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Going to Study Film and TV Production at Uni = Scary Future

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bookworm452

Guest
I'm going to university this year to study Film and TV Production, and I'm worried (so is my mother) that I won't be able to get a job after university. I want to be a director and a writer; I don't think I could stand to live a monotonous office-style boring life (no offence is meant if anyone is offended).
But I'm not from like London where there are TV and movie studios and the university I've chosen has a lot of partnerships (sony, warner bros, the army and BBC, etc) and a lot of people manage to get jobs through the uni in BBC and a few small production companies (I think. I can't remember what was said on the open day). I know to be a director I'll have to work my way up and do voluntary work- I'm not Peter Jackson but being a script writing just means writing a good script... Although a friend said differently, she said this: 'You won't need to prove you can write a good screenplay. You'll need to prove you can take a book like Twilight and make it compatible for screenplays. You'll need to prove you can conform to a certain style of comedy or dialogue that a producer is looking for. Then along the way, you write good original scripts on the side.'
Just wondering if anyone had any advice or information to stop me from having a freak out?
I'm willing to work hard and travel - just getting the money to actually do that would be a problem! I could get experience being a runner or something at my theatre (Hull Truck) as well but it's theatre - I mean, it might help! Anyone know if it would? I know quite a few of the directors and I've worked with them before when they put a few of my plays on as well as the Creative Associate for Young People there who is my writing teacher.
The uni (if I can get there; got to get 280 and I'm studying Literature and Psychology - so much to remember with a bad memory. I will do it even if it kills me but I've also done an EPQ as well and that's worth have an A-Level) has good facilities - Lincoln University - at least, that's what it seemed like to me when I went but the only actual studios I've seen in person are the facilities at Leeds MET, York St. John and Lincoln uni.
 will people be interesting in helping to create films if it isn't a requirement? I do have a small problem though - action - I have a tendency to write action; even the drama that I'm working on now has guns in it. Apparently the uni has a partnership with the army but somehow I don't think they'd be willing to lend out even blank-only guns.
Another thing is majority of my knowledge comes from reading art of books and listening to film commentaries' and the Maximum Movie Mode of Sucker Punch, HP7p1 and Sherlock Holmes 2 as well as the behind the scenes of stuff. They're interesting and they show how things are done but they generally have big budgets; HP7p1 - definitely! I think one technique that I would love to try out would be the mirror scene in Sucker Punch - it looks so cool and head-ache-y! But probably cost a lot to get all of the equipment to do it though.
I know a lot of people make short films when they're at uni... You think it would be possible to make a full length film if people are willing?
I'm doubting that I'll be able to do it because my mother isn't happy with my choice and think I'll account to nothing because I want to do the creative jobs, not the practical day-to-day boredom-fest that everyone else seems to do.
 :-|
#1 - May 15, 2013, 07:36 AM

Wow, you've got a lot of stuff going on.  I can't begin to answer some of what you're asking, but I'd give a lot to be in your shoes, you lucky thing!

Here are some thoughts:

Radio, Television, Motion Picture is a popular major at one of my state's best universities, and it's the major I really wanted to have--only I didn't get into that university, due to slacking off in high school.  I was devastated, to say the least.  All my friends got in.  The university I ended up going to didn't even have that major at all (the closest it had was "Communications.")

Lesson One: School is what you make it.  You can be a work-your-butt-off person or a slacker person, no matter what school you go to.  You can be the sort that takes advantage of every opportunity, and the sort that lets everything slide and later regrets it.  It's all on you.  I got the most out of the school I ended up going to, and to be honest, since I wanted to be a writer, a regular English major worked out fine.  I guess I'll never know what may have happened if I'd gotten into the better university with the RTVMP major, but whatever--I'm writing.  My best friend DID get into that university, majored in RTVMP and guess what? She's writing, too.  Go figure.

My husband wanted to be a director.  He loved (and still loves) movies.  He went to the competitive university and majored in the Radio, Television, Motion Picture major I wanted.  Know what he does for a living?  He teaches high school English.  I think if you asked him about it, he'd say he has some regrets, yes--regrets about allowing himself to become overwhelmed and have his confidence thrown out the window, so that he decided not to pursue that directing dream.  But he'd also tell you that the field is HIGHLY COMPETITIVE and he just felt he didn't have the drive to compete with the others and pursue such a difficult degree/career.  My husband is a marvelous, NICE guy--a great team player.  He would be the first to tell you that maybe he's not director material.  But you'd want him on your crew.  It's a bit late for him, he feels, but he still enjoys watching movies, talking movies, reading about movies, and sometimes being in the movies.  He got the opportunity to be in Iron Man 3, in a scene in with Robert Downey Jr., and it made his year.

