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Old November 16th, 2005, 07:11 AM   #1
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Location: Tempe, AZ
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What Now? [graduation, employment, etc]

Hi all,
I'm a senior at Cornell University, and in May, barring any extreme change in circumstances, I'm going to be graduating with a BA in Film Studies (concentration in East-Asian studies, concentration in Computing in the Arts). I'm trying to find out as much as I can to prepare for my next move.

I have a fair bit of experience in filmmaking (for an undergrad, anyway), I think -- I've directed two short student films on DV, one narrative (12 min) and one documentary (25 min). I did camera, editing, lighting, etc for both. If I'm accepted into the advanced class here in the spring semester, I'm planning to write/direct a longer narrative project on 16mm. In addition, I've served as a director of photography on both DV and 16mm student projects, and acted as a lighting designer for two medium-length (30-45 minute) narrative pieces.

In addition to student film work, last summer I interned at a video post production facility that specialized in technical evaluation / correction of programs to meet PBS broadcast standards, and over the past two years I've worked a number of paying gigs taping events on DV for a variety of clients around the university, one of which included designing and producing a DVD.

My question is, with these qualifications, what kind of employment should I be looking for, and where? I'm really not sure how high up the ladder (or what ladder) a degree like this puts me, though I'm guessing "fairly low." What kind of jobs should I be applying for? My goals are fairly nebulous at this point, but I'd like to get more experience in production (cinematography in particular, but any experience is good experience) and there are a few ideas in my head for narratives and documentaries on a feature scale, so I'd prefer to do stuff that positions me for a better shot at getting that kind of work done in the future, but I realize that everybody in this business wants to write and direct, so I'm not under any illusions about the chances there.

In terms of location, my family is located around Washington DC (about equidistant from DC and Baltimore) and I'm willing to consider relocating to NYC, Toronto, or Vancouver. I'm a dual citizen, so operating in Canada is a relative non-issue. I'd just as soon avoid L.A./Hollywood, though -- from what I've heard from people living in the area, the traffic/congestion/polution is pretty miserable. I'd be willing, though, if necessary.

I realize this is a pretty broad set of questions, but I figure this is a gathering of people who know their stuff when it comes to this world. Any advice to a newbie would be greatly appreciated!

Ryan Spicer
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Old November 16th, 2005, 02:40 PM   #2
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Posts: 230
I can't offer much advice but I can, from experience tell you that applying for jobs / positions that may seem beyond your reach is worth the effort.
I've landed jobs I thought I'd never ever get.
If you can handle a rejection letter, then apply for everything you think you may enjoy.

My brother, for his last job, got an interview with an employer because the guy thought he was cheeky applying for something he had no experience in - he got the job.
As my mum always said, "better to aim too high and miss, then to aim too low and hit"
anyway, I'll leave the rest to the others :)
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Old November 16th, 2005, 11:45 PM   #3
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IMO the degree adds little .. you'll start out the same as a person with no degree ..much of the business is who you know ... if you go to NYC or Vancouver to work in the business then you'll have to decide what you really want to do .. i always found it hard to decide what to do with a person that would tell me they edit, direct , soundman , produce, write etc - i'm just looking for somebody to plug a cord in the socket or run errands !!! soooooooooo if you are applying for a grip job speak GRIP not directing or editing .. if you apply for director then speak director not grip, PA talk ...
if you want camera area then talk camera = most start off as loaders or work at camera rental house where then learn equipment and meet all the AC's that come in to prep ...

remember where ever you go they already are doing it without you .. they have persons standing in line willing to work for FREE .. so if you don't go they are not going to miss you .. however if you do go keep a open smile,eye,ears and keep the hand ready to do some shaking ... don't let NO get you down ..put yourself out there , keep going back to places that said NO , always check in/back .. introduce yourself to persons at related film events .. you'll meet others that will help you and remember to help others ... if somebody gives you a name/phone number CALL it!.. make sure you have enough $$ to go at least 3 months without having to take a job at Mcdonalds , you have to be available for those last minute calls ..

LA - well it is the center of production. anything one would need on a set/location they can have within a hr or 2 delivered ... if you know persons any day of the week you can be on a set/location LEARNING ...
I've worked LA , NYC .. well i choose LA .. it's like anything you learn to work around the traffic ( there are side streets etc) .. you want fresh air =live in santa monica ...

have a sample reel of your cinematograpghy and keep it SHORT (4-7min) it's better to have them ask for more then to show too much ... always look around for project to shoot .. in LA there are dozens of no budget projects looking for crews everyday ..
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