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Advice to Future Film Production Majors

digmediadigmedia Registered User Posts: 3,305 Senior Member
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:
  1. 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.
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  2. 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.
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  3. 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.
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  4. 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!
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  5. 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.
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  6. 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.
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  7. 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.
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  8. 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.
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  9. 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.
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  10. 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.
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  11. Enjoy what you do!
Post edited by digmedia on
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Replies to: Advice to Future Film Production Majors

  • maddenmdmaddenmd Registered User Posts: 389 Member
    Thanks for the great advice! This is just what my S needs to hear!
  • digmediadigmedia Registered User Posts: 3,305 Senior Member
    madden - Tell us more about your son.
  • maddenmdmaddenmd Registered User Posts: 389 Member
    Didn't see the question until today! Even though I've been following Digmedia- and I love your posts! So if you are still reading this thread, here goes:
    My son is going into 11th grade. He is an excellent student (straight A's, honors and AP classes, so far), and is passionate about film. He has been making films for about 5-6 years. He started on starter equipment, and in the last two years has been running a business making promo films for commercial establishments (fitness clubs, etc) and doing wedding videos. He made enough money to invest in professional quality equipment- and now is doing more creative projects. He submitted to 11 film festivals this year- (from Digmedias recommendations, and others), and is waiting to hear. Even if no one accepts his film this time, it was great experience. He spent last year doing a documentary film. This summer he wrote a script and is about to film a short film with professional actors (acquired on Craigs list- at amazingly low rates!) and in a local gallery. He has been working on our local film festival for three years, and is on the executive board of the organization. His dream is to attend film school for production. I just posted a list on another thread of places he is interested in (so far). Any advice and suggestions from anyone would be greatly appreciated!
  • digmediadigmedia Registered User Posts: 3,305 Senior Member
    OK... I think the passion about film is demonstrated. I've talked to a lot of people who are "interested in film," but then I ask, "What kinds of films do you do now? What kinds of involvement do you have? Have you made any money making films (wedding, commercials, etc.)? Do you understand the importance of a good crew and a good set of creative friends? Have you written a script? ...and on and on and on... I think it would be easy for a college/film school to see that passion instantly.

    Exactly because of what you've said in the post above is why I recommend that you look at the Honors Tutorial College. They are looking for passionate, committed, self-directed people. And the talent you have around you is great.

    (Your son sounds like mine at that age) :)
  • maddenmdmaddenmd Registered User Posts: 389 Member
    Digmedia- Thanks for your support! I think his passion is there... the only question now is the difficulty of getting in... Doing everything I can to help him. Hopefully he will do well on the SAT;s and we will definitely look at Ohio for the program your son is in. Maybe I will PM you when we are about to visit and perhaps we can meet your son.
  • digmediadigmedia Registered User Posts: 3,305 Senior Member
    oops - just saw this....

    My son graduated in 2009, but if you have any specific questions, PM me and I'll forward it on to him.

    Good luck. Keep us informed along the way.
  • kmazzakmazza - Posts: 864 Member
    I know that California has a special articulation agreement with Colorado for receiving in state tuition and logically would think the same applies visa versa. Do you know anything about that Digimedia or anyone else?

    update for anyone who cares: De Anza Measure C funds recently (finally!) updated and installed a new million dollar high tech digital video studio and sound studio. Just waiting for the rest of the new stuff but in approx 2 years will be temporarily moved so now is a good time to act for those interested in a full film/tv production degree.
  • digmediadigmedia Registered User Posts: 3,305 Senior Member
    The only think I know about is the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE). Google it. The info:
    • Students who are residents of WUE states are eligible to request a reduced tuition rate of 150% of resident tuition at participating two- and four-year college programs outside of their home state.
    • The WUE reduced tuition rate is not automatically awarded to all eligible candidates. Many institutions limit the number of new WUE awards each academic year, so apply early!
    • states include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming.
    Not all institutions participate and not all majors qualify. It usually is available for the less-well-known colleges and majors where they may need additional students. We found it kind of useless.
  • colcon2010colcon2010 Registered User Posts: 323 Member
    maddenmd, Wow, your son sounds like he will really go places! He sounds like a fascinating kid, and undoubtedly will have his choice of colleges. Hope you post again and let us know what he decides to do!

