From the time we are children and throughout our lives we are exposed to film. From our earliest days watching “The Mouse’s” latest kid-flick to our PG-13 Summer blockbusters we are exposed. For a very few of us our love for film transcends the theatergoing experience and we seek to become part of the industry that dreams are made of. It is a long and challenging road often peppered with sacrifice, doubt, denial, humiliation, and even a little starvation. It is not an easy path to take.
I have been working in the film industry for over 15 years and, in that time, I’ve worked at every level from Head of the Makeup Department to day player and on every budget from homegrown camcorder specials to $200 million features. Over the years, through experience and good friends, I have learned a few key things that I’d like to pass along. Each week, schedule permitting, I will address a different aspect of working in the film industry and if there is any interest, I will, to the best of my ability, try to answer industry-related questions. So, with your permission, I’d like to ask…
You want to work in the film business, eh? What does that mean to you? Do you want to actually work on major motion pictures that you and your friends can pay to see at the local Cineplex or do you want to create your own projects using local talent and resources?
Both of these are “working in film” but each has very specific needs, requirements, and motivations. This means that it’s very important to know what you want to do and why you want to do it before you say, “I want to work in the film business”.
Working on the majors will require a specialty or an area of expertise that will gain you employment. Because of Union affiliations and the structure of the majors you will essentially be locked into doing that job and no other. Depending on the field that you’ve chosen you might find that restrictive, limiting, and creatively stifling. By the same token however, if you are successful at your job you may eventually gain enough respect to have creative input, make a good living, and have the satisfaction of seeing your name on a credit crawl at the end of a movie.
Working on smaller or independent projects on the other hand, will almost certainly afford you greater latitude in what you do. It will enable you to do whatever is needed, when it’s needed without too much grief or worry about whose toes got stepped on. You will also most likely have more creative input into how you do your job as well. The downside to this type of work is, of course, financial. Low budget/independent projects generally mean lower pay and or part time work to make ends meet. It can, however, be a great training ground that provides the necessary experience to move on to the majors if that’s your goal.
Whether you’re working in the majors and doing things the studio way or working on your own direct to video magnum opus, it’s all “working in film” and neither is wrong. You simply need to decide what “Working in the film industry” means to you and follow your path.
"Film Biz 101" is ©2007 by Corey Castellano. The Film Biz banner is a creation of Corey Castellano, ©2007. Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.