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Old March 1st, 2010, 02:33 AM   #1
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What Video / Film job is right for me?

Hey Everyone,

I graduated from college with a degree in film and photography. I've spent the last year starting up and managing my own video production company back in my home town. And while business is good and I enjoy the work, I feel that at some point I would like to move on to larger projects that will have wide releases and more social engagement.

I'm unsure where my niche might be in a production environment. So far I've found I enjoy the camera and editing departments the most. I thought I would do an evaluation of my strengths, preferences, and personality and see if you all had any recommendations on what sorts of positions related to visual arts might fit what I'm looking for. I'm really hoping for a wide range of responses, so please don't hold back any recommendations, even if the job isn't related to visual arts / video / photography at all.

Obviously nothing is going to come close to fitting all of these preferences, or play to even a majority of what I would consider my strengths. But knowing it's an over idealized list I would still love to hear your opinions on the types of jobs that came into your mind as you read through. Please also ignore the job market, how rare the position is, or how many years experience would be required, as im more trying to get an idea of where i would like to aim for in the future and not my current odds. Thanks!


Personality: Theoretical, conceptualist, perfectionist, critical, independent (need some level of autonomy), driven to acquire knowledge / make sense of topics im interested in, dont like large groups of people.

Strengths: Aesthetic sensitivity, very visual learner, imagination, critiquing / helpful feedback, global concepts, systems oriented, organized, good at assessing benefits & flaws of possible strategies and designing creative solutions, graphic design, ability to examine issues objectively, high standards, strong work ethic, attention to detail, noticing patterns and deriving meaning.

Preferences: Intellectual environment, theoretical & intellectual challenges, variety of projects / topics, opportunity to generate ideas.


Here's some additional info I got from a personality test that I think is very accurate about the type of job I would like to have:

"prefer work that makes use of their ability to see inner meanings, implications, and possibilities. it's important to them to find a way of expressing their perceptions. their unique, inner vision of how things could be must be translated into reality."

1. lets them create and develop original and innovative solutions to problems to improve existing systems.

2. lets them work with other conscientious people whose expertise, intelligence, and competence they respect.

3. gives them credit for their original ideas and lets them maintain authorship and control over there execution.

4. allows them to work independently but with periodic interaction with a small group of intellectual people within a smooth running environment free of squabbles.


Let me know what comes to mind, Thanks again!

- Shawn
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Old March 1st, 2010, 03:22 AM   #2
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There's a Doris Day song that answers that question. Que Sera Sera.

It's philosophically accurate.

If someone told me 10 years ago I would produce a fishing show, I'd flatly reply, "are you nuts? Why would I want to do something like that?" Yet here I am.

And 36 years ago, if someone said I'd end up being the chief photographer of a daily newspaper, I would have replied, "I hate working on the school paper. Why would I want to work in a real newspaper? And why would I even be a photographer when I want to be a pilot?"

Yet that's where I was just a little while ago.

So my answer: go with the flow. And get to know a lot of people.

Some say sarcastically that it's who you know and not what you know. But in truth it's who you know AND what you know that will determine WHERE you go.

Develop networks. Participate in projects. Talented individuals who get to know you will keep you in mind when the "right fit" develops. And you will do the same for them.

The terms included in your online self-assessment are wonderful indeed. But in plain terms someone will ask, "so what's he like to work with?"

Particpate in 48-hour film projects. Many will appreciate how you function under a creative deadline. Generate independent projects on your own, instead of waiting on others to do so. Take the initiative. In the long run, people who have experienced your work first-hand might be the very ones who can help you along the best.

Resumes are essential. But first-hand experience is priceless.

Sincerely, good luck! And please try to find something positive out of even the most negative experience.
Dean Sensui
Exec Producer, Hawaii Goes Fishing
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Old March 1st, 2010, 03:24 AM   #3
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Special effects department.

Write to every special effects house in the country and offer to fetch and carry whatever they want just so you can get in the door, once there you can show them your talent.

Good luck:)
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Old March 1st, 2010, 04:20 AM   #4
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hey it sounds like you qualify 100% as a Director, along with 3 million other people , how well do you wait tables? :-)

me thinks you can do anything you want and work towards, the only problem becomes if you dont want to do that.
All these analisis of you, and yet you said what you enjoyed once "I enjoy the work", you just dont want to go through all that STUFF for such small distribution :-(

wonder which would make people more happy? Delivering something to 3 million people who 50% or more give you 4.0 stars out of 10 after having worked for 2 years, and painfully critisize everything you did , or 3 people that like what you did in one week?
Re-learning everything all over again, one more time.
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Old March 1st, 2010, 05:17 AM   #5
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The important about video/film production is that everything is a compromise to some extent - even with large budgets.

Being able to work with people is a big part of the industry, especially on larger productions. The only real conceptual area is scriptwriting, nearly everything else usually involves following the blueprint in the script.