    digmedia, Your advice is terrific, and I think a lot of it can be applied to anyone who wants to pursue a passion. If I was an art teacher(or anyone who deals with kids) I'd post it in my classroom!
  • maddenmdmaddenmd Registered User Posts: 389 Member
    Colcon: Thanks for the nice words! I saw some of your other posts and your daughter sounds like an amazing kid as well. I think there are a lot of those kind of kids around. With some passion and drive and a bit of talent I think these kids will all succeed. He has followed most if not all of Digmedia's recommendations, and is finishing his junior year of high school. We visited 15 film schools, and he is in the process of narrowing down which one's he will apply to in the fall. Even with good grades and some film's I think no one is a "shoe in" at these schools. You must be very proud of your daughter at Ringling. Great program! Congratualations to her.

    For those new to this forum: if you want to go into film follow Digmedia's advice. It WILL help you get where you want to go.
  • colcon2010colcon2010 Registered User Posts: 323 Member
    Hi maddenmd, Thanks for your note! Best of luck to your son; no doubt he will really go places! My dd just finished her freshman year at Ringling, she reports it as the best year of her life! I hope your son also finds the perfect fit to launch his career! I'm sure with his show of dedication he will have many choices!
  • digmediadigmedia Registered User Posts: 3,305 Senior Member
    colcon - It's been a while since you posted this, and I haven't read all of your other ones, so forgive me if you've told all before, but... How is your daughter doing this year at Ringling? As good (or better) than last year?
  • colcon2010colcon2010 Registered User Posts: 323 Member
    <<<digmedia wrote: colcon - It's been a while since you posted this, and I haven't read all of your other ones, so forgive me if you've told all before, but... How is your daughter doing this year at Ringling? As good (or better) than last year? >>>

    Hi digmedia! How nice of you to ask! She is loving her second year! She very much enjoyed last year, which was a mix of foundation (core) classes and some liberal arts classes. This year she's really immersed in her major, and is really happy with her choice of illustration. I think it allows her to use her interests in history, literature and science along with her art. She thinks it fits with what she'd like to do in the future, and luckily her illustration class is her favorite one. The school seems to be everything she hoped it would be, and she really seems to be in her element. The people there are so nice; she has great friends and says the teachers really care about the kids. If she has a question she can e-mail her professors and get a response almost immediately, day or night, every day of the week. I guess in the age of smartphones all this is possible! Family weekend is coming up and I can't wait to see what she's been working on. How are things going for you with your book? Is it still on backorder? What a great start!
  • bears and dogsbears and dogs - Posts: 3,076 Senior Member
    I just heard this on the radio
    unpaid fed-up interns fight back

    Unpaid Interns: Real World Work Or Just Free Labor? : NPR
    What upset me is that this kid is wearing Wesleyan hoodie.
    good news is, he must know what he is doing.
    bad news is, well, that is what people'd assume "interns" meant to do, and whatever the outcome, it could harm his future employment opps, film or no film.
    I just went to pick up 5lbs bags of coffee from the roaster because they won't deliver for another three days and we are, like, only 15-20 min walk far.
    We happened to got one cute intern now.
    It did not even occur to me to make her walk in pouring rain on unfamiliar city streets for something she never drinks, let alone it won't gain her any practical skill. (well, which might have happened, say, how to navigate downtown after nice street grid system ends)
    I had other errands to do on the way and I wanted that coffee ASAP. no big deal.
    If I was the intern and some dumb looking immigrant looking like fresh off the boat (me) ordered to get coffee in that weather, I might have pi*ssed a bit but not going to hold against the company I could still so much learn all sort of stuff from.
    Film industry must not be that simple, as the article explains.
    there are things interns shouldn't be doing that they are made to do unpaid.
    Would this Wesleyan hottie willingly gone out in the rainstorm to get us 5bags of coffee?
    I don't know....
    One thing is certain, I won't ever send someone from mighty Wes to do such trivial task.
    go Wesleyan!!
  • bears and dogsbears and dogs - Posts: 3,076 Senior Member
    sorry to dampen the thread, now I got better NPR link
    Francis Ford Coppola Reflects On His Film Career : NPR
    interview, QandA at Toronto film festival.
    Francis Coppola's advice to young film makers
    for boys
    Get married and start family. It will motivates and grounds you, keep you out of trouble.
    for girls
    Don't get married. Or your career will hinder by taking care of partner's needs.
    ^It could be outrageous if it was said by someone else, no?
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