I've reached a fork in the road. Opinions? at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > And Now, For Something Completely Different... > Taking Care of Business

Taking Care of Business
The pen and paper aspects of DV -- put it in writing!


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old December 4th, 2004, 10:31 AM   #1
New Boot
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 5
I've reached a fork in the road. Opinions?

Hi guys! I’m one of the “first time posting, been snooping around for years” people. So I’m going to start by thanking everyone for everything I’ve learned here. It’s incredible that you can learn so much by reading the ramblings of people in the know! :) Better resource than all of my books combined!

Here is my question: I will soon graduate with a BA in Telecommunications: Media Arts. I have always intended to get my demo reel together with a resume, and send them out to all the local production companies and hopefully get some occasional work which may lead to a full time position. However, with my current job (service industry) I have the opportunity to become a manager and begin working my way up.

Ok, HERE is my question(s): Living in Detroit, MI… From your point of view in the industry, is my plan to get occasional work to get my foot in the door for a full time position plausible? Is that how it works? I’ve considered wedding videography, but somehow that doesn’t interest me. Is there such a thing as "full time position?"

Being newly married and the proud owner of a MORTGAGE, the real world is slapping me in the face. I love the art of film and video, so even if I get a “real” job I will continue to do work on the side as well as make my own shorts and, *coming soon* the spectacle that will be my first feature film. But somehow I know I’ll be happier if I can do this on a daily basis. So how’s my game plan?

PS: in case it matters, my future goal is to become the greatest filmmaker of all time.

A. Morris
Ashley Morris is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 4th, 2004, 10:38 AM   #2
New Boot
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 5
Sorry guys, this should probably be down in the everything media section. If someone can move it, that would be great.
Ashley Morris is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 4th, 2004, 11:21 AM   #3
Slash Rules!
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 4,723
Until they do move it, here's my two cents.

I, much like you, had the same idea. This was about three years ago. I graduated with a BA in Radio/TV, and was told by my advisor there were indeed jobs out there in the field.

So, first, what do you want to do? You could try to get in at a news station, as an AP (I think that's the title--associate producer). You pull scripts for the newscasts, run the teleprompter, maybe occasionally do something cool. As for camerawork in news, I've always been told that unless you're extremely lucky, the way to do it is to move to a small market and start there, and then after 2-3 years, if you're good, you can go to the big city. Ditto editing.

Now, commercial/film/whatever production companies? These are weird. In my experience, and always keep that in mind 'cause I only know what I've been through, is that there aren't many that have full time positions, in the first place. A lot of places are just the owner, maybe a partner, and they hire everyone else as freelancers (PAs, DPs, whatever) on a job to job basis. There are a few with fulltime staffs, but good luck getting in, 'cause those people may never leave. Why would you?

There are also different levels of production going on, at least in Houston. There are the ultra large productions, by which I mean high budgets, real crews (DPs, grips UPMS, Line Producers, other people's whose job titles I know but have no idea what the hell they actually do), and these can be commercials, as well as films (though we don't get many of these). Then you have your smaller companies that do the same stuff, on a lower-budgeted level, and a guy may DP/direct/produce/run audio, but it's still a decently high-end affair. Then, you have the low end, your miniDV shooters who might make their living at weddings and do the occasional commercial or something. Again, this is my view of things.

So, most, if not all, of my work has come from a) going through the Houston Production guide (a book that categorically lists production companies, DPs, editors, everything you can think of), and cold-calling people, and going "hey, lookin' for any cameramen/PAs (depending on how high end they), or b) answering ads on craiglist.org and mandy.com looking for cameramen.

So, this is all quite a pain in the ass, and has not by any means lead to full time work, as of yet. A few close calls, but I'm still not there. This is probably in part due to my lack of agression, and unwillingness to bullshit people, so maybe you'll have more luck.

Also, my reel, out of college, was nothing to brag about. Now, at least it's halfway decent and occasionally impresses people. I might assume the same about yours, no offense.

