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I posted these in a PM to a member here, but thought they might deserve wider attention. This is advice for a HS sophomore or junior (or maybe even freshman) who is passionate about film and might be interested in a future film production major:
Do good in school. Life is a series of options, and the more you can do to keep various options open, the better. Having great grades and a good high school curriculum may allow entry into a more competitive film school. .
Keep your own options open. If tomorrow, you wake up and suddenly find that your new passion is NOT film, then that's OK. Follow your dreams. .
Think big. When you are making your films, think ahead to what the viewer will be seeing. If the project is bigger than what you think you can do, then you are doing it right!!! Make compromises when you have to during production, not in your ideas. .
Film is such a collaborative effort and you can't do it alone. Gather around you a group of people that you want to work with on films. The more you work together, the better. And remember, it's not a "credit" thing (who get credit for what). It's a team effort in the truest sense. Let people develop specialties, like casting, or location-hunting or sound or whatever. And once you have a great team, hang onto them! .
Gather the most talented group around you that you can find. For example, if there are actors in the high school plays (or local theaters) who are good, then they would probably be willing to act in one of your films. And the more the merrier. Use them for multiple films. But, before asking, have a strong script in hand so that they will know what you are asking them to do. .
Create a film "company" to give your team a sense of belonging. Come up with a clever name and a clever logo and "brand" all of your films with that name. Have the team meet as a company to pitch ideas and plan the next film. .
Create a website for your company and put your films online for the crew and cast and others to see. Get as much publicity as you can. .
Enter competitions. You can probably Google high school film competitions and come up with a bunch. Also see if there are some local competitions like 24-hour or 48-hour Shootouts. .
Think about some "commercial" efforts for your company. Does a local business need a short 30-seond commercial for cable-TV ads? Does the high school football or other sports teams need some filming? For example, my son was the film technician for the football team, and after each season, he got to cut the "Best Of" DVD and showed it (and sold it) at the football banquet. Think about filming school concerts and selling DVDs. What about local rock bands who may need music videos? Or seniors who need videos for application portfolios? Or...? The list is endless. .
Think about film for class projects. For example, if the teacher assigns a paper on some aspect of history, then ask if you can make a documentary on it. There is a TON of footage on the internet on all kinds of subjects which can be interspersed with your own footage/narration. Check to see if there is a "National History Day" competition near you, where you can enter your documentary film. Get a team from the class to help write and produce the documentary so that all get credit for it. .