Category Archives: Film School

How do You Get Work in the Film Industry? You Have to Fucking WORK.

There is a symptom that plagues film school students and those who want to work in the film industry. I know this because I’ve had the opportunity to talk to a lot of film students. That vast majority of them don’t want to work. They don’t want to start at the bottom and crawl their way to the top. They want to make art. Let me tell you something, you want-to-be-filmmakers —

YOU ARE GOING TO FAIL. YOU. YES. YOU.

You’re going to graduate film school and end up switching careers with thousands of dollars in student debt, or work at a local TV station making shitty commercials, or film weddings for the rest of your life. And that’s no one’s fault but yours.

How do you not fail? You work you fucking ass off, that’s how.

I have not made it. Far from it. But I’m a lot further along than the lot of you. And you probably want to be where I am right now. I work for a “big-time” guy in the industry. I frequent film sets during production and have the occasional chat with a celebrity. My scripts are being read “around town”, and I have representation courting me. This is shit I DREAMED about having 7 years ago when I started this blog. I’m STILL not happy with where I am, but that’s another story. THIS story is about how none of this is going to happen to you because you’re a lazy piece of shit.

If you want to work in this industry, you have to be willing to work 18 hours days 6 days a week for minimum wage with an Assistant Director yelling at you over the walkie in front of the entire crew right after you’ve spent the last 2 hours picking up dog shit and used condoms off the side of the road for the art department at 6 in the fucking morning.

If you want to work in this industry, you have to be willing to leave EVERYTHING behind and move to Los Angeles with no money and sleep on a strangers couch that you met on craigslist who smokes weed every day and watches TV until 1 am not letting you get any sleep before you have to wake up at 4am to get to pre-call on set in the middle of sun valley by 6am.

If you want to work in this industry, you have to leave every comfort you know, and jump headfirst into a chaotic environment using equipment you’ve never used before for people you’ve never met before, while all the time trying to prove that you’re the hardest worker in the world so that maybe they will hire you again for the next job.

If you want to work in this industry, you need to be meeting people and spending more time looking for work than actually working because you need to have a job lined up when the current job your working is over.

And then, MAYBE, after you’ve done all this for a few years and find a steady job, you will be able to direct enough shorts or write enough screenplays in your “free time” to get noticed and actually do the shit you really want to be doing out here.

If you’re not willing to do any of this stuff. Then do everyone already working in LA a favor and  GTFO of here so that our commute on these god-forsaken highways is minus one car.

Now get off your lazy piece of shit ass and go do something.

-12pt

It All Goes Through Los Angeles

LA

Frank Pasquine is an award-winning screenwriter, freelance writer, and Director of Social Media for New York Film Academy. He wrote up a great article on why it is important to live in Los Angeles if you want to write for TV or film.


It’s no secret that the majority of the films you see on television or the big screen have at some point gone through someone’s hands in Los Angeles.  Given the power of the major studios, production companies, and talent agencies such as CAA, WME, and UTA, projects that have any hope of funding are typically packaged in Los Angeles. That’s just the nature of the business. You may argue that films are always being shot in New York, Canada, or wherever, but the players behind these productions are working out of LA.

First off, before you do anything, if you want to be a screenwriter, you must write a professionally polished script. No typos. No formatting errors. It must have a strong leading character, a strong story arch, great structure, and have that certain “X-factor.” But you know this already.

Now, you may have the best script in the world, but often it takes an A-List actor to attach him or herself in order for the project to move forward. Not to mention an experienced producing team, director, cinematographer, and so on. So, how do you get your script to the powers that be in the first place? Simple. You need a friend at one of these agencies or production companies. (Okay, maybe not so simple.) You’re not friends with anyone at one of these talent agencies or production companies? Make friends with one! And that means moving to Los Angeles.