So, to summarize, cold call production companies, and browse the net for ads, or know somebody special who can hook you up, or start your own company. Any way you do it, still hard as hell. The one place I know you can get in is as a PA on these larger productions. If you're good, and don't complain, and harass the right people, you'll eventually start getting called often and after awhile, you get to stop being a PA, and start being whatever's the next highest thing on the food chain. So I'm told. I've been stubbornly trying to avoid PAing 'til now (rather undignified work--getting food, herding people around). That's one area where they will call you even if you have no experience. Might take a while though. MUch luck. Beware of local ads seeking PAs, because they might really mean unpaid labor who do way more than a real PA would on a professional set. Real PAs actually can make decent money.
Josh Bass is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 4th, 2004, 04:03 PM   #4
Major Player
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Venice, FL
Posts: 850
Career Counseling 101

Fork in the road is a great analogy. In most fields, if you get out of college with a degree and do not use it within a year, you may as well have gotten a degree in East Tahitian Religions. SO if you want to make use of your degree you have to at least try. But tactics are easy, strategy is hard. So you better decide if you want to be in your "service" industry which could be Burger King for all I know.

The real clue is to close your eyes and picture yourself at 40 years old. What does your life look like? What do you look like? How many kids, what kind of car, same wife or new younger model, what kind of clothes, what are your hobbies? And when you get a clear picture of what you want your life to look like in 20 years, look at both options in front of you and decide which one will take you there. Maybe the answer is none of teh above, in which case you know what to do...

Assuming you really want to do the media thing you have to at least try, even if you fail. You have to quit screwing around and get your reel and resume together, and then talk to everyone you can within range of your new mortgage. Risk hearing NO, because you are only looking for one YES anyway. If that fails, figure out what cities you would like to live in (remember being 40 yrs old a few minutes ago?) and talk to everyone you can in those places too. Ask everyone you talk to to give you an assessment of the industry, what they think it will look like in ten years, and what they suggest for your route to your goals. Every conversation will bring you closer. The real bottom line to achieving anything is knowing what you are willing to give up to get it. It may be your new mortgage, it may be laziness and procrastination and fear of rejection, or it may be your dream of becoming the greatest filmmaker of all time.

If your new service career does not take you closer to your goal, it takes you further away. Nothing gray about it.

HTH
Bob Costa is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 5th, 2004, 01:00 PM   #5
Major Player
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: 32° 44' N 117° 10' W
Posts: 820
Reality is what I am in; but in my 'sparest of moments' I pursue filmmaking (DVX100-24p). There is nothing at all wrong with thaking a practical career path (work, family, mortgage obligations). In fact, without that in place how can you try something else.

Be proud of the oppurtunity to do both. Work during the week, and when you spare time is yours for the taking, pursue filmmaking.
John Hudson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 6th, 2004, 04:25 AM   #6
RED Code Chef
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Holland
Posts: 12,514
Welcome aboard DVInfo.net Ashley and good luck with your tough choices!
__________________

Rob Lohman, visuar@iname.com
DV Info Wrangler & RED Code Chef

Join the DV Challenge | Lady X

Search DVinfo.net for quick answers | Buy from the best: DVinfo.net sponsors
Rob Lohman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 6th, 2004, 03:04 PM   #7
New Boot
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 5
Thanks alot guys.

Ok. I feel better now. I think I just felt like I would be wasting my education if I had a day job (not burger king, thank god- no offense BK people!)

So I guess I'll keep my day job and actively find media work on the side. Until, someday, that media work will support me and my lavish lifestyle. :)

