I Don’t Know Where to Start

This article was published on Dream Row’s website on June 2, 2012

I Don’t Know Where to Start

By Nicole LaChance

In film, as with any career, it helps to set certain goals in order to get where you want to be. Knowing what you want to achieve and how to achieve it should help you jump start your career, and put you on a path toward success in the film industry. Some goals you can start working on now:

  • Get an entry level job in the industry Ask almost any industry professional or blog writer the best way to break into the film business, and they will tell you nothing beats on-set experience. Having experience on a movie set lets you learn how movies are made and make connections with others in the industry. The most common entry-level job is a production assistant, which usually entails doing several small tasks during filming. The Production Assistant’s Pocket Handbook offers some more details on the job and can be downloaded for free.  You do not even need to live in New York on LA to get the job. Most moderately-sized cities are home to at least one small production studio.
  • Perfect your craft Right now, at the beginning of your career, is the best time to practice and perfect your craft. Want to be a director? Make some short films. An editor? Learn all you can about Final Cut Pro. A screenwriter? As professional screenwriter Paul Chitlik recommends, keep writing. Having the skills will prepare you for the time when your dream job arrives.
  • Make connections With any job, networking is important, but in the film industry, the people you know can make or break your career. One of the major benefits of film school is the connections students make while attending, but if film school is not an option you can still network. Getting an entry level job in the industry helps with this. Impressing your co-workers and making sure they remember your name could be helpful when trying to move up in the film business. Joining industry associations or clubs and going to networking events in your area will also help you make valuable connections. The Film Connection explains the importance of networking and shares some tips, such as always handing out business cards and keeping a database of the people you meet.
  • Build your resume and portfolio Coming to a job interview with a full resume or portfolio can obviously set you apart from other candidates. So what can you do now? Add some footage to your reel, make a story board or write some scenes to add to your portfolio. It shows people what you are capable of. To build your resume and get some references, do some work on student films or get an internship with a local TV station. Even high school students can start getting experience this way. The Helium gives some examples of how to get experience that can lead to a job in the industry.

As your career evolves, so will your goals. Some long-term goals to focus on as you build your career:

  • Find your audience Most film directors and screenwriters write and direct in a certain style and many have loyal audiences who follow their work. One of the things filmmakers should know is who their audience is and how to speak to that audience. On the Tribeca Film Festival’s website, author and Film Collaborative member John Reiss shared some tips on how to do this. In it, he shares examples of target audiences, such as musicians for a movie about Steinway pianos, and how to utilize resources like social media to reach that audience.
  • Become a marketing genius You can make the best movie in the world, but if you do not know how to market it no one will know about, and therefore, no one will see it. Even with high budget movies, marketing is a huge factor in a movies financial success. Marketing starts with creating a good website and making an interesting trailer. It also involves utilizing social media and advertising directed at your audience. Stacey Parks shares some tips on how to “be the CEO of your film” on the Independent Film Blog.  Learning the best way to market a film takes time and practice, but if you do it well you will get a financial payoff.
  • Make a name for yourself on the festival circuit Having festival credentials can take you and your films a long way. Many distributors discover films and directors at festivals. Film festivals can be found all across the country, and you can submit your films to multiple ones. Submitting a film is not a guarantee to a showing and most cost money to show your film, but they are great ways to gain exposure. Most people do not get a huge break from their first film, so you will probably have to submit to several festivals. Some advice for submitting your film to a festival can be found in this video.
  • Create a relationship with a distributor or learn how to do it yourself Once it comes time to release your movies for home viewing you need to either have a distributor or know how to do it yourself. Going with a third-party distributor can make it easier to get your movie out there, as they already have connections. If you are lucky enough to get your movie discovered, this will probably be taken care of by someone else. However, most people pay a marketing company to get the movie out to a distributor. Another way to get your movie out is to learn how to do it yourself. Sites like iTunes, Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Video on Demand are a great start for do-it-yourself distribution.



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