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Taking Care of Business
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Old December 7th, 2004, 12:16 PM   #16
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Hi Ashley

I haven't read all the posts on what and how to get into the industry.... but I can just tell you my basic philosophy of life in general.

You only get one crack and it's not very long.... so if you want to do something .. go for it. If you don't you'll only have regrets at 40 or 60 or what ever.

Most people nowadays have two or three career changes in their working life.. in fact my old Economics teacher at school predicted it.. Well he's right I'm on number three and verging on number four.

Some professions are young mans jobs.... after a few years you want out...

You need to keep knocking on those doors... I too did a degree..in French, BUT wanted to be a Press Photographer. I was a stringer for various local papers in London before getting a staff job on a low paid weekly in London. I progressed to dailies and agencies before landing a job at Reuters where I worked for 15 years, saw a bit of the world and covered loads of good events and stories over the globe.

Boils down to how badly you want it...

Now I shoot internet and tourism videos, run a Fishing holiday firm and have fun...

My first job after university was selling TV's .. could have been a Manager too... did the training. BUT well it was NOT what got my pulse racing.

Want it badly enough and Go for it... And you'll succeed.

Good Luck

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Old December 24th, 2004, 01:53 PM   #17
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(NOTE: I can't spell)

I'm a 20 something, so John, you can ignore this one...joking. John is probably right from the standpoint of happiness, ect, but a twenty something might be able to give you some good 'technical' advice on how to get into film if you do decide to do it since its fresh info...so here's my experience minus life philosophy:

I graduated from college two long years ago with a degree in English. I made short films all through college, but never took a film class because I had an athletic scholarship and the film classes were always in the afternoon during practice. I knew no one in film nor did I know anyone who knew anyone in film. But before I graduated I was pretty much dead set on working in film. In my last year of school, a writer came to speak at our college and she had a screenplay in development at a legit NYC company. She also wrote, in my opinion, one of the best literary novels of the '90's. So I got there early and just harrased her for information for about an hour and did the same afterwards. I found her email online and emailed her at least once a month with writing and career questions. I have no doubt that I was annoying her at times, but she continued to offer advice so I continued to ask (and I have found thus far that people are much more willing to help you out than you think...never when you ask the first time though).

So after graduating, I continued working the midnight shift at a gasstation (my college job which I wish I could still do because it forced me to write for 7 hours a night) and I started doing landscaping work on the side to save up enough to make a short on 16mm...which I now wish I had done digital because in a learning project there's absolutely no difference shooting film or digital.

So to do the short on film I needed a crew who knew what the hell they were doing. The nearest production community for me was two hours away. So I got out the yellowpages and started calling people...a lot of hangups and "I don't have time for this shit". The cold calls didn't work for me, so I found out where some of the DPs and ADs lived and started showing up at their houses...i wish I had a camera with me to capture the looks on their faces when they opened the door and I started asking about film. But this actually had an extremely high success rate. So I got a crew of six that all had 10 plus years experience doing features and the like. The short went well, so the crew guys started introducing me to people who could help during post...began meeting people, ect.

After the short, the writer's, who is in a paragraph above, script went into production and she called the production company and got me a production assistant job in new york out of nowhere. So I left for New York three days later with no place to stay...I made calls and found friends of friends to stay with and stayed with people I met at work, ect for two months in NYC. However, a PA at a studio production company is different than a set PA, so all I did was read three or four screenplays a day and write commentary on them - every single one was f'ing godawful...like, bad. But I was on the computers and could see all the presentations, figures, ect that they used to raise money from investors and they also had a video distributer right next store where I snuck off to whenever I could. So I didn't learn anything about production, but it helped when I came back and said I PA'd in new york. So that got me my first set PA job which was a bit of an experience.

When I first showed up on my first job someone handed me an extension cord and said run a "stinger to that kino." I stood still for about five minutes before another PA jumped in and saved me. "Stingers are Extension Cords" by the way. So I sort of faked my way out of danger and slowly started figuring it out. But it took about 5 or 6 months before I could only do set work and get by. During that time I started a company and shot weddings, which is far below gasstation attendant on jobs I'll ever do again. So i've done the video stuff and worked on commercial and film sets, and I've got to say that if you want to get into it, learn on film sets. Small video stuff is good for some things, but find a city with a production community and go there.