Lesson Two: It takes a certain type of personality, a certain type of DRIVE to be a successful person in film-making, and maybe not everybody has that.  ?

HOWEVER, somebody has those careers.  Why not you?  If you don't want to be forty and full of regrets, I think you should pursue it.  Learn everything you possibly can about movie making, be willing to work your butt off for impossibly long hours and maybe very little pay for a while, and DO IT.  But maybe have a back-up plan for financing this endeavor.  Find out what most of the poor film students do (hopefully not live off loans and credit cards).  In my opinion, the time to do this is when you're young.  Everyone in entry positions in the film world seems to be in their early twenties, fresh out of school.  They got there--maybe you can, too.

My town is a very filmy/TV production town (for being outside Hollywood or NYC) and many, many students come to our local university to be a film major.  Some want to act, some want to write, some want to direct.  I assume some want to do costumes or set design or set dressing.  We have a film festival and people are making student films and shorts and such all the time.  There are plenty of opportunities to work with other creative people if you just really love, love making movies.  There are also plenty of opportunities to intern and then be a PA on real honest-to-goodness productions.  But it's all, again HIGHLY COMPETITIVE.  Even just being an intern in a casting agency, answering the phones--it's super hard to get that position.  You have to be willing to start small, work for free, move your way up.  You have to be a team player, good with others, a certain amount of social.  You have to not burn bridges.  You have to leave an impression.  People get crew positions around here because they were nice, they were professional, they knew someone who knew someone.  People get hired because they worked with so-and-so on that other movie and were called about this one.  This happens for casting, crew, costumes, everything.  Team players.  Paying back favors.  Watching out for their buddies.  It's a lot about who you know.

Lesson Three:  Learn names.  Treat people well.  Keep up with what's going on.

If I were you, I'd read, read, read film books and film-making books and screenplays.  I'd read Story by Robert McKee, which is the book I've been pimping to everyone lately.  I'd watch *all the movies* and find enthusiasm for *all the movies*.  I'd read Slash Film and industry sites.  I'd know what's happening at the box office.  I'd watch all the Inside the Actor's Studio I could find (YouTube!).  I'd try to do really well in my classes and apply for every single scholarship and internship that sounded interesting.  I'd make friends with the professors and let them know I was ready to learn and ready to work.  I'd be so enthusiastic and ready, it'd be laughable.  Others would point at me and laugh.  They'd shake their heads and roll their eyes.  And they'd see me work my way up after a while, I bet.

I've noticed something about people I personally admire in this industry:

--They are ENTHUSIASTIC.  Passionate.  They simply LOVE movies, and pretty much always have.  They aren't too judgmental about art vs. not art, movies vs. film.  They just really love story-telling and love the medium and have all kinds of happy memories associated with movies.  (Lesson for myself:  Be more like this about books!  Be less judgy about it, on the whole.  Feel the love.)

--They are GRATEFUL.  Humility comes into play, here.  They know they are lucky to be working in the industry, and they never stop feeling this, no matter how big they get.  They realize they wouldn't be where they are but for the kindness of others.  They are loyal to people who gave them first and second chances.  They treat those "under" them equally well, remembering keenly that they were there, too, not long ago.  (Lesson for myself:  If one day you get to be a big success, self, stay humble and don't brag.  The Big People don't need to brag.  It's all about the work.  If you have to tell people you're great, you're probably not.  Greatness speaks for itself.)

--They are PROFESSIONAL.  This means they know the score, know what's going on, don't waste time.  Time is money.  They're willing to put in the long hours, deal with the exhaustion and the travel.  It's all worth it to them.  They show up, stay consistent, reliable.  They don't need hand-holding.  They stay healthy.  They're good at their jobs--they realize there's a craft to it--it's not just some mystical "natural talent."  They stay on the bright side, keep things in perspective, and always realize tomorrow is another day, and things can change in a heartbeat.  Professional means getting the job done, but also taking care of yourself.  (Lesson for myself:  Learn the craft and never stop.  Take care of myself physically/mentally/emotionally, so other people--industry people--will get the "good stuff" on a regular basis.  Be okay with the journey.).

