View Full Version : Career in Filmmaking? Is it viable?

06-01-2012, 07:37 PM
That is the root of my question. Been told so many different things from experts in the field, but is this career choice a viable and sustainable profession? Those of you who consider themselves "successful", how did you make it and how do you measure your level of success? Is having a day job necessary to pursue film? Interested in hearing from seasoned freelance filmmakers......

06-01-2012, 08:18 PM
It certainly is. I've met people who fly all over the world shooting for television shows. They aren't the wealthiest people around, but they do what they love. I'm not among them since I work on occasion and do other jobs in the down time.

A lot of times I've met the same people on different shows. Most of them are from LA even though I live closer to San Francisco, although I have worked with people from New York, San Francisco, Montana, Kentucky and Florida to name a few. And obviously those of us who are locals.

As far as your question goes, yes film provides viable and sustainable professions. But you have to pick what that position is for you, and you have to be the right type of person to be cut out for this industry. And even if you have all of that and a degree you might not go anywhere. I've met plenty of people on set who are happy with their jobs, but I've met a lot more people who want to work in film, or can't find enough work to keep going, aren't able to relocate to Southern California, or otherwise don't perform as well as they should. And one bad show can end a career when a hundred people are standing by to take your place. All those people standing by make you disposable if need be. So it's definitely not a reliable career. No film position has a clear career path, besides accountant and lawyer, and people lose years of their life and everything they've earned trying to follow a dream that never happens.

Don't take this as me saying don't do it. Just be aware that doing it would mean putting everything you have into pursuing your field and being ready to get kicked to the curb if it doesn't go well.

07-25-2012, 07:50 PM
Shifra, no disrespect but I think you are hijacking this thread and inserting your own promotion where a member is posing a valid question and concern. I think starting an entire new thread for your promotion would serve you and the op best.

Now for the op's question, I two have had the same concerns. I personally believe it is a viable profession for some, but statistics would dissapoint when it comes to the masses that set out to do this as a career. I myself do a ton of different jobs where I can pretty much write my own schedule and still do my first love, which is narratives without going hungry, as is probably most of us who love filmmaking.

Getting connected to the right people is over half the battle and not everyone will be as fortunate no matter how talented. I'm not against schooling for the craft, but I'm seeing countless people graduating with so much debt, and with not enough work coming to them to send them working in fast food restaurants and the likes only hoping one day they can get back to their dream. I believe as with anything, if your passionate and savvy enough in what you do you can succeed at it. Not everyone will be that super well know director or dp but I think you can put yourself in a position to feed your family off of it. I am currently feeding my family off of it but I still need supplemental work.

07-25-2012, 08:52 PM
Of course its feasible, or there would be no Filmmakers in this world :) . You have to, however, know what route to take. You have to define for yourself what being a "filmmaker" means: does it mean only making "films", as in shorts and features? Or does it also mean directing TV series, TV Commercials, Direct to Web series, etc? Remember, even the absolute "Top" "Filmmakers", or "Directors", which probably is a better world, don't normally only stick to "film making". First and foremost, you need to know yourself as a "filmmaker". I, for example, see myself as an "audiovisual storyteller". I have no problems going into these different mediums and do my thing as a director. I think each delivery platform has its pluses and its specificities that challenge me both as a director and a storyteller. Currently I live confortably as a "director".

Now if you want to go exclusively for "films", it is, indeed, feasible- but its incredibly hard. Key Word is "Perseverance". There are various ways to becoming a paid filmmaker, and there are also different styles of filmmakers out there. There's the "Robert Rodriguez" Guerrilla I do it by myself style- which is a Titanic (not in a sinking sense) endeavor and its reserved for those all round Talented individuals that are both masterful in the technical as well as on the creative and organization side of filmmaking, and the "know the right people, Team management expert visionaire" approach, which is also feasible. The first approach demands an almost obsessive search for knowledge in the technical field as well as a unique storytelling and artistic talent inside the "filmmaker". This type of approach is prone to fail specially in the early attempts and its success depends really on the perseverance and also faith of the filmmaker in his talent and of those helping the "filmmaker" to achieve maturity as well as create interest from a "buying" audience- because all in all, its a business, and your film needs to create income for you and those participating in your films. You can also, in less developed film industry countries or in countries of heavy "art film" culture, apply for government funding, talk artsy, create "crap" and talk like its brilliant. As long as you kiss the right people's #sses, go to the right social events, "blend in", you'll always have funding. Half Joking, of course :) The reality is, you need money to make films, that's probably what defines the "feasible" part of it. And you need to find a way that every film you make doesn't make you bankrupt and makes your talent and team satisfied and committed to work on it. Remember, every film you make is a "calling card" for you. Some people make "themselves", the "artist" not "the art", the biggest calling card. I know many cases of such, and they do persevere and their work becomes feasible. Not my way of doing things, of course.

The second approach was the most common in the old, pre digital, pre DSLR revolution days. The director is more of an overall "talent" manager, directing it to create a unified piece. This tends to be "easier" if you know how to surround and get the right people on board on your film: A good Producer to help you on the organization, a Good Director of Photography to help you with the framing, good camera, good sound man... In fact, as a filmmaker, you have much to learn and surrounding yourself with the best people will make you learn much, much faster. While in the beginning you'll feel like you're not "in control", the more you gain experience, the more "in control" you get. What you need to know is what your vision is for your film, as well as how to manage people: in other words, "direct" them. This approach's main difficulty is that you need to surround yourself with the "right people". And you do this either by paying, or by having something that interest them enough to go on the filmmaking journey with you. Having a good team around you is the first ticket to warrant that even if your storytelling sucks, technically it will look and sound the part- so it will already be better than most of the indie "crap" out there. Of course, if things become an absolute disaster, it will be very difficult to work again specially because word of mouth will spread of your competence as a filmmaker. In the end, again, the same word: "Perseverance". Persevere, and it will become feasible. But its almost certain that your first few attempts will not bring you any money. Keep this in mind and if you're still standing and making them, then it will surely pay itself in the medium to long term (provided you have talent, of course!)

And what "approach" do I follow, if you feel curious? Exactly. Approach "Robert Rodriguez". Because I live in a place with fewer filmmaking ressources than Mexico, qualified personnel is practically non existent, so i practically need to " create them" in every single film I do. If I had option "B" around here, I would definitely go for it!