Networking in Los Angeles is the most valuable tool you have in your screenwriting arsenal. After all, people want to work with people they come to know and associate with. If you live in Minnesota and have just as good as or perhaps an even better script than someone who lives in Los Angeles, who do you think will get an agent, manager, or producer’s attention first? Your query email has no shot against human interaction at some swanky Los Angeles party or restaurant.

Once you’ve made the move to Los Angeles and you have the perfect script and the right network of friends, write another perfect script. And while you’re at it, write another one. And throw in an original TV pilot to the mix. As the cliche goes, if you want to be a writer, you need to write everyday like a full-time job. That first script that finally gets you some attention will most likely only act as a calling card and not actually get made. So have two other scripts that are just as good to back it up. Keep throwing darts at the dartboard until something sticks. And never stop.

If you’re willing to dedicate years of sacrifice, many hours of writing a day, working crummy jobs to pay the bills, and countless rejection letters, that’s a good start. Even after you pay all of your dues in Los Angeles, there are no guarantees. As Tom Hanks once put it, €œIf it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. It’s the hard that makes it great.€

While you’re on your quest to become a working screenwriter,  check out some of the great courses the New York Film Academy has to offer on screenwriting.

NYC Classes – http://www.nyfa.edu/screenwriting-school/
LA Classes – http://www.nyfa.edu/los-angeles/screenwriting-school/
Online Classses – http://www.nyfa.edu/online-screenwriting/

Good luck out there!

I’m Moving to L.A.

Basically, if your life’s dream is to become a giant Hollywood screenwriter, then you need to live in Hollywood. – John August

If you want to be next to writers, you need to be close to producers. And that means either being a PA on a production, or finding work at a production company… which I HIGHLY RECOMMEND! – Joshua Dobkin

What the fuck are you trying to do in Atlanta?  COME OUT HERE! – My friend in L.A.

I had a plan. I was going to work in Atlanta for a few years, write some specs, and save money. Then I was going to make the jump to L.A. with a couple scripts under my belt and work my ass off. My plan for Atlanta isn’t working for a multitude of reasons, and after some recent advice from a friend working in L.A. — I’m jumping in and taking the risk!

I will be packing my ’94 Honda Accord (that just hit 200,000 miles yesterday!) with everything I need to live, and will drive from Tennessee to Los Angeles, California in the next week/week and a half. I will be sleeping on couches (or in my car if I have to) and will be taking every job I can possibly get. I need work, I crave work, anything even related to film will do. I have 5 different resumes made up, enough money to get out there, and a TomTom GPS.

Speaking of work. If any of my readers could put my sweat and tears to good use in L.A. shoot me an email. Preferably with a production company doing something in development, screenwriter’s assistant, or a writer’s P.A. But like I said, I’ll be Kevin Smith’s oil boy if It will get me in the door.

Honestly, I wish I would have done this months ago.  I only have a couple months before my massive student loans start coming in. On THAT note, don’t go to film school on student loans… bad… bad……very bad idea. Can’t change the past so I must look towards the future.

So… if chapter one of this blog was film school, chapter two will be moving to L.A. and working my ass off trying to get someone to let me work my ass off.

So let the madness begin. What do you think about moving to LA? Bad idea or a fucking awesome idea?

Getting a Job is Hard. Getting a Screenplay Produced is Awesome!

Lately I’ve been working my ass of, trying to convince people, to let me work my ass off. I have been calling several different Productions, all week long. Basically, what I’ve come to realize over the past week, is that people (usually) don’t hire people they don’t already know. It’s becoming a real pain in the ass trying to get the position I want, especially when people hire the same crews over and over again — on every Production! Unfortunately, that old Hollywood adage still holds true – getting your foot in the door IS the hardest part.

