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Old May 9th, 2002, 07:41 AM   #1
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Ways to make a living ?

Hi all,

I am very glad to meet all of you guys, as all of us have the same interest here, that is, to make our own films.

I am very interested in filmmaking, problem is, I havent go to a film school before, due to lack of support from parents. DV has make it more convenient to learn about making short movies and I am glad for that.

The real problem now is, I am working as an accountant at the moment. Something I really hate. I'd like to get myself involve in the filmmaking industry , and I've tried applying to lots of film production companies etc, without reply :(

Therefore, I can only wait for film festival to try my luck. And now the second problem arises. My current job workload is pretty hectic. I have to work from 8.30am till around 9-11 pm at night, and at times, I have to work on Saturday too. And on Sunday, I need to spend sometime with my family/gf etc.

Therefore, I really could not allocate anytime for filmmaking anymore , since i took up this job. I really need guidance as to what I should do.

What do you guys do for a living? How do someone like me break into the film industry while making a living for myself?
I am confused.
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Old May 9th, 2002, 08:02 AM   #2
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Welcome to the board, Michael! Good to add Malaysia to our growing list of DVInfo.net East members.

Your question is the question that has plagued people with creative juices flowing in their veins since the very beginning. Don't have an answer for that, I'm afraid...just keep at it.

But as for the inspiration to keep at it...you've come to the right place.
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Old May 9th, 2002, 08:19 AM   #3
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Michael,

I was in the same boat (actually aeroplane) about 4 years ago. I was in the Royal Australian Air Force (we went to Malaysia very 2 years. Butterworth/Penang and Kwantan) and wanted to take photos/make videos. So one day I decided to go for it and discharged from the air force.

Since that day I've shot videos/photos in Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Bali and Japan. It hasn't been easy, I didn't always know where my next meal was going to come from but it's been a great experience and I've learned a lot.

My advice to you is decide just how much you want to be a filmmaker and set the wheels in motion. Like I said, it will be hard, but I garentee it will be worth every 2 minute noodle meal.
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Old May 9th, 2002, 08:19 AM   #4
 
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"I am working as an accountant at the moment. Something I really hate"

well, Michael....seems, to me, like this statement is pretty clear.

somewhere, perhaps, there's a better balance between what you want and what you got. being way out of balance can make me pretty physically ill. When I get sick, my choices are greatly reduced.

best of luck to you.

Bill R.
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Old May 9th, 2002, 08:27 AM   #5
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Geez, Bill. You just said a mouthful.

Probably everyone here can relate to that...but I'll admit to it outloud.

So Michael, I take back my politically-neutral and "safe" response earlier. Just go for it.
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Old May 9th, 2002, 09:45 AM   #6
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Thanks for all the advice.
The reason i posted this is to ask for the success stories of each of you :)

I am dedicated to filmmaking. At the sametime, i need to make a living for myself, while having enough time for making films.

So i'd really like to know how did you guys manage to pull it off.
I know it will be worth it, and I hope to get some guidance.
Thanks again.
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Old May 9th, 2002, 10:00 AM   #7
 
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Michael...

For myself, I found a balance that works. Everyone finds their own and I can't tell you where yours lies. The equipment needed to make this video-making work is very expensive and gets obsolete fairly quickly. So, the way I see it, there's three ways to go...

1-work for someone(like a broadcast station) who can afford it....nice 'cuz you get to use the latest and greatest equipment, but, it's hard to get hired, as you can attest, and you're always at their beck and call

2-work for yourself doing event videography or something like that....well, you get the autonomy, but, money is hard to come by, ergo the best equipment is always just out of reach

3-find a compromise job that you can be somewhat happy with, but, that pays you well enough to financially support your real love.

My personal choice is number 3, altho', there's probably 100's of people in this forum who chose differently. To each his own, eh? I work in the optical engineering field....was lucky enough to be able to make it thru college. But, that's expensive, too, and not for everyone.

Decide how much and what kind of sacrifice you're willing to make...then DO IT.

..and one more thought....I've been doing my "day job" for about 27 years. I've spent a lot of my life getting to this point. It wasn't always this lucrative or easy...it just takes time to get to where you're wanting to go. Be patient, be persistent, don't lose sight of the goal no matter what distractions and obstacles happen, because they will happen.
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Old May 9th, 2002, 10:07 AM   #8
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In my case I kind of got lucky... graduated from film school at the University of Texas, couldn't afford to go to New York or California, so a film career there was out of the question. A lot of production going on in Texas: I knocked around looking for a job and applied to be a VTR operator at the San Antonio PBS station. In that interview, I was asked if I could read a vectorscope and wave-form monitor. I couldn't; all my classes in school had been on film history and theory, screenwriting, writing-intensive stuff without any technical training. The interview turned into a short explanation of how the vectorscope and wave-form monitors work. Needless to say I didn't get that job.

I said I got lucky though because in San Marcos I hooked up with Dave Newman, a professional pilot who wanted to start a video production company and needed somebody like me. I "managed" it for him, meaning I manned the downtown storefront for it and did everything from shooting to editing to sweeping the floor and taking out the trash. I shot a lot of weddings and dance recitals down there, and did a lot of tape duplication and 8mm film transfer before I got to the point where I could do what I do now, working on my own out of my home.

You need to knock around your area and try to find a Dave Newman. Somewhere somebody needs a guy just like you, the trick is hooking up with that person. Call around the local video shops and see what's going on.