BTW, know that an awful lot of movie-making is waiting.  So depending what you mean by "boredom-fest," just know--it's definitely not all laugh-a-minute or glamorous.  If you mean that ANY kind of menial task in movie-making would make you happy compared to a 9-to-5 job, then keep that passion with you through all those rough times when may you ask yourself "Why am I fetching $300 worth of Taco Bell at 3:30 am again?"
#2 - May 15, 2013, 08:40 AM

mcfilms

Guest
Jaina gave you GREAT advice and I add a big "I agree" to all she said. Here are a few observations I would add:

Along with her notes of gratitude and humility, I would say most successful people "take it to the positive". When people talk about other peoples projects or people they have worked with, they almost always do so in a positive light.

The other note I would add: writers write, directors direct. If your goal is to do either of these professionally, you need to be doing them. Now. Today.

Recently Malcolm Gladwell outlined a theory where he outlines the "10,000-Hour Rule", claiming that the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours. So you need to start putting those hours in.

There used to be a bunch of technical barriers to making a movie. That is not the case any more. You can shoot a compelling short on your mobile phone or laptop webcam. You don't need to wait for the University to give you permission to make a movie.

Also, in terms of getting a project done, I'd rather see a completed short than a half-completed feature. I think initially you should concentrate on shorts. You won't really make any money on these, but you learn and grow. And don't worry, if you work hard, generate a great idea, and have genuine enthusiasm for it, you will be amazed at the number of people that will jump on board.

When I was in High School my parents pushed me pretty hard to become an engineer. I paid my own way and went to film school. I moved out to L.A. and worked (interned at first) on movies. I went on to start my own production company and even directed an independent feature. I'm pretty sure if I had become an engineer I would be much more wealthy by now and worked less hours. But I enjoy what I do and it doesn't often seem like work.

But make no mistake, it is work. Especially at the start, you have to be willing to work your backside off.

One last thing, although reading and DVD commentaries is a fantastic way to learn about how other people do things, it's really important to develop your own point of view and your own style. I suggest on top of all this homework, you find a social issue or a political issue you feel passionate about, learn more about it, talk to the people involved, perhaps volunteer some time to the cause. Maybe instead of an action-based Suckerpunch-style movie, try and find an interesting way to present this cause.

Keep in mind that your mom isn't trying to prevent you from realizing your dreams. She is trying to help you navigate to a successful adult life.

Good luck!
#3 - May 15, 2013, 11:09 AM

bookworm452

Guest

Maybe instead of an action-based Suckerpunch-style movie, try and find an interesting way to present this cause.

Keep in mind that your mom isn't trying to prevent you from realizing your dreams. She is trying to help you navigate to a successful adult life.

Good luck!
Thanks. That was just an example. I suppose it might not that the only person I could watch movies with when I was a kid was my dad who took me to action movies.
I know she is but I talk about uni and she just looks and me and says 'you'll never survive'. I guess it just hurts and feels like she doesn't believe in me.
#4 - May 15, 2013, 11:45 AM

bookworm452

Guest
I've noticed something about people I personally admire in this industry:

--They are ENTHUSIASTIC.  Passionate.  They simply LOVE movies, and pretty much always have.  They aren't too judgmental about art vs. not art, movies vs. film.  They just really love story-telling and love the medium and have all kinds of happy memories associated with movies.  (Lesson for myself:  Be more like this about books!  Be less judgy about it, on the whole.  Feel the love.)
Funny you should say. When I was younger, all I talked about was movies... Enough for my mam to think I was obsessed and get me checked out  :sigh But it was all fine - just very, very enthusiastic. I'm not like that anymore. Well I am but I keep quiet about it unless someone starts a conversation about it with me.  :-|



--They are GRATEFUL.  Humility comes into play, here.  They know they are lucky to be working in the industry, and they never stop feeling this, no matter how big they get.  They realize they wouldn't be where they are but for the kindness of others.  They are loyal to people who gave them first and second chances.  They treat those "under" them equally well, remembering keenly that they were there, too, not long ago.  (Lesson for myself:  If one day you get to be a big success, self, stay humble and don't brag.  The Big People don't need to brag.  It's all about the work.  If you have to tell people you're great, you're probably not.  Greatness speaks for itself.)


