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-   -   "Filmmakers"? (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/techniques-independent-production/33340-filmmakers.html)

Ken Tanaka October 12th, 2004 04:54 PM

This is really a poll out of curiosity.

A remarkable number of members here register their occupation as "Filmmaker" or some very close variant such as "Independent Filmmaker". How many of you actually earn your livings as filmmakers? By this I mean, how many of you completely, or at least principally, support yourselves and your family in such a manner? (Living as a dependent of your parents does not count.)

K. Forman October 12th, 2004 05:09 PM

I am a freelance artist that does video, i.e., a "starving digital artist". When I do work, I do ok, but this is mostly hobby at this stage.

As far as being a film maker, that for me, is still just a dream media to work with. I'm still working on that first one ;)

Rick Bravo October 12th, 2004 08:12 PM

I do...I think...

Imran Zaidi October 12th, 2004 08:37 PM

Personally I don't claim "filmmaker" in my profile, and I doubt there are many here at all, speaking in percentages, who are supporting themselves primarily through "filmmaking". Heck, a lot of named filmmakers out there often have day jobs up until a certain point. But I would say that most here use the term filmmaker as one would use the term artist, or writer.

One of the first things a writing instructor or a book on writing instruction will tell you, is if you want to be a writer and you are writing, then voila, you are a writer. I don't know that money really enters the picture in making that call.

Myself, I have a day job as a web developer. Someone, after all, has to pay for my gear and miscellaneous budgeting expenses. But when I go home, web developer Imran is paying filmmaker Imran to be a filmmaker.

It's a stretch, but we have to do what we have to do to fuel that fire...

John Hudson October 12th, 2004 11:34 PM

I agree with that assessment.

Dylan Couper October 13th, 2004 12:20 AM

I make my living making video.
The filmmaking doesn't pay much...yet.

Robin Davies-Rollinson October 13th, 2004 12:25 AM

But you didn't profile yourself as film maker did you? ;-)


Yi Fong Yu October 13th, 2004 08:40 AM

my profile is moviemaker... as a hobby. cause that's what it is. plus how many of us actually use "film" when this is a "DV-info" site? i think in a digital age 'filmmaker' is a misleading term. that's why i said 'moviemaker' since that's who we are. videomaker sounds a bit cheesy =)... though i don't think mine's better either. it's all titles anyway.

as for making a living... well if that were the case... very few of us would be posting on these boards and enjoying our money in sunny hawaii! my primary source of income is a 'real job'. moviemaking is a hobby. only gracious enough people like charles p., rick and others who probably make their living off of true 'filmmaking' have some time to help us underlinings =^).

Jeff Patnaude October 13th, 2004 09:24 AM

Jeese- after years of scraping and scrounging doing freelance work and whatever-- I make my living as a corporate videographer and audio eng. . I shoot BetaSP, and freelance with DV shoots and editing. Film, ah film...

Still dream of my first FILM as mid-life crisis rears it's ugly head.

Jeff Patnaude

Christopher C. Murphy October 13th, 2004 09:55 AM

I'm a filmmaker full-time. All my funding comes from shooting video a couple times a month for other people. (90% filmmaking to 10% slave)

The fact is that if you make films, and fund them by working elsewhere to get the money - you are a filmmaker. You are producing (getting the money) to make your films. Some producers have the luxury to make phone calls and sit in meetings with potential investors. There is no difference - if you go out and "get the money" - you are a filmmaker.

Think of it this way - lots of business people (actors even) diversify into other types of business with their money. I consider that to be what I do. Like an actor will open a restaurant somewhere. Has nothing to do with acting, and it takes a considerable amount of time. So, if I am working 90% of my time on my films...I'm ahead of the game.

Also, read "Rebel without a Crew". The main message I got out of that book is that you can be whatever you want to be...the minute you decide. If you call yourself a filmmaker then just go out and get at it, so you're not lying to yourself. If you take action, any action to be a filmmaker...you are one.


K. Forman October 13th, 2004 10:08 AM

I think the name "film maker" is pretty self explanitory... Ya gotta make one, to be one. Until it's in the can, you aren't a film maker. Just my point of view.

