New guy looking for advice about film making.

Nazrat

New member
Hi guys. I'm new to this site. I'm still trying to get familiar with everything. This is my first post.

I live outside of Knoxville, TN, near the great Smoky Mountains. I'm currently working in the culinary field and have been considering culinary school. I was seriously considering pursuing film before I decided on the culinary path. But now I'm changing my mind again. I'm interested in learning about film and maybe trying to have a career somewhere in the field. I have no experience and very little knowledge, but it seems like it would be a lot of fun. I don't know yet exactly what I would like to do, like making films, writing, directing, editing, working the cameras, just working on sets doing whatever. All I know is that I'm very intrigued by the film making process and have been for a long time. I enjoy movies and documentaries. I especially love nature documentaries.

I would like to ask some questions.

First, what's the best way to start learning and getting some experience?

Film schools: Who has good programs? I received info from Full Sail and NY Film Academy the first time I was considering film. Is it worth it to go to the more expensive schools or are cheaper options ok? How much will an education cost? As I stated earlier, I'm currently in the culinary field and a lot of chefs will tell you to save your money and look at community colleges or other cheaper options instead of the more expensive places. They will all teach you the same basics and that's all you need from an education. The rest of your learning will be in the field and studying on your own as you gain experience. Is it the same in the film biz?

Do film schools still teach you everything in a degree program, or do you have to study a specific subject, i.e. editing, writing, directing, etc....

Would it be wise to get a job somewhere to get some experience before starting school? How plausible is this idea with no experience in a field where most of the business seems to be centered in only a few specific places? (or am I wrong about that?) Would a local TV station be a good place to start?

My uncle has recently written a script for a Tarzan movie. The company that owns the rights to Tarzan has the script and he's waiting to find out if they want to make a movie out of it. If it happens, maybe I could try to get a foot in there and learn what I can.

And I know film is a difficult industry to get into. Anything you can tell me about it would be greatly appreciated. What can I expect after finishing school? Give me cold hard facts. Please don't sugar coat anything be saying how great and fun everything is. I'm sure it is fun and a great experience, but I know many talented people are probably struggling. How do you make enough money to support yourself if you're not one of the "lucky ones"?

I'll end here for now.

Thanks for reading this. I'm sorry about the long post. I look forward to any help I can get.

Thank you.
 

Bob Kessler

New member
Work on a set as a PA, which means that you are a general all-around go-fer. You'll probably start out working on lo/no/micro budget projects for no money, but it will give you an idea of what you are letting yourself in for.
 

cybersarge

New member
Volunteer for anything, don't matter what. If someone has a job that needs filling, offer to do it. It will give you a mix of experience, and an excellent reputation with a lot of people.

The more people that you have a good rep with, the better chance that you'll get a paying job in a field that you love.
 

Nazrat

New member
Thanks for the replies.

I don't even know where to start looking for this kind of work. I'm in Knoxville. Would there be anything for me around here?
 

Nazrat

New member
I couldn't find much. I googled "tennessee film board" and got the Tennessee Film and Music Commission bulletin board. There wasn't much and I didn't see anything near me. :(
 

cybersarge

New member
Then there's always a tried and try method which will usually work for ya - spread your name around. Google as many boards like this as you can. Travel to neigbouring cities or towns or whatever, and spread your name and skill set.

You never know what might come up.
 

Nazrat

New member
Thanks guys.

I forgot about Meetup.com. If anything, there might be a group that shares an interest in film making, if the people are working or not. I might still be able to learn from somebody.

This morning I remembered a series shown here in Knoxville called the Heartland Series. There's some info here. http://www.billlandryproductions.com/aboutBillLandry.htm. It says the show has actually won Emmy Awards and Iris Awards. I never knew that. I do enjoy watching it when I can and my dad really loves it too.

Anyway, I emailed them this morning and asked if they would be willing to hire an inexperienced aspiring film maker who who wants to learn. I think it would a good experience if I could get in there. I hope I get a positive response. :)
 

MarkG

New member
cybersarge said:
Volunteer for anything, don't matter what. If someone has a job that needs filling, offer to do it. It will give you a mix of experience, and an excellent reputation with a lot of people.

