GO HOME! Go to bed! Watch TV instead!
…Ok, just kidding.
Advice to filmmakers and aspiring filmmakers–Questions often asked
I am an editor and maybe have a little advice for you. DON’T DO IT!!! No, just kidding. It is a great deal of hard work though–and very little glamor. You don’t have to go to school, although school is fun and a good learning and growing experience in general. But the best school is doing it. In other words, instead of spending thousands of dollars a year for four years, just volunteer at a film company, and help them.
You must do and be a few things:
Reliable–always show up on time, do what you say you will do, be efficient and good natured, and communicate with your boss openly. Call them if you will be late, and always be ready emotionally to work.
Work hard–This is what will get you respect (and possibly, future work). Believe it or not, it is difficult to find good workers in Los Angeles. There are plenty of workers, but not plenty of reliable, hard working, high-energy workers.
If you want to become an editor–starting as a PA can be good–but don’t lose sight of your goals as an editor. Tell people as you apply for the PA job that your future goals are to be an editor. Tell everyone. After getting to know people on the set, tell them you want to help out in the editing room.
Of course, your goals may change, but as long as you’re clear, let people know.
Realize also that you may hit a few bad apples in the film world who will want to use you and abuse you–make them treat you with respect but also realize the only work you can do for them that could be useful is the simple (and sometimes boring and tedius) work. BUT this gives them no excuse to treat you badly. You are an important person too.
Anyway, there are no “normal” routes to getting into Hollywood. You will have to be the best person you can, work hard, be enthusiastic, don’t let the bad apples get you down, and keep plugging away. One day, if you want it bad enough, you will get your dreams. The question is, “What are your dreams?”
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(Some of the following paragraphs are compilations from emails from others who approved my use. — DN)
Robert Rodriguez, the director of El Mariachi, did attend film school — briefly — at the University of Texas at Austin. That’s what he writes in Rebel Without a Crew. Rodriguez was a very mediocre student and like most students, couldn’t get in to the film courses in Austin because his GPA wasn’t steep enough. He wanted in bad enough to enter short film contests and beat all the film students who had been accepted into UT’s program. Out of his preseverance and UT’s humility, he finally got accepted. But under normal circumstances I doubt he would have gotten in. To my knowledge, none of the 4.0 students who have been accepted in the film courses in Austin have either made a movie or sold a script.
Richard Linklater, Quentin Tarantino and screenwriter Callie Khouri are a few of the filmmakers I know of who did not attend film school.
(NOTE FROM DN: Some have told me that Kevin Smith did not attend film school, but they are wrong. He did attend film school–Vancouver Film School, but quit after a documentary he was making failed to go as he planned.)
My understanding is that Rodriguez never actually was in the program at UT, but just hung out there a lot. It was the head of the program there who told me this.
Many filmmakers working today didn’t go to film school. People who get the chance to make films rarely get that opportunity on the basis of short films they made in school.
Famous names who attended film school? The Coen Brothers, Scorcese, Coppola, Spielberg
Film school didn’t make them successes, it only gave them a brief period to work on their craft before they went into the real world and, through perseverance and hard work put together their first features.
Wes Sandel of Houston, Texas added: “Good advice generally, except you should have mentioned that most fimmaking is storytelling, therefore, anything you study/read/do that improves your storytelling ability should help you as a filmmaker.
I study film in school but have yet to become a storyteller. I love working in the industry and don’t regret studying film, because I love watching films and it enhances the experience. But you have to be a story teller.”