to festivals, etc. Sure studios look for talent, but they don't scan the internet for web sites of new young filmmakers. You need to actively put it on their radar, rather than hope they stumble across it. I'm not saying knock on their door with a script, but you HAVE to be proactive about it.
My post was geared towards student filmmakers (like the OP) that don't have experience with festivals and such. When I was in college there were plenty of delusional kids that thought that they'd be successful just because they made good films. They didn't realize how much work is necessary after the film is completed.