Federico Dib October 13th, 2004 12:42 PM

Of course FILM MAKER = one that makes films.
Whether ONE makes money out of it or not, doesnīt matter.
ONE could be a broker,lawyer,-insert occupation here- and not make any money either, and end up with a taxi, I know many in my country that do that.

Most Artists I know do not make any money out of their paints, music, dance, etc...
Still they are artists, they dance, they paint, etc.

But I guess Kenīs question was to see how many of the Filmmakers around here, do make a living out of this.

Not too many I think... of course, ONE can say he/she is investing/researching.
Almost every business makes no profit return at the beggining... and filmmaking beggining can be pretty long.

So letīs hope ONE can come back in a few years (months) and resurrect this thread saying "Hey Iīm making a living out of this".

Christopher C. Murphy October 13th, 2004 12:54 PM

So, Keith....an "artist" who paints and never shows anyone their work or never makes a dime isn't an "artist" in your eyes? That's silly...anyone can "be" anything they want to be. It's the journey - not the destination as they say. If someone is working on a film, even just has the idea in their head...it's a film in progress. It's not tangible yet, but what is tangible in the art world? If a filmmaker is someone who has a million+ dollar film in the theater than there are relatively no filmmakers except a few.

I guess my view is the word "film maker" means in progress to me. If you call it "film made" I'd agree!

Bill Ravens October 13th, 2004 12:56 PM

Promoter, agent, location scout, producer, director, videographer, writer, editor, sound man, 1st grip, caterer, and jack of all trades....that's moi.

edit: oh yeah, forgot composer and critic

Thank god my day job is a no-brainer.

Funny how it works. I get paid to do what I don't care about. I love what I don't get paid for. Maybe if I got paid for it, I'd hate it.

The Universe is a strange place.

Yi Fong Yu October 13th, 2004 01:08 PM

bill, ever read chuck palahniuk? he's the author of fight club. i think it was in his next book, survivor (which is going to be a movie after all) there is saying, "how you love the one you hate and hate the one you love". i'm paraphrasing but that concept is similar.

i remember watching project greenlight with pete jones. he visited kevin smith on miramax lot and kev smith said that when you have decided to be a filmmaker, you are one. coming from one of the fathers of modern indepedent film movements i'm inclined to believe him =).

as for making money, it's tough. coming off of what federico said a film is like a big business. when a film gets made it's as if one company opens and hires all these employees (cast and crew) and then when the movie finishes, it's like a company closes. it's an interesting concept where in the beginning you don't make profits =).

Keith Loh October 13th, 2004 01:13 PM

Chris, I didn't see anything that Keith F. wrote that said you necessarily had to make money at it, only that you had to have something in the can. To use the other analogies, the painter has to finish a work, the poet has to finish the last line, the novelist has to finish the epilogue. Whether or not they have an audience is a factor in their income, not in their process. I've written three screenplays, two of which have been read by industry people. I haven't made a dime on any of them. But by the act of writing and completing them, I feel I'm a step above someone with just the intention of doing so. Therefore, I would consider myself a screenwriter. I think the same would be for 'filmmaker'.

Ken Tanaka October 13th, 2004 01:27 PM

I understand the self-actualizing value of declaration.

The genesis of my question was the observation (as one of the registrars here) that so many members register their Occupation as "Filmmaker". Nearly as many also register "Director", "DP", or "Producer". Since the definition of "occupation" is, "An activity that serves as one's regular source of livelihood; a vocation." the intent of this optional field was to record peoples' vocations, not their aspirations or avocations.

I am not scolding anyone for misuse of the field. Rather, I am truly interested to discover how many of our members feed, clothe and house themselves from income principally derived as filmmakers (or producers, directors, directors of photography, et.al.).

The amalgamation of the computer and the video camera during the past 8-10 years has driven a stampede of computer-oriented young people into the world of videography, much the same as digital photography has induced this same group into photography. So my real suspicion is that the "occupation" of many, maybe most, of our members is actually in the I.T. arena (ex: programmers, Web site developers, software analysts, et.al.). I also suspect that we have a sizable population of students here.

Again, I am not criticizing or scolding anyone. Please don't feel the need to be defensive in any way. I am just curious and thought this might make for an interesting topic.