Another thing I realized, is that trying to join a Union right out of school, is also a huge pain in the ass! I NEED to have some work experience, to be accepted by The Union… but I sorta’ need to be already accepted by The Union, before employers will hire me, for said work experience.  Funny how that works, huh? So, on that note —-> I’ve also become aware of the fact that, just because a State is a Right-to-Work State, doesn’t actually mean someone will hire you, if you’re not Unionized. It might be illegal, but one Production came right out and told me that if I wasn’t in the Union, then they weren’t going to hire me. I’m sure I would love the Union if I was in it, but right now… it’s a fucking pain!

So, now that I’ve accepted the fact that I am not going to get the job I originally wanted, I’ve started re-applying to all the same productions for a Set P.A. position.  Only to learn, that more than half of the Productions I applied too, are now totally crewed up! If you are planning on working in the Industry, I guarantee you will come to loathe the term “Crewed Up”. Every time you hear it, your immediate response will more then likely be the “f- word”… screamed at the top of your lungs… in complete anger and frustration. Just make sure you say it after you hang up the phone.

In other news, a short film that I recently wrote over the past few months is now being produced! I got to visit the set last night and it was pretty weird/amazing to witness my words being brought to life.

Now that I’m done with the short, I have finally started on my next feature, which is a little more innocent than my previous scripts. It’s kind of like How to Train Your Dragon meets E.T. and I’m writing it for animation, even though I know all the big animations guys (Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks… etc.) develop everything in-house. It’s a story I’m really passionate about, and if I do it well, I can at least use it to snag an agent’s or a producer’s attention.

I’ll keep posting every once in a while about the trials, troubles, and tribulations, that arise from my attempts at getting a job in the motherfraaaacking Movie Industry.

Oh, and look for a new script review coming soon! As well as a further detailed article on what I’ve learned while trying to find a job.

:FADE OUT.

Graduated! Now what…

Finally graduated college. All done.

Now what do I do?

The hunt for work has officially begun. I’m craving it. If i’m not on a production soon I might just paint my bedroom walls with the inside of my head. Too bad my friend’s IMDB pro account expired. I need to start cold calling and throwing my resume around to everything going on anywhere. The hardest part right now seems not to be getting onto a production, but figuring out where to live/stay for the first couple weeks while I find an apartment. I basically need temporary housing around the Atlanta area until I get a few paychecks. That sounds like a bitch to figure out. Craigs list? I don’t know. Hotels are expensive.

The good news is I hear there is an ass load of production coming to Atlanta this year.

In other(writing) news I finished another feature. I’m sitting on it right now while I develop a couple more ideas. I know it’s not going to rewrite itself but I think some time apart will give us a fresh start when we reignite our relationship. I am actually developing a script for animation right now. I’ve never written for animation, but I think it could be a lot of fun. It’s also a very innocent script, unlike the R rated thrillers I have been writing recently. I’m exited about it.

I also have a stack of unread screenplays to read and review. So I better get started on some of that.

That’s where I am in my life.

It’s All About Story Structure

Student and independent film makers, more often than not,  have an annoying unrelenting ability to make films without plot. I’ve never really understood it. In fact, it drives me crazy!  Being in film school at the moment I see this happen all the time.  The worse part is that these film makers seem to not even notice that their films are sometimes downright hard to get through. Yes, making a film is hard. Yes, that dolly shot was beautiful. Yes, you really did a good job pulling some great emotion out of those actors. Wow, that location was great! Very artistic cinematography!  Holy shit! You did a sweet crane shot!

BUT WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON!? There is absolutely nothing going on in your story to keep me watching.

I talk about this now because I happened to read a great article by John August that you can read right now HERE.

No. Really. Read it. Now.

Read the script Buried. I did a small review on it a while back. The entire script takes place in a coffin. ONE LOCATION. ONE ACTOR. Yet you keep reading because it is full of story, conflict, and questions that you want answered!

When all is said and done, your crane shot doesn’t matter, your witty metaphorical dialogue doesn’t matter, your million dollar location doesn’t matter. Not even your actors matter more than the ability to tell a clear and concise story that keeps your viewers intrigued and watching. Story is the backbone of any successful film.

Story, Story, Story.

