Film: First Steps in Learning the Business

Film: First Steps in Learning the Business

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  1.  You may think the world of filmmaking – that glamorous arena of writers, directors, producers, editors, and actors – is completely out of your reach.  But the real truth is anyone can get involved.  Knowing where to start and meeting the right people are all you need to get your foot in the door.  The rest is up to you.  

    Following are some some pointers to help you find your way:

    1) Read everything you can about the film business.  There are several good magazines out there such as: "Script", "Creative Screenwriting", and "Indie Slate."  Visit your local bookstore magazine area for a great selection.

    Some great instructional writers/filmakers  that have  books in the industry are Syd Field, David Trottier, and Robert Rodgriguez among many, many others.  The resources are there – it is up to you to get out there and find them.  

    Read all the film reviews in newspapers and local magazines. This will help you understand what critics and regular moviegoers are looking for in a great movie.   

    Get online. The internet is filled with articles on acting, writing, editing, types of cameras, lighting, collaborating, and casting.  One of the best websites with a wide variety of articles is Peter Marshall’s "Director’s Chair."

    2) Join local acting,screenwriting, or media groups.  You may think that members of these organization are way out of your league but actually most would be just like you – wanting to learn and meet like-minded people.

    3) Take a class. Most community colleges offer courses in editing, screenwriting, lighting,and sound. Many film organizations sponsor their own seminars and workshops.  Get online and look up your local film commission and see what they have to offer.

    4) Go to film-oriented social functions.  Not only will you learn a lot but this is also a lot of fun. Some great events to watch for in your community would be film festivals, movie premieres (especially on the local level), and film fundraisers.   All three of these are really excellent venues to network and view exciting work by filmmakers of all levels.

    5) Rent, buy, borrow movies of genres.  The best way to learn about film is to immerse yourself in viewing films of all types.  After getting into the film industry, you will find yourself observing camera angles, analyzing dialogue, critiquing actors, and, in general, viewing movies with a whole new perspective. Don’t limit yourself to one genre. Watch everything! Some of the very best movies are foriegn films. 

     6) Find out where film people hang out.  The most popular places would be coffee houses, at auditions, and, of course,  movie theaters.  

    7) Beg, borrow, or buy an inexpensive camcorder to get the feel for filming.  Don’t invest in expensive equipment untl you are absolutely sure that this is what you want to do. Or you may decide that screenwriting is your thing and then all you need is a computer, a good program (even some of these are free), and a creative mind. Even if you choose  the writing side of the industry, it is still beneficial to understand camera angles, lighting, locations, and budget limitations. 

    The main thing is that you just get out there and do it in a way that works for you.  Filmmaking is like any other endeavor – patience, persistance, and the willingness to put in the time to learn will go a long way in making you a success in any field you endeavor. 

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