Thanks again. So, back to work on my demo reel (youre right, its not spectacular) until I have to go to work later.
Ashley Morris is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 6th, 2004, 04:58 PM   #8
Slash Rules!
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 4,723
Keep in mind, it's hard as hell to do that. If you're trying to make it as a filmmaker, the weekend warrior thing might work out. If you're trying to work for other people, quite difficult, unless your day job has extremely flexible hours, or you can work from home (editing, I suppose) or something. The big productions, from what I understand, mostly go on during the week, and not in the evenings (mostly), so if weekends are your only available time, it'll be tough to do much else besides work on low-budget (and by that I mean usually non-paying, and fairly non-professional) shoots and features, or weddings (and maybe Bar Mitzvahs. I don't know when those are usually held 'cause I never had one 'cause I'm a vewwy vewwy bad Jew).
Josh Bass is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 6th, 2004, 05:11 PM   #9
Air China Pilot
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Vancouver, B.C.
Posts: 2,389
Ashley, I'm 34 and I'm getting to the point when I'm starting to know people in the screenwrtiing community (I had lunch sitting beside one of the main decision makers for the funding agency in Canada just yesterday). My problem is that I haven't been able to make time to pursue it! Two of my scripts are out being read and because of a combination of day job, being tired, and not being disciplined enough for the time I do have, I haven't been able to put the polish on it or start on the my third. If I don't put the pedal to my output, then people will start to forget who I am and no amount of going to parties or phoning people will matter. This, I suspect, is similar to your dilemma (though I gather you are younger). The whole spectre of being 40 and then looking back at missed opportunities and regrets is an even bigger fear for me because that's only six years away. What I'm saying is you are right to look at that decision now rather than later. Time is fleeing. I have to make my decision too!
__________________
--
Visit http://www.KeithLoh.com | stuff about living in Vancouver | My Flickr photo gallery
Keith Loh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 7th, 2004, 12:13 AM   #10
Trustee
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 1,564
hi ash,

i think a lot of us are in the same boat you are, so you're in the right place!

let's talk logic and examples.

for example, let's say you're francis coppola's relative (in any way, shape or form). just quit your day job now and let him hook you up. no problem! just work hard and you'll make it. hey, look at nic cage! if he can do it, YOU CAN! how about francis's very own daughter that came into her own through "lost in translation"? hey, no problemo buddy! =^). nepotism is pretty heavy in the higher ups of film industry and francis isn't even really part of the hollywood "system" (see THX's 2nd DVD docu on zoetrope). just transpose this example on any number of combinations like relatives of someone that knows anybody in the movie studios.

now, i'm going to assume that you aren't relatives to anybody in the film industry. thus, you're shit outta luck. sorry bro'. it's like fight club when tyler's recruiting his project mayhem "space monkeys". nope sorry, 2tall, 2short, 2fat, 2ugly, etc. remember this point because you'll be coming back to it, again&again.

let's step back a bit and hypothesize even more. if you wanna get into the industry, you have to know somebody IN the industry. and if you know somebody, they have to KNOW that you're good in directing, writing, etc. the best way to get their attention is to go out and make somn of your own and show them how "good" you are. so let's say you wrote the next star wars. they luv it, they take the script and it starts to circulate. if you don't push it, the script sits dormant/loses steam. you know those hollywood guys talk. chow. so you get frustrated. then you use miniDV and actually direct your own script. the movie comes out pretty good. now you have your contact's attention. he shows it to the studios, they luv it, baby! now they can't pay you big money but @least they're willing to get some money to make your movie. ok good, you're on the fast track now. now you have to quit your dayjob to "make this movie". alright! you've "arrived"... or have you? take the story behind sky captain of tomorrow. you probably know it. EVEN AFTER directing gwen, jude, jolie, working w/$40mil the movie tanks. you have to be prepared for that kind of failure. i'm predicting the DVD sales will barely recoup the cost. will you ever work again? how will you pay the mortgage/feed the family? didya remember to write another movie while you were directing sky captain? ah who knows.

so what's the lesson learned? don't get into the industry? no. if it's really your passion, i really think you need to put it into perspective in your own life. everyone's life is different. if you really do have a lot of connections and you already have proof/reels that you can show people you're good then you're really on teh fast track. but if you have NOTHING then... it's pretty much a given, don't quit the day job. but remember to preservere... for the rest of your lfie? ah that's the conundrum isn't it. even the great orson wells said in a documentary that if he had known he was going to be such a failure as a filmmaker he would have STOPPED pursuing and wrote more books, painted more, got into politics, etc. who knew where his own genius could have taken him. it's the ultimate irony in life and ultimately those who have talent or don't have the talent both makes it and does not make it in the industry.