One down. One to go.

The semester is over.  Holy fucking shit.  One more semester and I graduate in December.

A lot of stress, many sleepless nights, the temporary loss of hearing in one ear…. but I passed all my classes and people LOVED my film. Apparently there was clapping and cheering in the middle of it. Before it was even over. Awesome.

What does the summer hold?

I have the month of May off…. kinda.  I have to do development on a doc I’m shooting this summer. I have to get my wisdom teeth taken out and get a tetanus shot. I have to get my eyes checked and get new glasses. I have to work.  I have to WRITE! Due to school I haven’t been able to really sit down and write in weeks…

In June I go to Bonnaroooooooo! and then I’m going to Israel for 6 weeks. Then I have the beginning of August to get my shit together before school starts again.

Post Workflows and Fire Eyes

For my senior project I produced a short film called Foreclosed. For the past three days I have been doing non-stop post work.  I had an editor… but one thing about film school is, eventually you end up doing everything yourself. It just happens that way.

Basically this is what the past few days have looked like.

Final Cut Pro — Sonic Fire Pro — Final Cut Pro — LiveType — Final Cut Pro — Pro Tools 8 HD — Final Cut Pro — Sonic Fire Pro

Tomorrow it will consist of.

Sonic Fire Pro — Final Cut Pro — LiveType — Final Cut Pro — Color — Final Cut Pro — DvD Studio Pro

Hopefully I well be about to wrap this project up by then.  Oh wait.  Then I have to send a Time-coded version out to the person doing music.  When I get the music back I think I’m going to have to go back into ProTools and Final Cut… and then get a copy to send out to festivals.   fml.

Basically post production is a giant pain in the ass — literally.   I have been sitting in a chair looking at a computer screen for 12 hours a day since Monday. Right now my brain feels like it’s running out my ears.  My eyes feel like they are on fire. My throat is scratchy. I just feel like shit. Not to add I have real finals next week.  Tests I can’t study for because my film is due.  My director made a good point the other day when he said his falling GPA has a direct correlation to how many films he makes.  …or something like that.  Basically we are film majors….we make movies and get shitty grades… It’s how it works.

But hey, at the end of the day I have a finished film.  All the shit I went through to get it is worth it.

To sum it up.

  • Post is a pain in the ass.
  • Film school is run very inefficiently.
  • The work might be hard and make you want to stab your eyes out, but in the end you get a finished product with your name on it… hopefully.

sounds like scratch’n

The First of Many

As if I didn’t have enough distractions in my life already… I have finally decided to follow the crowd and start my own blog. Yay for me.

Why don’t I take this time to tell you a little bit about myself.

I am currently a film major set to graduate in December. After spending a small fortune for school, I will finally receive a worthless piece of paper that reads B.S. Film Production.  …Finally.  It’s really weird to think about not being in school.  I have been going to school every fucking year of my life since kindergarten.

I have recently decided that I would absolutely love to be a professional screenwriter. Everything about it seems attractive to me. The ability to set my own hours, and work when and where I please. The chance of selling big and paying off my student loans. Taking a simple idea and developing it into a monster of plot, conflict, character, and emotion. In the end holding in my hands 120 pages of ideas that came out of my head. Something I created. Something I can be completely proud of no matter how much it sucks ass. An assortment of thoughts and ideas that somehow, over the course of many months, has come alive. A Frankenstein, written in 12pt Courier, with 2 brads holding it in place.

This blog will turn into a story of my life.  Finishing college, hopefully  getting a job in the industry, writing screenplays and trying to sell them.  Between updates on my life and screenplays, I will write rants and random tidbits about life.  I will also occasionally review a script I have recently read. My aim is to journal my life in pursuit of my goals. Hopefully, I will inspire others to pursue their goals, and maybe they will find some useful information through my journeys. Perhaps we can go on this adventure together.

So sit back and enjoy the ride. (Can’t believe I just said that.)