So my general advice if you're my age or out of college and want to get into film is to make working in film a do or die priority. I don't know any of the guys that have worked for 10 plus years who weren't obsessed with it. I haven't met anyone who has stayed that "was going to try film for a couple years and see if it works." Maybe they're out there but I haven't seen them. Also, keep in mind that I'm a rookie and not a pro at this, so take my opinions as such.

Supplimental Cautionary Tale: One of the Assistant Camera guys told me a story about a guy he used to work with who had fought for four years to get into a camera department. He got there and worked for over a year as a second AC, but messed up loading a mag once, and was never hired again. There don't seem to be any garentees.

Sorry John, I have to add some philosophy here...

Kierkagard wrote something about when he went to church, he saw that everyone wanted to be saved and go to heaven without any chance of going to hell. They didn't want any risk involved. And he noted how ludicris it is for people to expect the prospect of going to heaven without even the possibility of being damned in hell....something like that. That's sort of how I see film. If you want it, you gotta be willing to lose alot to get there.

As far as keeping a day job and doing film on the side...I guess that decision depends on goals. If one wants to know as much as one can about film, don't do it. If you just want an outlet for some creative energy, then maybe that'll work for you. That's my thoughts on getting into film.

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Old December 24th, 2004, 02:03 PM   #18
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Side Note I forgot to Add.

If you're a PA and they send you to get Diet Coke, get diet coke and not diet pepsi. Some asshole producer actually started yelling about it on one of my first couple jobs...however, I will punch him in the face at some point during my life.
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Old December 25th, 2004, 07:46 AM   #19
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Rick, great story. Keep good notes. When you are 40 they will want those notes for the Biography Channel. Or Directors. :)
You are either growing or dying.
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Old January 21st, 2005, 11:10 AM   #20
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I don't post here much, but this topic caught my attention. I'm not quite at that point in my life, where I have to decide which path I want to go down. I'm still in college, and I am shooting a feature over the summer. I have a job, but I'm not in a position where I can't take a month off for shooting.

Anyway, it seems that people have already been a great help to you. I just figured I'd throw in some of my thoughts.

In my experience, it doesn't seem like a reel is going to get you a job. What you really need to do is go down to a studio, and talk to people. That seems to be the number way to get into the industry. I repeatedly read interviews with directors, actors, producers, etc. A recurring theme seems to be that--they prefer talking to someone rather than seeing their work. They want people who have vision, enthusiasm, and a will to succeed. Work, demos, and reels always seem to take a back seat to personality. Connections seems to be what it is all about in this field.
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Old January 21st, 2005, 12:06 PM   #21
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Interesting thread.
Ashley- I am that reality.
I'm 43 now, been working in the field for a little over 20 years. Graduated (whew) from a small university in Minnesota, moved to Minneapolis and dove in head first. Thank god I wasn't good at much anything else, or I would have quit many times over.
While you are young and unattached with no family or kids- that is the time to take chances and shoot for the sky. What's the worst that can happen?

I spent the majority of my 20's as a broke freelancer, but I learned a lot in the process. I'm going to describe both sides-good and bad.

I now work for a fortune 500 corporation in Atlanta as a videographer/audio engineer.
I do have "moments." Shooting off of a large boat in Hawaii, following our tour group in Italy, or the infrequent nugget of joy that comes from creative lighting and shooting in the field-without being hammered by a deadline. The day-to-day routine can be a creativity-killer. Coupled with executives covering their you-know-whats. No chances taken here. Most of the real creative studio shoots are given to outside freelance producers. If anything goes wrong you can always blame them. I have a family, so its hard to just quit and take my chances and see if I find another job that might be better.

I DO have gear at home though. I write and record my own music, have FCP on a Mac, and can use gear at work without any problems. I also own and fly a small experimental plane and study karate to blow off steam. My wife and I are really busy, but we live an okay-life.

It's never what you expect it to be, but it is what you make of it.
Like it's been said: life is what happens while you are making other plans. So get out there and live. All the hard times you'll have getting there will make great stories for the kids and the young interns later on. Jeese I sound old. (coughing and cackling like an old, grey haired retiree).

Hope there's a nugget of wisdom in there somewhere.

Jeff Patnaude :>)
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