I recently made a big decision: I decided that I wanted to pursue becoming a filmmaker. Join the club, right? There are so many of us out there who want to make movies, and there only so many movies getting made and released to a large audience, that becoming filmmaker – and actually making money from it – has long odds.
Those odds are tough enough to beat in the best of times, but for a guy like me, things get even more complication.
I am 31 years old. I’m a husband. I’m a dad with two kids (twin 1.5 year old boys). I own a house and have a mortgage. And I have a full-time job.
In my situation, changing careers – no matter where I land – is a big risk. I have a family to support and many a bill to pay. And in addition to being risk, it can be tricky, because…time.
Where do you find time to put in the extra work or education to re-qualify yourself? I couldn’t tell you. But what I can tell you is that I don’t have the time, money, or will to go to film school.
So that’s why this decision of mine feels bigger and weightier than it would have been if I had made it, say, in high school or university. Or near the beginning of my professional career; not 5-10 years in.
But with all that said, I still want to pursue filmmaking. I know the odds, and at this point I can’t even say that I’m too focused on making money. I’m more interested in making movies.
In Season 7 of Game of Thrones, Podeswa and Middleton teamed up for arguable the most important episodes: the first, and the last. Boy were they good! They’ve worked together on other GoT episodes in previous seasons, and have previously worked together on other projects. And they are both acclaimed filmmakers in their owtn right (Podeswa has directed shows like Boardwalk Empire and Six Feet Under, while Middleton has DP’d The Killing, Fringe, and the movie Passchendaele).
So when I had a chance to ask them my question, I wasn’t going to miss it. That’s why I sat in the front row! I know, what a keener, right?
The question: knowing that film school and me ditching my job and responsibilities as a husband and dad are both out of the question, how do they recommend I go about making my new dream a reality?
Here are the 6 things they said to do:
- Become a part of a film collective – Surround yourself with like minded people.
- Find a mentor – Someone who can share their advice and get you in the places you need to learn and succeed.
- Go to your own film school – Learn! Any way you can. Go to nofilmschool.com.
- Find your voice – This comes with experience, watching movies and living life. Know the story you want to tell.
- Make movies – Practice makes perfect!
- Familiarize yourself with financing – It’s all about the benjamins! Takes money to make money.
For more of a description of what they had to say about each of these points, watch the video below, in which I explain.
When I was chasing my original career of news/sports reporting and anchoring on television, I basically followed the first five steps from above to a tee (with the subject matter obviously being different). And not only did it worked out for me, but it worked for people before and after me who followed the same recipe.
It’s one that is common among professions in the arts, or have some sort performance base. Not only does the performance need to speak for itself, but you need to know the right people.
The one piece of advice that I hadn’t quite started to think of was point #6: familiarize yourself with financing.
I’m in go mode. I’m ready to make something. And I’m willing to finance the first couple of films myself. Mainly because it is the path of least resistance, but also because I think just having something tangible to confirm my decision to pursue is something I think I need. But that’s not always going to be the case.
At some point, if I truly want to pursue filmmaking seriously and make larger scale movies with the quality audiences want and expect, I can’t go it alone. I’ll need support. I’ll need a team. And I’ll need financing.
So, Podeswa suggested getting familiar with how films are finances in your area. That is, what kind of grants are available, who else is footing the bill for movies, what about crowd funding, etc. These are things that go into making movies, and that are a part of the filmmaking process.
All the advice was great, and even though I’m entering the game relatively late, I left inspired by the answers Podeswa and Middleton gave. All that’s left is putting it into practice!
Feature Image Credit: HBO