on a plus side, i think the feeling of "office space" and working @jobs you hate really fuels your creative mind. it's the fact that you really wanna get the hell out of your situation that you push yourself really hard. you never see that type of endurance with "made artists" anymore. complacency sets in. therefore i think it's very good for you to work @dayjob like bruce wayne... but become batman @night fighting crime. so be a bruce wayne and @night be a batman. you will know how to fly.

it's like qui-gon jinn's tone poem for star wars episode i the phantom menace. "it will be a hard life. one without reward, without remorse, without regret. the path will be placed before you. the choice is yours alone. do what you think you cannot do. it will be a hard life, but you will find out who you are."
__________________
bow wow wow
Yi Fong Yu is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 7th, 2004, 01:09 AM   #11
New Boot
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Sacramento CA
Posts: 23
Wow. Good to know I'm not the only one mulling this over. I just made a major life change. I recently went partime at my job to pursue filmmaking. I left a very good career which I was good at but ultimately not happy with. It was not a selfish decision. No one to depend on me but me.

My major motivator? Life is to short to wonder what could have been. And this quote a friend of mine passed on "people in this industry (film/music) who succeed aren't like us with good jobs. This is their only job. We dont have to suceed. They have no choice but to suceed"

For what its worth
__________________
Doc
Wayne Maxwell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 7th, 2004, 07:44 AM   #12
Trustee
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 1,564
i hate to be the pessimist (sp?) but whatif you don't?
__________________
bow wow wow
Yi Fong Yu is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 7th, 2004, 10:41 AM   #13
Major Player
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Venice, FL
Posts: 850
Ashley, I just want to say one more thing. It is totally based on your comment "in case it matters, my future goal is to become the greatest filmmaker of all time." If this was just joking around or BS, ignore this whole post.

If you read a life story of anyone successful, they never had a dream and got a day job to support i. Many of them pursued their dream and got a second or third or fourth job to feed the kids while they did what they loved. It is a matter of priority. When people ask you what you do, you either say "I make films" or you say "I am a manager in a service business that is not Burger King". And it has a huge impact on your self-image and who you become.

My third rule of life is be careful who you take advice from. No offense to the twenty-somethings in this thread, but how can they tell you what works? They can tell you what they chose, but that is different. They haven't had enough time to fully evaluate the choice. (Boy I am getting old to have even said that!!) Go find some VERY successful people in your town (in any field) and ask their advice. It has nothing to do with the industry or how hard or easy it is. I suspect they will all tell you to go for it with all your soul. If you put your dream on the side burner, it will someday get shoved to the back burner, and pretty soon you realize it never got hot enough to cook. Every decision you make either takes you toward your goal or away from it.

And thats all I have to say about that. :) Good Luck.
Bob Costa is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 7th, 2004, 12:47 PM   #14
New Boot
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 5
Glad to see that Im not the only one debating this question.

When I went to college I majored in Computer Engineering. I was guaranteed a very good paying job out of college. But then I realized that it wouldnt make me has happy as doing what I really loved to do - which was video production. So, I changed my major, knowing that I would be giving up alot of money... for a career in something much less stable. But I was happier with it.

And now, after being offered a chance to flip-flop and go the opposite direction of video production- I consider it?

I do know what I want to do. It's what I got my degree in. I dont need to take a "real job" (which was fairly mediocre) for the money. Ill work part-time, and work my schedule around my media stuff. Besides, I think it's about time my wife supports me! :) (im a guy, dont let the name fool ya)

Ok... this place is almost like therapy. I feel better already. :)
Ashley Morris is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 7th, 2004, 12:56 PM   #15
Air China Pilot
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Vancouver, B.C.
Posts: 2,389
Follow your heart Ashley. You still have your degree and those types of jobs will still be there if you have to fall back on something.
__________________
--
Visit http://www.KeithLoh.com | stuff about living in Vancouver | My Flickr photo gallery
Keith Loh is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > And Now, For Something Completely Different... > Taking Care of Business

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 07:46 AM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network