K. Forman October 13th, 2004 01:37 PM

Christopher- Being an artist, is an act of creation, whether it is music, film, sculpture, or literature. It doesn't matter what medium, as long as you FINISH it, and display it. After all, isn't that why you do it? To show others what you see? Making money is a byproduct of selling a successful creation.

I have one feature length script that made it into preproduction before stalling. I have another story I'm working on, and two more on the back-back burners. Either way, since I have not finished a film, I am not a film maker... yet.

And, while we're at it, what constitutes a film? Is it strictly film, as in 35mm, or does video and animation count? Does it have to be feature length?

Keith Loh October 13th, 2004 02:37 PM

Keith, Emily Dickinson wrote poetry. But only a handful of it was published until after she died. She wasn't a poet when she produced it but she was only after others recognized it?

Yi Fong Yu October 13th, 2004 02:50 PM

to reiterate, doesn't film mean the actual physical "film negative"? i always thought filmmaker is misnomer. even people who are in hollywood making movies. are they chemically creating the actual physical film like kodak? i mean if you speak on a very technical basis, kodak is a "filmmaker". that's why i like to use other terms cause even filmmaker the meta-physical/symbolic term itself is changing.

keith loh, i think keith forman was sayin that emily dickinson finished the poems herself. she is a poet regardless of what society and even herself thought. at least she finished a poem (or several). what keith is asking are those (like me) who say they are making movies... but have not completed a script, shot a tape or "completed" anything. are they still one? hence i tend to call myself a 'hack' =). i should change my title to that =D.

Ken Tanaka October 13th, 2004 03:28 PM

Yi Fong,
Not to break your train of thought, but are your replying that your "occupation" is or is not that of filmmaker/director/producer/etc.?

Richard Alvarez October 13th, 2004 03:36 PM

Wow, existential discussions... metaphysical realities... self actuallized motivations...

It's a forum for "PHILOSOPHERS"!

Richard Alvarez

Disk Jockey
Stunt Coordinator
Fencing Master
Professional Jouster
Sailplane Pilot
Scuba Diver

And.... yes, I've made at least a little bit of money at all of those...Some a LOT of money at.

Generally, when people ask, I simply say "I've worked professionally in the media all my life." My philosphy has always been, "The more you CAN do, the more you WILL do". There are those who decry being a jack-of-all-trades, but I am one who believes specialization is for insects. (Thanks RH)

Oh, and perhaps the two most important occupations... husband and father.

Ken Tanaka October 13th, 2004 03:54 PM

Your closets must be an absolute riot, Richard! <g>

Jeff Donald October 13th, 2004 04:02 PM

You know, Richard, that some philosophers make almost as much as some poets. But I'm sure both of them make more than the filmmakers I meet.

Richard Alvarez October 13th, 2004 06:57 PM


I almost forgot my closets! Add "Costumer/Armorer" to the list. Hey, I've made some nice change renting out armor/horses/tack/swords... you name it. Heck, I can still tack and armor six horses and men, and I've sold most of my stuff.

I keep it hanging around for this great little script I want to shoot pretty soon... "KNIGHTSBRIDGE". A script I wrote to shoot in one location... a medieval knight guarding a bridge. Soon as my XL2 arrives, I'm going to start looking for a location up here in NorCal.

Hmmmm, never made a dime as a philosopher, though I was "Class Poet" in High School.... and a cheerleader.

Imran Zaidi October 13th, 2004 08:43 PM

Funny thing for me - I decided I wanted to be a writer in college. But at the same time I really liked technology and didn't want to starve. So fast forward years later and now I make web applications for a living. Strangely enough for me, the writing desire is what brought me to filmmaking, not the technology. For me, technology was a lovely bonus that made it possible for me to make my writing ideas into a visual reality.

Yi Fong Yu October 13th, 2004 09:51 PM

ken if you go futher up this thread i've already said that moviemaking is a hobby and not my primary source of income.

<<<-- Originally posted by Ken Tanaka : Yi Fong,
Not to break your train of thought, but are your replying that your "occupation" is or is not that of filmmaker/director/producer/etc.? -->>>

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