An area that many production people get started in is location management - it's not creative, but good input has an important on screen result.
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Old March 1st, 2010, 11:17 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Shawn Whiting View Post
Hey Everyone,

So far I've found I enjoy the camera and editing departments the most.
I say go with the flow, and take things wherever the road takes you. The main thing is to always enjoy what you're doing, and make work play. The best job is like a hobby. You really have fun working, and at the same time make money from it!

When I graduated fresh from college, I was offered an internship from a large film studio in Hollywood. At that time I thought I was the luckiest guy to be offered such an opportunity. Then as I went through the internship, I discovered that the unions had every job broken down into very specific areas. If I was hired to be a camera operator, for example, I wouldn't be able to touch audio, lighting, or set design. Maybe it was my imagination, but I realized that everyone on the set tried to work slowly on purpose. If they worked slower, they got more hours, which meant more pay. Towards the end of the internship, I realized that big studio work was not for me. I ended up working for a small local video production company instead, where I was able to play and touch all the cameras, lighting, audio, and editing machines with no restrictions. That's where I found happiness, doing "fun" things and making money from it!

You have your own company, so you're already enjoying half of the fun. The other half will come as you figure out what to do with all your equipment and knowledge you've acquired so far!
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Old March 1st, 2010, 11:58 AM   #7
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It's not just Hollywood studios that break things into separate disciplines, it's pretty standard on higher end productions. This happens on non union pictures as well. You're expected to take your particular skill to a higher level than would be the case on say a cable television station.

It may appear slow, but hanging around is pretty standard on a set unless you're a member of the camera crew when things can be a bit crazy trying to stay on top of things. People are organising things all over the place behind the scenes, it's more like the construction industry, with perhaps even bigger egos floating around.
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Old March 1st, 2010, 02:05 PM   #8
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Very good advice so far, thanks everyone!

Any more specific recommendations as to what jobs exist in areas you think i may fit well into?

for example, in the camera department, do you think i would be best suited for DoP, camera operator, media management?

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Old March 1st, 2010, 09:41 PM   #9
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I wanted to wait a while and see what others said before responding. So far all the advice given seems right on the money -- especially the advice about considering Special Effects work. It matches much of what you say you like to do in terms of creative problem solving and facing new challenges.

If you don't like large groups of people then maybe being on the set daily as part of the camera or grip dept. may not be for you.

Going with the flow is good advice for some, but didn't work out great for me. I started on the path I wanted but then got sidetracked into a lucrative job that wasn't exactly what I wanted to do, figuring I could always make the jump back to my original goals. But with each passing promotion and raise, I got further and further from what I got into the business for in the first place. So I retired early and am "rebooting" into my original career path, and when I meet old colleagues they look at me like I'm insane, saying "You can't do this, because you do that."

So going with the flow might not work for everyone. Of course, if you love what you do, cherish that and grab for the reins with all the strength you have.
"It can only be attributable to human error... This sort of thing has cropped up before, and it has always been due to human error."
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Old March 4th, 2010, 12:49 PM   #10
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Shawn, it looks like you might be a natural multi-hyphenate. You know, director-DOP-editor-artist, or something like that. Your character traits, talents, and motivation suggest that you would be happy doing a lot of different production jobs, and perhaps less happy doing only one. Maybe you should create your own anti-niche, like "camera operator/editor/motion graphics artist with expertise in handling video metadata". That's probably not a very crowded group. Diverse skill sets are valuable on smaller productions that can't afford a lot of specialists.

I'm not saying you can or should do everything, just that you may be really good at several different things, so don't limit yourself artificially.

Now as for ideas on what those things might be, I agree that your self-description fits the bill for special effects, perhaps with the goal of becoming a special effects supervisor. You might also distinguish yourself as a director or cinematographer who specializes in technically demanding projects. Watch the credits of your favorite movies and write down any job titles that sound intriguing. Give yourself free time to study and read; your brain will automatically gravitate to the things you are truly passionate about.
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Old March 4th, 2010, 05:20 PM   #11
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Thanks Adam and Reed, both of your viewpoints are a big help.

I think you may be right Reed, I do often find myself enjoying projects where I take on multiple roles, like cinematographer, script supervisor, editor, color artist, data organization, etc.
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Old March 8th, 2010, 08:13 AM   #12
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Something I've been trying to do lately is join forces with other people in my area who also enjoy wearing a lot of different hats. I've found that this makes for a very flexible crew and I'm usually just on the same wavelength with people like that.

On the other hand there is tremendous value in having a crew where each person is an expert in their one area and they don't get distracted by things that aren't their job. I guess this would be the more traditional method of organization.

I'm still figuring out the balance between the two styles that works best for in a crew, but I know that I myself am definitely in the first group.
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Old March 8th, 2010, 12:48 PM   #13
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There are two entry level jobs in Hollywood:

1. Production Assistant (aka Persona A** kisser).
2. Director

The advice here is sound. Do work. Make connections. Things will happen. You will land where you are best suited by the quality of the work that you do.
B-Scene Films
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