Thursday, August 5, 2010

Ten Things You Should Know - Part 2

I am often asked this question, what do I need to do to prepare for a career in film or television. That’s why the last class I teach in my film class is about this very subject. Perhaps you have taken a class or two on film or television production. Maybe you are a high school student who has a passion for film or you are someone looking for a career change. It’s never too early to start planning and preparing if you are serious about pursuing a career in media.

3. Get your own camera and editing system or at least find a way to have access to one. The gap between professional and consumer-grade equipment has dramatically narrowed in recent years. You can now buy a 3-chip camera for as low as $2,000. In the used market, it will be lower. I suggest taking a look at the DVX-100 from Panasonic. It’s an excellent camera with an external XLR input. Editing software today can cost less than a few hundred dollars. Video drives have also decreased in cost as well. The bottom line is why not start making your own short films now? Write your script and get your friends involved. Why wait?

4. I hate to use the term homework, but there’s no getting around it. You’d be surprised what you won’t learn in film school. So you have to do your homework. Start reading the trades now. For example, The Hollywood Reporter covers the industry from the inside. You will be surprised what you can learn by just following the trades. The information is out there if you are willing to do a little research. Hey, entertainment is America’s number one export, so somebody in Hollywood knows what they are doing. Take time to learn how the system works before you waste months or years banging on doors. Thanks to the internet, you have access to the entertainment industry right from your own home. So start using it.

5. Learn the secrets of marketing. For every dollar Hollywood spends on production, they also spend an additional .51 cents on marketing. So if marketing is important to Hollywood, shouldn’t it be important to you?. In this industry, you must become an effective marketer. Learn to brand yourself. We live in a culture where perception is more important than reality. So use it to your advantage.

Being a filmmaker is more than just understanding the principles of your craft. Take some marketing classes. They will come in handy at some point. You must also learn to distinguish yourself from the crowd. Having a topnotch demo reel with the right presentational materials can have a huge impact.

6. Become a problem solver. This principle applies to whatever you do in life. Whether that’s working in film or television or being a plumber or an electrician. Having the ability to make other people’s problems disappear is a pathway to success in life. In fact, you will never be out of work.

Here’s an idea that someone shared with me a few years ago. Your life will change when you realize your value in the workplace is in direct proportion to your ability to solve problems for other people. Recently, I met a young filmmaker who wants to produce and direct movies. He is starting at the bottom. Over the past couple of years, he’s worked on several major motion pictures as a production assistant. But he is always looking around for opportunities to help people on the set beyond his job description. In other works, he’s solving other people’s problems. As a result, he is moving up in the industry and getting more responsibility on every new project he works on.

Friday Part 3

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