I initially started out doing weddings, I did the first ones free because I didn't have experience. I didn't actually make money off of a wedding until my fifth one. I don't shoot 'em anymore but that's a very intense way to develop your chops (just don't screw up some bride's video). The technical craft is not the challenge, the challenge is the business and marketing aspect, at least it was for me. You have to make your own reality.
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Old May 9th, 2002, 10:13 AM   #9
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Well, even though the birth of filmmaking was in Europe the home of filmmaking is in the US. We who live outside of the US (hence; the industry) must live by the motto: "We will either find a way or make one." Each country has it's diffrent obstacles. I don't know about yours but we have a big problem with self censorship in the form of goverment "support" and suffer from Bergman stigma. This makes for an extremely unproductive industry so those few of us in our country that tries to make film have to find new ways. We make really cheap films to start with so we don't get dependent on the goverment.

If you have no budget and you wan't to break into feature filmmaking; make a film you can finance out of your own pocket (DV or 16mm). If you wan't to break into commercials; do spec films out of your own pocket to show what you know. Some times talent is recognized. Not always but he who tries the most will win.

And hey; don't worry, you learn nothing at filmschools anyway. Friends of mine that went to filmschool learned how to run a Steenbeck. None of them have been using things like that after school. You learn much more by reading books on your own.
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Old May 9th, 2002, 10:20 AM   #10
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Martin is right, you don't really need film school. I'll tell you exactly why I majored in film at university: because it was interesting. I was a highly motivated student in film school, and I had been kicked out of college more than once before for being lazy. But in film school I was interested enough to make a serious effort and I was rewarded with high grades. However it taught me one (and only one) valuable lesson: how to learn. There are correct and proper processes for learning, for learning anything, and university taught me that. The film school thing was just to make it fun and interesting. The same principles would apply no matter what the subject. I'm glad I went for the life skills it taught in how to learn, something I badly needed at the time, but as Martin says, it is not at all neccessary to go to school just to learn the craft. You can pick that up in the real world doing your own study.
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Old May 9th, 2002, 10:21 AM   #11
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Michael,

I can hardly be considered a "success" in DV experience and accomplishments...I've only been involved in it for about a year now. But the one thing I can consider myself a success at is how I managed to "twist" my day job a bit to include DV...and convince my bosses to let me do it.

For several years, I've been a web developer for a business education firm in Tokyo and Seoul. For a long time, I was only using the normal web skills. But I wanted desperately to get involved in DV.

My web job paid enough for me to buy my XL-1, computer, and other stuff. So, once I had it, I approached my boss about adding video to our courses. At first, they didn't want to because they thought it would slow down course production.

So, completely on my own, I made a new course that included a lot of video samples. When it was done, I took it to them and said "See what I can do?" They liked it, but they were still worried a bit about the time involved (in spite of my saying it takes LESS time than laying out pages)...but after the clients saw it and loved it, the idea was accepted.

I'd finagled myself into doing what I wanted. Since then, it's been great. I've been shooting regularly, learning more techniques along the way. I've also gotten to do some international travel and had the chance to do some fun location stuff.

Compared to most of the people here, I'm as green a rookie as you can find. But I'm doing what I love to do now and gaining valuable experience, much of which I attribute to info I learned here.

So, the moral of the story is...if you don't see an opportunity out there, make one. Get out of that life-force draining job (that's priority number one) and first try to get into the biz directly like Bill says. But if that isn't working out, find something that has the possibility of expanding to include DV and then convince them to let you do just that.

Alright...time's up. Time to step off the soapbox.
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Old May 9th, 2002, 12:01 PM   #12
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Ive known many poeple in the video industry whom started just like
John did...and became pretty well off..


I never had really got into the actuall videography aspect intill i left school
and worked for a newmedia company whom did video production.
There I did some video work with the XL1 which was great...I bought an XL1
shortly after leaving there and went out on my own...I used all the connections i knew from previous jobs and poeple i met and started doing video on my own..I did anything from weddings to corporate videos, and
made a little change but learned alot! The best way to learn is to do it yourself and learn from your "hands-on" experiences.

I even did many FREE jobs just to do some work for learning purposes
and try new things, Youll find you will make mistakes and then spend time learning how to get around those mistakes which makes for good practice.

The best thing to do, in my opinion, is to work your job and save some cash to buy some video equipment, then go out there and do your thing... soon
enough if you work hard and be persistant youll find yourself having fun
and doing what you like to do and make some decent cash...
It also is benificial to apply your video skills to other things in your interest.
Like for me I applied my video knowledge for multi-media and worked with othersto discover new methods and practice I can put to use.

What ever it may be, youll draw yourself subconsciously to things in your interest, and eventually find yourself where you want to be.
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Old May 9th, 2002, 05:27 PM   #13
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Michael,
I have little to offer beyond the (really interesting) stories that others have already offered.

But, as you are currently an accountant, my tiny morsel should ring very true to you. My advice is: Be a squirrel. That is, live modestly and stash as much away as you can each month. Invest it wisely, diligently and with great personal discipline. There's no better formula for personal freedom than to accumulate enough real wealth to enable you to say "no" and to spend time doing what your heart tells you to do. Without some practical level of wealth, or with heavy debt budens, you will face an indefinite future of servitude to those whose wealth enables them to pay you to help them with -their- dreams.

Much good fortune to you.
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Old May 9th, 2002, 10:02 PM   #14
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Michael,

The 'success' won't come quickly. John is one of the lucky ones who can talk a good game to convince people they need what he's offering.

This is a very important skill in making any business a success, even more so in video as people still believe it's going to cost them a fortune.

As Bill said, start off small, find a good balance between work and filmmaking. build yourself a client list and then you can slowly do more filmmaking less real work.

It will go up and down, but if you keep you mind on the long term goal and have fun on the way, you'll always be a success.
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Old May 10th, 2002, 02:31 AM   #15
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Make a deal with a funeral home, shooting funerals. Not many video people like to do this, and people are always dying. So you can make a good living shooting the dead.
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