|My little film crew!|
Unlike going into, say, a veterinary position, being a film maker can be incredibly unpredictable at times. Nothing is fixed, there are often no rigid working hours unless you're working under a contract (and averagely, those will only last 6 months max). What is undoubtable, though, is the amount of hard work you will need to put in, in order to yield any kind of success. The more work you do, the better. Work = meeting people, and more people you know, the more contacts you gain, and the more jobs you'll get a hold of.
There will be months when you have no work at all, and you will despair - but there will also be months where you will have so much work, you won't have time to do anything else. You'll find yourself filming for 16 hours straight, and have to have an edit up and ready the next day. You'll meet cliental from both ends of the spectrum (both the maturity spectrum and the professional spectrum), and you will reach the end of your tether on a weekly basis. Starting out, you'll be expected to do a lot of things for free - but be sure not to get taken advantage of (more about this later).
Again, unlike other, more 'fixed' professions, there is no set 'road' to success. Every single person's journey is different. You can get in to film school, graduate from there with a first class bachelors degree, yet leave education with absolutely no skills that will help you in the real film world. In my opinion, at least, it's not the grades that matter - it's your drive, passion, and skill.
|Get used to lugging a LOT of stuff around!|
High schoolers - If you are interested in practical film-making, take as many art and media based subjects as you can. I took Art, Film Studies, English and History. Alongside this, try to get some work experience on weekends. I filmed weddings for a small local company for nearly three years, and also did freelance video editing and shot logging. Some of it was paid, some of it wasn't, but at this stage, I would was willing to work for free, and it's the experience I needed, not the wages. (Of course, earning money is always a plus. Make sure you're not being expolited/overworked by your employer!).
|Working on a documentary about a local church|
Throughout all this, continue gaining as much experience as you can. After the first year of studying or so, it's real-life film work that's going to propel you forwards - alongside your studies of course. I'm in my third year and it's at this stage that I've started to find my own voice as a film maker, and really began excelling in what I do best. Apply for as many jobs as you can find that you think will benefit you, and go at it with full, unadulterated confidence, even if inside you're not feeling so self-assured.
|Working in freezing conditions is just part of the job!|
I absolutely love every part of what I'm becoming. I'm meeting new people and gaining more contacts as I go, and I'm continuously building on my skills as a film maker, even in areas that I would not have explored before. Although editing is my forte, I'm becoming more and comfortable using equipment that I was terrified of using in first year, and refused to touch. I'm working as many jobs as I can, to the best of my ability, and gradually building up a show reel which I'll be proud to show to potential hirers.
- Don't be afraid to pester people for work. Go at it with full force, don't care what people think of you.
- Learn by doing.
- Buy several hard drives and USB sticks. You're gonna need them.
- Find your niche and work hard at building it, but try and gain general experience in other fields, too. Your CV will benefit from it.
- Clients want passion, drive, and skill.
- Practical skills are everything, so take the time to gain them. Those A*s in school will mean nothing if you can't white balance a camera or stick a filter on an LED light. If you don't know how to use a piece of equipment or a programme, watch online tutorials, read books on the topic, and talk to your fellow classmates. Don't be afraid to ask your tutors to go over things again.
- Inspiration, not emulation. Watch as many films as you possibly can. Watch AWFUL films that make you throw things at the screen in rage, and watch beautiful, awe-inspiring, life-changing films, too. Become inspired by the good, the bad, and the truly terrible.
If you want to be a film maker, you can be a film maker. Just be prepared to work your arse off, and then some. Be prepared for hardships, for irritating clients (and classmates), for long shifts, and back-breaking, heavy-tripod-carrying, early-morning hikes up hills in the rain. It'll be worth it.
If you have any more questions comment below!