- Hi everyone. This is our very first episode of the filmmaking forum conversations course and I thought it would be great to kick things off by asking a bunch of filmmakers and editors what is the biggest piece of advice they can offer to people entering the industry. So, here they discuss career focus, finding your voice, surrounding yourself in positivity, learning to sell and invest in yourself, and so much more. I hope you enjoy. - Really figure out what you want to do and then go pursue that.
- So if you have an idea or you have a script or there's a topic out there and if you're passionate about it, then go. Do that. But don't try to do things that you aren't passionate about just 'cause you want to have something on your resume that looks different than something else. It's not going to work. - Know where you want to end up. The film industry is based on climbing ladders and you have to start climbing the right ladder. - You have to be specific. You have to choose a path.
You have to choose the bottom of a ladder and know that in some way, shape, or form, you're climbing up a ladder that you want to climb. - Don't start in visual effects and start climbing a VFX ladder if you want to work in film. Try not to work in a trailer company if you want to work on film - Because I know so many people, especially when I was starting out in the trailer world, where I would have these discussions with them where they had similar aspirations as me and they would say, "Oh yeah, I don't "want to do trailers, I want to do features." And I would say, "Yeah, me too. I want to do that too "but what are we going to do? You know, we're busy, we have all this work, how do you make connections?" But there wasn't that real specificity whereas for me I would say well, I don't want to climb this ladder so I'm gonna go to the bottom rung of a different ladder but I know it's the ladder I want to climb and then I met several colleagues five, six years later and they were like, "Oh man, I shouldn't have done that five years ago." But it's because I was so specific about what I wanted to do.
- If it's drama or editing, work somewhere that does drama, not somewhere that does commercials because you'll find out that you've got lots of experience in commercials and then two years later, you're thinking, "Oh, I want to do drama" and then you'll have to start at the bottom on a drama ladder so pick the right ladder to climb. - I think it's incredibly tempting to go see a Tarantino movie or an Iñárritu film or whoever you love and in some way copy it.
And I think that this is a huge mistake. And I think you should search and tell stories the way that you want to tell stories. And it sounds incredibly easy, but you have to have guts. - If you start doing what you think other people think is a good idea, then years later you're gonna realize oh gee, I never really tried that thing that I really wanted to do. - You just have to turn those people off and do what feels real for you. And if you feel like you have a talent and you have something to say, say it in your own voice, whatever anybody says.
- Always say yes. And what I mean by that is when you go out, you're going to be meeting people, you're going to be talking to people, you're going to be making contacts. And if someone says to you, "Would you like to work "on this? There's not much money", say yes. Because if you say no, then you're still where you are. You haven't moved forward. But if you say yes, even if it's not the right step for you, you have a new perspective. Now you're over here. A lot of so many great things have happened to me because I have said yes. I have taken this jump, this leap of faith.
And so, so much of the things that I have gotten to do has been built on all the yeses that I've said. - And also to surround yourself with the most positive people, people who are doing things as opposed to people that are talking about doing things because that will keep the energy cycle going amongst you and all your friends that are actually doing things. - Start making stuff. Start doing it. You don't need anybody's permission. Don't feel like you have to reach a certain level of experience. Don't feel like you have to reach a certain level of equipment.
I would say the most important thing is to start making things, make them as often as possible. Make mistakes, be willing to make mistakes. Be willing to make bad thumbnails. At the end of the day you will have learned so much that the next time you go to do it, it's going to suck a lot less. - There's nothing that's more educational, that will make you a better editor than working on really bad stuff. Because if you can learn how to fix problems from bad directors, bad actors, you start being given really good stuff, then it's like, "Oh! This is easy now." - And then also learn how to sell yourself.
If you are good at doing the work that you want and are able to work with lots of people who can see that, sell yourself to them as someone who, "You don't have to worry about me. "We can work together and I'll get you "what you want, but I'll add even more to it "because I bring my own to..." Boom! You're done. You're gonna work. You will keep working and that will only expand. - You can't expect people just to come walk up to you and say, "Oh, you're so talented. I want to hire you".
That just doesn't happen for the most part. I think you really have to initiate. And so to be able to initiate, that means you have to go out and do your own projects, try to make your own things on your own spare time. So for me, I'm a big believer in trying to take things and invest in yourself. I think the investment in yourself is the most valuable. And so you keep doing that long enough and I believe that one day something will break for you.
- Ask questions, I think is the one piece of advice I would offer. I think post-producation is one of those last vestiges of the mentor-mentee kind of relationship where you start off as an apprentice and you work your way up. And it's very dependent on the sharing of information. In terms of all of the ways in which we use music and sound effects and story-telling and the shortcuts that we've picked up along the years, all of those things, you can learn it by doing but there's so much you can learn just by asking questions.
- The editing community is a really good community. Anytime I have a problem, I can pick up a phone and call someone. I can post something on a forum. And I get feedback immediately. In these groups, we're really, really, really fun and I get to meet other editors, see what they're doing, and then, "Oh hey, we need an extra editor". They can hire you. - Don't be discouraged if the first thing you do doesn't come out well. It probably won't come out well, but do the second one. That'll come out a little better. And do the next one. People have to realize that people that are good at their jobs, people that are at the top level, they make things that are very hard look easy.
It is definitely harder than you think it is but it's not impossible and if you keep at it, you will get better and better and you will get good results. - There's a woman, she's a famous Hollywood producer named Eve Honthaner. Well, she came to my class a few years ago and she talked about the 5 P's. Be passionate. People love passion. That's what I like in my students so if I'm hiring someone, I want someone who's passionate.
There's gonna be a lot of roadblocks so they need to be persistent. They can't give up, they can't take no for an answer. They have to be positive. Noone likes negative people. If you're positive, you feel like we're gonna get this thing done. You give a set energy, you give an editing room energy, you give everyone energy. So being pleasant, it sounds crazy but if it's a 12 hour day and you have irritating people around you all day, it's hard.
So if you can have someone whose pleasant, that's great. And then finally, patience. Be patient. A career is a long time and so you might not make it to where you want to go after the first year or the second year but if you're patient and you stick with it and you're persistent, other people are going to drop out and all of a sudden there's an opening because you're the one that's still there. You didn't give up. - Work very hard. Smile a lot.
Do any job, however menial, with good humor and don't give up because it's last man standing and everyone else will eventually give up and then you will be the person who will get the job. So it's very, very important that you do not give up and that you keep forging forward and reaching out to people and if you're determined and passionate enough about succeeding, then you will succeed.
- Advice for novice filmmakers entering the industry
- Finding, enhancing, and tweaking your story
- Experimenting in filmmaking
- Solving problems and troubleshooting your film
- Changing your approach or finding new angles
- Communicating and collaborating on set and in the edit room—and with clients
- Working on different genres of film
- Teaching and mentoring new filmmakers