I don't think that I'm the type of person to brag. As of right now, I'm too good with compliments - I don't know what to say when I get them.


--They are PROFESSIONAL.  This means they know the score, know what's going on, don't waste time.  Time is money.  They're willing to put in the long hours, deal with the exhaustion and the travel.  It's all worth it to them.  They show up, stay consistent, reliable.  They don't need hand-holding.  They stay healthy.  They're good at their jobs--they realize there's a craft to it--it's not just some mystical "natural talent."  They stay on the bright side, keep things in perspective, and always realize tomorrow is another day, and things can change in a heartbeat.  Professional means getting the job done, but also taking care of yourself.  (Lesson for myself:  Learn the craft and never stop.  Take care of myself physically/mentally/emotionally, so other people--industry people--will get the "good stuff" on a regular basis.  Be okay with the journey.).

Note to self: learn to be more professional...

BTW, know that an awful lot of movie-making is waiting.  So depending what you mean by "boredom-fest," just know--it's definitely not all laugh-a-minute or glamorous.  If you mean that ANY kind of menial task in movie-making would make you happy compared to a 9-to-5 job, then keep that passion with you through all those rough times when may you ask yourself "Why am I fetching $300 worth of Taco Bell at 3:30 am again?"
Yeah, I mean that. The idea of working in an office, doing the same thing like answering the phones (this is what my mam does - she has a new compliant everyday and I've met some of her work friends, they all complain as well   ::) ). I think any task would because that means that I'd start somewhere and hopefully, but slowly work my way up. :)
#5 - May 15, 2013, 11:56 AM

Not too many of our parents support us and believe in us just as much as we'd like to and in exactly the way we'd like them to, I think.  Prove your Mom wrong by getting that Professionalism, Enthusiasm, Gratitude attitude early.  (I'll call it PEG.  Patent pending.)

Get that PEG attitude, find some good role models, and like Jerry says--take it to the positive and work on those 10,000 hours.  Doesn't that seem to be something every young director did as a kid?  They didn't wait.  They started making movies.  There's a certain fearlessness to it, and a certain willingness to make mistakes, put yourself out there for criticism.  This is not movie oriented, but read Stephen King's On Writing and you'll see he was the same, as a kid.  Already writing, already submitting.  Ready to take the good advice he was given and go, go, go.  I bet we could name a whole list of people like that.  Driven.  And now . . . successful.

If your mom really doesn't believe, there's a great way to prove her wrong.  It may take a decade, but slow and steady.  Show her you CAN survive--and thrive.  Positivity, hard work.  Good luck!
#6 - May 15, 2013, 12:06 PM

bookworm452

Guest
Not too many of our parents support us and believe in us just as much as we'd like to and in exactly the way we'd like them to, I think.  Prove your Mom wrong by getting that Professionalism, Enthusiasm, Gratitude attitude early.  (I'll call it PEG.  Patent pending.)

Get that PEG attitude, find some good role models, and like Jerry says--take it to the positive and work on those 10,000 hours.  Doesn't that seem to be something every young director did as a kid?  They didn't wait.  They started making movies.  There's a certain fearlessness to it, and a certain willingness to make mistakes, put yourself out there for criticism.  This is not movie oriented, but read Stephen King's On Writing and you'll see he was the same, as a kid.  Already writing, already submitting.  Ready to take the good advice he was given and go, go, go.  I bet we could name a whole list of people like that.  Driven.  And now . . . successful.

If your mom really doesn't believe, there's a great way to prove her wrong.  It may take a decade, but slow and steady.  Show her you CAN survive--and thrive.  Positivity, hard work.  Good luck!

I'm going to. I've tried making short films before but either people weren't interested or they were and everything fell through. I could ask a friend to write me a short script with two or three characters and we just have a day because that's the only way I'll get to do it.

 :thankyou
#7 - May 15, 2013, 12:12 PM

Here's someone asking a similar question on the Done Deal Message board -- for screenwriters. Who knows, maybe it's your question. 

http://messageboard.donedealpro.com/boards/showthread.php?t=72137

#8 - May 15, 2013, 01:47 PM
OPEN COURT, Knopf

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