Monday, August 11, 2008

Human Light Stand

There is truth in what Eric Escobar says in this post. Shoot with cheap equipment, often and then some more. What to add? Here are some opinions:

Filmmaking is hard work. Really hard. And you need to become proficient in at least one skill. Yes, it's really important to understand the soup to nuts of filmmaking but, it is inherently a collaborative process. No one person (with the exception of animation) can sustainably create films on their own. The goal is to develop relationships with people to work with whose skills dovetail with yours. Or switch roles when you work on each other's films. But at some point you are a director, writer, producer, electrician, grip, script supervisor, assistant director, sound mixer or a combination of them. You can't be great at all of them.

What is a "filmmaker?" It's a generic term that describes someone involved in the filmmaking process, from industrials to webisodes. If you talk to people who really are making a living doing this, trying to find work, they're going to want to know what are your specific skills, right now.

No matter what type of work you intend to create I think it's good to get work on sets with professionals. You will learn 100X more than you ever learned in film school. There is nothing like the sight of the grips coming in like a SWAT team to re-rig a room in a couple minutes because the shooting schedule has changed at the last minute. You learn discipline and develop the physical and emotional endurance and learn the skills to help you make your film end up looking the way you want it. You will also learn how to work in a team and how to treat a crew (especially important if you're trying to get people who know what they're doing to work for free). You will also be 20X ahead of the competition when you learn what a script supervisor does and why you must have one. Once I started to work with people who were really good at what they did I understood how important it is to surround yourself with people as hard working and dedicated as yourself.

Everyone I know who is in film works incredibly hard. I admire every last one of them. They're out there working 12-14 hour days outside in the desert or on a soundstage with 50K of lights up. They eat, sleep, work, dream filmmaking. In their free time they hang out with their film friends to network and talk. Nearly every person who makes a first feature never makes a second. I think it is important to have a long-term plan and commitment. But you also need to have a way to support yourself. And if it's not in film or complementary to film, it can ultimately drag you away from it. My observation, by no means definitive, is that making your way is a process. The harder you work, the more you put yourself out there (and don't internalize the rejection) the more likely you are to last. Yes, you may be a genius but sometimes you just might need to just be a human light stand.


Quintessential Studios said...

Well, I AM great at everything!

Hey, wanna be a loader for a couple days?

Craig Mieritz said...

Fortunately I have paying work that week....

Quintessential Studios said...

Right on!

Quintessential Studios said...

BTW, I learned what the "circle of confusion" is. Cool name you picked.