Yep. Maybe, for example, you want to be a writer and think making coffee on a low-budget movie won't help, but you never know when one of the other people you're working with is looking to produce their first movie and picks your script for it as a result, or whatever. Or, better yet, works professionally in the industry and is just 'moonlighting' as a favor or because it allows them to do things that a properly budgeted feature would never risk.

Most of the movies I've worked on, I found out about by talking to people I worked with on other movies.
 

Bob Kessler

New member
Being networked is everything.

I'm a retired touring musician who then became a recording engineer. About six years ago I went back to school to improve my digital recording chops and was encouraged by an instructor to get into audio post/sound design. With recording studios closing left and right it seemed to be pretty good advice, so I retooled my studio to do audio post. Just prior to that I had volunteered to work as production sound mixer on a community film project attached to the Directors View Film Festival.

I went to the Film Festival (where I was able to shake the hand of Sidney Lumet, among others) and the 1st AD of the community film project turned out to be a producer. I told her that I was getting into audio post and she took me on for one project. I have since done quite a few projects for her, both paid and freebees (we were 1st runner up at the 2004 NY Midnite Madness Film Festival). I've gotten other projects from and through others with whom I worked on her projects. All because I volunteered for a community film project.

Volunteer for any film job you can get; work hard at it, be great at it, maintain a positive attitude. Trust me, people notice. And you never know who will be on a set.
 

BUmike84

New member
I know this seems obvious, but in my opinion, interning, volunteering, or working at a news station is the best way to gain experience and set yourself up for networking. you will gain a lot of experience in many different fields of production and post production. many people in the film industry start at news stations to gain experience
 

Suz

New member
I got my foot in the door through meetup groups, and some luck. With persistance I got to meet a producer in the area and I was willing to do any grunt work, logging and general crew work. When something needed doing I was first on the scene. Volunteer for public TV you get to meet people and going to film festivals was a really good source as well. I am in the process of putting together a public tv caple weekly show for independent films. I will get ot meets lots of people once the show starts getting aired. Keep opening doors and see who comes in.
 

Nazrat

New member
Thanks guys. I appreciate the responses.

The show I emailed is on a local station, and I did ask if there might be other work with the station if this particular show doesn't need help.

Now, about school. Were did people here get there educations? Do people in this biz think the expensive schools are worth it? What can you tell me about Full Sail and New York Film Academy? There are also a couple of film schools in Nashville I'm going to check out.

Do you still learn everything in the same course or do you have to take special courses for everything, like directing, writing, editing, set design, etc.....

What can I expect after school? How much do people make in film making? If you go indy, can you make enough money to support yourself? How about the bigger budget mainstream companies?

I also want to experiment with animation. I can't draw, but I think it will be fun to learn about animation. Are there any inexpensive animation softwares out there that I can start with? How much does that stuff cost and where can I find them?
 

Bob Kessler

New member
The first thing that you have to decide is where you want to direct your energies. That streamlines your decision making process. If you want to go into animation focus there. Even though it's a part of the entertainment industry it's an art form unto itself. Check out the Jobs forum on the 2-pop website. There is a great demand for all types of animation specialists.

There have been dozens of debates about going to school. That's a decision you have to make on your own. Some people thrive there. I personally don't fit into the formal schooling thing, I'm a hands-on kind of guy. However, I do go to "condensed" courses and seminars, and I belong to a sound design forum that has numerous Oscar and Emmy winners and nominees as contributing members. They have been most helpful with advice regarding technical issues and creative problem solving.

The key, at least for me, is the instructors. There are great artists who can't teach worth a damn, and "worker bees" who are great teachers. So check out who your instructors will be. Talk with former students. In my opinion that matters a great deal more than the name of the school.

The money aspect will depend upon your skill level, your work ethic and, of course, luck.
 

Nazrat

New member
Thank you Unclebob.

The first thing that you have to decide is where you want to direct your energies. That streamlines your decision making process. If you want to go into animation focus there. Even though it's a part of the entertainment industry it's an art form unto itself.
I understand. That's why I'm trying to find out about inexpensive software I can play with. I want to see if it's something I can do and enjoy.

I just want to explore all possibilities before making a decision that I might wish was different later on.
 
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